Sunday, 30 July 2017

Raspberry and White Chocolate Cupcakes

These are my favourite cupcakes ever and they're perfect for Summer!

(for cupcakes)
- 110g unsalted butter
- 180g caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 125g self-raising flour
- 120g plain flour
- 125ml semi-skimmed milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp raspberry jam
(for icing)
- Raspberry jam
- 100g white chocolate
- 80g unsalted butter
- 45ml semi-skimmed milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 375g icing sugar
- 3 tbsp double cream
- Fresh raspberries

- Preheat the oven to 160*C (fan)/180*C/350*F/gas mark 4 and line a 12-hole muffin tray.
- In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar until pale and smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for a few minutes after each addition.
- Combine the two flours in a separate bowl. Put the milk in a jug and add the vanilla extract to it. Add one-third of the flours to the creamed mixture and beat well. Pour in one-third of the milk and beat again. Repeat these steps until all the flour and milk have been added.
- Fold in the raspberry jam until most of it's combined but still have a few streaks running through it.
- Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and leave them to cool. Once they have cooled, cut a small hole in the centre of each cake and place a teaspoon of jam inside.
- For the icing, melt the chocolate by putting the pieces in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until it has completely melted and is quite smooth. Leave to cool slightly.
- In a large mixing bowl beat the butter, milk, vanilla extract and half the icing sugar until smooth. Gradually add the remaining icing sugar and beat again until the buttercream is smooth and creamy.
- Combine all the ingredients and beat well. Pipe onto cupcakes and add fresh raspberries on top.

Hopefully you like the look of these, will you be baking them?

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Visiting Venice

The last place we went on our trip around Italy was Venice. This was probably my favourite place because of how pretty and different it was from the other places we visited (although they were all amazing so it was difficult to choose!).

We stayed in Cannaregio which is more residential than the other areas in Venice and it's further away from the centre. However, this meant that it was more peaceful and we found some lovely restaurants that were a lot cheaper than the places in the touristy areas.

Where to visit:
The Rialto Bridge is a must-see and if you stand in the centre of it then it gives you a great view down the Grand Canal. The Rialto Bridge is extremely busy so I would recommend visiting it either early in the morning or late in the evening. The Basilica di San Marco has incredible architecture and you can buy tickets to go inside. The Basilica is based in St Mark's Square, which has loads of lovely shops and restaurants around the edge. If you visit the square at night, it's a lot quieter and is lit up. The Campanile is the tall tower in the square and it gives amazing 360 degree views of Venice. I would really recommend going up this if you have the time. Of course, you can't leave Venice without going on a Gondola! We went around the quieter canals of Venice because if you go down the Grand Canal on a Gondola you'll get stuck in loads of traffic. The Gondolier we had told us facts about Venice during our ride which made it really interesting and, although it was very expensive, I'm glad that I got to experience it.

Where to eat:
On TripAdvisor we found an amazing street food place called La Bottiglia, which was reasonably priced and away from the busy streets. They offer a selection of fresh meats and cheeses, as well as a few other foods, which you can have in focaccia bread or on a platter. Restaurants in Venice were quite expensive so we bought fresh pasta from Giacomo Rizzo to cook in our apartment instead. The pasta from here was some of the best I've ever had and I bought some to take home with me too!

Day trip:
Most people don't go to Venice for the beach, however, if you want a break from the hordes of people then the beach is the perfect place to relax. We got line 2 of the water bus to Lido di Venezia, which took around 40 minutes but it also gave us the opportunity to see more of the Grand Canal. At the beach you can hire loungers and umbrellas for the day and then relax!

This is my last post from my trip around Italy so hopefully you've found these posts enjoyable and helpful. Are you going away anywhere over Summer?

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Visiting Bologna

The next place we stopped at on our trip around Italy was Bologna. It's definitely one of Italy's most underrated cities with a lot less tourists choosing to go here, however, it was nice to have a break from the busyness of Milan. We stayed on the main street in Bologna - Via dell'Indipendenza - and everything we went to see was no more than a 10 minute walk from there.

Where to visit:
Piazza Maggiore is the main square in Bologna and when we arrived there was some sort of music festival going on here which was free to enter. If you look up the square before you go then you might find that there's something happening there when you're in Bologna. The Basilica di San Petronio is at the Piazza Maggiore and is one of the largest churches in the world. It's free to enter, however, if you want to visit the museum inside the church then you have to pay for that. Bologna has it's own version of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, called the Aniselli Tower, which you can climb up. Unfortunately, when we were in Bologna the tower was closed until July. Although that could be a good thing because legend has it that anyone who climbs the tower before graduating won't finish their degree! Another great place to visit in Bologna is some of the university buildings, since it's the oldest in Europe, and allows the public to visit certain areas of it. We went to see the Teotro Anatomico, which is decorated with lots of statues and is known as the birthplace of cosmetic surgery.

