Life After Lincoln – My New Blog!

When I begin writing this blog in early August 2013 I always intended that ‘A Year in the Life…’ would be just that, a year’s collection of blog posts that made up my experiences and life while studying at Lincoln University.

As a result, when I completed my research at Lincoln in August 2014 I decided to stop posting on ‘A Year in the Life…’ in order to focus on writing my thesis and begin to find my feet as a science graduate.

I am now spending a year gaining experience working in a secondary school ahead of applying to train as a science teacher, specifically biology. I was lucky enough to begin working as a teaching assistant back home in Oxfordshire, in September 2014 and have now been at my school for 5 months!

My time there so far has been amazingly good fun, really rewarding and has definitely confirmed to me that I want to teach. As a result I am now in the exciting stages of applying for teacher training!! I plan to use this new blog ‘Life After Lincoln’ as a way to record my experiences of life after university, both professionally and personally.

I hope that this new blog will be as interesting and informative to read as my previous and that you continue to follow me from new graduate to biology teacher 🙂

– Amy

https://lifeafterlincoln.wordpress.com

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A Bake in the Life: Salted Caramel Chocolate Marble Cake

Last week one of my oldest friends celebrated her birthday, and naturally I wanted to make her a special, overindulgent mouthwatering birthday cake! A while back I took her a few of my Salted Caramel Chocolate Cookies and she really enjoyed them, so I decided to base this cake on their salted caramel chocolate flavour but as a traditional sandwich cake. This recipe is based on one I came across a looong time ago inside a packet of Stork butter, printed on the foil, that I have been saving for the right occasion. So what better than a best friend’s birthday 🙂

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Salted Caramel Chocolate Marble Cake

You will need:

For the cake

6 oz/175g Butter

6 oz/175g Caster Sugar

6 oz/175g Self Raising Flour

3 Eggs

1 Tsp Baking Powder

2 oz/55g Plain Chocolate

2 oz/55g White Chocolate

For the salted caramel icing

9 oz/250g Light Brown Sugar

5 fl oz/150ml Double Cream

4½ oz/140g Butter

½ Tsp Salt

Sprinkle of Chocolate Chips

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Let’s get started!

  • Preheat your oven to Gas Mark 5/190ºC/373ºF then grease and line two 8″ (20cm) cake tins with grease proof/baking paper.
  • Beat together butter, caster, self raising flour, eggs and baking powder until smooth.

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  • Melt the chocolates separately, either in a bowl over a pan of simmering water or carefully in the microwave (Be careful not to let the chocolate burn!)
  • Split the mixture into two bowls, then add melted plain chocolate to one and melted white chocolate to the other.
  • Alternative spoonfuls of both mixtures into the prepared cake tins, gently swirling a skewer through the mixture.

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  • Bake in the oven for 25-35 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean.
  • Cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • To make the icing combine light brown sugar, double cream and salt in a medium sized heavy bottomed saucepan.

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  • Heat until the sugar dissolves, then bubble for 3-4 minutes not stirring.
  • Cool for 10 minutes, then beat in the butter then chill in the fridge until firm.
  • Sandwich together the two cakes with the half of the salted caramel icing, then cover the top of the cake with the rest of the icing.
  • Sprinkle over a handful of chocolate chips to decorate.
  • You are all done 🙂

What a decadent treat of a cake!! By far my favourite part of this recipe is the salted caramel icing, which is fast becoming one of my favourite combinations. Once you cut into the cake the beautiful swirls of white and plain chocolate become visible which adds an interesting twist on a traditional chocolate cake. I decided to make two cakes and sandwich them together with the salted caramel icing, however you could bake one large cake and cut it in half or keep it whole and just top which the icing.

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This recipe would also work well for cupcakes, swirling the white and plain chocolate in mini individual cakes, topped with the salted caramel icing and a handful of chocolate chips. You could of course top this cake with something more extravagant than chocolate chips, like homemade chocolate truffles or a combination of white, dark and plain chips for a twist of colour 🙂 The final cake definitely met with approval and I would recommend making it for your next special occasion!

A Bake in the Life…

A Craft in the Life: Turkish Delight

Turkish Delight is definitely one of all time favourite sweets! The deliciously soft, blush pink rosy squares coated in powdery icing sugar and cornflour, always reminds me of family holidays abroad and Christmases at home. I have wanted to make my own for a very long time, and after being inspired by the latest episode of Sweets Made Simple I decided to give it ago 🙂

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Turkish Delight

You will need:

Sunflower Oil for Greasing

3 oz /90g Cornflour (Plus 2 Tbsps for coating)

2 Tbsps Icing Sugar

1lb 6 oz /750g Caster Sugar

1 Tsp Cream of Tartar

1 Tbsp Lemon Juice

1 Tsp Rose Water

Pink Gel Food Colouring

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Let’s get started!

