Marble Bundt Cake

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I needed a cake to serve over Christmas that wasn't too rich, or too sweet. Just something to stave off the sugar cravings and to serve with coffee.

I don't know why Bundt cakes aren't more popular in the UK. Using a Bundt tin is such an easy way to make an impression and there seem to be a worrying amount of people who think that you've sculpted the cake yourself, on presenting it. The best known brand of tin is produced by Nordic Ware. As Bundts are a US concoction, the best way to discern the volume of batter which any tin can take, is to check how many cups it holds.  The standard tin seems to take ten cups, but there are variations on this, so look out.

Speculoos Spiced Apple Cake


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Lotus Biscuits are the only reason for being nice to your hairdresser.

I am joking, of course; they are not the only reason.  If you are not nice to your hairdresser, they will pretend to listen to you and understand that you definitely just want a trim. They will then get 'distracted', cut three inches off, then make out that this was what you told them that you wanted.

But back to Lotus biscuits.  These are the only brand of speculoos biscuits that you can widely buy in the UK and they are delicious.  In certain hairdressing chains, you get a single wrapped Lotus biscuit with your coffee.  You eat this, then ask for another one. Then, when the receptionist goes to get you another one, you call them back and tell them that they may as well just grab a handful of biscuits, as you are hypoglycemic and can't sit in one position for more than 15 minutes without going into a coma.

Speculoos biscuits are a lovely, short biscuit, from the Netherlands, that taste of spiced brown butter. A few months ago, I learned from I Heart Cupcakes that there is such a thing as speculoos spread, or paste. Which reminds me:

Pulla Bread


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I've been feeling very sluggish and lazy over the past couple of weeks. Baking and cooking has given way to picking at leftovers, or plumping for cheese and crackers for tea, rather than standing at a stove.

In an attempt to jump start my brain and body, I've joined a gym. My local leisure centre has just been refurbished and in addition to treadmills etc., has a good pool and 'health suite', i.e. sauna and steam room.

Three guesses where most of my time's being spent. My frizzier-than-usual hair should be your first clue.

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Anyway, in what is probably one of the clumsiest segues in history, on we go to my other Nordic indulgence this month.

Pulla is a Finnish bread which traditionally gets served up at Christmas. It is meant to be sweet, light and laced with cardamom. I imagined it to be extremely good with coffee.

My Perfect Autumn Cake: Blackberry & Apple Crumble Cake


Blackberry & Apple Crumble Cake

When I was little, I used to go foraging for blackberries in the hedges by Kneller Hall. Kneller Hall is home to the Royal Military School of Music, so you can often see the recruits on parade practice inside the grounds. There is something instrinsically funny to me about the sound of brass, so this is always a joy to watch.

Even more frequently, if you are a cyclist or walker on the local river towpaths, you can enjoy almost being knocked down the riverbank by a pack of recruits, out on a run in full combat gear. I exaggerate, of course. The men and women who reside at Kneller Hall are exemplary specimens of the human race, who would never point and laugh at a cyclist who'd fallen off their bike.

Oh. Apart from the ones who told 9-year old me, upon finding me scrummaging through the aforementioned blackberry hedges, that if I climbed into the grounds again, I'd be shot on sight.

I was too scared to even walk past the grounds for years after that.

Blackberry & Apple Crumble Cake


White Chocolate and Jasmine Tea Cupcakes

Jasmine Tea Cupcakes

One of the most popular posts on this blog, is the write-up of the jasmine tea macarons, which I made as one of my earliest submissions to MacTweets.

When I made these macarons, I had what seemed like a ton of leftover white chocolate and jasmine ganache.  Ganache is easy to make, in theory, being a simple one part cream to one part chocolate.  But I never seem to get the consistency right on the first attempt, so I inevitably end up adding a bit of extra cream, then a bit of extra chocolate, etc.

In this case, the leftover ganache was put onto a batch of vanilla cupcakes. It was far too runny, but the result was so tasty that I decided to adapt the ganache to make it frosting friendly and to match it to a jasmine tea cupcake. I brought a refined batch of these to last year's Cupcake Camp London, following which I got a couple of e-mails asking for the recipe, so it was about time I got round to posting it.

