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Chocolate Sponge Cake

Personal Posted on Sun, January 19, 2014 19:21:39

Last week the nation was treated to four
‘charity’ bake offs for Sport Relief and a little something to keep the loyal
followers happy. Mary Berry and Paul
Hollywood pulled apart, literally, the celebrity bakes whilst viewers watched,
laughed, cringed and cheered at the screen.

It really got me thinking of baking
and one particular cake that seemed to be a big feature – The Chocolate Sponge
Cake. So I thought it would be a great
idea to share Mary Berry’s own recipe for the perfect Chocolate Sponge Cake and
see if there are any potential bakers amongst you.

Preparation Time: 30 to 60 minutes – Cooking Time:
30 to 60 minutes – Serves: 8





50g/2oz cocoa powder

6 tbsp boiling water

3 free-range eggs

4 tbsp milk

175g/6oz self-raising flour

1 rounded tsp baking powder

100g/10oz natural caster sugar

For the icing and filling:

150g/5oz dark chocolate, broken into
small pieces

150ml/5fl apricot jam

Icing sugar, to dust

Preparation method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 and
grease and line two 20cm/8in sandwich tins with baking parchment.

2. Put the cocoa powder and boiling
water into a large bowl and mix well to make a paste. Add the remaining ingredients and beat again
until combines. This can also be done in
a food processor, but take care not to over whisk. Divide the cake mixture
between the prepared tins. Bake for
about 25-30 minutes, or until well risen and shrinking away from the sides of
the tin.

3. Meanwhile, for the icing and filling,
measure the chocolate and cream together in a bowl and stand the bowl over a
pan of simmering water for about 10 minutes, or until melted. Stir from time to time. Set aside and leave until cool and almost

4. Once baked, remove the cakes from the
oven and allow to cool completely.
Spread the tops of each cake with apricot jam. Fill the cakes with half of the icing and
spread the remainder on top. Draw large “S” shapes over the cake with a palatte
knife to give a swirl effect. Dust with
icing sugar and serve in slices.

Perfect to serve with a nice pot of
tea, or a freshly brewed cup of coffee when you visitors, or as a dessert
accompanied with custard, cream or ice cream.

The Great Sports Relief Bake Off

Personal Posted on Tue, January 07, 2014 19:27:20

It seems there is definitely a new
trend going around the TV circuit – the celebrity induced challenge; dancing,
the jungle, skating, diving and now baking.
We’ve not long said goodbye 2013 and I’m A Celebrity….Get Me Out of Here
and Strictly Come Dancing, when 2014 kicks in with Splash and Dancing on
Ice. Next week it’s the turn of The
Great Sports Relief Bake Off.

Starting Monday 13th
January, the first of four programmes will see a host of celebrities taking
part in The Great Sport Relief Bake Off to help raise money for the sporting stars
of the future. In each televised programme
four different celebrities will battle it out in the kitchen, at the end of
which a star baker will be crowned.
Judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood are back to keep an eye on the
hopefuls, and are sure to attract the viewing public. Regular presenter Sue Perkins is minus her
usual sidekick Mel and will be joined by guest hosts Omid Djalili, Ed Byrne and
Jo Brand and between the two funny women there is sure to be a few laughs had,
and not just at the baking disasters.

Amongst the 16 celebrities there are
a mixture of actresses, sports personalities, singers and presenters but which
one also has some hidden talent when it comes to mouth-watering cakes, puddings
and desserts.

Dancing on Ice judge Jason Gardiner
will take a turn on the other side of the table and be receiving instead of
giving at the hands of the two professional bakers. Rochelle Humes will be hoping her baking
turns out better than her dancing after her unsuccessful turn on the Strictly
Come Dancing Christmas Special.
Cricketer Michael Vaughan and cyclist Victoria Pendleton will also be
hoping their baking lives up to their dancing skills, as both lasted until
weeks eight (Victoria) and nine (Michael) on Strictly Come Dancing in the 2012
series. If the other contenders prove
pretty bad they might just be in with a chance.

Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton, impressionist
Alistair McGowan, presenter Johnny Vaughan, and Desert Island Disc host Kirsty
Young also join the wife of Comic Relief boss Richard Curtis, Emma Freud. Out of the five of them one of them must be a
dab hand in the kitchen? Or is that just
when it’s time to wash up?

Singers Michael Ball and Jamelia, and
actresses Doon Mackichan, Samantha Bond and Jane Horrocks will be donning their
apron and hoping to pull out a little something special when the clock signals
it is time to bake. With Bonnie Wright
swapping the wand she waved about as Ginny Weasley in the Harry Potter films
for a wooden spoon. She be wanting to
turn her competition into fluffy bunnies to disguise how bad her baking really

So will it be a case of soggy
puddings and flour clouds or will we get to see some real bakers appear before
our very eyes. Only one way to find out –
set your TV for 8.30pm, BBC2, Monday 13th to Thursday 16th
January 2014.

Santa Claus, Father Christmas or Saint Nicholas

Personal Posted on Tue, December 24, 2013 15:33:09

households across the world will be full of very excited children leaving out
glasses of milk for Santa and carrots for his reindeers, hoping that when they
wake up in the morning he has left them presents.

is known by many names – Santa, Father Christmas, Santa Claus and the one that is
believed to be behind the tradition of gift-giving, Saint Nicholas
himself. The legendary bishop was well
known for being generous to the poor and was once believed to have thrown gold
coins through the windows of a poor family’s home so they were able to get
their daughters married. Is this also
where the tale of Santa entering homes, as if by magic, and leaving presents
under the tree comes from?

Claus is believed to get from house to house by sleigh pulled by flying
reindeers; Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen,
who are based on the reindeers used in the 1823 poem ‘The Night Before
Christmas’ (originally known as ‘A Visit from St Nicholas’). It is also why reindeers have become as
popular a Christmas symbol as Santa Claus and Christmas Trees. Rudolph, has since joined the list of Santa’s
reindeers due to the increasing popularity of the Christmas song ‘Rudolph, the
red nosed reindeer.’

for the way Santa looks we can thank the painter Moritz Schwind who based Santa
on the character of Winter, who appeared as an old man with a long beard and
this image has been associated with Santa.
The suit he wore was depicted in either red, green or brown with no one
colour used more than the others. When
Coca Cola used the image of Santa Claus for their Christmas advertising in the
1930s, they made his suit red with a white trim and since then it has always
been red and white.

children all around the world can send letters to Santa Claus at the North
Pole, sing about Rudolph his red nosed reindeer and Dancer and Prancer and
leave their stockings at the end of their beds or over the fireplace hoping
when they wake up they will be filled with presents. Christmas is a magical time when you believe
in Father Christmas.

tale you believe as to how Santa Claus came about or why he is dressed the way
he is not what matter, as Santa Claus is only one thing that makes Christmas a
special time, along with quality time with family and friends, giving gifts of
love and remembering all those less fortunate in the world.

Christmas Film Favourites for the Family

Personal Posted on Sat, December 21, 2013 16:25:21

It’s the weekend before
Christmas and the TV is full of Christmassy things to watch, especially when it
comes to films. Do you have a family
tradition that you follow each year? Or
do you just take pot luck when the family decide to sit down together and watch
a Christmas film? There are tons of
films with a Christmas theme loved and watched by many, and below is two of the
favourites and if you haven’t seen one, or all of them, you could always add
them to your list of films to watch over the festive period.

First up is Home Alone,
which, since its release in 1990 has been a firm favourite with families and
not just at Christmas. We see eight year
old Kevin McCallister being left home alone when his family sleep-in on the
morning of their trip to Paris, France and in the hurry miscount heads. On the prowl are two wannabe burglars who
target the McCallisters but don’t expect to come up against Kevin. Very funny scenes from start to finish and of
course, there is a happy ending too.

