A Bake in the Life: Wild Blackberry and Vanilla Cupcakes

While exploring Pinterest I came across this recipe on a sweet inspired blog called Sweetopia. Seeing as I have plenty of frozen blackberries left from when we did the River Witham walk, I thought I would test it out! Normally I’m not a big fan of cupcakes, as I find the amount of icing on top too sickly, so I decided to reduce the icing. As with many recipes online, the original recipe is in American cup measurements, so I converted it to ounces and grams. I also halved the recipe, as I didn’t want to make a batch of 24 cupcakes, and significantly reduced the icing recipe as I didn’t really want to use 2lb of icing sugar and 1lb of butter

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Wild Blackberry and Vanilla Cupcakes

You will need:

For the Cupcakes

4oz/113g Butter

7½oz/213g Caster Sugar

2 Eggs beaten

½ tsp Vanilla Flavouring/Extract

6oz/170g Plain Flour

½ tbsp Baking Powder

¼ tsp Bicarbonate of Soda

Pinch of Salt

6oz/170g Buttermilk (I found mine at a supermarket next to the creams)

8oz/227g Blackberries

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For the icing

8oz/227g Icing Sugar

4oz/113g Butter

Few drops of flavouring (Almond/Vanilla) and/or Colouring (Lilac/Mint Green/Light Blue)

Let’s get started!

  • Preheat your oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4, and line your muffin/cupcake tin with paper cases.
  • Beat together sugar and butter until light, smooth and creamy.

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  • Add the beaten eggs slowly, mixing continuously until combined.
  • Add the vanilla and mix.IMG_1608
  • In a separate bowl sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt together.
  • Now add a small amount of the buttermilk and dry (flour) mixture to the wet (butter/sugar) mixture, and combine until smooth. Continue to add small amounts of each, stirring between additions, until everything is combined well.

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  • Gently fold in the blackberries, being careful not to mush them around too much in the mixture (I find using frozen fruits helps to prevent this as they are more resistant to mixing).

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  • Spoon the mixture evenly into paper cases and bake for 15-20 minutes until skewer/cocktail stick comes out of the centre of the cake clean.

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  • Let the cakes cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then remove and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.
  • To make the icing combine sugar and butter and beat into a smooth paste.
  • Add your flavouring/colouring and beat again. If the consistency is not to your liking add some milk/more icing sugar to make the icing more wet or dry.
  • I don’t own a piping bag, so I just spoon my icing into a small plastic food bag (Which you can put inside a glass/bowl to hold it steady). I then twist the top to push the icing down to a corner at the bottom of the bag and cut the corner as large/small as I need it.
  • I iced the top of the cupcakes with enough icing so you couldn’t see the cake through it, but not as much as the original recipe demonstrates. I then topped the cupcake with a blackberry for decoration.
  • You are all done! 🙂

I really enjoyed making these cupcakes. One of my favourite things to bake are muffins, so it was nice to bake something similar to muffins but a little different. The recipe is a bit more challenging than the previous recipes I have posted about, so it does take longer to make these cupcakes from start to finish. However with a bit of practise you could bake and ice them within 2 hours (Including waiting for them to cool sufficiently before icing). I haven’t had the opportunity to try out baking with buttermilk yet, so using it in this recipe was very interesting for me. I really like the taste and texture it gives the cupcakes and I definitely want to try out more recipes that use it.

I decided to flavour my icing vanilla and colour them a mint green, as I thought it complemented the deep purple colour of the blackberries and the slightly pink colour of the cupcakes well. Another idea for icing that I think would work well is lemon or lime – to the same amount of icing sugar and butter add the zest of 1 lemon/lime and juice until you reach your desired consistency. The original recipe also used sanding sugar to cover the icing once piped – which looked really good, however I’m not sure where to find it so I need to go on a hunt so I can try it out!

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All in all I liked both the recipe and final cupcakes, and would make them again. If you feel like going blackberry picking, or have some spare blackberries left over I would definitely put them to good use and try out this recipe yourself!

A Bake in the Life…

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A Day in the Life: Skegness, Lincolnshire, UK

Seeing as the weather has been pretty good again this week I was hoping that it would hold out long enough so that we could have a beach day at Skegness! The last time I went it was the beginning of the summer season and the weather was still a little cold, and it was pretty empty there. This time we were visiting near the end of the summer season and the weather was a much nicer 22ºC, the sun was shining and there were people!

