Coffee and Walnut Cake

So its my busiest time in college right now and the two things I think everyone needs is a bit of cheering up and caffeine! So my solution is coffee and walnut cake. It is a simple cake to make, with not that many ingredients and is the perfect study break. Or that’s what I think my classmates would have said if they weren’t so tired…!

Ingredients

For the cake:ingredients for coffee and walnut cake

6 oz Self Raising Flour

6 oz  Butter (softened)

6 oz Caster Sugar

3 eggs

4 tablespoons of instant coffee powder

1 tablespoon boiling water

3 oz walnuts

1. First preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4 and grease and line the base of two 7 or 8 inch tins.

lined tins

2. Dissolve the coffee granules in the hot water. This is be really sticky at first and as the water cools in may become harder to mix it in. If this happens just place the cup with the coffee in it in a bowl of hot water and continue mixing. The heat will help the coffee dissolve. Make sure it is all dissolved or else there will be pockets of really concentrated coffee in the finished cake. Leave this aside to cool.

coffee

3. Next mix the butter, sugar, flour and eggs together using an electric mixer until smooth.

cake mixturecake mix finished

4. Chop up the walnuts.

5. Ensuring the coffee mixture is totally cooled, pour it into the cake mixture.

5. Add the walnuts and stir with a wooden spoon until it is all combined. Be sure not to overmix!

6. Spread the mixture evenly among the two tins.

coffee and walnut

7. Place in the top shelf of the oven for 30 minutes. They are finished when the cake springs back to touch or a skewer comes out clean.

The Icing

icing ingredients

So while the cakes are baking you can make the icing.

Ingredients:

2 oz Butter (softened)

4 oz Icing sugar

1 tablespoon of instant coffee powder

1 tablespoon of boiling water

Walnuts to decorate

1. Dissolve the instant coffee powder in the boiling water.

2. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and add the butter.

3. Mix together using an electric mixture.

4. Add the coffee mixture (make sure it is cool!) and mix again.

coffee buttercream

My finished cakes just out of the oven!

cake in tincoffee and walnut

Wait for the cakes to cool and sandwich them together with the buttercream. Then apply another layer on top of the cakes and decorate with walnuts.

Coffee and Walnut Caketop Coffee and Walnut cake

And a very happy study break!

Coffee and Walnut cake slice Coffee and Walnut cake cut!

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Decorating Cakes with Fondant

So I love baking and as I have done it more and more I try and try new things. When I started out it was a huge challenge for me to use fondant to decorate cakes and when I became more familiar using it I then moved on to actually begin modelling out of fondant. I started out with quite 2D basic decorations and moved on to modelling roses and some characters.

I found these videos the most helpful when learning how to use fondant properly.

Making the roses is really simple. All you need is a rolling pin, icing sugar and whatever coloured fondant you want. Here are some examples of how I have used roses to decorate cakes.

White fondant covered one teir cake decorated with colour roses White cake with yellow, pink and red roses.

Cream buttercream cupcakes decorated with pink roses and daisies

The next step for me was to model actual figures out of fondant. This was a really long process so I have only actually made one cake using figures. (It was my brother’s birthday cake so it was worth the effort!) They were held together by a lot of cocktail sticks, but it turned out really well. I think modelling people will be my next challenge!

Christmas birthday cake with ploar bears and penguin

Why is Cloud Computing Important for Digital Marketing?

So my challenge: to make an infographic. And yes it is a challenge. An infographic is not just a pretty picture, its needs to communicate statistics by using relevant and appealing pictures, charts, diagrams, images etc. To make mine I used easel.ly. This is a new free web-based tool which is used for making infographics. Its in beta, but it worked perfectly for me, though it did take a bit of getting used to. Though it is limited in the shapes and backgrounds you can use, it is easy to use and very aesthetically pleasing (which was a big plus for me!). Also it has a gridline option thats help you align everything very simply. Go use it, I definitely recommend it. Or if it is not for you, check out some others, recommended by SEOmoz.

