The Great British Bake Off – Ciabatta Challenge

For my Bake Off challenge this week I decided to have a go at the ‘Technical’ bake – often the trickiest – as I haven’t attempted one of Mary or Paul’s own recipes yet. To make things even more difficult, I’ve never baked so much as a loaf of bread before, let alone a ciabatta.

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I got the recipe from the Great British Bake Off website and you can find it here. The advice given to the contestants as they prepared to make their ciabatta was ‘be patient’ and this was definitely good advice. I spent a lot more time waiting for my bread to rise than I did actually mixing or baking it. I did my best not to handle the dough too much as this knocks the bubbles out of it, and a well-risen loaf with lots of air bubbles are key to a good ciabatta (I think!)

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It was really lovely to fill the house with the smell of baking bread – there’s nothing quite as appetising as homemade bread, is there? The ciabatta seemed to rise well in the oven, and it had a good, crisp crust when I took it out. I think I would’ve been marked down for the slightly odd shape of my loaves and also because they were slightly denser than you would look for in a ciabatta. But they tasted really great. Especially with some oil and vinegar to dip into. 

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I’m pretty happy with my first attempt at making bread and will definitely have a go at some other types in the future. My next Bake Off challenge is likely to be even trickier. After last night’s dramatic episode there was only one desert I could possibly attempt – the dreaded Baked Alaska! Hopefully mine won’t end up in the bin…

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The Great British Bake Off – 3D Biscuit Challenge

After baking a Swiss Roll last week, my second Bake Off challenge was to make a 3D biscuit structure just like the Great British baker’s in this week’s Show Stopper. I love baking so I thought it would be fun to (try and) have a go at one of the recipes/tasks from Bake Off each week, after watching the latest episode of cake-y, pastel-y goodness. 

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For my 3D structure, I decided to make a biscuit representation of the Lonely Mountain Erebor and the dragon Smaug, in the style of Tolkien’s map at the front of the Hobbit. Naturally. (If this means nothing to you, go and read the book. No really, do. Off you trot.) 

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I chose to make a spicy gingerbread to try and reflect some of the flavour of Middle Earth. I drew and cut out paper templates which I used to cut the biscuit into the right shapes – particularly the mountain, so it would slot together and be free-standing. I’m not sure what Paul & Mary would make of it but I think at least the biscuit was pretty tasty & I had a lot of fun making it. 

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It’s bread week next week. This could prove to be really difficult for me as I’ve never made bread before, but hopefully I’ll rise to the challenge (I can only apologise. The Bake Off tendency to make a bad pun happened.)

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Stocking My Etsy Shop For Christmas

Yes, I know…
It’s far too early for Christmas, but forgive me. As a business owner I have to think about Christmas this early (actually I’d finished most of my range by late June!)

My Not On The High Street Shop and Great & Small range items are completely sorted for the festive season (she says, hopefully). This week my supplies and packaging have been arriving in the post, as I’ve learnt from last year and prepared myself in good time (again, I say this hopefully.) But I’m still finalising what to stock in my Etsy shop.

Stock For Xmas - Bunting?
Obviously my work has moved into a new direction this year, with a focus on my own illustrated work. This will be reflected in Goodnight Boutique’s Etsy with my range of Great & Small jewellery and some brand new geeky-themed items, all hand-drawn by me! But I also want to continue to make and sell some of my kitsch/quirky items this Christmas, that were the initial stock of my shop. And here’s where a bit of help would be greatly appreciated…

Xmas Stock - Cat Brooches?

Would you prefer lots of vintage-inspired paper bunting, or lovely woodcut cat brooches? 

Harry Potter Pocket Mirrors

What about these new Harry Potter and Dr Who illustrations. Would you be more likely to buy them if they were pocket mirrors or bin badges? 

Dr Who Pocket Mirrors

And is there anything else you would like to see more/less of? I’ve been toying with the idea of key rings for a while. (Alice In Wonderland maybe? Or some of the Great & Small gang?) And I think I’ve finally decided to go ahead and add some greetings cards to my Etsy (think geeky themed Christmas cards! All Great & Small cards will remain over on NOTHS)

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The Great British Bake Off – Swiss Roll Challenge

With the ever-fabulous Great British Bake Off back on our screens for a brand new series, I thought it might be fun to test my baking skills and try out some of the challenges the bakers will be facing in the tent each week.
I love cake and I love baking so it’s a bit of a win-win situation really (as long as I don’t burn and mess up each of my offerings!)Swiss Roll 1

This week I decided to try my hand a making a Swiss roll, the contestants very first challenge, and something I’ve never had a go at before.
I opted for a raspberry and white chocolate flavoured Swiss roll and was surprised at how quick it was to make. From start to finish (including presenting it on my best floral plate) it took me 1hr 10mins.