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IMG_1533Skegness pier and beach

At around 10am we left Lincoln and got onto the A158, which pretty much takes you straight from Lincoln to Skegness on one main road. It took us around 1 hour 15 minutes to get there in the car, and we parked in the Clock Tower car park which is right next to the sand dunes and of course the beach! Parking is £7 for the whole day or £2.50 for 2 hours, which isn’t too bad when you are sharing a car with others who can chip in. You can also get there by train or bus, but times and prices do vary based on ticket types, rail/bus cards and day/time of travel.

When we got there…

It was around 11.30am and we decided to head into the main shopping area in town to get some lunch and one of the best drinks you will ever buy – a tango iceblast. If you haven’t tried one, you need to! The only other place I have seen them is in the cinema, but naturally they cost like £4 for a small size. As you head into town, past the Clock Tower roundabout, on the left hand side of the road, outside a covered shopping centre there is a circular stand that sells food and drink. You need to visit this stand and buy yourself a regular tango iceblast for the much more reasonable price of £2 (Or a HUGE one for £5 – still not a bad deal!)

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We also walked through the covered shopping centre to a block of toilets. Now, as is customary in most popular tourist destinations, pretty much everywhere charges to use the toilets. This block used to charge 20p, but to my surprise when we visited they were no longer charging, so if you don’t want to pay to use a toilet closer to the beach then head down to these! One place you need to look out for as you walk back is the creatively named ‘Stumble Inn’ – it never fails to make me laugh.

To the beach…

After this we headed to the beach to eat some lunch and enjoy the sun. As you head to the beach you pass plenty of food/drink stands selling everything from vodka slushes and donuts to seafood. On the beach there are the iconic donkey rides, taking children for rides across the sand. When we had finished lunch we walked barefoot along the shore to see how cold the water was – it wasn’t too bad!

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What else is there to do?

We decided to go play some miniature golf, so we headed off the beach near the pier beside the pastel coloured beach houses and walked alongside the man made canal which you can take a boat ride on to Naturelands Seal Sanctuary. Although I haven’t visited the sanctuary, I have heard good things about it. It costs £7.80 per adult, £5.20 per child, £6.30 per OAP and £23.40 per family (See the website for more details!). Which isn’t too bad as you get the chance to see seals, meerkats and penquins (Feeding times at 11am, 12pm, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm), as well as visit the aquarium and tropical house.

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There are several minature golf courses on the sea front, but we decided to go back to the one we went to before (Arnold Palmer) as I really enjoyed it. We decided to play the 18 hole course which costed £3.50 per adult, and is totally worth the money! I got a really nice lilac coloured ball and I definitely think it helped me to win 50:61 🙂

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What else is there to see?

We then headed back to the pier to visit the famous arcades. As a child I was never very interested in arcade games, and that really hasn’t changed but I do like to walk through and have a look at the games. Some of my favourites are the ‘experience a hurricane’, dance mats and camel racing. After we had finished walking through we ended up back on the main street, and decided to give in to the delicious looking food that had been tempting us all day. Walking along the main street look out for the log flume water ride, outdoor swimming pool and fountain which has the iconic Skegness man in the centre.

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Go on then, just one…

We went to the stand nearest the car park we parked in and ordered a strawberry special and waffle with ice cream and belgian chocolate. I don’t think I even have to say, but they were amazing. We walked to the beach and sat on the dunes while we ate. When we were done we headed back to the car and then back to Lincoln.

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As I always do, I really enjoyed my visit to Skegness. Depending on where you live, the combined petrol and parking isn’t overly expensive (Better if you can car share and split the costs!) and there is loads to do, see, eat and drink. There is something really nostalgic about being at the seaside, it reminds me of holidays at Haven holiday parks in caravans, spending all day on the beach and every evening at the tiger club (I hope someone knows what I’m going on about…).

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is: if you really enjoy the iconic British seaside day out and you are near by – you have to visit Skegness!

