The Hummingbird Bakery.

I've been to London 5 times this year and I'll be visiting again next week. Every time I have been there I've had the yummiest cupcakes! Even Sainsbury's local near our hotel sold sweet little pink ones for £1! Unfortunately I probably won't have time for any next week. A friend and I are flying over there to see Tori Amos, and the tickets for the show are only given out (free) on the day so we are queuing all night on Oxford Street for them! There will be a whole group of us so hopefully we can send each other for hot chocolates to keep warm.

I thought I would share a few photos of cupcakes I had in London and in my next post I will share some I had in New York City when I was there in September from perhaps their most famous bakery!

The Hummingbird Bakery

The cupcake on the left is Red Velvet, the topping was delicious but I wasn't too keen on the sponge. Not enough vanilla for me! The Nutella cupcake on the right was good, although I reduce the sugar required in their recipe because I think it overpowers the nutella slightly. I also add some nutella to the frosting recipe. Just a spoonful or two.

They also bake brownies, cakes, pies, muffin - you name it! I will have to try some next time I go. I just get sucked in by the cupcakes and end up spending a fortune on them! The last time I was there I had their chocolate with chocolate frosting, and it was amazing. Such a sugar rush!

My friend Sarah had this chocolate with vanilla frosting one, she loved it. Although she eats all the frosting off first then eats the cupcake which I think is so strange and cute.

I have only ever been to the branch in Portobello, luckily there are many cute shops and eateries nearby for you to explore and you could spend a whole day at the market there rummaging for treasure. I abosulutely love Portobello, look at all the little houses there in pastel colours, how could you not love them?

Me enjoying Portobello in May. Photo credit goes to my dear, talented friend Sarah Kane.

Honourable mention goes to Selfridges, where Sarah and I shared some lovely chocolate cupcakes. The woman working there gave us one for free as well! If you're only in London for the day and can't choose between Harrods or Selfridges definitely go to Selfridges. Harrods was so stressful for me but we spent ages enjoying all the knick knacks and yummy food in Selfridges on Oxford Street.

And to go with this Hummingbird themed post here's a recipe from their cookbook (which I highly recommend, and incidentally, purchased from Selfridges) that I baked back in September for a birthday party.

Hummingbird Bakery Frosted Brownies

Makes about 12 portions.

5 eggs
500g caster sugar
120g plain flour
100g cocoa powder
250g unsalted butter, melted
30g shelled walnuts, chopped
30g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

for the frosting:

200g icing sugar, sifted
75g unsalted butter, at room temperature
30g cocoa powder, sifted
150g cream cheese, cold
a 33cm x 23cm x 5cm baking tray, lined with greaseproof paper

Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas 3.

Put the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and beat with a handheld electric whisk until light and fluffy. Add the flour and cocoa powder and beat until all the ingredients are well mixed. Pour in the melted butter and mix through. Stir the walnuts and chocolate in by hand until evenly dispersed.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for about 30-35 minutes, or until the top is firm but the centre is still soft. Leave to cool completely.

For the frosting, beat together the icing sugar, butter and cocoa powder in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed.

Add the cream cheese in one go and beat until it is completely incorporated. Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy - at least 5 minutes. Do not overbeat, as it can quickly become runny. When the brownie is cold, spread the frosting over the top.

Christmas gift ideas.

I can't say I am big fan of Christmas. Or at least not of the hype, I only really get excited about Christmas around the 20th of December but this year I'm looking forward to it already! I will be spending a few days in France in December which I'm so excited about and my boyfriend is spending Christmas day with my family so I can't wait for that.

Also who doesn't love presents? I don't believe Christmas is all about presents of course, but it's definitely part of the fun. I love buying for people and getting excited to see their faces when they open their presents. We're all trying to save this year in my family so I will probably be doing a lot of baking again! Last year I bought some lovely tins, filled them with some cookies I baked (peanut butter and then orange and chocolate) and wrapped them in tissue paper and ribbon. I think this is a really lovely idea, and I'd love for people to give me baked goods so if you're short on money or ideas for what to buy try doing the baking thing. People love it, I promise. I'm going to bake some sugar cookies soon so I will post up the results here and possibly a little guide for making your presents that little bit sweeter with ribbons and bows.

For now though I thought I would post a few items that would make lovely gifts. I love buying presents from little online stores rather than from the high street if I can. Having something not a huge lot of people own makes the gifts even more special. I wouldn't mind getting my hands on these goodies.

I have a weakness for birds. Don't ask me how many bird necklaces I have. These sweet wooden brooches are only £7 each and would make a perfect stocking filler. Available from Rock'n'Rose.

These cake slice rings may cause you to crave cake every time you wear them but they do look delicious, they are also adjustable so no worrying whether or not they will fit the lucky person you're buying for. Also from Rock'n'Rose.

You can choose from a huge collection of gorgeous prints over at Keep Calm Gallery, including of course the famous 'Keep Calm and Carry On' poster in an array of colours. Hint to my boyfriend, I want the gold one. They also stock a selection of unique Christmas cards.

I am in love with these shoes from Miss Selfridge. I recieved a pair of shoes I had ordered from last week and they arrived wrapped in gold tissue paper, definitely won me over. I'm a packaging addict. Students don't forget Miss Selfridge offer 10% discount year round.

Cath Kidston have some lovely gift ideas. Their oilcloth wallets would make a lovely gift, they're very sturdy and will last a long time so are well worth it at £20 each and come in a variety of patterns. The store also has a range of stocking fillers in at the moment, all cositng under £10 which include compact mirrors, kissclasp purses and gadget cases.

This store has a range of really beautiful patterned tights and socks, definitely unique!

Remember if you're ordering from US websites get in there soon because delivery can take weeks sometimes and post will be even slower around Christmas. Another thing to remember if you're in the UK is not to get too carried away on American websites as you can be slapped with insane custom charges once your parcel reaches you. Hopefully there's a few ideas up there to buy someone or to ask for yourself. Enjoy your shopping!

Ultimate Apple Pie.

Hello! Wow, I really have neglected this poor blog. Time to kick start it back into action I think. I haven't posted much lately because I haven't really been sure what sort of blog I want to keep. It's just a mash up of lots of little things really, for a while I was trying to just blog about baking but wanting to post outfits, share lovely sites I have found etc but feeling like my blog should be about just one thing. Clearly that wasn't working for me since it just left me abandoning this place so for the next while I'm going to do a trial run of just posting what I like and see how it goes. Any requests, let me know!

For now though, I will revert back to my old baking ways and share a few photos with you. It seems winter has really set in already, I don't know about the rest of the UK but it is freezing in Belfast. I've been warming myself up with this delicious apple and cinnamon pie from the BBC Good Food webite. It's called 'The Ultimate Apple Pie' and it really is. I've always made pies before by stewing the fruit before baking it, which is alright. But nothing beats this pie, and it is incredibly easy to make. Eat it while it is still warm, and piled high with thick whipped cream.

The recipe can be found here. The only fault I can find with it is the lack of cinnamon, I double the amount required. Sometimes triple, it depends on your taste!