Fancy a slice?

Cake is an ice breaker. It’s a little piece of comfort. You could be having ‘one of those days’; you’ve been caught in a sudden downpour of rain whilst running late for the bus and now have frizzy hair and a see-through shirt, plus your boss has just asked you to give a presentation in 20mins on a topic you’re not really sure you totally understand, and you’ve just seen that your ex has posted a photo on Instagram of his super-hot new girlfriend who looks like she’s not eaten a square meal in months, aaand then you’ve unexpectedly started your period and have no tampons in your handbag, so you’ve had to stuff a pile of toilet roll into your pants to get you through ‘till you can go to the shop at lunch time – all the really Earth-shattering stuff which isn’t important, but actually, really is… then someone offers you a slice of cake. And it’s like a big hug on a plate. I mean, I’m aware the answer to the meaning of life may not necessarily be as straightforward as 42, but a slice of cake can provide a moment of solace like nothing else when you hit those little lows.

Comfort isn’t shouted about enough. In fact, it’s almost referred to in a derogatory way; “I’ll go stick on my comfy (read: most-unflattering) pants”, “she’s gotten a bit comfy (read: fat) in her relationship”. But comfort doesn’t have to mean boring, stagnant or lacklustre. It’s about celebrating security and a few moments of joyful wellbeing. I like to feel comfortable in the clothes I wear, but I also want to look good. I want to be healthy, but I also really enjoy having that biscuit or cake. Everything in moderation is my mantra.

I grant that in certain cases we do need to push our own boundaries, face the fear and all of those other go-getting clichés. Without lifting self-imposed limitations or restrictions we would never move forward, for fear of failure. I certainly need pushing out of my comfort zone more than most. I seek comfort and reassurance through the tiniest of rituals and routines which I feel help me get through the day unscathed. Yet, new challenges allow us to grow and develop both our confidence and skills. This is something I am excited to explore. It is still reassuring to me, however, to keep some of those old comforts in the proverbial horizon, just visible out of the corner of our mind’s eye, you know – as back up.

Baking can be a vessel to challenging ourselves. It’s relaxing, sometimes perplexing, often frustrating and allows us to fail in a non-threatening environment. Anyone can bake; any age, any ability, it’s not just a mystical black art for those with too much time on their hands. Like anything, having a go is the key to success. I like to use visual representations to explain my processes and recipes, without the usual accompanying jargon. It’s baking made easy. I hope it’ll inspire you to get in the kitchen and expand your skillset too. Once you’re eating that first homemade cupcake you’ll wonder why you didn’t begin sooner.

So, here on Easydoughsy, I hope to step outside of my own customary boundaries and share with you some of my most favourite recipes, fashion quests, lifestyle and wellbeing discoveries. Whatever the topic, we’ll always keep that comforting slice of cake there in the background. Make sure you follow the Easydoughsy Instagram account and blog here at Easydoughsy.com for regular updates.

Baking doesn’t have to be difficult, it can be Easydoughsy.

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#comfort #comfortzone #challenge #cake #baking #bakingmadeeasy #stepbystep #Scotland #Aberdeenshire #Easydoughsy #blog #firstpost

Carrot Loaf Cake

Carrot cake is the best of all the cakes. (In my opinion, at least!) This loaf cake recipe is quick, easy, and most importantly – tasty!

This recipe takes around 20mins to prepare and 1 hour 15mins to bake.

Ingredients (makes 1 loaf)

  • Vegetable oil (140ml)
  • 2 eggs
  • Light brown sugar (200g)
  • Grated carrots (300g)
  • Raisins (100g)
  • Self raising flour (180g)
  • A pinch of salt
  • ½ tsp of bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp mixed spice

Icing ingredients

  • Cream cheese (180g)
  • Butter (40g)
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • Icing sugar (200g)
  • Zest of one lemon and one orange