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I rolled my sponge the moment it came out of the oven and allowed it to sit rolled up while I prepared the filling and let it cool. That way, when I unrolled it again, spread the filling, and removed the grease proof paper, it retained the shape and rolled back up again quite easily. I piped some white chocolate hearts to decorate.

Pip Studio Love Birds

Naturally, when it comes to eating cake – along with a nice cup of tea – it requires some seriously pretty china. At the moment I’m really loving the Love Bird range from Pip Studio. I was lucky enough to receive one of the tea cups as a birthday present and I can’t wait to expand my collection. I think one of the gorgeous stripy plates will be next on my shopping list.
Tea cups, mugs, egg cups, plates, tea pot, and milk jug all available from www.pipstudio.com & www.johnlewis.com

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Afternoon Tea For Two

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It was my birthday on Monday, and naturally part of the celebrations included a trip to Cherry Blossom for a truly delightful afternoon tea. It’s one of the best I’ve ever had and such a reasonable price too, at just £10 per person. There were so many treats to enjoy that we ended up bringing quite a few cakes back home in boxes. (& yes I snuck my copy of Sense & Sensibility along just to take some pretty cupcake pictures…) I definitely recommend their cakes, if ever you’re in Macclesfield!

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Birthday Wishlist

As it’s my birthday on Monday I thought I’d put together a little list of some of the things I’m coveting the most at the moment!

birthday wish list

Cath Kidston Guards Mini Suitcase – £20
Cath Kidston Stop Thief! Purse – £26
Mod Cloth Poise & Click Dress – £59
Mod Cloth Dream & Sugar Tea Set – £38

Penguin Clothbound Classics – £14.99 each
And Mary Pug Necklace – £27
Birdsinhats Pigeon A4 Print – £10
Krukrustudio Sleeping Fox Bag – £59

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7 Years Since Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows

Seven years ago today the seventh, and final, instalment of the Harry Potter series by J K Rowling was released. Deathly Hallows concluded and answered all the theories and questions that had been occupying fans for ten years, and so as not to upset those with an emotional range of a teaspoon, I won’t gush and wail about what an impact the series has had on both me and my life. Instead I’m going to draw up seven lists of seven, discussing the best, most shocking, most sad moments of the series. Seven is the most magically powerful number after all…

I’ve tried not to over-think my answers. I’ve tried to just put down the moments and characters that initially sprung to mind instinctively, otherwise this blog probably still would’ve been being written by the 70th anniversary of Deathly Hallows.
(It still took hours and hours to put together though…)

P.S The lists are also not in any order, that would’ve made my decisions doubly difficult.
P.P.S if you haven’t read Harry Potter this is absolutely brimming with SPOILERS.

Marauders


7 Favourite Moments

1. Sirius explains his innocence in the Shrieking Shack at the end of Prisoner Of Azkaban -
“THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE DIED!” roared Black. “DIED RATHER THAN BETRAY YOUR FRIENDS, AS WE WOULD HAVE DONE FOR YOU!” 
Black and Lupin stood shoulder to shoulder, wands raised.

2. Fred & George let off the fireworks in Order Of The Phoenix -
“Impressive,” Harry said quietly, grinning. “Very impressive… you’ll put Dr Filibuster out of business, no problem…”
“Cheers,” whispered George, wiping tears of laughter from his face. “Oh, I hope she tries Vanishing them next… they multiply by ten every time you try.”

3. ‘The Boy Who Lived’ at the very start of Philosopher’s Stone -
“He’ll be famous – a legend – I wouldn’t be surprised if today was known as Harry Potter Day in the future – there will be books written about Harry – every child in our world will know his name!”
“Exactly,” said Dumbledore, looking very seriously over the top of his half moon glasses. “…Can’t you see how much better he’ll be, growing up away from all that until he’s ready to take it?”