Breakfast Club 14 Round Up: Potatoes


Sorry, potato heads, this round up is horribly late and also missing a full submission from the host. Very poor form, I know. In my defence I will explain that I made potato bread, cheese and chive potato cakes with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce and spiced hash browns for this month's Breakfast Club.


However I have been working such insane hours at work, that my weekends are consumed at the moment with catching up on housework, chores and trying to actually get out of the house for some much needed daylight and fun (working 0600-1900 will do that for you). I haven't really felt inclined to stay indoors setting up photos. So all three potato recipes were eaten before I photographed them, or did much in the way to backtrack in my mind regarding how I made them, so I could write up the recipe.


I can tell you that out of the three, the cheese and chive potato cakes were tremendous and the potato bread was a waste of Maris Pipers and gas. I will write up a belated submission for the potato cakes, but really, all you need is some leftover cheesy mashed potato with chives and sour cream stirred in, a beaten egg and some seasoned flour. Heat groundnut or sunflower oil in a frying pan over a high heat (enough to create a very shallow pool)and while the oil is heating, quickly form patty cakes of mashed potato, then drag these through a bowl containing the beaten egg, then dunk and coat in the seasoned flour, this being contained in another bowl.


Gently lower these into the oil, and shallow fry until each side of the cake is golden brown. Transfer to a piece of kitchen towel to absorb the excess oil, before transferring to a warm plate.

These served well with the hollandaise and poached egg mentioned above. But I also oven heated the leftover cakes the next day and served these with mustardy pork chops and some greens, which was phenomenal.

Brentford Festival, Sunday 4th September


Just a little reminder that Vanilla Frost and I will be selling cakes and cakey stuff at this Sunday's Brentford Festival.

We had a brilliant time last year and are crossing our fingers that the crowds and weather from then, will repeat this weekend!

More details about the Festival can be found on the official website. The London Mela is being held down the road on the same day, so lots to do in TW8-ish this weekend.

Hope to see you there x

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Peach Melba Madeira Cake

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Peaches and raspberries are my favourite summer fruits (I may have mentioned this on occasion). Unfortunately, with sweet, sticky fruit, comes my arch nemesis: THE PICNIC WASP.


Wasps are malevolent little dildo-heads and we haven't been on speaking terms since one stung me in the face a few years ago, making me fall off my bike and into a hedge. Burying sticky fruit in a cake seems to help keep them at bay, at least, for long enough to eat your wares in relative peace.

Breakfast Club #14: Potatoes



**The Breakfast Club Potato Round Up is complete and can be found here.*

The British weather is living up to its' reputation as being a contrary little madam at the moment. My recollection was that last summer, we had a reasonably stable season, with a few rainy days, but mostly balmy and enjoyable.

This summer, so far has been absolutely terrible! We should have known that this was to be, given the scorcher we enjoyed in April. But in any event, the current weather does not lend itself to the usual automatic summer slimming that we all enjoy, when we don't feel the need to fill ourselves with stodge and find ourselves actually choosing to eat salad.

So this month's Breakfast Club theme of potatoes is incredibly timely. A normal August would see me either skipping breakfast entirely (I know; naughty, naughty), or just grabbing a banana and some berries on the way out of the door. But  I am still in full-on Stodge Mode.

One of my Saturday Specials* when I was a child was pratie oaten. I'd hoped to have made a batch of it in time for this post, but I want to use the recipe for it that I was given by my mum's best friend. Despite having asked for it over a month ago, she has yet to pass it over.  I'm hoping she'll have relinquished it before the end of August, as pratie oaten is much more than the sum of its' parts and is better at setting you up for the day than oats alone, in my opinion.

Anyway, I am playing the hostess with the mostess for August's Breakfast Club, so until I've managed to persuade the recipe away from its' owner, I look forward to seeing what all you Breakfast Clubbers rustle up in the coming month.  I'm hoping to see a feisty vegetarian hash, a bulging breakfast burrito or perhaps my favourite potato breakfast dish, a kinky potato kedgeree (I like alliteration, sue me)...