If you loved Home Alone,
you can follow Kevin again over Christmas in Home Alone 2, with him at least
getting to the airport and on a plane, but instead of Hawaii with his family,
he ends up in New York City. The two wannabe burglars turn up again and of
course, are outwitted by the quick thinking Kevin. Just as funny as the first one and you will
be guaranteed to feel warm and fuzzy near the end of the film.

Jack Frost is another
favourite, but might just bring a tear to your eyes. Michael Keaton plays Jack Frost, lead singer
of the band ‘The Jack Frost Band’ who keeps letting his family down. On realising his mistakes he heads home from
an important gig but heads into a bad storm and dies instantly when his car
crashes. A year after his death, Jack’s
young son Charlie makes a snowman that looks like his father, or as much as he
can remember of his and plays the ‘magical’ harmonica Jack gave him. The snowman comes alive with Jack’s spirit
and the film sees both father and son spending time together and Jack teaching
his young son some of the values of life he hadn’t managed to whilst
alive. A lovely film.


Strictly Come Dancing Final

Personal Posted on Wed, December 18, 2013 12:24:32

like this year’s Strictly Come Dancing winner will be a female with the first
ever all-girl final taking place on Saturday and any one of them would be
worthy of the prestigious GlitterBall Trophy.
Sophie Ellis Bextor, Abbey Clancy and Susanna Reid went sailing through
to the final, with Natalie Gumede surviving the dance off to join them.

is hard to define a favourite as each week these girls put their all into their
dance routines, and my does it look hard work.
The judges are running out of nice things to say – even the grumpy Craig
Revel-Horwood and have turned to picking up the tiniest issue. Scores have continued to impress these novice
dancers with 10s been awarded for an outstanding performance, and the studio
audience have been up and down in their seats giving standing ovation after
standing ovation. Some of the
performances have been mesmerising, some leave you gasping at some of the
tricks they attempt and only a few leave you feeling a bit deflated.

(Image courtesy of the BBC)

seems to get better and better each year, even if at the start you haven’t
heard of half the celebrities. By the
time the show is heading towards Blackpool we all have our favourite
celebrities, favourite professional dancers and favourite costumes. The professional dancers continue to push to
achieve the extra wow factor and it is amazing to see a celebrity go from
having two left feet to being whirled and hurled around the dance floor. You can see the chemistry between the dance partners
and the trust they have in each other when you witness the tricks they include
into their routines.

four celebrities deserve to be in the final and regardless who eventually walks
off with the Trophy, Saturday’s final is going to be spectacular. Their dance partners will be throwing
everything they have got into making their routine the biggest and best
performance of the night and hoping for that all important top score of 40!

Nelson Mandela

Personal Posted on Wed, December 11, 2013 16:03:13

5th December saw the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attend the London
Premiere of Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom, a film that chronicles Nelson
Mandela’s life journey from his childhood in a rural village through to his
inauguration as the first democratically elected president of South
Africa. Sadly, before the film had
finished the Royal couple were informed that this great figure had passed away.
He was 95 years of age and would go down in history as a man who helped change
South Africa for the better.

Mandela has not always been a popular figure, coming up against criticism and
viewed by many, for much of his life, as a controversial figure. The South African spent 27 years imprisoned,
until an international campaign for his release, saw him become a free man
again in 1990. Since his release, Nelson
Mandela has continued to end suffering for his people and unite his country and
one way he believed would work, was through sport. In 1995, under his leadership, South Africa
not only hosted, but won the Rugby World Cup, and was the first Rugby World Cup
in which every match was held in one country.
It was the first major sporting event to take place in South Africa
following the end of apartheid, and the first World Cup in which South Africa
was allowed to compete. Nowadays, teams
and individuals compete from this country compete in some of the biggest
competitions across the world. South
Africa were even honoured with hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup, a tournament
not every country has been privileged to be part of. This shows how Nelson Mandela not only had a
great impact on his own country but the sporting world. South Africa have, and will continue, to
produce some great sportsmen and women and be included, not excluded. Nelson Mandela believed sport would bring his
country together after such a dark period in their history and he was
right. He is not only a great ambassador
for peace and harmony, but for sport too.