Making the mixture

  1. Set the oven to 150degC (fan).
  2. First, line a standard sized loaf tin with grease proof paper and give a quick rub with a drop of oil.
  3. Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Grate the carrots.
  5. Add the oil, brown sugar, carrots and raisins into the mixing bowl and mix to combine.
  6. Sift the self raising flour into the bowl, followed by the salt, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and mixed spice into the bowl.
  7. Mix thoroughly.
  8. Pour the mixture into the baking tin and place in the oven for approximately 1hr 15 minutes.
  9. Check that a skewer comes out clean and transfer to a wire rack to cool. (Keep it in the tin for the first 10 minutes before turning out onto the rack)

Prepare the icing

  1. Beat the cream cheese and butter together in a bowl using a metal spoon.
  2. Add the vanilla essence and half the grated zests.
  3. Sift the icing sugar and mix until the icing is smooth.
  4. Spread the icing over the cooled cake.
  5. Top with the remaining lemon zest

Make sure you store the cake somewhere cool to prevent the cream cheese icing from running or spoiling.

To be fair, it probably won’t hang around long enough to spoil – everyone will be after a slice!

#Easydoughsy #recipe #blog #Aberdeenshire #baking #Scotland #cake #carrotcake #bakingmadeeasy #stepbystep #homebake #homemade #homebaking #blogger #Aberdeenshirebloggers #Scottishbloggers

Banana Bread

Banana bread is the perfect autumnal recipe for cosy evenings at home!

This recipe takes around 20mins to prepare and 1 hours to bake.

Ingredients (makes 1 loaf)

  • Margarine (100g)
  • Caster sugar (100g)
  • Self raising flour (225g)
  • 1/2tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 to 4 bananas (depends on size!)
  • 2tsp mixed spice

Making the mixture

  1. Set the oven to 150degC (fan).
  2. First, grease a standard sized loaf tin using a slither of margarine.
  3. Measure out the margarine and caster sugar into a large mixing bowl.
  4. Cream the marg and sugar together using the back of a spoon.
  5. Next, sieve the flour into the mixing bowl, followed by the baking powder and a pinch of salt.
  6. Add the eggs and mix thoroughly until completely combined. The mixture will be slightly stiff (don’t worry!)
  7. Place the bananas into a plastic bowl and mash with a fork until mushy.
  8. Beat the mashed banana into the cake batter, allowing plenty of air into the mixture, and ensuring that the banana is evenly distributed throughout.
  9. Add the mixed spice and stir well.
  10. Pour mixture into the tin & bake for approximately 1 hour until well risen and firm to the touch.

Finishing Touches

  1. Allow to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire cooling rack.
  2. Once cooled, cut into slices and serve.

(I recommend a large cup of tea as an accompaniment x x )

#Easydoughsy #recipe #blog #Aberdeenshire #baking #Scotland #cake #bananabread #bakingmadeeasy #stepbystep #homebake #homemade #homebaking #blog #blogger #Aberdeenshirebloggers #Scottishbloggers

 

Flu jab

Tuesday was flujab day.

A seemingly insignificant day in most people’s calendars. However, I feel it’s an important one to share.

Last winter saw a huge surge in UK hospital admissions (5,300 by February alone) for flu, and almost 3 times the number of deaths from flu related illness as was recorded the previous year. This was due to a particularly nasty mix of strains of flu breaking out concurrently across the country, coupled with some awful weather. GPs and hospitals were swamped, putting additional strain on the resources of our lovely NHS.

Despite not having any of the medical conditions which increase the risk of developing complications from flu, I can verify (from experience) that having flu is grim. I’m keen to avoid that situation again, if at all possible.

So, therefore, I’m incredibly lucky that my workplace offered free vaccinations to all staff located in Aberdeen this year.

The appointment itself took less than 5 minutes. First, the friendly nurse discussed my overall health to check if there was any reason I shouldn’t receive the vaccine at that time. Next, she ran through some of the most common side-effects. She suggested that to reduce the possibility of developing side-effects I should keep well hydrated and not over exert myself in the gym within the next 24 hours. (She didn’t have to give me that advice twice!) The injection itself was fairly painless, delivered straight into the muscle of the upper arm. To be honest, it was very similar to most other vaccines I’ve had in recent years.