4. The Boggart In The Wardrobe during Prisoner Of Azkaban -
“When the Boggart bursts out of this wardrobe, Neville, and sees you, it will assume the form of Professor Snape,” said Lupin. “And you will rise your wand – thus – and cry ´Riddikulus´- and concentrate hard on your grandmother’s clothes. If all goes well, Professor Boggart Snape will be forced into that vulture-topped hat, that green dress, that big red handbag.”

5. Professor McGonagall animates the statues during the Battle of Hogwarts in Deathly Hallows -
“And now – Piertotum Locomotor!” cried Professor McGonagall.
And all along the corridor the statues and suits of armor jumped down from their plinths, and from the echoing crashes from the floors above and below, Harry knew that their fellows throughout the castle had done the same.
“Hogwarts is threatened!” shouted Professor McGonagall. “Man the boundaries, protect us, do your duty to our school!”

6. The Marauders Map insults Snape in Prisoner Of Azkaban -
“Mr. Moony presents his compliments to Professor Snape, and begs him to keep his abnormally large nose out of other people’s business.
Mr. Prongs agrees with Mr. Moony, and would like to add that Professor Snape is an ugly git.
Mr. Padfoot would like to register his astonishment that an idiot like that ever became a professor.
Mr. Wormtail bids Professor Snape good day, and advises him to wash his hair, the slimeball.”

7. Gryffindor win the house cup due to Neville’s last minute house points at the end of Philosopher’s Stone -
“There are all kinds of courage,” said Dumbledore, smiling. “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends. I therefore award ten points to Mr Neville Longbottom.”

7 Saddest Moments

1. Dobby’s death in Deathly Hallows -
The elf’s eyes found him, and his lips trembled with the effort to form words.
“Harry… Potter…”
And then with a little shudder the elf became quite still, and his eyes were nothing more than great, glassy orbs sprinkled with light from the stars they could not see.

2. Dumbledore explains his actions to Harry, including why he never made him a prefect in Order Of The Phoenix -
“You may, perhaps, have wondered why I never chose you as a prefect? I must confess…that I rather thought…you had enough reponsibility to be going on with.”
Harry looked up at him and saw a tear trickling down Dumbledore’s face into his long silver beard.

3. The hospital wing at the end of Goblet Of Fire -
Mrs Weasley set the potion down on the bedside cabinet, bent down, and put her arms around Harry. He had no memory of ever being hugged like this, as though by a mother. The full weight of everything he had seen that night seemed to fall in upon him as Mrs Weasley held him to her. 

4. Voldemort possesses Harry but can’t sustain it because of the love Harry feels, especially for Sirius, in Order Of The Phoenix -
Let the pain stop, thought Harry. Let him kill us… End it, Dumbledore… Death is nothing compared to this…
And I’ll see Sirius again…
And as Harry’s heart filled with emotion, the creature’s coils loosened, the pain was gone, Harry was lying facedown on the floor, his glasses gone, shivering as though he lay upon ice, not wood…

5. Harry speaks to Luna about Sirius, while she’s looking for her stolen possessions, in Order Of The Phoenix -
“Well, have a nice holiday, Harry.”
“Yeah… yeah, you too.”
She walked away from him and, as he watched her go, he found that the terrible weight in his stomach seemed to have lessened slightly.

6. Kreacher reveals how Regulus was killed in Deathly Hallows -
“And he ordered – Kreacher to leave – without him. And he told Kreacher – to go home – and never to tell my Mistress – what he had done – but to destroy – the first locket. And he drank – all the potion – and Kreacher swapped the lockets – and watched… as Master Regulus… was dragged beneath the water….”

7. The Mirror Of Erised in Philosopher’s Stone -
He stared hungrily back at them, his hands pressed flat against the glass as though he was hoping to fall right through it and reach them. He had a powerful kind of ache rising inside of him, half joy, half terrible sadness.


7 Most Shocking Moments

1. Remus Lupin is a werewolf, in Prisoner Of Azkaban -
“NO!” Hermione screamed, “Harry, don’t trust him, he’s been helping Black get into the castle, he wants you dead too – he’s a werewolf!”
There was a ringing silence. Everyone’s eyes were now on Lupin, who looked remarkably calm, though rather pale.

2. Ron gets poisoned in Half Blood Prince -
Ron had dropped his glass; he half-rose from his chair and then crumpled, his extremities jerking uncontrollably. Foam was dribbling from his mouth and his eyes were bulging from their sockets.
“Professor!” Harry bellowed. “Do something!”

