Great Bookish Bake off – Lemon Cake

The cakes I bake and the books I read while baking them.

So even though I spent most of the past year determined not to watch new bake off… Bake Off returned and I watched it. And I don’t know how I feel about it… like it feels wrong… But also… familiar and I don’t know! What does everyone one else think of it? Is it good? Is it not? I don’t know…!
Anyway, one simply doesn’t watch bake off without cake. So, I made a cake. And I cheated a bit and thought you guys might also like a cheaters recipe to cake.

You will need:
A mixing bowl
Two round cake tins
A box of cake mix (I chose Lemon cake)
Ready made icing (yes, that stuff is accidentally dairy free)
A can of Sprite.

And the book of your choice, I was reading Six of Crows which is one of my new favourite books.

This is a great cake hack if you hear the Bake Off theme and think, damn, I should have got some cake in. All you need is one of those cake mix boxes and a 320ml of lemonade, mix the two together, split the mix between the two cake tins and bake for twenty minutes. Which admitedly, doesn’t give you much time to read, especially when you’re working your way through something as exciting as Six of Crows, but there is also the cooling time, so you know.
Once they’re cooked, put them aside and let them cool and then crack into the ready made icing and assemble your cake. My packet mix came with drizzle for the top which I also stuck on because BAKE OFF.
As weird as it sounds, for some reason, adding fizzy drinks to cake mix makes a perfectly risen and moist (sorry) cake! It’s mad but true! Try it!

 

Also while we’re talking about Bake Off, Veronica Dearly posted this great image the other day and I can’t not!

Giving the #bakeoff a whirl. #gbbo

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Great Bookish Bake off – Cornflake Tart

The cakes I bake and the books I read while baking them. 

Oh it feels like forever since I’ve done one of these posts, it feels even longer since I last ate this creation! In fact, I haven’t had it since I left school at eighteen! Actually, I’ve never seen this served anywhere else other than at school!

Cornflake tart, just like the school dinner ladies used to make!

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Did anyone else have cornflake tart at school or was it just a west country thing?
For those who didn’t get to experience this, you are in for a treat cos I’m about to tell you exactly how to make it! First though, what on Earth is it?
It is a biscuity/pastry base covered in jam and then topped in cornflakes and golden syrup.
Yes. I know. It’s an odd concept, but bare with me. I used to love this stuff during school dinners and the other day, my brother posted a photo of himself frying cornflakes on Facebook, which naturally was questioned and it turns out, he had acquired a recipe for the very thing we had at school, so I gave it a go whilst reading Unconventional, which, if you are a fan of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, I think you might enjoy.
So, let’s a go.

You will need:
A mixing bowl
A cake tin
A frying pan
100g flour
50g butter (I used dairy free, but that’s really up to you)
a shot glass of water
a healthy dollop of golden syrup
10g sugar
Some cornflakes
A knob of butter.

Firstly, put the butter and flour into a mixing bowl and with your hands rub together to form breadcrumbs – see what I mean about being a bit like pastry? Anyway, once you get breadcrumbs, pour in your water shot and with a spoon, mix until you form a ball of dough, kneed the ball of dough until you’re happy with the consistency and then pat into the cake tin, making sure it is flat.

Pop it into the oven for 20 minutes, during which time you can start reading – like I said, I had Unconventional on the go, which is a story about the daughter of a man who runs conventions, you know, like comic con and well she has a meet cute with a guy who ends up being a convention guest and well, its a cute nerd love kind of story and there frankly aren’t enough of those in my life.

Once your base is cooked, set it aside to cool and get your frying pan ready. Drop a knob of butter and let it melt. Then add in the sugar and the golden syrup, stirring until combined, pour in the cornflakes and stir until coated. Leave on the heat while you spread jam over the biscuity base making sure it is completely coated. Spoon the cornflake mixture on top and pop back into the oven for five minutes, which probably doesn’t give you much reading time, but you can at least get the washing up done.