Choosing my topic was easy enough. Having had experience in the past few months running a cloud based Twitter account I have read a lot of articles, blogs and infographics on cloud computing. This has made me begin to understand the scope, importance and impact that cloud computing is having and will continue to have on the business, digital and marketing world. I think it is crucially important that we as digital marketers make an conscious effort to understand cloud computing and big data, and understand what they both mean for the future of digital marketing.

So here it is!

Why is Cloud Computing Important for Digital Marketing Infographic

Cherry-Buckett, The Baker

So while I love to read, I also love to bake. I started baking a lot about 2 years ago and I got really into it, and have made a lot of cakes for my family and friends for many occasions. This post will be a photo posting about the past cakes I have made!

Rainblow blue Smartie two tier cake

This was one of the very first cakes I made, the photo quality is pretty bad but I also think this cake is pretty shocking! They get better I promise!

This was for my friend Eleanor’s birthday a few years ago. So girly! (That is really meant ironically, because she really isn’t girly….)

Yellow and Pink two tier pearl flower Cake

This next cake was for a friend of the family, a girl called Jenny. It was her 21st and I made her this birthday cake and also 100 cupcakes. I think I really underestimated how much time all that would take but I enjoyed doing it even if I had dreams of buttercream  for weeks after all that……

Giant Cupcake Pink Daisy Cake     giant pink and daisy cupcake

And a few really artistic shots of the many many cupcakes made for that 21st….

Pink cupcakes           Yellow and Purple Cupcakes

The next cake I will show you all is a birthday cake made for my friends Clara and Jennifer. Together we three make up the tripod! It was a two tier cake with a devil’s food cake top tier and a Victoria sponge bottom tier, decorated with lovehearts. I made this cake in April of this year for their 23rd and 22nd birthdays. There was a lot of cake clean up involved the next day…

Two tier pink green white loveheart cake

My mam and dad were 25 years married this year, and myself and my brother threw them a party during the summer.  The party was a great success, (there are some seriously great air guitar attempts I’m sure my Dad will want to stay hidden forever!) This is the cake I made them, coloured inside and all!

White Loveheart red heart cake       Eaten coloured inside cake

So the next cake is a medal cake. Ta da! The Mini Marathon is a big thing in my family and all the women do it every year. Although I have actually ran it twice, this year my contribution was this cake. Much better than all that running around….

Gold Medal Red Ribbon CAKE

Christmas time now! Such a great time for excuses to make cakes and no one tells me to go away because they are on a diet. Here is a few things I made last Christmas. Note I had to tear a few hands away from the Rudolph cupcakes to take the photo, hence the mess!

Christmas chocolate Yule Log       Rudolph Cupcakes

The last cake is what I made for my granny’s most recent birthday, she was 73. The rainbow theme cake was out again, but this is a bit better than my first attempt!

Blue one tier smartie rainbow cake

So I think that is enough and we will complete the tour of my cake world. I’m always looking for any excuse to make cakes, so if you have said excuse, let me know!

Cherry-Buckett, The Bookworm

Book Number 2.The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Me and my copy of The Time Traveler's Wife

“This is the extraordinary love story of Clare and Henry who met when Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-two and Henry was thirty. Impossible but true, because Henry suffers from a rare condition where his genetic clock periodically resets and he finds himself pulled suddenly into his past or future. In the face of the force they can neither prevent nor control, Henry and Clare’s struggle to lead normal lives is both intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.”

You may have seen the film, and while I did actually enjoy it, it is a terrible representation of a very complex, saddening and intriguing book. Even if I do love Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana. (Regina George and Hector? How can you not love that?) So, worth watching just for them in my opinion.

This book deals with the phenomenon of a man (boy?), Henry, who throughout his life, has unexpected, unpredictable moments where he is transported to another moment of his life, past or present. A bit of a reach perhaps and I found it hard to follow sometimes, but once you get your head around the time travelling and get through the first part it is such a readable book.

