Monday 24 December 2012

Recipe: Stollen

Freshly baked stollen

Do you know, I've not baked or eaten a single mince pie this year. But this morning I baked a delicious stollen and by FLIP it is lush!

I used a mish-mash of several recipes and I heartily recommend a slice of this delicious cakey-bread with a cup of tea and a lovely Christmas film; I opted for A Muppet Christmas Carol.

Freshly baked stollen



100ml milk
1 x 7g sachet of dried yeast
Good pinch of salt
1 teaspoon caster sugar
225g strong white bread flour
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g mixed dried fruit*
25g flaked almonds
50g unsalted butter
1 free range egg
250g marzipan

*I used a mix of sultanas, currants, raisins, dried cranberries, candied peel and quartered glace cherries

To finish:

25g melted unsalted butter
40g icing sugar


Gently heat the milk and 50g butter in a saucepan.

Mix the dried fruit together with the vanilla extract and the mixed spice.

In a large bowl mix the flour, yeast, salt and sugar and make a well in the centre. 

Your milk and butter mixture should be warm but not hot. You should be able to hold your finger in it comfortably. When it is at this point crack the egg into the milk and butter and beat well with a fork.

Add your milk, butter and egg mixture to your flour mixture and stir to combine. Add your dried fruit, vanilla and spice mix and combine everything thoroughly. If you've got a swanky electric mixer you can do all this mixing with a dough hook. If you haven't, use a spoon and your hands like I do.

Turn your mixture out onto a well-floured surface and knead it well for about ten minutes. Yes, it is sticky. Yes, you will need to add more flour to stop the dough sticking to the kitchen. Yes, you will get messy hands but heck, enjoy it and have fun!

Transfer your dough to an oiled bowl and cover with clingfilm. Put the bowl in a warm place (an airing cupboard or your oven on the defrost setting is good) and leave to prove until the dough has doubled in size. This can take anywhere from forty-five minutes to an hour and a half.

When the dough is all puffed up, knock it back (squish and knead the air out of it) and then turn it out onto a floured surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to a rough rectangle shape about 9 inches by 7 inches.

Roll your marzipan into a sausage slightly shorter than the long side of your dough rectangle. Dust the work surface with icing sugar whilst you shape the marzipan.

Place your marzipan sausage on the dough and fold the dough over it and seal the ends and the long edge by dampening them with a little water and squidging them together.

Put your stollen, seam side down, on a baking-paper-lined baking tray and gently pat back into shape if needs be. Cover the stollen with oiled clingflim.

Leave it to prove again for about thirty minutes. You don't want it to double in size but you want it to puff up a bit.

Heat your oven to 180°C (160°C for fan ovens) and then bake your stollen for about 25 to 30 minutes or until it is golden brown.

Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack.

Whilst the stollen is still hot, brush it with the 25g of melted butter and then immediately sift the icing sugar over the top.

Leave to cool (but for quality control purposes do try a slice whilst it is still warm and the marzipan is all oozy) and serve sliced.

Best eaten by the twinkling light of the Christmas tree.

Saturday 22 December 2012

'Kimono', baking, baking and baking

Lampwork Glass Lentil Beads

The bright colours and stylised design on these beads remind me of Japanese kimono fabrics.

These comfy-to-wear lentils are made in translucent purple glass, dusted with purple enamel and decorated with dark brown branches and orange blooms and blossom. They are only decorated on one side so they would be lovely turned into a bracelet.

Lampwork Glass Lentil Beads

The 'Kimono' beads are for sale right now over in the usual place.

So, Christmas is nearly upon us. My fridge is empty, bar three jars of pesto, half a pint of milk, a jar of horseradish sauce and the guinea pigs' lettuce, carrot and apple. This means I have to go and do THE food shop of the year. Chris is currently in Manchester but I'm hoping he'll be home later and then the Chrimble preparations can finally start.

I've got to marzipan my cake today. I'm also going to make a stollen and some biscotti. I've been baking like a mad thing recently, with good reason; I have an audition for The Great British Bake Off in January. It was supposed to have been this week but a mix-up with a double booking by the audition venue meant that they had to postpone it. But yes, I've been baking like a crazy baking person.