South Africa he is held in deep respect by the South African people, being
referred to as Madiba (his Xhosa clan name) or Tata (father) and was often
described as ‘the father of the nation.’
He is also highly respected throughout the world, and attending numerous
meetings many of the most powerful leaders in the world. In his lifetime he achieved international
acclaim and won numerous awards, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize.

world will continue to mourn a man who captured so many hearts, but Nelson
Mandela will not be forgotten. His
legacy will live on forever through the people of South Africa.

I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!

Personal Posted on Tue, December 03, 2013 13:16:39

The vote offs have
started on I’m A Celebrity……Get Me Out Of Here, and Annabel Giles being the
first to leave the jungle. With less
than a week to go until one of this year’s celebrities is crowned King or Queen
of the Jungle, is it too early to predict which three will end up battling out
in the final. I think two campmates have
already touched the hearts of the millions of viewers who tune in every year
and this year could possibly see an all-male final.

Joey Essex, the cheeky
Essex lad who was up for the first Bush Tucker Trial and then the next one, and
the next one. But didn’t he surprise us
all. His cool, calm approach to
everything in the jungle has certainly won him fans both in camp and with I’m A
Celebrity viewers. He has to be in the

Kian Egan, one of the
members of Westlife, has shown both strength and heart, and his more than
capable cooking skills. A genuinely nice
guy with a heart of gold, who wasn’t ashamed to shed a few tears when his wife
paid him a surprise visit. He too has to
be in the final.

These two will be in
the final but which one will win, that does depend on them in the end but one
thing is for sure, they will both try their hardest. No matter what happens these two lovely guys
will be friends in the outside world. It
is hard not to notice the love and respect they have for each other. Makes you want to give them both a big hug!

So if I had to take a
guess at which one of the other male celebrities will make it to Sunday’s live
final I would say Steve Davis. He has
had a good jungle journey, getting stuck into the challenges with no
complaints. The snooker legend has also
sat on the side lines as some of his campmates have shown their not so nice
side. Steve, apart from his extreme
competitive streak, has been exactly the same since Day One. I think if he was to join Joey and Kian in
the final, it would be one of the best finals I’m A Celebrity has ever

Amy or Rebecca would be
the only female contestants I think could make it to the final, but sadly not
to snatch the crown from under their rival’s noses. This year the boys are just far too strong
and focused.

We Love A Good Reality Show

Personal Posted on Fri, November 29, 2013 13:21:35

As more and more
reality shows find their way onto our screens, is television as we know it gone
forever. Not only do we have reality
shows, like TOWIE, Geordie Shores, Made In Chelsea that turns their
participants into mini celebrities, we can now see actual celebrities on our
screens doing the total opposite of their day job in Strictly Come Dancing, I’m
A Celebrity and Celebrity Masterchef.

So what is it about
these types of shows that have us clambering for the remote? Do we like to see how the other half live, or
hope that someone else’s troubles are worse than ours or is it just better than
watching the soaps? In most reality
shows there is always some kind of drama, a love triangle and two people that
really can’t stand each other – the perfect mix to keep audience on their
seats. You could say it’s like watching
a film, or reading a book, with the only difference being that the characters
are real people.

It’s not just the ones
on British TV that we can tune into, there are heaps from all over the world
to keep our reality TV topped up, and thanks to digital TV and the internet we
can find it at the touch of a button.

A thought to leave you
with on this cold winter’s day – if you got the chance to star in your very own
reality show which one would you choose?
Have you the nerve for Celebrity Masterchef (only watched one episode
and it made me hungry and scared), or do you think your vocal range could impress
the judges on the X Factor, The Voice or (insert country) Got Talent? How about living your life in front of the
cameras 24/7 like the Osbornes or Kardashians?
And for all you adrenaline junkies out there being one of the campmates in I’m
A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, and you are the only one picked to do the Bush
Tucker Trials!

The next time you tune
in imagine it’s you on the screen. Bet
you will decide you would much rather watch than take part, just like so many
others. We much prefer to be the ones
laughing, than be the ones being laughed at.
One thing is for sure – it does make for great TV!

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