Leave the – what should we call this? Cornflake tart? Whatever, leave the cornflake cake biscuit, pie thing to cool for a few minutes before taking out of the cake tin and then settle down with a slice and the beverage of your choice to finish off another chapter of your book.

Let me know if you had this at school or if you’re trying it, I want to know if this is a national thing or just a my school thing!

Great Bookish Bakeoff – Ginger apple cake

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The cakes I bake and the books I read while baking them.

Is anyone else devastated that we’ve now had the last ever bake off as we know it? Whatever happens with the future of baking on TV, these posts will continue because I bloody love cake.

So, here’s the story, I was perusing Facebook, as you do, and I saw a post from someone who had made a cake using a box mix and a can of sprite, so naturally, I had to give that a go too, behold my dairy free ginger apple cake!

You will need:
A mixing bowl
Two round cake tins
A sauce pan
A box of Betty Crocker ginger cake mix
Some icing sugar
Cold water
Three apples
Cinnamon
Brown sugar
A can of sprite

First, pour the box of cake mix into a mixing bowl and gradually add the sprite, stirring as you do until you get what resembles cake mix. Split this into two and put them into your cake tins (either line them with baking paper or grease them, whatever!) pop them in the oven on 180 for 25 minutes.
While that’s baking, chop and skin your apples, put them in a sauce pan with cold water, sugar and cinnamon, pop a lid on the pan and leave to boil for 20 minutes or so, which should give you enough time to read something!
I was reading an ARC sent to me called Saying Goodbye to London, honestly, I was finding excuses to not read it, I don’t know if it is the writing style or if it is how unlikable the characters are, but I was struggling. So, I figured I’d reward myself with cake if I got through a couple of chapters.

Once your cake is done (take a moment to be amazed that it worked because I totally did), leave it to cool and see to your apples, what you should have is stewed apples and these are what you are going to stick the cake together with. Create your cake/apple tower and leave it to completely cool before making standard icing, gradually adding water to icing sugar until you end up with smooth icing, drizzle over the top and voila! You have a dairy free cake that tastes like cake and no need to go out finding eggs or oil! Next time you fancy cake but don’t have any of the key ingredients, don’t fret as long as you have something fizzy and a packet mix, you are good to go!

Saying Goodbye to London

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Saying goodbye to London – Julie Burtinshaw

DAT COVER ART THO.
This was an ARC downloaded from Netgalley and I selected it entirely on the cover art and the fact that I love London. I need to start reading the blurbs of these things more often! This was about an entirely different London, London in Canada and then London, the person. Am I explaining this properly? Give me a sec.

Francis Sloan is a shy fifteen-year-old boy. When he meets edgy sixteen-year-old Sawyer, sparks fly…and Sawyer becomes pregnant. Their relationship is still so fresh and new, they decide they will put the baby up for adoption. As the story unfolds over the nine months they wait for their baby, London, to be born, Francis and Sawyer grapple with the responsibility of becoming parents and the accelerated path to adulthood they now find themselves on. With the absence of their own fathers in their lives and the evergreen challenges of first love, will they even make it together to the point where they have to say goodbye to London?

So, this is the story of Francis, who is super shy and more into hanging out with his bud Kevin and playing computer games at home than he is anything else. Seeing as he is perhaps one of the worst people I’ve ever had the mispleasure to read about, maybe he should have stayed in his room and not inspired anyone to write about him. Anyway. Francis goes out one evening with Kevin, who is going through some stuff and deserves way better friends, despite the fact that he is super shy, he manages to talk to, impress, dance with and then make out with a cool older girl, Sawyer. Anyway, he and Sawyer despite not knowing each other all that well, living on opposite ends of the city, not having anything in common and having you know, school and friends and stuff, decide to spend all their time hanging out in Sawyer’s room having sex and then being surprised that they’ve ended up withchild, because apparently, contraception isn’t a thing that they’ve thought about all that much.