Hand Raised Pie

I've made some hand-raised pies that I've been really proud of. Hot water crust pastry is a doddle to make but flipping heck, shaping it into a pie case is not easy. That ceramics module of my Art A-Level finally came in handy! This chicken and bacon pie with homemade sage and onion stuffing (which is a Mrs Beeton recipe) was my second attempt and my goodness it tasted yum!

Sour Cherry & Almond Biscotti

I have become addicted to baking sour cherry and almond biscotti.

I've also been making cinnamon bread and Chelsea buns. These ones are quite Christmassy as they contain orange and cranberries. The icing is orange too. Tell you what, though, they weren't half sweet and it's not often you hear pudding monster me utter those "too sweet" words. Nice, though.

Orange & Cranberry Chelsea Buns

So yeah, I've been drowning in baked goods. I've sent some to friends, Chris has taken some to work and I even took some to Slimming World for our little Christmas party thing. I KNOW. That makes zero sense but when you cut a pie into very small pieces and you halve slices of biscotti it becomes less naughty to eat. Or something ...

I keep thinking about what Mum would say about my baking. I honestly don't think she'd believe it. She'd find it hilarious that I'm having a go at entering a cookery competition, I know that!

Right, time to get on and DO something. I have a to-do list as long as The Nile and I need to be crossing things off it.

Have a good Saturday!

Thursday 20 December 2012


Lampwork Glass Beads

I bought quarter of a kilo of odd-lot Vetrofond glass about five years ago. It is the palest transparent yellow but the rods are about 12mm diameter which makes it awkward to work with.

These 'Champagne' beads are the last of that glass. I've etched the beads to a velvety finish and I've included some shimmery spacers. The set is for sale in the usual place along with a few other sets.

Tuesday 18 December 2012

'Sugar Plum'

Lampwork Glass Beads

Pretty etched purple beads with twinkly mauve spacers. These are available on my Freshly Baked Beads page right now.

Thursday 13 December 2012

New Beads

Lampwork Beads

I've just added these vibrant 'Orange & Blackcurrant' beads and ...

Lampwork Beads

... these 'Ancient' ones to the Freshly Baked Beads page.

Tuesday 11 December 2012

'Jack Frost'

Etched Lampwork Glass Beads

Well, if there was ever a day to sell frosty-looking beads it is today. The garden looks like it's dusted with icing sugar, there is a chilly mist in the air and the birds on the fence are all fluffed up.

I made these beads with frosty mornings in mind; etched clear beads and shimmery silvery spacers. These are for sale in the usual place right now.

Cinnamon Bread

I'm off to make a cup of tea, grab a slice of toasted cinnamon bread (I made a loaf at the weekend and I have another one baking in the oven as I type) and settle down with some bracelet making.

Have a good Tuesday!

Sunday 9 December 2012

'Bleu', Lonelies & Tuition

Lampwork Glass Beads

I've just put these etched blue beads on the Freshly Baked Beads page along with some Lonelies.
Lampwork Glass Beads

I've also reduced the price of my pendants and charms in my Chrimbleshop to £12.00 and £10.00 respectively.

In other bead-related news, I will be teaching from 18th February through to 25th October, 2013. These are the months when my shed isn't freezing. I am in Cambridge.

If you’re an absolute beginner I am offering a four hour session. During this time we will cover the basics of beadmaking and we’ll pull stringer, make round beads and then use stringer and frit to decorate them. All materials, tea, coffee and biscuits (essential beadmaking equipment) are included in the tuition fee and obviously you will get to keep all the beads we make. The price for this four hour session is £100.00. Just email me to discuss suitable dates and times.

If you’ve done a spot of beadmaking before and you’d like to brush up on skills like stringer application, shaping and encasing then I am offering tuition at a rate of £25.00 per hour. It is entirely up to you how many hours you’d like but I’d suggest no more than five as there’s only so much beadmaking your brain can do before it gets tired. Just send me an email outlining what you’re interested in learning and for how long and we’ll arrange something.

If you’d like to book some tuition with me please send me an email.I will require a fifty percent deposit (non-refundable) at the time of booking with the remainder payable on the day of your tuition. For deposits I will accept PayPal or bank transfer.

If you'd like to give the gift of glass meltery I can provide a voucher in a card. Just email me to purchase one.