The intriguing aspects of this book for me were the relationship between Clare and Henry and also the many unique scenes between the real present time Henry and the time traveled Henry, the one from the future or the past.  Henry and Clare’s relationship is told in a beautiful way, I really believed them as soulmates, how they fought to stay together, how they couldn’t keep away from each other even when it seemed to be the right thing to do. One of the main reason I love books, and why I believe everyone connects with a story, is how that story makes you feel. It  doesn’t matter what it is about, or how it is written, it is how a story of two people and their feelings for each other on paper can stir up emotion in the reader. With Henry and Clare, you are immediately touched by their unwavering love for each other, you feel inspired by their strong  unique connection and you root for them. You feel Clare’s sadness and loneliness and Henry’s frustration and anxiety. We all love a good love story and that is why so many books have become successful  because they make readers feel sad or feel inspired or identify with the story.

Read this book! It is so beautiful and sad, with a very unexpected ending. I was quite annoyed at the ending at first, but now I find it quite fitting, even if it is so sad.

There are many wonderful scenes within the book where Clare meets a Henry from the past or from the future. This is such an unusual idea and it creates such intriguing scenes where Clare interacts with Henry at much younger or older ages then her present Henry or when she herself is young. This is one of the saddest parts of the book, that throughout Clare’s life she is always waiting for Henry, either waiting for her present Henry to return or waiting for a past or future Henry that she knows will arrive at any time. The prologue of the book says it beautifully in Clare’s words:

“It’s hard being left behind. I wait for Henry, not knowing where he is, wondering if he’s okay. It’s hard to be the one who stays…..He vanishes unwillingly, without warning. I wait for him. Each moment I wait feels like a year, an eternity. Each moment is as slow and transparent as glass. Through each moment I can see infinite moments lined up, waiting. Why has he gone where I cannot follow?”

Cherry-Buckett, The Bookworm

So I love to read. Big surprise given my uniquely named post yes? (I can make no promises that I will stop the name puns anytime soon by the way). And so I wanted to talk about something on my blog that I really love, which is my favourite books, the ones I have read many, many times and that I fear lending to anyone (I am still missing a copy of a certain book, the lendee shall remain nameless and it is three years later and I still cannot let it go….). I love owning books. It may sound strange, but I don’t really get libraries. I mean, what if I want to read it again? Also I have never had a very pleasant library experience, odd fellow library users, suspicious characters on computers, and library employees who act appalled when I want to check out in a book. (“Oh fine then, I’ll do it for you”) Oh I’m sorry, did I disturb you by wanting to use the service you are paid to provide?! And don’t lend me a book. Ever. Recommend one to me, yes I would love loads of recommendations for good books. But lend me one and I will either never give it back, or be devastated when I have to return it.

So onto my favourite books. I have picked books on certain criteria. Firstly, ones that I have been compelled to read multiple times, and secondly, ones that have stayed with me, that I have remembered years and years after I have read them. Soppy I know, but please be gentle, don’t judge! I also don’t want to give you a summary of each book. You should go and read them! But in order to give a bit of background, and make my telling of why they are great books make sense, I am going to include the blurb from each of the books.

Seeing as I have a lot of favourites, I will try and do one a week, and since they aren’t being one by preference  at the end I will try my hardest to rate them.

1. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

Me and my copy of We Need To Talk About Kevin

“Shorly before his sixteenth birthday, Kevin Khatchadourian kills seven of his fellow high-school students, a cafeteria worker and a teacher. He is visited in prison by his mother, Eva, who narrates in a series of letters to her estranged husband, Franklin, the story of Kevin’s upbringing.”

This is such a beautiful book. Beautiful might seem like a very odd choice of adjective to use given what the novel is actually about, but the style of writing and the imagery just makes it so easy to read and to visualize Eva’s world.