After the vaccine was delivered, I was asked to stay in the waiting area for 10 minutes to check for any adverse or allergic reactions. Once the all clear was granted I was able to skip off back to work. Job done.

Additionally, I learnt at my flu jab appointment, that by vaccinating myself I am helping to reduce the possibility of passing flu on to my colleagues, family and friends – who may be less able to fight a flu virus than I. There are also people who cannot have the flu vaccine for medical reasons, such as allergies. By helping to reduce the spread of flu, these groups will indirectly benefit also. Win, win.

While the flu vaccine cannot cause flu, as there are no live viruses within it, some people report feeling unwell after it. Personally I suffered nothing more than a ‘heavy’ arm from the injection. I believe this is the standard response, so really there’s no excuse not to get it done!

It will take 2-3 weeks now for my body to build up the correct antibodies, and develop immunity to this year’s most prominent flu virus strains. Finger’s crossed for a healthy flu-free winter ahead for all of us!

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/flu-influenza-vaccine/

#flujab #vaccine #vaccination #fluseason #health #flufighter #healthy #fitness #strong #winter #Blog #Aberdeen #Aberdeenshire #Scotland #Aberdeenblogger #Scottishblogger #Lifestyleblogger #newblogger

Breathe

I’ve been away for a while. A lot has been going on; I’ve changed jobs, I’ve changed out my car (after 8 happy years of motoring together), I’ve been juggling a busy schedule and I’ve been working hard to maintain my commitment to volunteer each week.

What I’ve not been so good at is taking time out. Time to breathe.

I find I can’t sit still when I know there’s tasks to be done. Dishes in the sink, laundry in the basket, dog hair on the floor: these chores all weigh on my mind. I’ve realised that whilst I’ve been trying to keep the household afloat, and at the same time adapt to a new job, I’ve been letting my personal downtime slide. My “me-time” activities – reading, baking, sketching, even blogging – they’ve all fallen by the wayside. By way of example; at the end May I’d read 7 books this year. This figure, at the end of October, still stands at 7.

Mindfulness, the act of bringing your attention to the present, is exceptionally prominent in both the press and social media. Now, more than ever, we are aware of the importance of downtime and self care. It prevents burnout, allows us to appreciate the moment, and generally makes us happier people who are a joy to be around. So why do we feel guilty taking time out for ourselves? – I believe it has something to do with perception. I, like many women, feel that I am expected to portray the notion that I am on top of things at all times. After a full week of work, evening activities/commitments, cooking and housework, “down time” just keeps slipping further down the to-do list. There’s always a higher priority. I don’t want to be seen to be failing.

Today I read a BBC news article about the so-called millennial phenomenon of FOMOMG (Fear Of Missing Out on My Goals). This is the situation where the fear of missing your own personal life goals causes the goal-setter both stress and anxiety. I definitely can relate to the women in the article. I judge my “life-progress” based upon a mixture of milestones set by the generation before, the progress of my peers and the achievements of those who I follow on Instagram. Dwelling on what I have and haven’t achieved can easily spiral into blind panic. My teenage, or even early twenty-something year old self, would have anticipated that I’d be married with kids and in a senior role at work by now. Life doesn’t quite work out how you imagine it though… I’ve sometimes got to remind myself how lucky I am already.

So, in order to prevent myself from becoming a large ball of stress, I’ve decided I need to make a conscious effort to chill. I’m going to work hard at “allowing” myself free time to do all the (on the surface) frivolous tasks which I enjoy and make me chirpier in every aspect of my life. I’m not going to set any fixed targets for my downtime, for fear of adding to my already bulging to-do list. Instead, I’m just going to make time to breathe.

I’ll keep you posted with how I’m getting on.

