Monday, 10 December 2012

Jewellery & Cakes

My ever so talented flatmate, friend and jewellery designer Leanne T Evans launched her new website this week for her outstanding jewellery collection. Please check it out!

One of my favourite pieces, ironically named Emily.
To celebrate her new website Leanne held a Winter themed Launch Night Party at Vanilla Ink Studios. I offered to make winter style cupcakes for the occasion and this is how they turned out... 

Melting Snowmen

'Christmas Tree' Cupcakes

I also spent hours and hours icing a rough replica of Leanne's logo onto wee square biscuits. My hands are much more unstable than I had once thought!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

“...nothing is too much trouble if it turns out the way it should.” ― Julia Child

The French Macaron has been my arch nemesis for quite some time now. They taste amazing but I find them notoriously difficult to make!

Macarons as they should be from Laudree in Paris!
                        Attempt No. 1 & 2 (June 2011)

I started out waaay too fancy attempting to create Chocolate Lime and also White Chocolate Coconut and although they tasted good they just did not look right at all. I was under prepared and in a rush (as always) and did not have the correct piping nozzle so just used what I had and hope that the would smooth out. They did not.   

Chocolate Lime!

White Choc Coconut!

Attempt 3 & 4 (July 2011)

Again for another friends birthday I tried to create Chocolate Fudge and Banoffee Pie Macarons as the two flavours remind me so much of Jenni but once again I was running before I could walk. These ones were not particularly salvageable but I took the fillings and the broken shells to the party anyway. And from what I can remember they also went down ok!

Attempt 5 & 6 (September 2012)

Attempt 5 is not worth mentioning! However attempt  was for my best and oldest friend Alex (Check out her blog!) I decided to try one last time. This time I was going for simple vanilla shells and measured out everything perfectly and was still greeted unsatisfactory shells. This attempt was definitely the best so far and yielded ONE perfect macaron...

Chocolate Baileys Ganache Macaron

Attempt 7 (September 2012)

Finally an attempt I am actually proud of! Still a few tweaks to go but for now these will do.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Macarons 

[Recipe adapted from Raspberri Cupcakes Blog]

100g aged egg whites at room temperature 
110g ground almonds
190g icing sugar
10g cocoa powder
50g caster sugar

Line two baking sheets with baking paper. Sift all dry ingredients together and place in a large mixing bowl. Set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until it reaches soft peaks. With the mixer on high speed, gradually add caster sugar and beat until it reaches stiff peaks.

Add the meringue to your dry mixture and mix, quickly and roughly at first to beat out as much of the air bubbles as you can out of in the egg whites, then fold carefully as the dry mixture becomes incorporated and it starts to become shiny again. Take care not to overmix, the mixture should flow like lava and a streak of mixture spread over the surface of the rest of the mixture should disappear after about a minute. Place in a piping bag with a plain round tip and pipe rounds of about 3cm diameter on lined baking sheets (or silicon baking mats), about 2cm apart. Gently rap the baking sheets on the bench top to remove any extra bubbles from your piped shells. Leave shells on bench to dry for about an hour, so that when you press the surface of one gently it does not break.

Preheat your oven to 140-150°C. Bake for 13-15 minutes, depending on the size of your shells. Remove from the oven and cool on the tray for a few minutes, then gently remove from the sheet and place on a wire rack to cool completely. (If shells are stuck to the sheet then you may need to return the tray to the oven for a few more minutes)

Peanut Butter Buttercream

I freestyled on the filling just creaming together equal amounts of butter and peanut butter then adding enough icing sugar to create a smooth buttercream. I also added a teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Pipe the buttercream onto one upturned macaron shell and sandwich together. Enjoy! 

Stress Relief

Finding a work/life/achieving dreams balance is proving to be pretty difficult right now so when things get me down I tend to bake to remind myself that life's too short to stress and cake makes everything better. Obviously. 

This recipe is from the Magnolia Bakery cookbook and its pretty damn good. Try it.

White Chocolate Pecan Bars

2 cups plain flour
226g unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans

1 1/12 cups chopped whit chocolate
1/2 cup toasted pecans

[toast pecans in the oven for 15 mins or lightly browned and fragrant (I totally over did mine hence why I added cranberries to add a bit more sweetness!)]

  1. Preheat oven to 200oC and grease and lightly flour a 9x13 inch baking pan 
  2. Cream together the butter, sugar, egg and vanilla. Add the flour and thoroughly mix. Stir in the pecans and spread out evenly in the prepared pan. Bake for 25 mins.
  3. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle on the white chocolate and let stand for 5 mins. Spread out the chocolate into a thin layer and sprinkle on pecans (and cranberries or other dried fruit if using) 
  4. Allow to cool at room temperature and slice into squares

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Studio Life Post DoJ

With four years of great studio space, tutors, workshops and technicians I knew that in leaving art school carrying on my practice would be a struggle. Throughout my 4th year I worked ridiculously hard at fitting in a pretty much full time job around all the mountains of uni work there was to do. So with having little life outside my job and art school I managed to save up a quite a few pennies which I am now putting towards a studio space in the newly refurbished WASPS studios!

Studio Door!

The last 2/3 months have been a mad blur of Degree Show, Graduation, moving flat, moving studio and working and with things finally starting to settle down I can start producing some work again! It feels great to be able to create art without the pressure of pleasing tutors or having to come up with a brief or reason to why you are doing everything.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Degree Show 2012 - A Closer Look

The Greatest Thing You'll Ever Learn...

The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return

Ever since I can remember I had always dreamed of going to Paris. So when one of my best friends from home announced that that she would be moving to Paris for a year me and a few friends jumped at the chance to go along to visit.

Its was an amazing few days and a lot 1 euro wine, macarons, pastries and baguettes were consumed.

Even McDonalds in France is a million times better!

Love Lockdown

This was now over a year ago and I'm now desperate to go back! Such a beautiful city and there is so much more I want to explore and see (and eat)

Graduation 2012

On the 19th June 2012 the sun finally came out and I graduated from Dundee University with an Honours Degree in Fine Art. It was a day I was unsure I would ever see. The first three years of art school were a struggle for me in terms of the course. I had little idea of what I was doing and if I should even be there at all but in my 4th and final year things finally clicked into place for me. I knew that painting was for me and my confidence in using oils slowly grew. So although it was the toughest year it was also my most enjoyable despite many a sleepless night and rarely seeing daylight! 

To be perfectly honest I was disappointed with my final grade as I feel it did not reflect all the hard work I put in but I guess that's the thing about art - it is so subjective! I would not change the time and effort I put in for the world though as it meant that my final Degree Show was full of work I was happy to show (well happy enough being a perfectionist n all!)

So now I'm being thrown out into the Big Bad World, we'll just have to see what happens next!

Degree Show Opening 2012.

So it was a long, hard slog but we all finally made it to the Duncan of Jordanstone Degree Show 2012! A week long event to showcase the talent of 4th year students in Dundee. It was an amazing turn out! And I was so proud to be exhibiting next to hundreds of extremely talented students many of which will go far I am sure!

Me and my oldest and bestest friend Alex (Check out her blog )

Friday, 20 April 2012

Fancy That

A sneek peek at one of my favourite pieces of my Degree Show.