Some eggxtremely valuable advice

Sometimes when we start addressing our mental health issues, we’re able to pinpoint the little things we may do ourselves that aren’t necessarily helping us to recover.

A biggy for me is that I put faaaaar too much pressure on myself. In every sense. Socially, academically, physically. So, when I don’t live up to that pressure, it’s as if I look for someone to blame. But, I wouldn’t dare blame anyone else for what I’m going through, so the only person left to blame is me.

With depression and anxiety, I experience a lot of internal noise. I think about what I have to do, worry all the time I’m not doing it, once I am doing it I don’t feel I’m doing enough, and the spiral of negative thoughts continue and continue until it feels as if my head will explode.

… and, again, that could be about anything and everything. Revision… replying to messages… work…

I feel like I should be able to just pull myself together. Like up until now I simply haven’t worked hard enough to shake off the depression, and I should just be able to fix myself. I think of it as if it’s the easiest thing to do, and that I’m the problem- that maybe I’m lazy or don’t want it enough- but the truth is (and it’s very hard for me to recognise sometimes, but The Blurt Foundation round it up pretty damn nicely):

Living with depression is hard work. Every single day we get up and do our best to live our lives alongside an illness which is determined to drag us down. 

Regardless of what our brains may tell us, we’re achieving so much simply by carrying on. We should be proud of ourselves, rather than being ashamed.

Sometimes I just need a shake, to remember that this is an illness. As with any illness, the symptoms we suffer with depression and anxiety are not our fault, and we shouldn’t self-blame or beat ourselves up. THAT lets the depression win.

Again, *disclaimer*: I’m terrible at- what the Black Eyed Peas sing in their 2003 banger-  ‘practising what I preach’.

Trying to have self-compassion is really, really bloody hard, especially when you can’t help but feel unworthy of it. The way I try to look at it now is to treat myself like I would treat my best friend. If they were in my position, I wouldn’t shame them, I definitely wouldn’t expect them to snap out of it and fix themselves in the click of a finger, nor would I get angry at them or think they’re horrible.

So, what’s the answer? The million-pound question. Well, maybe there isn’t an answer as such, but something you can- and should- do is forgive yourself. Or, at least, try to. No one is perfect, whether they suffer a mental illness or not. Give yourself a well-needed break and remember that Blurt Foundation wisdom: you should be proud, not ashamed of what you’re dealing with.  You’re doing bloomin’ marvellously.

 

Creme Egg Cupcakes 

Cupcakes:

  • 4 tbsp Water (boiling)
  • 40g Cocoa powder
  • 3 Eggs
  • 175g Butter (unsalted) (softened)
  • 165g Unrefined golden caster sugar
  • 115g (gluten-free) Self-raising white flour
  • 1 tsp Baking powder (rounded)
  • 6 creme eggs (frozen until needed, then halved)
  1. Line a muffin tin with paper cases. Sift the cocoa powder into a bowl, pour in the boiling water and mix into a thick paste. Add the remaining cake ingredients and mix with an electric hand whisk (or beat with a wooden spoon).
  2. Divide 2/3 of the mixture between the 12 paper cases. Place half a crème egg in each, then cover with the remaining mixture. Bake in a preheated oven at 200°C (400°F, Gas mark 6) for about 15 minutes until well risen and springy to the touch. Cool in the cases on a wire rack.

 

Icing:

Fondant 

  • 165g Golden syrup
  • 90g Softened butter
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1tsp Vanilla
  • 375g Icing sugar
  • Yellow food colouring

Buttercream 

  • 100g Butter
  • 300g Icing sugar
  • 1tsp Vanilla
  • Splash of milk
  1. Mix together the butter, golden syrup, vanilla and salt together for the fondant until the mixture becomes pale(ish)
  2. Gradually add the icing sugar into the mix to create a thick fondant (you might not need all the icing sugar), then use enough yellow colouring to create a nice yolk colour, set aside
  3. Mix together your butter and icing sugar together to create your buttercream, add a splash of milk & the vanilla and beat on a high speed to get lots of air into your buttercream, giving you a light fluffy frosting.
  4. Use both the icings to decorate in the design of an egg (or however you wish!)
  5. Use extra creme eggs for decoration

 

 

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Sticky Toffee Cupcakes

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My brother invited me over for dinner at his new house this week and I thought… how better to celebrate the occasion but with cake?! So I did what I do best- put my apron on and got baking. He adores a good sticky toffee pudding, so I had a search and came across the perfect little recipe. Cupcakes with a soft, rich sponge and a sweet caramel icing. Just, yum.

The comments I received for them were equally as fab. On the back of these little beauties, my best friend is rooting for me to enter Bake Off 2016, and my toughest critic- the brother- praised them as the best cakes I’ve ever made him. The only negative I had was that I didn’t give him enough!! Not too bad if I say so myself 🙂 If you fancy a good ego boost, I suggest you make a batch!

Makes approx. 16 cupcakes

180g pitted and chopped dates

180ml boiling water

80g unsalted butter, softened

150g soft light brown sugar

2 eggs

180g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/4 tsp salt

1tsp vanilla extract

Put the chopped dates in a bowl and cover them with the boiling water. Set them aside to soak for about 30 mins while you get on with making the cupcake batter.

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees and line a muffin tin (or two) with cases.

Beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until soft and fluffy.

Break the eggs in one at a time and beat until they’re incorporated well.

Sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt) into the butter and sugar mixture in a few batches, beating after each addition until you’re left with a smooth batter.

Finally add the vanilla extract to the date mixture and add the whole lot to the cake batter.

Bake for 18-20 minutes.

Once they’re cooked, leave them to cool before icing.

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80g unsalted butter, softened

250g icing sugar

25ml milk

50g tinned caramel or dulce de leche

Using an electric mixer, mix together the icing sugar and butter until it has the texture of sand.

Gradually add the milk and whack up the speed until you have a light creamy butter icing.

Stir in the caramel.

Top your cupcakes with the icing and decorate as desired.

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Recipe from: Afternoon Tease

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Oreo Cookie Cupcakes

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Said to taste every bit as good as they look. Give ’em a go!

For the cake:

1 pack oreo cookies
75g self raising flour
25g good quality cocoa powder
100g light brown sugar
100g butter, room temperature
2 eggs (preferably free range or organic)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
Place a oreo cookie at the bottom of each of the cupcake cases
Sift the flour and the cocoa together and put aside
Beat the butter and sugar until creamy
Add the eggs one at a time, alternating with a spoon full of the flour and cocoa
Fold in the remaining flour and cocoa
Divide the mixture between the cases and bake for about 10-15 minutes until when you insert a skewer it comes out clean and the sponge is springy when touched
Leave to cool while you make the icing…

Icing:

3/4 (approx.) packet oreo cookies
75g butter, softened
125g icing sugar, sifted
A few drops of vanilla essence

Beat the butter
Add the icing sugar and vanilla essence and beat until a smooth butter icing is formed
Place the oreo cookies into a sandwich bag
Using a rolling pin, roughly smash the cookies into small chunks
Add most of these chunks to the icing and stir so they’re distributed evenly
Spread the icing onto the cool cakes
Decorate by sprinkling the remaining oreo chunks on top of the icing

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