How do you join Breakfast Club? Why, it's simple. Make something for breakfast which includes potatoes and post it, following the guidelines below.

  • Mention Breakfast Club in your post and use the logo
  • Link to this post and the Breakfast Club page
  • E-mail me at scrumptioussal at gmail dot com with a link to your post and a photo (no larger than 300 pixels, please!).
  • Send a previously posted recipe if you like, but please add the information above and republish.
  • Entries can be sent to other events, but please check their rules about submitting a post to multiple events.
  • If you tweet please tweet using #breakfastclub and hit me up @scrumptioussal so I can RT you.
  • If you do not have a blog, send a photo and details to me scrumptioussal at gmail dot com
  • Deadline for submissions is 31st August 2011; plenty of time for potato goodness!

Round-up will be on 7th September, or thereabouts. Have fun!

*Saturday Special; the one day of the week where my mum wasn't around or in charge of what we ate and my dad let us eat whatever we felt like eating, as long as it didn't involve him having to go to the shops

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Tipsy Grilled Peaches with Pistachio Praline


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Oh dear. Don't let the floppiness of the above photo put you off; I have no clue how people manage to take good photographs of ice cream before it melts.

This is a great pudding for an evening, when you want something easy, but a slight step up from a couple of scoops of ice cream from a tub. The praline is a doddle to make and can be kept in an airtight container, wrapped in greaseproof paper, for ages and ages, so be sure to make up a generous batch.

Doughnut peaches can be found in all good greengrocers right now. The ones I used here were piddly, compared to the whoppers I've been buying from a fruit stall on High Holborn. But I did get ten for £1.50, so I can't really complain.

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Rhubarb Pistachio Macarons & Scrumptious Sally Sells


Rhubarb Pistachio Macarons

These macarons were meant to be for MacTweets, but I missed the deadline by a day and the round-up publication was unusually expedient.

If someone wants to share the secret of getting green shells on pistachio macarons with me, please feel free. I put a heaped toothpick's worth of colouring in with these and still suffered from brown shells. I cooked them at 150C, so perhaps the temperature needs to be lower?

I'd hoped the photos for this were going to be a little more inspiring, but I seem to have hit a bit of a dull period on the photo front. I recently bought Plate to Pixel, in the hope of finding some inspiration. But other than picking up advice about how to use a bed sheet to diffuse shadows, I've yet to glean anything that I can practically apply to my restricted set-up. I'm fairly good with the old DSLR, but struggle with balance and composition, which is a pity, given that they're probably the most important skills to have!

Courgette Salad with Crispy Pancetta


Courgette Salad

I finally succumbed to temptation a few weeks ago and bought a Le Creuset griddle pan.

One of my 'Life's Small Pleasures' is cookware that could kill a man. I have to use both hands to lift my pan.  Le Creuset could probably take down Hulk Hogan and still make a mean bruschetta. I've been using it to cook fish, grapefruit, aubergine, sweetcorn and this salad.

Very Berry Oatmeal Breakfast Muffins


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Muffins: Fast & Fantastic is one of the first baking books I remember buying.  It's a stalwart on Amazon, with deservedly glowing reviews. Most of the recipes have the same basic mix.  The beauty of the book for the novice baker, is realising that once you master and memorise the core recipe, you can throw pretty much anything you fancy into the bowl.

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The Lazy Cook: Linguine with Chilli, Crab & Watercress for Forever Nigella 6


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I think this fishy dish is a pretty good companion piece to my other fish dish for Forever Nigella 6, which was on the homier, family-friendly end of the fish dish spectrum.

This is a luxe, suave, sexy fish dish, which is good for an occasional treat. Treaty it may be, but you only need a few ingredients and ten minutes to make it.  Crabmeat is lovely, but on the rich side, so a little goes a long way; just as well, as it is quite expensive.

The other reason to treat this as a luxury dish, is because crab doesn't rate too well in the Good Fish Guide produced by those lovely people at the Marine Conservation Society, to help us make more sustainable choices when buying fish. 

The Lazy Cook: Lemon Salmon with Cherry Tomato Cous Cous


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This is the easiest recipe in the world, taken from 'Kitchen' by Nigella Lawson.