Where to eat:
On our first night in Bologna we found a lovely gastropub down one of the streets off of Piazza Maggiore. The food and drink was great value for money and gave us the opportunity to try lots of different meats and cheeses from around the area. Simoni also have a shop further down the street where you can buy some of the products which they serve. This was by far the best meal we had whilst we were in Bologna and also the cheapest! If you're only in Bologna for one night then I would definitely recommend going to this place.

Day trip:
Only 30 minutes away on the train is the Ferrari Museum in Modena and Ferrari offer a coach service from the Modena train station to the other Ferrari Museum in Maranello. We first went to the museum in Maranello which contains a lot of history about the making of the cars and about the Formula 1 team. We then got the coach back to the museum in Modena which currently has an exhibition called 'Driving with the Stars' that shows some of the Ferraris which celebrity's have driven over the years - I picked out a couple which I liked! If you're interested in cars, the Ferrari Museums make a great day trip as they're not too far from Bologna.

Hopefully this post has given you a good insight into Bologna. Will you be visiting Bologna any time soon?

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Visiting Milan

WARNING: This is going to be a very photo-heavy post! I recently got back from an incredible trip around Italy with my boyfriend so I thought that I would put together a guide on where to visit and what to eat whilst you're in Italy - first stop: Milan.

We stayed in the Navigli district of Milan, which is where all of the canals are, and it was a really nice area because it was a lot less touristy than the city centre but it didn't take too long to reach the centre. There are lots of restaurants and bars in the Navigli district so we had plenty of choice!

Where to visit:
The Duomo is the number one attraction in Milan and it's definitely worth a visit if you get the opportunity. We bought tickets in advance which gave us access to the cathedral, the terraces, the museum, and the archeological area. I found all of these interesting, however, the terraces were probably my favourite because of the amazing view you get over Milan. Also, if you want to go into the cathedral, you need to wear shorts/skirt down to your knees and have your shoulders covered. The shopping centre, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, is right by the Duomo so we had a wander through there  as the architecture is pretty impressive - unfortunately the majority of the shops were outside my budget! Another great place to visit is Sforza Castle and Parco Sempione. You can buy tickets to see the museums and galleries inside the castle, however, we didn't do this. The park behind the castle is massive and contains an aquarium and design museum (La Triennale di Milano) - we didn't have time to visit this but it does look really interesting.

Where to eat:
Italian food is my favourite type of food so ten days in Italy was absolute heaven! Before eating anywhere we always checked TripAdvisor and through this we came across an amazing pizza place called Piz. Not only was the food at Piz delicious but the customer service was also excellent and it wasn't very expensive. However, I would recommend getting to Piz before it opens, which is at 7pm, as we arrived just before it opened and there were quite a lot of people waiting outside already. Close to Piz there's a gelato shop called Ciacco, which had a wide range of flavours and makes a great after-dinner treat. The apartment we stayed in had a kitchen so one of the nights we bought some fresh pasta from Peck and it worked out a lot cheaper than going out to a restaurant but it still tasted just as good. For afternoon cocktails with a view we went to Il Bar. This overlooked the Duomo, however, because of this, the cocktails were quite pricey. I still think they were worth the money though and it gives you a nice break from the busy city centre.

Day trip:
To get from Milan to Varenna, which is a town on Lake Como, only takes around one hour. There's a villa with a botanical garden which you can visit and lots of restaurants to eat at. From Varenna you can get a ferry to various other places around Lake Como so we took the ferry across to Bellagio, which is one of the main towns on the lake. We wandered around the tiny streets and got cocktails at the artificial beach; Lido di Bellagio, which gives amazing views across the lake. There's also a botanical garden near to the artificial beach called Villa Melzi, which is well worth a visit if you have time. For dinner we went to La Fontana and the food here was amazing - I had the lasagne and I highly recommend it! Lake Como is definitely the prettiest place I've ever seen and it makes a great day trip from Milan because it's a lot more relaxed.

Milan is the perfect place to visit if you only want to go away for 3 or 4 days. Hopefully you've found this guide helpful if you're planning a trip to Milan. Have you ever been to Milan or Lake Como before?