I think that's about all for now. I'm off to make some soup.

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!

Thursday 6 December 2012


Lampwork Bead Charms

These heart, strawberry and cherry cupcake charms are available over in my Chrimbleshop right now. These are £12.00 each and are fitted with a tiny lobster clasp so they can be attached to a charm bracelet.

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Wednesday 5 December 2012


You know those little short-term lease shops that pop up in town centres at this time of year? The ones that sell massive Christmas cards, Santa hats and cheap tinsel? Well, I've just opened the glass bead version of one of those. Except there is zero tat in my shop.

So yes, my Chrimbleshop is OPEN. I'll be updating it every other day or so with beady gifts. They are one-offs, giftboxed and ready to be posted.

Lampwork Glass Pendants

I've just stocked it with a bunch of pendants. These are £15.00 each including delivery and if needs be I can supply an eighteen inch sterling silver chain for an additional £10.00.

I'm busy with bracelet orders right now and I'm making stock for my shop in between those, so do check the shop regularly for new additions.

I'm off to make myself a massive mug-o-tea now ...

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Saturday 1 December 2012

Recipe: Vanilla Chai Biscuits

Vanilla Chai Biscuits

I got my bake on today and I decided that I wanted to capture the spicy flavours of vanilla chai tea in a buttery, crumbly biscuit. I'm really pleased with the results and I thought I'd share my recipe with you in case you fancy trying them too.

Vanilla Chai Biscuits
Makes 30


225g unsalted butter (room temperature)
110g caster sugar
275g plain flour
1 vanilla pod
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon ground cloves


Preheat the oven to 170°C (150°C if using a fan oven) or gas mark 3.

Cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy.

Sift in the flour and the spices. Split open the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds and add these to the mix too, along with the vanilla extract.

Mix well.

Roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls (about the size of a walnut) and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Make sure you leave room for the biscuits to spread as they cook. Using a fork, slightly flatten the balls of dough.

Bake in batches for 15 to 18 minutes. Oven times will vary so make sure you check them. You want them to be golden at the edges. 

Remove the biscuits from the oven and leave to stand for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.


You can buy ground cardamom but I only had cardamom pods in stock so I removed the seeds from their green casing and ground them with a pestle and mortar.

I use the tablespoon from my measuring spoon set to ensure consistent biscuit size.

Twinings Vanilla Chai Tea

The inspiration for these biscuits was Twinings Vanilla Chai tea. It comes in a beautiful Christmassy caddy and it tastes divine. The mix of festive spices with the creamy vanilla is just utter yum. (And no, I'm not being sponsored by them to say this; it is just a very lovely beverage.)

Happy baking!

Thursday 22 November 2012


Lampwork Glass Beads

Geometric beads in green, purple-pink and turquoise with just a touch of pale yellow. These colours remind me of 1960s fabrics. Groovy, baby!

If you like the look of these then you might like to know that they are for sale over in the usual place right now. The two bracelets from my previous post are still there waiting for homes too, poor little loves.

Thursday 15 November 2012

New Bracelets

Lampwork glass and sterling silver bracelet

Simple beads but beautiful colours that just sing together. The 'Christmas Lights' bracelet above and the 'Sherbet' one below are priced at £25.00 each and they are available on the Freshly Baked Beads page right now.

Lampwork glass and sterling silver bracelet

Don't forget that I can make my bracelets in pretty much whatever colour scheme you'd like. All ordering information can be found here and you can also take a look at bracelets-gone-by right here.

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Spacers, Spacers, Spacers

Lampwork glass spacer beads

I've sorted through my Lonelies jar and I was amazed at how many spacers I've gathered over the past few months. I've strung some into sets and they're for sale now on the Freshly Baked Beads page. There's also a strand of assorted Lonelies waiting for a new home too.

Sunday 11 November 2012

'Crystal & Garnet'

Glass beads

Not actual factual crystal and garnet; just glass.

I adore this red. It is just a proper reddy-red red.

This strand of light-catching lovelies are available right here and I've also made them available for ordering too.

