Guinness Cake easy recipe

For 2017 the company where I work, James Villas, have chosen a new charity to support throughout the year and we’ve gone local with our choice of Porchlight a charity that looks out for those who have nowhere to go, our local homeless people. This is a charity that has touched my heart and made me realise how fragile we all are and how lucky I am to be in the privileged position of having a roof over my head with hot water and heating, plus a full fridge!

Friday saw the first charity event organised at work and we had a Bake Off. Everyone was invited to bring something into work, the directors would judge and three prizes would be given out, two tickets to see Legally Blonde, a half day’s holiday and a bottle of prosecco. I had my eyes fixed firmly on the half day’s holiday as all working parents will understand the difficulties of covering 13 weeks school holidays with a measly 21 days!

I had a good think about what I would be preparing, something savoury from Italy or something sweet?

I scoured the Pinterest boards and came across a recipe on Love SWAH that I have been wanting to try for a long time now, a Guinness cake. I had heard that it works and is exceptionally delicious.

Guinness Cake

My plan was to have a go the weekend before at home so I had the chance to try it and improve it if necessary. I got all the ingredients in and like the best laid plans I ran out of time. This meant I would have to enter the competition without a trial, Mary Berry would not be impressed but hey ho, needs must.

Tommy was at home on the Thursday because it was half term and so, we set to together in the kitchen, after dinner and made the cake, the Whiskey ganache and the Baileys Icing, all ready for assembling later.

Whilst the cake was in the oven I had a go at making some bunting, the theme given was Love as it was close to Valentine’s Day and I am rather partial to hearts and flowers.

I managed to get all of my preparation sorted before bedtime and left my cake in the fridge over night.

Guinness Layer Cake with Whiskey Ganache and Baileys Icing
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A rich and delicious dark chocolate cake using Guinness in the cake, whiskey in the ganache and Baileys in the icing.
Author:
Recipe type: Cake
Cuisine: British
Ingredients
  • Dark Chocolate Guinness Cake
  • 250ml Guinness beer (1 cup)
  • 250g butter (1 cup + 1 tbsp)
  • 100g cup cocoa powder (2/3 cup)
  • 400g caster/superfine sugar (1¾ cups)
  • 140ml sour cream (2/3 cup)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 250g plain flour (2 cups)
  • 2½ tsp bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
  • Irish Whiskey Ganache
  • 225g dark chocolate (8 ounces)
  • 140ml heavy cream (2/3 cup)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp Irish whiskey
  • Baileys Cream Cheese Icing
  • 500-600g sifted icing sugar/powdered sugar (4-5 cups)
  • 100g butter at room temperature (1/2 cup)
  • 250g cream cheese at room temperature (8oz)
Instructions
  1. Dark Chocolate Guinness Cake
  2. Preheat oven 180°C/350°F and butter and line 2 x 23cm (9") springform tins.
  3. Melt the butter into the Guinness in a saucepan over low heat.
  4. Whisk in the cocoa and sugar and take the saucepan off the heat.
  5. Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla in a separate bowl until combined, than add to the beer mixture.
  6. Whisk in the flour and bicarb until combined.
  7. Divide the cake batter between the two tins and bake for 35-45 minutes. The middle of the cake may still be slightly wet when you take the cake out, but it will firm up as it cools down.
  8. Leave to cool completely in the tin as it is quite a damp cake and could collapse.
  9. Since these cakes need to be sliced horizontally, I wrap both cakes in cling wrap and store in the fridge for a few hours to firm up. It makes slicing the cakes easier.
  10. Irish Whiskey Ganache
  11. Heat cream up into the microwave until warm (not boiling) and then add finely chopped chocolate, stirring until melted and combined.
  12. Add in the butter and whiskey and stir until combined. Let the ganache cool until thick and spreadable.
  13. Baileys Cream Cheese Icing
  14. Cream the butter and icing sugar together until well mixed.
  15. Add the cream cheese in cubes slowly until incorporated.
  16. Add in Baileys. Continue mixing for 5 minutes until the icing is light and fluffy.
  17. To assemble
  18. Slice both cakes horizontally using a serrated knife so you have 4 layers of cake.
  19. Place your first layer on the cake stand and spread around 2 tablespoons worth of ganache over the top of the cake.
  20. Dollop on a generous portion of Baileys icing and spread out evenly with an offset spatula.
  21. Place the next layer of cake on top and repeat this process. Remember to take the ganache and icing right to the edges so it peaks out the sides of the cake when assembled.
  22. Top the final layer of cake with the ganache and Baileys icing and voila!