Now, I was intrigued by the initial premise of this story, the only other book I’ve read about teen pregnancy is Trouble by Non Pratt, which was a first person narrative from both the point of view of the mother to be and her friend who was pretending to be the father, so although I picked this thinking it was to do with saying goodbye to London, England, I was a bit excited to read someone else’s prospective on the teen pregnancy front. Sadly, there was something about this that I just couldn’t get into. I don’t know if it was the simplistic narration or just the fact that Francis is by far the most awful, immature person I have ever come across, but I just… I couldn’t. This is a boy who can’t even say the word condom without getting flustered. Firstly, you are fifteen, wtf is wrong with you? Secondly, all you seem to want to do with Sawyer requires the use of one. Freaking say the word! He came across so terribly, Kevin’s storyline was so interesting, he was dealing with the fact that his dad is dying and still managed to be there and support his friend and Francis literally couldn’t be even the slightest bit grateful.

The cover art for this is beautiful, the story is an interesting, its just a shame that I didn’t click with it better. If anyone else reads this, give me a shout and let me know what you thought! We could swap notes on how awful Francis is!

ARC haul, the reading passport, being a proud big sister? A book video in three parts

Yeah, I’m still doing that YouTube thing even though Dan Howell still doesn’t know I exist and I still don’t have enough subs to get into the YouTube space, but the YouTube thing is fun! And sometimes my love of books bleeds into life over on my channel, so one post spread across two social networks I guess!

Welcome to A book video in three parts:
Part one, a little round up of the arcs I’ve been sent recently, they’re probably the last ones I’ll get this year and a couple of them have appeared here before, but you know!
Part two, the reading passport, a new initiative happening at a couple of my local libraries that I thought was super cool and wanted to share, plus the books I picked up while I was there!
Part three, borrowing a book from my little brother who hated books when he was younger and now loves them and the proud big sister feels I have about that fact!

If you’ve read any of these, plan to read any of these or like the sound of any of these you should let me know so we can discuss! (also, *takes deep breath and prepares for the Philly D spiel* if you liked that video and you like what I do on that channel hit that like button and if you’ve not visited me over on YouTube before hit that subscribe button).  If any of ya’ll live near a library taking part in the reading passport, hit me up so we can discuss which books we’ve picked up and how many stamps we’ve earned!

Great Bookish Bake off – Maple Syrup Drizzle Cake

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The cakes I bake and the books I read while baking them. 

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So, my grandad gifted me a bottle of maple syrup and as bake off no longer exists and I have nothing else cake related to do on a Wednesday I decided to attempt some sort of cake involving maple syrup and came up with this weird but super nice and Autumnal maple syrup drizzle cake!

What you will need:

150g self raising flour
150g brown sugar
150g butter (I used vegan butter but you can use whatever!)
1 table spoon of cinnamon
1 table spoon of Maple Syrup
2 table spoons apple sauce (this was my egg substitute, so either use eggs or whatever other kind of replacement you like)
3 table spoons of water
scales
a mixing bowl
electric whisk
a loaf tin
The book of your choice. I was reading Whispers Underground, the third Rivers of London book – if you’ve never checked out this series before, do it! They’re amazing!

So, in the mixing bowl put the flour, sugar, butter, cinnamon, syrup and sauce into a bowl and start to whisk, once it starts coming together, add the water and continue mixing until you get a nice smooth mixture. Pour into a lined loaf tin and cook on 180 for 45 minutes. Which is ample time for reading! The Rivers of London books are kind of how I imagine life is like for ex Hogwarts students, Peter Grant is after all a police officer who also happens to be a wizard and spends his time solving supernatural crimes in London. If that doesn’t sound awesome enough, the whole thing is just so well written and funny and I did almost a little bit let the cake burn… I didn’t though its all good!
Once the 45 minutes are up, check the loaf is cooked and then stab it a little and pour a bit more maple syrup over the top. Leave it for a few minutes to soak in and then eat that bad boy because dear God, if there was ever something you didn’t know you needed, this is it.