Its content can be quite difficult to stomach for some readers perhaps but I find morbid stories and plots so gripping. (Again, let us not judge!) The way the story is told through the eyes of Eva, the mother of Kevin, leads to a very interesting point of view. I found it made me start to ask, is what she saying completely true? Is it her fault? Is she provoking the child? Is it just her perhaps mistaken perception? Or is it a very honest account of a very unique child? I had this conversation with my mam, who also read the book and we actually completely disagreed! I thoroughly believed Eva’s point of view and empathised with her, while my mam, who took a mother’s point of view, disagreed, and had the opinion that Eva did not try hard enough with Kevin, and that as a child, he shouldn’t be blamed.

I think what is so interesting and gripping about this novel, is the character of Kevin. It is intriguing as a reader to meet a character so completely different, and so strange to anyone you’ve ever met. I could never predict what Kevin would do next, his character is so introverted, extremely intelligent, observant and self controlled. It is fascinating to see how he acts, and to try to understand why he does what he does.

The ending. I just don’t know how to say anything without giving it away. Its such a clever little twist into something you thought you already knew was going to happen the exact way you had in your head. And that is all I will say!

It is a sad book, mainly because of the severe isolation you can feel with Eva. She started her life with her husband, young, in love, travelling the world, free from responsibility, famous and successful. And soon she is lonely, isolated, villianized and secretive. You root with her, you are ashamed of her, you feel her despair and her struggle with her relationship with Kevin. This truly is a great book, though it does leave you feeling a bit sad.

Put it in the Knowledge Bank!

So this post is going to tell you all about the many new things I have learnt in the past week. Seeing as I am a new student and also an observant human being (If I do say so myself!) , I learn many new things every day!

Firstly I learnt how marshmallow is made. Maybe everyone knows this, but I certainly didn’t. It is made from egg whites, sugar and corn syrup! It is kind of just a meringue mix whisked over heat with syrup it in. I will definitely being trying this. Friends can expect homemade marshmallows as Christmas presents this year! All credit to The Great British Bake Off for adding to my knowledge bank! (Come on James and John!)

I also learnt about HTML, and wrote my first HTML page. This is in bold. Fascinating stuff. Hopefully by the end of my Web Design module I’ll look at those pages and think they are ridiculous in their simplicity!

I went to a seminar called Get Creative where we talked about many things, (including yellow cars, digging holes and broken guitars) but mainly we learnt about Six Thinking Hats. These coloured hats are described by the creator, Edward de Bono, of The de Bono Group as “a simple, effective parallel thinking process that helps people be more productive, focused, and mindfully involved”. (debonogroup.com/six_thinking_hats.php)

It is an interesting concept , delivered by the energetic Nigel Newman pictured below.

Each hat is used to encourage a different way of thinking, to help us to stop thinking laterally and start us thinking in different ways, ways that will spark creativity and get us asking more questions and finding ideas that we never would have before.

  • The White Hat is the hat of information, it call for us to think of just the facts.
  • The Yellow Hat is the optimistic hat, probing us to find value and benefits.
  • The Black Hat is the negative hat, helping us identify the problems, risks and examine why something is not working.
  • The Red Hat is the emotional hat, where we use feeling and intuition and can express any likes, dislikes or hunches.
  • The Green Hat is the hat of creativity, the important one! This hat pushes us to think of alternatives, opportunities and different possibilities. It is in this area we can explore new paths, examine different perceptions and ask why.
  • The Blue Hat is the control hat, the hat used to mange all the other processes. It helps guide the process through each of the hats and ensures everything is working smoothly.

I found the seminar really interesting. The Six Hat process started out as a book and I think I will make it my mission to read it this year. I find I can often struggle with the creative process sometimes and hopefully this will show me some new ways to overcome that. Check out the website for the de Bono Group to find about more about what they do.

Until next week! Knowledge Bank over and out.