Tuesday 6 November 2012


Lampwork glass beads

There's a nip in the air and it's made me want to make icy-chilly-wintry beads. So TA-DA! These 'Frost' beads are on the Freshly Baked Beads page now and I've also made them available for ordering. These would be perfect for seasonal designs.

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Slimming World

I'm now going to waffle on about dieting. I totally understand if you don't want to read it but I figured that some of you might like to know about how my weight loss is going.

I received my Yay-I've-Lost-A-Stone-And-A-Half! certificate and sticker at Slimming World last night. I was mighty chuffed. I've only been doing the diet for ten weeks and I've shed twenty-two pounds in total.

My SW book with progress stickers

A few months ago I decided that I wanted to shift some weight. I was a size sixteen and I was feeling unhealthy. I got overly-hot and out of puff walking to the shop and back and doing housework proper knackered me out. I also didn't like the way my jeans were so very tight around my thighs (they looked like when you clingfilm biscuit dough into a sausage shape) and I felt big and sluggish and generally meh.

I've tried calorie counting in the past and I lost a bit of weight doing so, but I never kept it off. I also became fixated with adding up calories and numbers and it wasn't healthy and I got tired of it very quickly. I needed to do something that I would stick to and a couple of friends had lost weight successfully with Slimming World. So I bought a copy of the Slimming World magazine, read it, searched for my nearest group on the old internet and the following Monday I went along and enrolled. You can do the programme entirely online which was tempting but I felt that actually physically going to a group would work better for me

I was SO nervous about going. I had visions of Little Britain's 'Fat Fighters' in my mind but within ten minutes of being there I realised that Slimming World was going to be nothing like that.

Marjorie Dawes

I lost four-and-a-half pounds in my first week. And I've lost weight every week since, sometimes only half a pound but still, I've not gained weight.

And you know what? I'm NEVER hungry. That's the joy of this diet. (I'm totally aware that I sound like an infomercial here.) You can eat as much of what Slimming World calls 'Free Food' as often as you like. The Free Food list includes rice, pasta and potatoes. And - get this - you can still eat crisps and chocolate! Obviously you can't yum eighteen Mars bars a day, but I have about three Curly Wurlys a week.
There's no calorie counting, next-to-no food weighing, no complex points systems and you can do the diet with minimum disruption to the rest of the family. The Slimming World recipes and cook books are wonderful. I can't say enough good words about the whole thing.

Weight loss aside, I actually enjoy going to Slimming World on Monday nights. I like seeing everyone. I like hearing how people are getting on. The place is full of lovelypeopleness.

And I FEEL better. I feel healthier. I don't get as hot and flustered walking about the place. I'm nearing a size twelve now and I've got to go and buy new clothes because nothing fits me properly anymore. I bloody hate clothes shopping but the fact I've GOT to go makes me smiley.

So yeah, in short, if you've ever considered joining a slimming club but have thought "Nope, I just can't do it!" then shush up and go do it. I've got about another stone to shed and then I'll be in healthy BMI territory. I'll see what I look like and how I feel when I reach my target and then I'll decide if I need to lose a bit more.

And American readers, if you're thinking "Why haven't WE got Slimming World?! It sounds AWESOME!" then you may be interested to know that Slimming World is now over there in Unitedstatesland and right now you can get four months' enrollment for just $40.00. Have a look right here for more details.

So that's that. Diet blog post done. I'm off for lunch now. The homemade pea and ham soup is calling me ...

Old favourites

Red and white polka dot beads

Ah, red-with-white-polka-dots, how I love thee. You make me smile, you make me feel calm and you please my eyes. If they please yours, you may like to know that these lovelies are for sale in the usual place right now.

Monday 22 October 2012

'Clementine & Blueberry'

Etched lampwork glass beads

I really need to step away from the orange glass now. I think it's autumn. It gets in my head and I just like making orange beads when it does. Happens every year.

Anyway, if, like me, you have a soft spot for orange then you might like to know that these 'Clementine & Blueberry' beads are available over on the Freshly Baked Beads page right now. These etched, glowy lovelies with some coordinating enamelled spacers are priced at £25.00 and they'd be fab for a bracelet or even earrings.

Friday 19 October 2012

If it's good enough for DFS ...