#Easydoughsy #Aberdeenshire #Aberdeen #Breathe #Relax #Selfcare #Scotland #Scottishblogger #Aberdeenblogger #Slowdown #Blog #Challenge #Community #FOMOMG #Metime #Mindfulness #Wellness #Relaxing #Chilltime

BBC article: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45894506

 

Ode to Mary Berry

Mary Berry is a queen. I mean, not only can the woman produce a damn fine Victoria Sponge, but she has raised a family whilst cultivating a 6-decade long career. She’s the ultimate girl boss in my eyes, with high moral standards and even higher standards in food presentation.

My admiration for Mary is well known. People will text me to let me know when ‘the Bezza’ is on TV, my family have sourced many Great British Bake Off related birthday gifts for me over the years, and on parting company with my previous employer, I was even presented with a copy of Mary Berry’s ‘Classic’ recipe book as a leaving gift.

I enjoy Mary Berry’s characteristic take on home-baking and home-cooking. From her opinions on “soggy bottoms” to her love of “informal” presentations; she’s unpretentious, methodical and simply hopes to encourage everyone to make a stab at creating delicious meals at home. This outlook on baking fits well with my ethos for Easydoughsy – don’t over-complicate things, and have a go! I can only hope that someday I will execute my bakes with the same poise and grace as Mary!

Mary has amassed somewhat of a cult following as a result of her time on the Great British Bake Off (GBBO). I believe this is predominantly down to her cheeky sense of humour, love of booze, and inspiring fashion choices. Fashion, in particular, isn’t often something you’d associate with an 80-something year old. However, Mary has become a style icon in her own right. Her love of brightly coloured blazers from the high street caused a stir, triggering several sell outs of bright/floral jackets across both M&S and Zara. Mary has broken down barriers through these blazers – forcing the public to readdress how they view older people, and older women specifically. These brightly coloured uniforms are not just a style choice, but an important symbol. They enabled Mary to stand out from the crowd; all eyes on her and her invaluable knowledge, gained through many years of hard-earned experience. Woman should no longer become invisible in the media once they hit a certain age. Showing diversity on our screens is key to providing people of all ages with inspiration and positive reinforcement… we all need a good role-model, after all.

So, as one of my most cherished heroines, Mary will always be at the forefront of my mind throughout my baking adventures. When I come across a challenge or dilemma I like to imagine… “what would Mary do?”. And, of course, when considering any baking advice, the final word should invariably be from Mary. – ‘In Mary we trust!’

In tribute to Mary, here’s my attempt at one of her most classic bakes – the Victoria Sponge. This recipe can be found, for free, online at BBC Food.

https://www.bbc.com/food/recipes/mary_berrys_perfect_34317

Ingredients 

  • Self raising flour (225g)
  • Margarine (225g)
  • Caster sugar (225g)
  • Baking powder (pinch)
  • 4 eggs

Prep the cakes

  1. Grease two 20cm cake tins and line with baking paper.
  2. Set the oven to 180 degC.
  3. Weigh out the ingredients into a large bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. (mixing the egg and sugar together first, followed by the flour and eggs can aid the mixing process – particularly if you’re mixing by hand!)
  4. Divide the mixture between the 2 trays as evenly as you can.
  5. Pop the cakes in the middle shelf of the oven for 20-25mins.

Building the cake

  1. Turn the cakes out onto a wire rack for cooling.
  2. Once the cakes have fully cooled, generously pour raspberry jam over the top of one cake before sandwiching the other firmly on top.
  3. Dust the cake with icing sugar to serve.

#queen #sponge #victoriasandwich #girlboss #classic #informal #nosoggybottom #maryberry #GBBO #cake #baking #stepbystep #blog #Scotland #Aberdeenshire #Easydoughsy