Guinness Cake Verdict

Guinness Cake

We all stood around and watched the directors sample tiny bits of cake and as the Director tasted mine he made all the right noises of someone who was really enjoying his cake, he even came out of the judging discussion with the other directors and said quite clearly the Guinness Cake was his favourite BUT I wasn’t placed in the top three and stood and watched my half day holiday go to the maker of samosas which, by the way were superb.

Disappointed? Yes, of course I was.

I tasted my cake and I must admit I was really, really pleased with it. I brought the remainder of the cake home and the family all agreed it was delicious. If anything was lacking it was my presentation skills.

Never mind, I really enjoyed making the cake and I can confirm it is super delicious should you wish to have a go yourself. There are various recipes on the internet, I have gone with Love SWAH’s and there is a link further up or you can find the recipe on my Valentine’s Pinterest Board

Donating hair

It’s been a very busy month, the full time position is full on and every moment is precious these days, hence not so much going on in Mari’s World blog. We have also had bad news in the family, my cousin’s 16 year old daughter has been diagnosed with leukaemia mid January. This was a huge blow to her, in the midst of studying for her GCSEs and plans to go on a be a journalist. It has shocked everyone around her and once the shock starts to fade, then your thoughts turn to what can I do?

Fundraising is the biggest and easiest task to take on and Alice declared she wanted to cut her hair to donate it to the Little Princess Trust so they could make a wig for a child suffering from hair loss thanks to chemotherapy.

We booked up the appointment and watched the YouTube video on how to be prepared.

 

What do you need to know if you want to donate your hair

Before hair cut

  • Your hair must be washed and completely dried.
  • Separate your hair into smaller plaits as they are easier to cut
  • Tie with a rubber band at the top of the plait
  • Plait and hold with another rubber band at the bottom
  • Cut hair and place in clean plastic bag
  • Post to The Little Princess Trust – Little Princess Trust, Aderans UK, Unit B4, Dolphin Way, Shoreham-By-Sea, BN43 6NZ, (UK)

Why Alice decided to donate her hair

Just Giving fundraising page

Our first step was to set up a Just Giving fundraising page and luckily we were able to create it so every penny went directly into The Little Princess Trust pot, that saved us from having to collect money from sponsors and pass it on which can get confusing if you are not organised. You can see Alice’s Just Giving page here.

Alice Weekes donating hair

The hair cut

Preparing for hair donation

Your hairdresser may well have done this before but it’s always best to go prepared with some rubber bands and a plastic bag anyway. Alice enjoyed the process as much as the final haircut and I made sure I took photos of her so we could use them on our Just Giving page.

The fundraising

cutting the hair

Once we got home and had eaten we took some more After photos and set about fundraising. Facebook was our first port of call as it is where I have most of my conversations and am most well connected with friends, family and acquaintances. Alice was very excited to see the funds come in and was constantly asking me throughout the day how much we had reached.

How much to raise

hair cut

We set our sights high – £500.

We discovered it costs the Little Princess Trust between £350 – 500 to make one wig and they are donated free to all children who have lost their hair through cancer treatment. It was a huge ask of our family and friends but we hoped with Alice’s kind gesture people would take heart.

They did and by the end of Saturday we had reached £420.00!

We put a reminder up on Sunday morning and reached £490.00 by lunch time.

By 3pm on Sunday we had reached her goal and now, because we are a competitive lot, we want to see if we can get anywhere near sponsoring a second wig?

Can you help?

donating hair

 

Before I sign off I wanted to share some facts that I found on the Clic Sargent website that are a reminder of how it can happen to anyone at any time and how we need to keep raising awareness.

Clic Sargent Young Lives VS Cancer

When cancer strikes young lives, CLIC Sargent helps families limit the damage cancer causes beyond their health. We provide expert support, to help and guide each young cancer patient and their family. We will fight tirelessly for them, individually, locally and nationally, so that they can focus on the important things, like getting well.