A Day in the Life… 

A Walk in the Life: Ingham, Lincolnshire, UK

Despite it being fairly overcast in Lincoln recently, it is still surprisingly warm outside! So, naturally I picked out another Lincoln walk to try from my walking in Lincolnshire list, packed some lunch and headed out. All the walks we have done so far have been south of Lincoln city, so we decided to try out a walk in Ingham, which is 8 miles north of city.

IMG_1420The Village Green, with old school and bell tower behind 

Ingham

The walk begins on the village green, opposite the village hall and old school buildings. We got there by car from the centre of Lincoln in around 15 minutes. There is plenty of free parking outside the village hall, and around the village green.

Off we go…

1. Head towards the village shop, and then left along West End. As the road begins to bend left, you can see an old windmill that was converted into a house in the 1960’s.

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2. Take a bridleway on the right (Just before the road bends left) and continue along this track until you reach a cross roads of paths.

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3. Continue straight on and then head left, keeping along side a dyke, until you reach a wooden bench and bridges (Look out for hares which run and hide in the surrounding fields).

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4. Turn right and cross both bridges. Follow the bridleway straight ahead, keeping the dyke and hedgerows on your right.

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5. At the road, turn right and follow the road for 1 mile until the road turns sharply left.

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6. Take the public footpath on the right, heading up an incline. When the path heads left, continue on straight, crossing over a wooden bridge.

 

7. Walk straight across the field, heading towards a red roofed house in the distance.

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8. At the end of the field, cross the track and wooden bridge and continue through the next field towards the right of the red roofed house.

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9. Follow the footpath between houses, and out onto a road. Walk along the lane until you reach a footpath on the right.

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10. Take the path behind some houses and back out onto the road. Continue along the road, past the Inn on the Green and back out onto the village green.

IMG_1489 11. You are all done! 🙂

I enjoyed this walk, despite it having similar drawbacks to the Blankney walk we did recently. It consisted of field and farm tracks, as well as some road walking, which may put some people off. Although it was only 3¾ miles/6km long, it felt a lot longer and did offer great views over the Trent valley into Nottinghamshire, as well as the fields and dykes of the Lincolnshire countryside. The walk we did is one of two in the guide, and took around 2 hours to complete, at a leisurely pace. The other walk is 5½ miles/9km, takes around 3 hours to complete and visits the Coats by Stowe, which are ‘cots’ or cottages.

IMG_1496The Inn on the Green

The village of Ingham is particularly beautiful, full of charming houses with plenty of history especially in connection with the Dambusters squadron and the two pubs: Black Horse and Inn on the Green. As with the Blankney walk, wildlife was restricted to butterflies, bees, tits, goldfinches, rabbits/hares and reed warblers in the dykes. I also found some interesting mushrooms on a fallen tree, which were good to see as I really like photographing fungi.

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I would recommend this walk, however like the Blankney walk it may be a bit quiet in places for some people. I will definitely be trying out the second walk on the guide as I really liked exploring the village and would like to see the Coats by Stow.

A Walk in the Life…

A Day in the Life: Ribs ‘n’ Bibs, The Strait, Lincoln, UK

Since it opened in 2012 I have been desperately trying to find time to visit Ribs ‘n’ Bibs! This independent restaurant was created by local guy Adam Morgan, and his American born business partner. They decided to open a real American smokehouse in Lincoln to bring the passion and love they developed for American food while living and travelling in the states. It is really easy to find, just head up The Strait, towards Steep Hill and it is on your left.

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Ribs ‘n’ Bibs

The smell that hits you when you walk in the door is utterly mouth watering and is the work of the two meat smokers – Bert and Ernie. Set on two levels, the feeling when you walk in is homely and comfortable. We were seated quickly from the bar (Reservations are a must, as they get booked up really quickly!), to a small two seater table on the lower floor, near a beautiful large fireplace and under one of their signature bottle cap art boards.

Drinks wise, Ribs ‘n’ Bibs offer an interesting selection of cocktails and milkshakes, as well beers and ales served American style in a schooner size glass. After being given the drinks menu and a few minutes to look through it we decided to try a chocolate cookie milkshake. It was served very quickly and was topped with lots of whipped cream. It had a really nice real chocolate flavour, was full of chocolate brownie bits and was over way too quickly! 