  • Grease a 17cm x 17cm tin with sunflower oil and line with cling film (Make sure to also lightly grease the top of the clingfilm too).
  • Mix together 2 tbsps of cornflour and icing sugar in a small bowl. Sift a few tbsps over the greased clingfilm to coat and return the excess to the bowl.

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  • Combine the caster sugar, lemon juice and half the cream of tartar in a medium sized heavy based saucepan and add 350ml water.
  • Over a medium heat, dissolve the sugar then bring to the boil. Insert a sugar thermometer into the sugar syrup, and heat gently until it reads 125ºC/257ºF.

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  • Remove from the heat and keep warm.
  • In another medium sized heavy based saucepan, combine the cornflour, remaining cream of tartar and 400ml water.
  • Whisk together until smooth then bring to the boil until the mixture thickens rapidly turning into a thick, white paste.

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  • Simmer for 15 seconds then carefully pour one quarter of the hot syrup into the pan while whisking constantly.
  • Add the remaining hot syrup in three batches, whisking continuously to prevent it sticking on the bottom of the pan and to ensure the mixture is smooth and lump free.

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  • Bring back to the boil and cook gently over a low heat for around 30 minutes, stirring continuously, until thick and glossy.
  • Take the pan off the heat, pour into a large mixing bowl before adding a dash of pink food colouring and the rose water.

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  • Beat until smooth then pour into the prepared tin, ensuring it is spread level.
  • Allow to cool completely, before covering with clingfilm and chilling overnight in the fridge.
  • Tip the saved cornflour/icing sugar mixture onto a large baking tray, then turn out the set Turkish delight and carefully remove the clingfilm off the bottom.
  • Using a lightly greased knife cut into squares, dusting each piece in cornflour/icing sugar mix as you go.
  • You are all done 🙂

I decided to only make pastel pink rose flavoured Turkish Delight, as this was my first attempt! Although it did take a while I was surprised at how relatively easy it was to make. The most difficult parts were simultaneously pouring the hot syrup and whisking, and then continuously stirring for 30 minutes. However, it is completely worth it for the soft, smooth jelly texture of the final sweet.

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As well as flavouring the Turkish Delight lemon instead of rose, you can also add pistachios/almonds for an interesting combination of smooth/sweet and crunchy/savoury. The final dusted pieces can be kept for up to 10 days between grease proof paper in an air tight container. You can leave the pieces plain or you could coat each piece partly or completely in melted chocolate. If you are as much of a lover of Turkish Delight as I am, definitely try out this recipe!

A Craft in the Life…

A Craft in the Life: Coconut and Courgette Soup

Over the last few weeks me and my mum have brought back several varieties of courgettes from volunteering at Cogges Manor Farm in Witney. The walled garden is currently packed full of courgette and marrow plants, covering the plots with their large green leaves, bright orange flowers with green and yellow courgettes hanging off twisted vines. In order to use up all the courgettes we now have in the fridge, I decided to make a large batch of Coconut and Courgette Soup. This soup is one my family’s favourites, as the combination of soft courgette and sweet coconut milk gives a refreshing and very moreish flavour 🙂

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Coconut and Courgette Soup

You will need:

2.2lb /1kg Courgettes (Around 8) or Marrows

Salt

1 Large Onion, Chopped (Either white or Red)

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Tsp Grated Fresh Ginger

2 Garlic Cloves, Crushed

2 Tbsps Chopped Basil and Mint

1L /35 fl oz Vegetable Stock

250ml /8½ fl oz Coconut Milk

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Let’s get started!

  • Peel, de seed and chop the courgettes/marrows into 2cm chunks.
  • Put them into a colander, sprinkle with salt and let them drain for 30 minutes to get rid of the excess water, then pat them dry with a tea towel/kitchen paper.

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  • In a large stock/soup pot, fry the onion gently in oil until softened.
  • Add the ginger and garlic, along with the salted courgettes, basil and mint.
  • Pour over half the stock and simmer gently for 10 minutes.

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  • Once the courgettes are soft, remove the soup from the heat and allow to cool.
  • Blend in a food processor and return to the pot with the rest of the stock and coconut milk, then simmer for 5 minutes.

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  • Season to taste then serve topped with extra chopped basil/mint.
  • You are all done 🙂

This Coconut and Courgette Soup definitely works well as a summer soup, due to it’s light, refreshing flavour and bright green colour. The recipe makes a large batch of soup which you can store in the fridge for 2-3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months. Make sure to test the soup before you add any final seasoning, as salting the courgettes before cooking can be enough salt. I love the addition of the coconut milk in this soup, as it gives a delicious creamy taste which is really complemented by the mint and basil. Definitely try it out 🙂

A Craft in the Life…