  • Today, 11 more children and young people will hear the devastating news they have cancer.
  • Every year in the UK around 3,600 children and young people under 25 are diagnosed with cancer. Around 2,000 are aged 16 to 24-years-old
  • Although eight in 10 will survive cancer, it is still the leading cause of death from a single disease among children and young people in the UK
  • It is estimated there are 10,000 survivors of childhood cancer aged 24 and under living in the UK. Around 30% of survivors have a chronic health condition and a further 30% have another ongoing health-related problem.
  • The type of cancer and its treatment varies for each child or young person, but treatment normally starts straightaway and can last up to three years
  • CLIC Sargent research has found that children and young people with cancer travel an average of 60 miles, up to five times a week, for hospital treatment (A long way from home, 2010, research focused on 0 to 18- year-olds)
  • Two in three parents surveyed by CLIC Sargent said they had built up debt to make ends meet as a result of their child’s cancer. More than one in four had borrowed over £2,000. Two in three parents surveyed experienced a loss of earnings and three in five parents said they had to reduce the number of hours they worked. (Counting the costs of cancer, 2011)
  • CLIC Sargent research shows that two-thirds of 16 to 18-year-olds fall behind with their education as a result of cancer and its treatment (More than my illness, 2010)
  • Half of young people surveyed by CLIC Sargent said they had to borrow money as a result of their cancer with more than 17% borrowing over £1,000 and 6% borrowing over £2,000. (Counting the costs of cancer, 2011)
  • Parent’s spent an average of £600 a month in additional expenses during their child’s treatment (Cancer Costs, 2016)
  • Over half of young people (52%) and almost half of parents (49%) visited their GP at least three times before their cancer was diagnosed (Best chance from the start, 2016

Alice Weekes hair cut

Forever Living C9

Forever Living – C9 programme

Forever Living Products was founded in 1978 in Scottsdale, Arizona and today is the largest grower, manufacturer and distributor of Aloe Vera products in the world. Out of the 400 different species of Aloe plants, Forever Living produce Aloe Barbadensis Miller which is known for its magically soothing abilities. It is known for soothing minor burns, comforting and moisturising stressed skin, and helping to aid your skin’s natural ability to regenerate itself. Records of Aloe exist on Sumerian clay tablets from as early as 2200 BC. Aloe is often referred to as nature’s best gift due to the proven health benefits derived from the gel found inside the leaf of the plant.

What attracted me to try C9

I first heard and used the Forever Living Aloe Vera Gel when I lived in Italy where it was very popular, I remember being very impressed with the results and when we visited an Aloe Vera farm in Lanzarote last year, I was very happy to buy some of their products to bring back home. I used the face cream for months and am convinced it was one of the best I have ever used.

aloe vera farm lanzarote

When I saw the BritMums Pro newsletter asking for bloggers to try the F.I.T. programme C9, I applied straight away, not only do I know of the Aloe Vera properties but I have spent the past couple of months not feeling right. I have struggled with my weight, tending to gain slowly but never able to lose it. I have suffered all kinds of minor ailments that weren’t illnesses as such but one after another these minor bugs and feelings start to drag you down into a place where it’s difficult to pick yourself up.

If anything could pick me up and get me back on track it was Aloe Vera, so I applied.

CAN YOU LOOK BETTER AND FEEL BETTER IN JUST 9 DAYS? YES.

Look better and feel great in just nine days with this expertly-devised cleansing plan. Designed to kick-start the F.I.T. programme, cleanse your body and adjust your mindset, C9 provides the perfect starting point for transforming your diet and fitness habits. Based around Forever’s bestselling Aloe Vera Gel drink, this nutritionally-balanced programme will allow you to see real results in just nine days.

I really liked the idea of cleansing and kick starting a new lifestyle, so when my box arrived I dived in like an excited child.

F.I.T. – Foundation, Inspiration, Transformation

Properties of aloe vera

What’s included in the C9 pack

Forever Aloe Vera Gel® x2
Forever Lite Ultra® with Aminotein®
Forever Therm®
Forever Fiber™
Information Booklet

I read through my booklets, got to recognise each product and got myself ready to start, in fact by the time Day 1 arrived, which together with Day 2 is the hardest, I was raring to go. I kept a short diary of my experience.

C9 free foods

Day 1

Surprise! I wasn’t at all hungry today. I have followed day 1 exactly as planned in the booklet and I am full of enthusiasm, I have taken all of my measurements and I recorded my weight this morning too, I am really interested to see the results, if any. Today was a Monday and I was at home from work so able to follow the plan perfectly. If anything I have found it really weird taking all the capsules throughout the day. I thought I would be a lot more hungry than I was and although I prepared a lunch salad from the free foods list I probably could have gone without it.

Steps: 11,383

C9 day 1

Day 2

Once again, I haven’t felt hungry today, so much so I have started to worry that I am not doing the course right but checking and double checking I have followed it perfectly. I have also drink lots of water and visited the bathroom lots too! These were the ‘worst’ days so I’m looking forward to trying days 3 – 9 to see the difference. Today was a work day and with careful preparation I took everything into the office and it was very easy to continue my C9 without any disruption to my working day. In fact I was able to drink my Forever Lite Ultra at my desk and use my lunch hour for a nice long walk.