Kids of Appetite

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Kids of Appetite – David Arnold

Let’s get some house keeping out of the way first, I need to thank the lovely people at Bookbridgr for sending me a copy of this and apologising profusely for not reading and reviewing this sooner, you see, I didn’t actually receive the book until I came back from Paris at which point I was half way through something else and then I ended up going over board on all the TV I had to catch up on and I didn’t finish this in my usual prompt manner. SORRY. Anyway, thanks for the book, I liked it and I will now get to the task at hand!

Victor Benucci and Madeline Falco have a story to tell.
It begins with the death of Vic’s father.
It ends with the murder of Mad’s uncle.
The Hackensack Police Department would very much like to hear it.
But in order to tell their story, Vic and Mad must focus on all the chapters in between.
This is a story about:
1. A coded mission to scatter ashes across New Jersey.
2. The momentous nature of the Palisades in winter.
3. One dormant submarine.
4. Two songs about flowers.
5. Being cool in the traditional sense.
6. Sunsets & ice cream & orchards & graveyards.
7. Simultaneous extreme opposites.
8. A narrow escape from a war-torn country.
9. A story collector.
10. How to listen to someone who does not talk.
11. Falling in love with a painting.
12. Falling in love with a song.
13. Falling in love.

Right, now we’re on track where do I even start with this?
You might remember I read Mosquitoland a little while ago, while I liked it and thought it was quirky and existentialist and all those fun things that I like, it did have a few things that niggled me, so I may have gone into this with my guard up but honestly, I had no reason to. This book was (like Mosquitoland) quirky and interesting, but it was also a beautiful, cleverly put together story of grief and forgiveness with the most interesting band of characters I have come across in a very long time.

What we have is a rag tag gang of sorts, Baz, the ring leader with a dark past, Zuz, his younger brother who manages to say so much by saying so little, Coco, she’s from Queens and she says what she thinks and then we have Mad and Vic. Vic the sentimental heart thinker who is pure gold and Mad, the girl running away from all her problems. These are the kids of appetite. Our story centres around Mad and Vic told  in their words in increments interspersed by police interviews, the two of them are in custody for an awful thing that has happened to an awful man. The kids of appetite are somehow involved, Mad and Vic are the key witnesses and slowly, but surely, we learn their story, what happened, how and why.

I think part of the beauty of this book is the way its told, the story itself is a sombre one, these are not happy kids, they are not in a good place, they all have their own baggage that they drag around with them. Even though this is a story about grief and forgiveness, it is also about the overwhelming bonds of friendships and connections. It has its own language in a way, we have the heroes (the super race horses) we have the villains (the side ways hugs) and we have all those people that fall in between. I feel like, in a way, Kids of Appetite is like a more existential, serious version of Wayne’s World in that it creates its own pop culture. Honestly, I’ll be seriously surprised if phrases from this don’t end up in every day conversation. David Arnold has kind of out done himself with this one, however, I do think his narration errs on the side of pretentious at times and there are a couple of moments when he slips off the edge and I end up rolling my eyes like come on dude, don’t try to outdo John Green with the epiphanies and stuff here, just tell me about these kids and where they’re going. For some, the style might be a bit much, I certainly don’t know any teenagers that talk this way, but then, I am a language nerd, I love seeing words used in interesting, fun new ways, so I was instantly drawn into Vic’s way of seeing the world with his super race horses and his heart thinkers, I loved the pace at which Coco’s thoughts and speech bound from one subject to another, I loved Baz’s straight talking and the way he considered stories and writing, I loved Mad’s infatuation with the Outsiders and weirdly, I loved Zuz’s silence. It’s eloquant, but I fear, might be an acquired taste.

If you’re looking for a non linear story with some smart alec kids, an interesting bunch of characters, a heavy story line and a pinch of hope, then I urge you to give this a try, its wildly different from anything else I’ve read this year also I’ve really not explained this very well at all which I blame entirely on the book, its kind of hard to explain a story like this that has so many different layers running through it!