Preparation only takes five or six minutes, the ingredients are all readily available in the smallest of supermarkets and any leftovers taste great in a next-day salad. Also: minimal washing up (one pan, two bowls and a chopping board). The meal goes from the fridge to the table within 15 minutes; perfect for a quick supper.

Also, you get to slap the salmon about in a dish in a Monty Pythonesque fashion.

MacTweets 19: Jawbreaker Toffee Popcorn Macarons


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The theme for this month's MacTweets, the monthly blog challenge for which various bloggers confront their fear of the dastardly macaron, is Ball Park Snacks.

Nigel Slater wrote a lovely piece in his book, Eating for England, about our failure to produce chic, fit-for-purpose street food. The same applies to the food served in football and rugby stadiums, where the most common foods on offer are pies, or burgers. Not really a snack, I'm sure you'll agree and we certainly don't have the range of food on offer that is routine at baseball stadiums. But as the stereotype goes, we tend to drink so much at these events, that something substantial is needed to soak up the booze.

In case you're wondering, I don't consider Wimbledon to be in the running for this theme, given that it is an annual, not seasonal event. Also, I've been to Wimbledon. For me, it is not a fun day out. Look at the rules. What a bunch of stiffs. Also, 25p for a strawberry? Get out of it!

I'm writing this post on the second day of the London Sevens, the crowds at which I can hear from my window.

Despite living a stone's throw from Twickenham Rugby Stadium and having attended the Sevens on many occasions, I am none the wiser as to the rules of rugby. This is because for me, Sevens has only ever meant one thing: car boot picnic!

Tea Wars: Sausage Pie with Onion Gravy


Sage & Onion Sausage Pie 7

The family meal, if you believe the more tawdry newspapers, is a dinosaur. It seems to be accepted that this is A Bad Thing, being that families who eat together, stay together. This belief is also found on British television, most notably via the Bisto family, who themselves have now become extinct. In case you were in any doubt as to whose fault this is: yes, it is women who are to blame.

The Bisto Family: So Happy to Be Together. Look at their happy, happy faces.

As a member of the demographic scourged by the Daily Mail, I wonder how women who work, commute and keep house (in Tabloid World, men do not help with housework), are also meant to put a home cooked meal on the table every night and make pleasant conversation with those around the table, who’ve contributed sod all to the effort.

The notion that families are going to break up if they don’t eat a ‘proper’ meal in the same room at the same time is rather quaint propaganda. The reality for the families that I know with young children, is that mum and dad take turns on making the evening meal, depending on after work schedules, play dates and who wins the argument about who is more knackered that evening. Tummies are fed, baths are had, children go to bed content.

Family meals were difficult enough in our house when I was young and we had a mother who didn’t work during the week and a dad who was home by six. My sister and I were not bad children, but we were, shall we say, challenging. If we’d had a mother who worked full-time and had to endure our ungrateful whining at the end of a full working day, I believe I may not be here today, seeing as I would be scampering round in Epping Forest, having being brought up by wolves after being thrown out of the house aged seven.


The Battle of Tea and The Timing Thereof

When going to friends’ houses, tea would be served at half past five, after we had changed out of our school uniforms, done our homework and watched some television.

In our house, tea was on the plate at half past four, only three hours after we’d had our lunch and three whole hours before we went to bed.

Real Food Festival 2011: My Greatest Hits

At last! The Real Food Festival, held in London this weekend, finally gave me an opportunity to try Gower Cottage Brownies.

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Brownies not pictured, because they are all gone!
I'd heard nothing but superlatives about these brownies, but had shied away from buying a whole box without trying them first.

They are absolutely beautiful, perfectly sized fudgey mouthfuls of MWAAAH. I really must insist that everyone in the UK buys a box. At £15.99 including postage, they are a bountiful bargain; the brownies also freeze very well, if you can stop yourself form scarfing the lot on the day of delivery.

My two other favourite sweet finds at the Real Food Festival, came from Auberge du Chocolat and Sweet Things.