A few eyebrows were raised in the office and there was a spark of interest from some colleagues as to what the plan was about and wheat I wanted to gain from it. By Speaking to them I was able to understand what exactly it was that I wanted too. To feel energised.

Steps: 11,788

FIT Forever Lite Ultra Chocolate

Day 3

Today is a great day as I can start to eat food again, real food. not that I missed it much the past couple of days. I have organised smoked haddock for tea with vegetables.

It was a work day and once again I found it easy to complete the daily course. I must admit I find all the capsules and fiber sachets a bit out of my comfort zone. I’m not used to taking capsules daily and on C9 there are some to take at every meal time. Personally, once the course is completed I don’t think I’d be continuing with them whereas I would continue to take the Aloe Vera Gel in the morning.

Steps: 10,837

Day 4

I’m really getting into the swing of this and finding the Forever Lite ultra shake to be sufficient for both breakfast (when it’s even a bit too much) and lunch when it is perfect. The only thing disturbing me and reminding me of food is smells. Around lunchtime in the open plan office where I work, people start opening sandwiches, salads and hot soups. It would seem my sense of smell is very acute and although my tummy isn’t rumbling because it’s full of water or other liquids, you can’t deny a good smell. Another successful day and for tea we had chicken breasts with vegetables. I had a glass of wine. It Was Delicious! I figured it would be part of my 100 calories ;)

Steps: 6,439

Under the skin of the aloe vera plant

Once the green skin is cut away, inside you are left with a strip of transparent gel that can be used for creams, drinks and many other products.

Day 5

Friyay! I wasn’t at work today, it’s my day off and it was a very busy one too. I followed the plan very well and for dinner we had steaks and vegetables. I had a couple of chips much to my husband’s disapproval (If you’re going to do a plan Marianne, do it properly or don’t do it at all) I prefer to think of tailoring the C9 to meet my needs and lifestyle.

Steps: 9,460

Day 6

I cannot tell you how cold it was today! The twins were invited to a cinema party and lunch so Paul and I nipped down to the coast. We were curious to see the work going on at Birchington Vale and we wanted to let Baxter run on the beach and try to catch a seagull. I found the C9 plan easy to follow today although I did have a glass of wine with my meal in the evening.

Steps: 7,423

aloe vera lanzarote

Day 7

Sunday. A miserable Sunday too where I did very few steps. I didn’t leave the house but I did stay true to my plan making a couple of swaps. I swapped the lunchtime Forever Lite Ultra shake for a roast dinner and had the shake in the evening instead. Once again I had a glass of wine with my meal but counted it into my 600 calories.

Steps: 2,449

Day 8

Monday. I’m bored now and can’t wait for it to be over. i have no struggle at all with the C( plan but I am looking forward to getting back to a ‘normal’ diet even if I will be making a few adjustments and continuing to take the Aloe Vera Gel as I have some left in the first container plus an unopened container too. We had my beef stew which has lots of  pulses in it tonight for dinner, I took a smaller portion than I would normally serve myself and was pleased to find it was sufficient.

Steps: 10,238

Forever Living C9

 

Day 9 – Tuesday

Back to work today, so I prepared my Forever Lite Ultra shake for lunch and I have my fibre and lunch time tablets to take too.

I am so pleased it is the last day. I have thoroughly enjoyed doing the C9 plan and will admit to stepping on the scales midweek and this morning. I was very pleased with the number shining back at me and consider the plan to be a huge success. Now my goal will be maintaining that weight and lifestyle. Choosing low calorie but filling lunches and not snacking on crisps and chocolate. We had fish for dinner, baked with vegetables and no potatoes. No wine.

Steps: 8,067

Day 10

First day back to normal. I took my Aloe Vera Gel at breakfast, I skipped any food as I wasn’t hungry and took a packed lunch into work consisting of a salad from the free food list plus 150g smoked salmon. It was a birthday in the office and I did enjoy some biscuits and chocolate and if anything this will be my area of downfall. I work with a bunch of chocoholics, there are ALWAYS snacks on the bookshelf. Dinner

C9 review conclusion

I enjoyed the C9 programme and although I was glad to get to the end I was very pleased with the results. If anything I wish I had chosen the vanilla Forever Lite Ultra rather than the chocolate as there were some recipes to try in the booklet which could have made that moment of the day more varied, having chosen the chocolate – which was delicious – I didn’t find any recipes to try out.

I would do the programme again, after a holiday, after Christmas or when I am feeling particularly sluggish.

I Feel that during the programme and after I felt more energised and I certainly got rid of that ‘permanently shattered feeling’ that I have been dragging around with me for months.