Christmas lampwork glass beads

... then it's good enough for me. Last night I saw the most overly-Christmassy DFS television advert. They seem determined to make the whole of the UK buy a new sofa in time for Christmas. I moaned on Twitter about the ridiculously far-too-early nature of the advert and then I realised I'd made a set of Christmassy beads on Wednesday. I have an excuse, though; I have to make the beads so that you can buy them, work your jewellery magic with them and then get them sold or given in time for Chrimbletide.

So yeah, I think I get away with it.

Those simple-yet-pretty 'Festive' spacers up there are now available for ordering on my Beads To Order page. There are a dozen in the strand and they cost £12.00 including worldwide delivery.

Sunday 14 October 2012


Lampwork Glass Bead Bracelet

I adore the colours about the place at this time of year; rich reds, vibrant yellows and oranges and glorious coppers and bronzes. I made these enamelled beads and turned them into a bracelet as I liked the idea of wrapping all those beautiful autumn colours around your wrist.

Lampwork Glass Pumpkin Pendant

And I also made this super-cute pumpkin pendant. It'll add a splash of autumnal loveliness or a touch of Halloweenery to your day.

Lampwork Glass Pumpkin Pendant 
Both of these pieces are available over on my Freshly Baked Beads page right now.

Saturday 6 October 2012

Bracelets By Laura

Lampwork glass and sterling silver cupcake bracelet

I've spent my morning creating a whole new web page dedicated to my custom bracelets.

There are five different bracelet styles to choose from and prices range from £25.00 to £65.00 so there is something to suit everyone.

If you are thinking of ordering bracelets in time for Christmas, please place your order by Sunday 2nd December.

Very sorry to mention the C-word there but it's creeping up. I nearly Hulked out in WH Smith yesterday when I was trapped in their queueing system surrounded by Christmas sweets and chocolates. WAY TOO FAR TOO EARLY, PEOPLE!

Anyway, Happy Saturday! I'll be back later or tomorrow to tell you all about how I am eschewing the aforementioned sweets and chocolates whilst I am doing my diet ...

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Wednesday 3 October 2012

'Halloween' Bracelet

Lampwork Glass Halloween Bracelet

I wanted to make a Halloween bracelet but I didn't want it to be overly Halloweeny. So I just went for black and enamelled green and orange spacers and a cute pumpkin dangle.

This one is available over on the Freshly Baked Beads page right now. It is £35.00 including giftbox and worldwide delivery.

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Sunday 30 September 2012

Pretty Wrists

Lampwork glass and sterling silver bracelet

I've been busy with bracelets this week and I am loving all the colour combinations and requests that everyone comes up with. This week's creations have included the simple-yet-pretty 'Rainbow' bracelet above and the bold-and-basic 'True Blue' one below.

Lampwork glass and sterling silver bracelet

I had a commission for a a proper princessy bracelet for a little girl and I went to town with the pinks and purples for it and even added some sparkly Swarovski butterfly dangles for extra girlishness.

Lampwork glass and sterling silver bracelet

After all that colour and crystal I made this muted 'Tiramisu' one. Ecru and grey-brown with oodles of spots.

Lampwork glass and sterling silver bracelet

The 'Tiramisu' bracelet is for sale on my Freshly Baked Beads page now and as usual, if you'd like to order a bracelet in the colours of your choice just let me know. Ordering details are here.

I'm off to clean the guinea pig hutch now. Glam Sunday!

Tuesday 25 September 2012

'Chocolate Orange' Bracelet

Lampwork glasss and sterling silver bracelet

This bracelet was a commission and I am so pleased with the way it turned out. It has such an autumnal feel about it and it's quite retro at the same time.

If you fancy commissioning a bracelet made in the colours of your choice, please click here for ordering details.

Sunday 23 September 2012

Poppies To Order

Lampwork Glass 'Poppies' Lentil

Lots of you have sent me lovely comments about the 'Poppies' beads that I posted the other day.  I do realise that at fifty quid a strand they are quite expensive, so I decided to make them available as single lentils and also as pendants.
Lampwork Glass 'Poppy' Pendant

I've also added some red and black spacer beads to the ordering page too.

Spacer Beads

The single lentils are £9.00 each, the pendants are £12.00 a piece and the spacers are £6.50 per strand. All prices include worldwide postage and they are all available to order right here.