The menu is small but varied, and there is a specials board that changes day to day (When we visited there were three main specials, as well as a dessert). We decided that we had to try the pulled pork, as we had heard so much about it! We both ordered the pulled pork which was with us within 30 minutes. It was served on top of a soft white bun, with sweet red onion, signature ‘slaw and hand cut skin-on fries.

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Delicious does not even begin to describe it. 

The pulled pork meat was perfectly cooked, coated in a tangy and sweet BBQ sauce and topped with soft sweet red onions. The ‘slaw had a good texture and fresh taste which helped to break up the sweetness of the pulled pork. Now, I’m not a great lover of fries but these were seasoned and cooked really well. I found myself searching out the fries with the most skin left on and uncontrollably eating as many as I could!  The juices from the pulled pork soak into the bun underneath and leave you with tasty flavoured bread – if you have room left to eat the bun!

The portions are very generous, and unfortunately I had to leave some fries and bun. I had really wanted to try the dessert special – Churros with vanilla ice cream and a toffee sauce, but I didn’t think it could eat anymore. So I really really hope that when we visit next time they will have them again. I also had a look at the breakfast menu, and will definitely be coming back to try the cinnamon french toast and freshly made pancakes.

We visited on Roulette Tuesday, where you have the chance to win your entire food and drink bill for free! The staff take your contact details and a table number of your choice, then at the end of the night draw one from random. If you are lucky enough to be the chosen one you get your money back or if you have already left, a voucher for the value of your meal for next time.

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All in all our visit was really good! 🙂

The service we received was brilliant. The staff were friendly and quick, checking everything was good for us, and asking if we needed anything. Our drinks and food were served quickly, well presented and were good value for money. I will certainly be coming back again and would definitely recommend this restaurant!

A Day in the Life…

A Walk in the Life: Blankney, Lincolnshire, UK

With clear blue skies and the sun shining over Lincoln yesterday afternoon, I decided to head out on another Lincolnshire walk, courtesy of Visit Lincolnshire’s Stepping Out walks.

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Blankney

This walk starts from a car park that you can get to by driving through the village, taking the first left and then right at a fork in the road (Following signs for Blankney walks). We got there by car from the centre of Lincoln in around 25 minutes. The car parking is free with a picnic area nearby.

Off we go…

1. From the car park, walk through the picnic area, looking on your right at a renovated bridge which used to cross the carriageway leading to Blankney Hall. Heading left through gaps in metal fences join a path and follow this along the woodland until you reach a stile on your left.

2. Cross over the stile and head straight over the pasture towards another stile. Cross the stile and a stream, continuing straight on.

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3. Follow the path, keeping the hedgerow on your left, over a wooden bridge until you reach a track. Follow the markers left, towards an area of woodland, keeping the hedgerow on your right.

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4. When you reach the woodland, turn right and follow this path alongside the woodland. Keep straight on this path, heading to the corner of the field. Turn left and continue along the path, with the hedgerow on your right and field on your left.

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5. Turn left through a gap in the hedgerow and follow the public footpath along a grassy path, with the hedgerow on the right and field on your left. Continue along this until you reach a farm track.

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6. At this farm track, turn left and continue along until you reach a road (Acre Lane) that heads left, towards Scopwick Lowfields farm. Pass through the farm buildings and follow the footpath as it bends left along the edge of a field, until you reach a T-junction.

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7. Turn left at this junction and follow this path past hedgerows, over a low stone bridge and to meet a junction of paths. Turn left at this junction, and continue along the footpath.
IMG_1357 IMG_13678. Follow this footpath right, continue along this path heading left and then right until you reach a stile on the left between hedgerows.

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9. Walk across the pasture, with a stream on your left back to the car park.

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10. You are all done! 🙂

I did enjoy this walk, however it was very different to those I have done so far this month, as it mostly consists of woodland, field and farm track walking. The full walk without any shortcuts was 3.8 miles and takes around 2 hours to complete at a leisurely pace. It is a quiet and peaceful walk, with views of Lincolnshire fields, farm life and hedgerows. As a result of this wildlife consists mostly of butterflies, bees, goldfinches, tits, rabbits and the occasional bird of prey in the sky (We saw a kite hunting in the open fields).

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I would recommend this walk, however it may not be to everyone’s tastes as it is quiet in places. I would also recommend exploring the village, as it has an interesting history and the houses are beautifully built.

A Walk in the Life…