Ultimate guide to prepping for GBBO Ep1

  1. Buy snacks. It’s top of the list for a reason… you will end up hungry and craving sugar. Unfortunately, this is just a fact we have to accept. For bonus points, bake your own cake in advance (but prepare to feel inadequate, as the bakers produce edible masterpieces on-screen).
  2. Research the contestants and then swiftly choose your favourite based upon their 3 sentence back story and photograph alone. It’s shallow, totally unfounded and you’ll probably choose the contestant whose life most closely resembles your own, but at least you’ll have someone to cheer for from the outset. Bios for each of the contestants can be found at the GBBO instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/britishbakeoff
  3. Book-out the living room between 7.50pm and 9pm. You will require complete and unrestricted access to both the TV and sofa, so it is safer just to claim the room for yourself. Channel hopping in the advert breaks is also strictly forbidden, for fear of missing a single moment of the action.
  4. Taking this a step further, from 7pm onwards, start to remove all potential distractions. This means feed the dog, put the kids to bed, close the curtains, send the husband to the shed (and no I don’t care if it’s cold and getting dark) – whatever it takes dammit!
  5. With 8pm looming, change into PJs and slippers. Transform the snuggliest blanket in the house into a super hero cape for extra coziness. Please note: bras are prohibited… they stifle the joy.
  6. Boil the kettle and make a nice cup or tea/coffee/hot chocolate with mini marshmallows/Ovaltine (if that’s your bag?!). Remember to swoosh your blanket cape behind you as you race across the kitchen between the fridge and the mug tree.
  7. Gather your snacks / hot beverage of choice and park your bum on the sofa. Open your mind to the world of innuendos, Hollywood handshakes and Toksvig/Fielding quirky comedy. Embrace the familiarity of the 3 challenge format and star baker award. It’s time to welcome GBBO back into your life.
  8. Discussions start at 9pm. Bring any leftover biscuits pls.

#GBBO #GreatBritishBakeOff #snacks #ultimateguide #Easydoughsy #Blog #joy #comfort #cake #Ep1

Run a mile

I go through phases when it comes to fitness and, in particular, running. Sometimes I’m super-motivated and training towards a particular race or event, other times it’s been so long since I’ve run that I’ve forgotten where I’ve left my trainers.

At one point I used to drag myself to the gym 4 times a week, hop on a treadmill and not allow myself to stop until I had run the 5,6,8 or 10kms I needed to do to keep up with my training plan. With the rigmarole of having to mentally prepare myself for the slog of each gym session, I felt like I was getting nowhere fast. I would break up my running time into 10-minute slots, hating each and every moment. The first 10 minutes were all about trying to get a steady breathing pattern going, the second 10 minutes would just be about making it through to the final 10-minute slot, where the mantra there was “nearly done, don’t stop now!”. I did improve my fitness levels, lost a bit of weight and even managed to speed up a little. But the daily dread of having to re-start my 30-minute torment was something that not even a motivational playlist could fix! Therefore, after completing a half marathon, I hung up my running shoes.

Fast forward a couple of years, after taking some time out with an injury, I have been slowly trying to get back into running. I’ve taken to the roads this time though – no more treadmills for me! I want to enjoy exercise, not fear it. I learnt to run without music, enjoying the world around me instead of pounding beats. I downloaded Strava to track my runs… though quickly deleted it, deciding it wasn’t for me – I didn’t like the competitive nature of the app. That nagging feeling of having to keep up a certain pace to avoid looking like a failure in front of your followers didn’t fit my needs. However, I can see how this works for others, particularly those in training for an event where they hope to achieve a ‘good time’. For the first time in my life I’ve been on runs with a running partner. My boyfriend and I will take the dog out and run ‘a loop’ near where we live. I enjoy the social aspect of running with a companion – I find it provides me with motivation to keep going, although sometimes I do get paranoid about being too slow for him!

This week I made a massive break-through. I enjoyed my run. I took it slowly, I didn’t worry about what time I was clocking and I just enjoyed running for the sake of running.

Don’t get me wrong, there are still days where I have to force myself to put on my trainers and get outside (I’m very much a fair-weather runner!), and there are often weeks where I don’t run at all. But I’m working on striking that balance.

#running #runningtime #runningmotivation #exerciseroutine #outside #outdoors #exerciseforfun #balance #fitness #fitnessfun #blog #Scotland #Aberdeenshire #Easydoughsy