3. Tom Riddle reveals that he is Lord Voldemort in Chamber Of Secrets -
He pulled Harry’s wand from his pocket and began to trace it through the air, writing three shimmering words:
TOM MARVOLO RIDDLE
Then he waved the wand once, and the letters of his name rearranged themselves:
I AM LORD VOLDEMORT

4. Dumbledore drinks the potion in the cave in Half Blood Prince -
Dumbledore began to scream in more anguish than ever, “I want to die! I want to die! Make it stop, make it stop, I want to die!”
“Drink this, Professor, drink this…”
Dumbledore drank, and no sooner had he finished than he yelled, “KILL ME!”

5. Harry is a horcrux in Deathly Hallows -
Finally, the truth. Lying with his face pressed into the dusty carpet of the office where he had once thought he was learning the secrets of victory, Harry understood at last that he was not supposed to survive. His job was to walk calmly into Death’s welcoming arms.

6. Snape kills Dumbledore in Half Blood Prince -
Snape gazed for a moment at Dumbledore, and there was revulsion and hatred etched in the harsh lines of his face.
“Severus… please…”
Snape raised his wand and pointed it directly at Dumbledore.
“Avada Kedavra!”

7. The entire graveyard scene in Goblet Of Fire -
From far away, above his head, he heard a high, cold voice say, “Kill the spare.”
A swishing noise and a second voice, which screeched the words to the night: “Avada Kedavra!”

Privet Drive Sign

7 Favourite Characters

1. Remus Lupin – Werewolf, Marauder, and the best Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher that Harry ever had. Hands out chocolate and teaches Harry to produce a Patronus.

2. Sirius Black – Harry’s godfather, an ex-convict, Marauder, and animagus. He also owns a flying motorbike and is both very clever and very handsome – what’s not to like?

3. Professor McGonagall – Stern but fair, willing to take on Umbridge and the Ministry, and loyal to both Dumbledore and Harry until the end.

4. Professor Dumbledore – The only one He ever feared. Considered the greatest Wizard of modern times, with a liking for muggle sweets, knitting patterns, chamber music, and ten pin bowling.

5. Ron Weasley – Harry’s best friend. Loyal, funny, and Bloody Brilliant.

6. Harry Potter – I think Harry wouldn’t make a lot of people’s lists of favourite characters but to be honest, he is pretty great. The story is told primarily from his point of view, meaning we access his thoughts and feelings far more than any other character, seeing the good and the bad aspects of his character in far more detail than we do for anybody else. The Boy Who Lived. The Chosen One.

7. Hermione Granger – I almost didn’t include her but then I realised she simply did far too many wonderful things throughout the series. and I’d be mad not to. Like punching Malfoy, and helping to orchestrate the DA, ousting Rita Skeeter as an unregistered animagus and organising Harry’s interview with the Quibbler, using a time-turner to go to extra lessons – I could go on…


7 Most Under Appreciated Characters

1. Regulus Black
I really do feel that Regulus is probably the most under appreciated character in the whole Harry Potter series, particularly as Snape always seems to steal the plaudits for the reformed-Deatheater-turned hero role. Regulus was only eighteen when he died, trying to destroy one of Voldemort’s horcruxes, after being turned from the Death Eater cause by the extreme evil magic the Dark Lord was willing to use to gain power, and his ill-treatment of the loyal family house-elf, Kreacher.

2. Professor Flitwick
Flitwick would definitely be my favourite teacher if I went to school at Hogwarts. His lessons always seem like the most fun, full of explosions and noisy activity, which lead Harry, Ron, and Hermione to conduct several secret discussions during Charms class. He also seems to be very fond of Christmas, helping to put up the decorations each year and letting his students play games during their last lesson before the Christmas holidays.

3. Arthur Weasley
He makes cars fly. He tries out muggle stitches on a highly venomous snake bite. He has a punch up with Lucius Malfoy in a book shop. I don’t really need to add any more, do I?

4. James Potter
I think James is often portrayed in a negative light in the books, due – most probably – to the fact that a lot of the things we hear about him come from Snape, especially after witnessing his worst memory. However, James was a talented, highly intelligent wizard, capable of becoming an animagus during his fifth year at Hogwarts, and brilliant at Quidditch. He matured from a rather arrogant teen into a compassionate, loving husband and father, trying to hold Voldemort off and give Lilly and Harry enough time to escape, even though he was without his wand.