I spent a very educational 10 minutes being taught by Anne from Auberge that I don't actually dislike dark chocolate; I just prefer dark chocolate with fruity notes. Anne helped me determine which of the bars I liked best and I went away feeling like I'd had a personal shopper experience.

I made a beeline for Sweet Things upon arrival, having read the glowing recommendation they got from Anne at I Heart Cupcakes, who'd been at the festival earlier in the week.
I bought a Red Velvet cupcake.

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The frosting was completely perfect. The cake was a proper red velvet, i.e. not just a chocolate cupcake with red food colouring (naming no names, but I think a lot of English cupcakeries don't understand the difference that using the correct recipe makes).

A New Place for the Random Stuff


I've made a new place to deal with my nesting syndrome.

Random Things I Like will be a place for me to record all the things that I see or read that I'll want to refer to in future. It will also catalogue anything that I've bought or want to buy, that I think the world deserves to know about.

At the moment, that seems to be pretty much lamps. Hoping it will be more than that, given time.





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Food Heaven and Hell: My Royal Holiday Weekend, Part Two

So, yesterday saw the degustation of some of the most unimpressive and expensive cupcakes I've ever bought.

Happily, today's gorging was much more positive.


London's South Bank is, in my opinion, the most interesting place in London.  There are a constant stream of events and exhibitions on, in addition to the ever present venues which offer, film, theatre and other arts.  The BFI of course, is my favourite place to noodle away an hour or two with a beer and sandwich.

This weekend has seen the South Bank host the Real Street Food Festival. I practically ran down there this morning, determined to get my edging-towards-pudgy hands on some churros and some ChocStar ice cream!

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Simply put, there were some absolutely mega stalls in force.  Lucky for me, I'd come armed with two friends, so I could 'share' their purchases and get a bit of everything on offer.  I forgot to take photos of everything in the excitement. Also, it was very, very windy, hence everyone clutching their food at the share tables, terrified that a rogue gust would send burritos flying into laps, as it did on a couple of occasions. So it seemed unwise to faff around with positioning and set-up for photos and best to just get stuck in.

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First up, sangria from St-Germain. Before lunch; I know. I'm not really sure what was in it, as Andy was dispatched to buy it and was too embarrassed to ask ("It's your blog; YOU go and ask!"), but it was peachy and melony and like Pimms, but with St-Germain instead. Very nice and light. Plus, a very cute Citro├źn HY dispatching the wares.

Food Heaven and Hell: My Royal Holiday Weekend, Part One

I'm sure I speak for the entire country when I say that I could get used to these four day weekends.


I was pretty relaxed about the royal wedding during the run up, other than being mildly amused by the number of people dedicating their time to talking about how they didn't care about it, akin to those who spend Valentine's Day talking about how they hate Valentine's Day.

But I found myself flipping over to BBC1 for 'a quick look' at the day's proceedings at 8:30 a.m. and four hours later, was still transfixed. In short:

- I liked Beatrice's hat.
- I am unsure why the motorbike convoy escorting the wedding vehicles had to wear hi-visibility jackets.
- Prince Harry has sealed his place at the top of my 'Strangely Attractive' list, although I have no doubt that I would still hate him if I were to ever meet him, being the posh Wayne Rooney that he is.
- I could have done with a toilet break, as I'm sure could have the presenters, who started to look 'squirmy' as we entered the fourth hour.
- The collective 'urgh' uttered by women across the land on seeing Sally Bercow entering Westminster Abbey with Grant and Phil Mitchell.



After a day of sitting and kvetching, it was time to get out in the sun and to check out some cupcakes. We spent an hour at the paddling pool in the park trying not to get splashed or covered in sand, then waddled down to Upsy Daisy Bakery in Stamford Brook.


We were greeted warmly, but things went downhill from there.

A Trip to Sweetie Pies Boutique Bakery and A Hummingbird Giveaway

Church Street in Twickenham is my local Nice Place.  The street is cobbled, there is a giant outdoor chess set at one end, the River Thames and some nice riverside pubs at the other and lots of small shops selling nice but unneccessary things, in the middle.

I'm not sure how I've managed to walk down Church Street several times in the past year and completely miss Sweetie Pies, which opened last spring, but miss it I did.

