Thursday, 31 October 2013

Lisa Bakes: Spooky Pumpkin and Walnut bread

Whatever it is about the Autumn and Winter time, I just love all things cosy. All the foodie people I know say to use seasonal fruit and vegetables where possible so with Halloween, there's an abundance of pumpkins! When better to try my hand at making pumpkin bread?

So with cautious optimism, I took to the kitchen after trekking through the baking aisle in Tesco for supplies. Also, baking question - are baking powder and baking soda the same or is there a difference?
Ready to be whipped together to make some tasty bread!
For this recipe, I needed to make pumpkin puree. I had read a few different ways online and opted for the microwave method, which was the same way I cook potatoes, so no new territory there! I used about half of a small cooking pumpkin for this recipe which made about twice the puree I needed, so in future I'd probably only need a quarter of the pumpkin.

I chopped them into roughly the same size, put them and some water (about 1/4 of the dish) into a pyrex dish, covered and microwaved it for 11 minutes. Before stirring and microwaving for a further 5 minutes. The skin came away fairly easily from the the pumpkin and then it was just a case of mashing away!

My Mum always taught me to put all the ingredients to one side of the main mixing bowl, and then once the ingredients go in, to move them to the other side of the bowl. It makes it easier to check what has gone in the mixture at a glance.

I mixed the dry ingredients together, then added all the liquid ingredients. When I was mixing, it seemed to be a bit runny. But maybe this is normal?
Mm.. Er.. Squidgy!
Ready for its maiden voyage to the oven!
I lubed up a baking tin with a knob of butter, poured the mixture in and hoped for the best.

And it started to rise!

And then it rose some more! I was actually worried it was going to reach the top of the oven. Note to self: move oven tray down.

The smell of the bread baking filled the apartment and it created a wonderful festive ambience. But I wasn't done yet!

The first time I took the bread out to check if it was baked, it seemed a little squidgy so I popped it back in to oven. I didn't want it to be overbaked or burnt.

From watching programmes like the Great British Bake Off, I remember they would leave bread to cool on a wire rack. I had to settle for a steamer. Well, it has holes in it and should allow air to circulate. Needs must and all that jazz!

Then the best part of any baking adventure - tasting what you've made! It got a big thumbs up from Mr. Ree and the spices really made it tingle the tastebuds. It was moist and the top had a lovely sweet crunch to it from the brown sugar. Next time I might add a bit more walnut though, but that's just me! Although I had inadvertently bought walnut halves which required a bit more chopping, but it was worth it. Next time I'll be buying walnuts of the chopped variety!

All in all, I came out fairly unscathed from this recipe. It wasn't difficult to make either. Definitely one to try again!

Fancy giving it a go yourself? Here's the recipe. Good luck and happy baking! :)

Pumpkin and Walnut Bread

  • 200g plain flour
  • 2 eggs        
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda        
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1 tsp of nutmeg    
  • 250g pumpkin puree    
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar        
  • 75ml water
  • 30g chopped walnuts    
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon    
  • 300g caster sugar
1. Preheat oven to 180C
2. Put sugar, bicarbonate of soda, salt and spices into a large bowl. Stir to blend.
3. Add pumpkin puree, water, oil, eggs and walnuts. Beat until well combined.
4. Pour mixture into greased bread tin.
5. Sprinkle brown sugar on top.
5. Bake for 50-60 mins. Skewer with knife/skewer through centre of loaf. Once it comes out clear, it's done!
6. Take it out of the tin and leave to cool. How you enjoy it is completely up to you! :)

Friday, 25 October 2013

Job hunting Challenge

There are some things in life that we expect to be stressful: Exams, moving house, planning a wedding, having a baby etc., but I've got a new one to add to the list: Looking for a job.

At the moment I'm working part-time/freelance between two jobs but I'm trying to find something more full time in the city.

So I've been looking for a job. I've hit the usual job sites, the #Jobfairy hashtag on Twitter, LinkedIn, joined an agency and been applying for a variety of different positions, ranging from Marketing to retail.

At this point, I've not had any luck.

Image from
If anything I count myself lucky if I get a rejection email, it's better than being ignored and left wondering if I'm still in the running.

With all this in mind, how can one see the funny side in rejection emails and indifferent silences?

For me, I've adopted the attitude of stubborn dedication. I've accepted that some jobs won't be a good fit, so I move on and keep looking. But I firmly believe there has to be more than one job out there for me.

Image from
On one day I might apply for ten jobs, the next day it might be only one or two. The job market is tough out there at the moment, but I don't want to use that as an excuse.

I hope that if I think positively and refuse to give up, then the right job will be worth the wait!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Catching up!

This poor blog has begun to gather dust! But I have an excuse to be fair.

I've only gone and got married! Yes really :) If you'd like to read all about it, simply click here.

In the last 11 days, I've got married, went on Honeymoon and celebrated my birthday so it has been all systems go!

As you can imagine, I can see the funny side all over the place and am on an absolute high. Today I'm going to write about the importance of family and friends.

We always knew that we were blessed with great families and loyal friends, but it really hammered it home on the wedding day when we were literally surrounded by our nearest and dearest. All there to wish us well and celebrate our big day with us.

We had family surprise us on the day with a Piper, a sweet table and some pretty awesome dance moves! In the run up to the day, we had so many friends and family approach us asking if there was anything we needed help with, which really meant so much to us.

When we realised what an amazing support network we had, it made the task of planning a wedding and ensuring it all went to plan seem a lot easier. On the day itself, we relied on our wedding party and parents to sign off on last minute details, so I can definitely vouch for the joys of delegating! All we had to do was ask someone if they'd mind doing a quick job for us and it was done. This completely took the stress off us and we could then relax with our guests. By the end of the night, everyone had said that it was such a fun relaxed day, which was a joy to hear.

We were so impressed by all the staff at the hotel too. The timings went off without a hitch, the food was delicious and both the band and DJ were amazing. The hours flew by whilst we celebrated with everyone. It was unlike any other day we have spent on this planet, and one that we will treasure for the rest of our lives.