5. Frank & Alice Longbottom
I realise this is actually two characters, but the two play a similar role in the stories and are almost always mentioned together. Neville’s parents, talented aurors and members of the Order Of The Phoenix, both Frank and Alice were tortured into insanity by the Lestranges and Barty Crouch Jnr, for refusing to give them any information about Voldemort. We also learn that the prophecy marking Harry as Voldemort’s equal could also have applied to Neville as he was “born to those who have thrice defied him (Voldemort)” which is an incredibly impressive feat. 

6. Hedwig
Perhaps not strictly under appreciated, as everyone loves Hedwig, but certainly an overlooked contender when it comes to ‘Favourite Character’ lists as she is, after all, an owl, and therefore a little more limited in her contribution to the stories. Hedwig is Harry’s first magical companion and remains so throughout the books, until her demise in Deathly Hallows. She remains loyal to Harry, despite cramped conditions at the Dursely’s, who won’t let her out of her cage, and even when she gets attacked by Dolores Umbridge in Order of The Phoenix (who wants to read Harry’s mail.) At times Harry feels that Hedwig is his only friend and connection to the magical world, and she provides a great deal of comfort to him during his long summer’s at Privet Drive.

7. Aberforth Dumbledore
Often overlooked and in the shadow of his brilliant older brother, Albus Dumbledore, Aberforth comes to prominence in Deathly Hallows when he aids and sends help to the Trio several times, using the two-way mirror Sirius once gave to Harry. Despite his severe doubts in his brother, and his conviction that Voldemort has already won the war, Aberforth joins the Battle of Hogwarts and also allows the Order Of The Phoenix and the DA to use his pub as a way in and out of Hogwarts. There was also the business of the goats, but we shan’t go into that…


7 Places

1. Honeydukes – Sweets? Yes please. And a secret passage to Hogwarts? Brilliant.

2. Dumbledore’s Office – The password’s always something appropriate to the Headmaster’s sweet tooth. Fawkes lives here, so does the Sorting Hat, not to mention all the portraits of the previous Hogwarts headmasters and mistresses.

3. The Room Of Requirement – First mentioned in Book Four as a room full of chamber pots when Dumbledore was in need of the bathroom, it will become anything that you need.

4. Grimauld Place – Sirius’ family home. Full of his parent’s appreciation of Dark Magic and pureblood mania but eventually becoming a place of refuge for the Trio. Kreacher cooks for them.

5. The Prefect’s Bathroom – I would very much like a bath here, and would certainly try all the taps, especially the ones with the bubbles and foam.

6. The Great Hall – the ceiling is enchanted to look like the sky outside. There’s usually a tasty feast or two happening there, or a duelling club, or an apparition lesson.

7. The Burrow – home of the Weasley’s and the first wizarding household that Harry experiences.


7 Spells

1. Expecto Patronum – a positive force that protects you from Dementors; think of something happy.

2. Expelliarmus – which saves Harry’s life so many times.

3. Riddikulus – to defeat a Boggart.

4. Waddiwasi – when we first realise that Lupin is brilliant after shoving chewing gum up Peeve’s nose.

5. Obliviate – Ron’s broken wand finally proved useful when it backfired on Lockhart.

6. Lumos – the wand-lighting charm.

7. Wingardiam Leviosa –  “Wingardium Leviosa!” he shouted, waving his long arms like a windmill.
“You’re saying it wrong,” Harry heard Hermione snap. “It’s Wing-gar-dium Levi-o-sa, make the ‘gar’ nice and long.”
“You do it, then, if you’re so clever,” Ron snarled.”

Time Turner For Blog

From these lists it seems apparent that Azkaban is my favourite, Order Of The Phoenix the most upsetting, and Half Blood Prince the most shocking. What about you? I’d love to see your own answers to these lists!
What are you favourite moments, saddest moments, most shocking moments, favourite characters, most under appreciated characters, favourite places, favourite spells?

P.S
The illustrations in this post are works-in-progress from a new range of geeky themed bits & pieces that I’m hoping to add to my Etsy shop this Summer. Keep an eye out for them, as well as Dr Who, The Hobbit, & Sherlock themed items!

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