Here are some other reviews to read up

Helpful Mum

Chelsea Mamma

Lilinha Angel’s World

Disclosure: I’m working with Forever Living and BritMums in a paid relationship, showcasing the C9 Programme, kick-starting my eating and fitness goals. find out more here

westgate on sea thanet

When I started at James Villa Holidays over a year ago now, I was a little disappointed to only have a part time role. I was full of enthusiasm and raring to go. I wanted to get my teeth into real life work after so many years at home blogging and all that goes with it. However it was the best decision ever. It has allowed me an entire year to get used to working, to find a happy family/work balance and come to grips what a working mum actually goes through in order to tick all of the boxes and stay sane at the end of the week.

This new life hasn’t been problem free, I have found myself walking up to the local supermarket at 6.30pm for milk that I had forgotten to get. I’ve organised quick meals that just need shoving in the oven for 20 minutes and I’ve watched my ironing pile take on mammoth proportions. I have also screeched into the girl’s dance class on Wednesday afternoons at 4.30pm, buns skewiff and uniform not quite perfect every week. It has been an enormous learning curve and it looks like going forward I shall be learning even more as I have been offered a full time role which is due to start tomorrow!

I think the leap to full time, from 22.5 hours to 37.5 is going to be a tough call but one I am ready to put my hand to. It will take a while to get organised and find a rhythm that suits us all. I need to get my girls booked into Breakfast club at school, I need to get into the habit of food shopping online once a week and I need to organise everything for my family so that whilst I am working life can run smoothly – no mean feat!

Fortunately I have an enormous help in Oana.

 

sea waves

In fact she has been here for 3 months now which have whizzed by, Evan has settled into reception class at school and is starting to read (yes Biff and Chip!) Sophie started nursery school at the beginning of January and after a rocky start is actually really enjoying her time with the other children.

Living in 8 in our house is also going smoothly too. The girls are loving having Oana and Tommy around and they are getting used to the little ones plus trying to remember to put anything precious out of reach! Sophie has a passion for scissors and sellotape that is unprecedented in our family, put something down it will be cut up and sellotaped in minutes.

The proudest moment has to be when Tommy and Oana bought their first car a couple of weeks ago. Only an old banger but it is their old banger with a full year’s MOT and it’s in good health too. This will allow them some freedom and movement.

Next step is the big one, finding a place to call their own.

That’s all for now folks. I enjoy writing this kind of catch up so finger’s crossed I’ll find more time going forwards to keep you all up to date.

Wish me luck!

Mari x

sky shot

Images taken on a weekend jaunt to Westgate a couple of weekends ago.

sing film review

The twins are super excited as this weekend they have been invited to a birthday outing where a group of friends are going to the cinema to see Sing and then on to eat together to celebrate the momentous occasion of turning 9 years old.

The girls got the chance to see a screening in Leicester Square back in December and they absolutely adored the film. In fact I sent Tommy and Oana up with the grandkids too and the first thing I want to make clear is that this film is suitable for all ages, from Sophie who is 3 to my son Tommy who is 29.

It’s a creation from the same guys who made Despicable Me and The Secret Life of Pets. Fantastic illustrations, the perfect music choices to run alongside and an amusing storyline to go with it.

Sing – the story

sing the film review

We all know of a community theatre that has fallen on hard times and needs a bit of tlc to bring it back to life, Dapper Koala Buster Moon presides on such a theatre that, in it’s heyday was the best theatre for miles around. Dapper loves his theatre and wants to save it and comes up with one final idea to try and restore the theatre back to its former glory – Producing the world’s greatest singing competition.

Now everyone loves to sing and dreams of hitting the big time, it is no different in Sing, five contestants emerge from the trials, a timid elephant, a mouse, a pig, a gorilla and a punk-rock porcupine and we follow their individual stories as the film develops.

There is an excellent soundtrack to the film including some of my favourite songs, ‘Oh my god, will you look at her but.’ has become a favourite between me and the girls too.

Universal Studios

Sing film review

Written and directed for Universal Studios by Garth Jennings with a fabulous line up of actors including Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane and Scarlett Johansson. The story, animated by animals will keep everyone’s attention throughout, lighthearted with some excellent storylines running through it and some great focus on morals and for pushing yourself to follow the dream.

This film gives viewers 1 hour 48 minutes of fun entertainment and you will come out with a great feel good factor.

Officially in cinemas as of Friday 27th January, keep an eye out for it.

Disclosure: We were given tickets to see the film for the purpose of this post.

Sing film review