Photograph Copyright Not Just A Granny

I might have got a bit overexcited on first noticing it, mainly because the nearest thing I've previously had to a local cupcake shop, is the rather bad Buttercup concession in Westfield.

When I first stopped in, I bought a chocolate and hazelnut cupcake to take away. I was impressed. I often find chocolate cupcakes dry or heavy (including my own), but this one had a deep chocolate flavour and was moist and light.

The range of teas on offer meant that I was compelled to make a return visit, but I wanted to sit in the shop this time and get the full Sweetie Pies experience.  I dragged Lucy from Vanilla Frost along, who brought her two independent testers along for the ride.

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The interior of the shop is lovely.  Quite 'Cath Kidston' but because the shop is so sunny and airy, you don't feel as though you are drowning in chintz.

I loved the feel of the place, the range of teas on offer, which includes my favourite, amazing flowering Jasmine tea and the mismatched china. Service was welcoming but not overbearing.

Banoffee Cupcakes with Toffee Filling and A Utensil Review

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I love Cuisipro.  I will buy pretty much anything from them. I think that their silicone spatulas and spoons are the best (I owned six at the last count). So I picked this up on autopilot while shopping for a bundt tin before Christmas.


No, it's not Cuisipro's first foray into the world of birth control; it's a cupcake corer.

I took it home and complained on Twitter about how I just paid £5 for something I'd never use. I was going to return it, but @iwbadg convinced me that I'd find it useful if I gave it a chance.

Once upon a time, if I wanted to make a hole in a cupcake, I would use a knife to funnel it out. Thus, the hole would usually be somewhat conical and crumb-filled. That was the stone age of cake-hollowing.

Salted Peanut & Caramel Macarons

Salted Peanut & Caramel Macarons

I was very, very pleased with these.

I don't own a food processor. My kitchen is tiny, so much that I don't own a toaster or microwave, as I wouldn't use either devices enough to justify the counter space. I use my blender at least twice every week, so that gets to stay. But I would only use a food processor once or twice a month, so I'm not allowed one.

As a compromise, I bought a Kenwood Mini Chopper a few years ago, mainly to smash biscuits and nuts. It is genius for tiny kitchens. Its' footprint is about the same size as my hand, it's really easy to clean and it's versatile enough to deserve a permanent place on my counter.

Boston Cream Pie: My First Crush for Valentine's & Forever Nigella

Boston Cream Pie


I was fourteen when I started my first real crush.  Prior to that I'd only held affections for unthreatening men who lived in the television.

I used to have a recurring dream where Peter Duncan and I were in a Milky Way advert, on a train.  It was very soft focus. There was an insert shot of the swirling nougat in the dream, before Peter and I went into a tunnel (steady) and the advert ended with the Milky Way logo.

Peter  Duncan: Still Would.

Black Forest Macarons for The Darkest Month

Black Forest Macarons #5


Apologies for the doom and gloom, dear reader. Now that I've recovered from my post-Sales high (more on which below), the January blues are kicking around like a houseguest who's overstayed their welcome.
Only yesterday, I woke up, while it was still dark.  Thinking it odd how refreshed I felt, considering it must only be 2 a.m., I turned on my torch and checked my snazzy new bedroom clock.

LSA Vienna Cake Stand and Dome
Snazzy New Clock: Check It.
**Post Edit: The middle butterfly on this clock had fallen off the wall when I got up this morning, obviously too depressed by the lack of light, to bother defying gravity.**


Breakfast Club: Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes & Easy-Peasy Lemon Curd


Blueberry Pancakes with Lemon Curd & Yoghurt

Greek yoghurt is my 'breakfast gravy'. It meshes granola, fruit, cereal and smoothies. It's more versatile and more satisfying than regular yoghurt, as it's higher in protein. So it was fairly easy to come up with something to submit to this month's Breakfast Club, hosted by Sarah over at Maison Cupcake.

These pancakes are nice enough with maple syrup, but teaming them up with sour & salty strained yoghurt and sweet but tart lemon curd, makes for a fresher, more satisfying breakfast, with more texture and variety in each bite.
 
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