SUGAR, DARLING?

BY NANCY WHITTINGTON-COATES


It feels like a while since I posted a recipe guys. Unless you're a long time reader you may not know that I used to run a bakery business and I even got to the final auditions for GBBO Series 2 - I've always loved whipping up treats for my family and friends and I find it a nice relaxing pastime, but I've been so busy that I've not had much chance to bake which is odd for me. As my time is so precious now (being an adult is crazy huh?) it takes a special recipe to spark my interest enough to get my cake tins out of the cupboard.

Recently I was asked by the lovely folks at The Groovy Food Company if I'd like to try out a recipe by Gizzi Erskine that used some of their lovely organic ingredients to create a cake that is sugar and butter free. Now I'm a bit of a baking purist so I'm kind of skeptical or anything that doesn't follow the holy cake quaternity of butter, sugar, eggs and flour - but it can't be said that I'm not willing to try something new so I jumped at the chance!

The recipe in question is Gizzi's Pineapple, Lime and Agave 'Margarita' Cake which definitely sparked my intrigue as a cocktail lover as well as a baker, although no alcohol is involved. If you are a booze fan you may well know that tequila which is the main ingredient of a margarita is made from a type of agave, who's nectar is also an excellent alternative to sugar and what is used to sweeten up this cake and it's frosting. It adds the same sweet tang that tequila has and so gives a real margerita-esque flavour here along with the lime. The pineapple adds a gorgeous other later of sweetness and moistness to the cake, although I must tell you that this is in no way a fluffy sponge and more of a dense heavy crumbed bake.

While the cake itself may not have converted me, this frosting recipe is absolutely killer and will definitely be my go to for a cream cheese frosting in the future as it's so much more light and dreamy than any other I've tried. I also adore the different kind of sweetness that the agave nectar gives and I've actually started using it in place of tablet sweetener in my coffee and instead of honey on greek yoghurt - I'm a convert for sure! What, no sugar darling?


Pineapple, Lime & Agave Nectar Margarita Cake
Serves 10

Cake Ingredients
180g The Groovy Food Company Organic Coconut Oil, melted
180ml The Groovy Food Company Agave Nectar Rich and Dark
4 eggs
200g self-raising flour
50g The Groovy Food Company Organic Coconut Flour
¼ tsp bicarbonate soda
350g fresh pineapple, very finely chopped
½ tsp sea salt
zest of 1 orange
zest and juice of 2 limes

Frosting Ingredients
170ml double cream
juice and zest of 1 lime, plus more lime for garnish
70ml The Groovy Food Company Agave Nectar Rich and Dark
300ml cream cheese

Cake Method
Heat the oven to 160C/gas mark 3. Grease and line two 20cm sandwich cake tins.

Place the Rich and Dark Agave Nectar and eggs in a bowl or a tabletop mixer and beat together, slowly pouring the melted coconut oil in as you go, and beat together for 5 minutes or until fluffy. (Pouring the fat in slowly helps it to emulsify with the mixture and prevents it from splitting.)

Sift in the flours and bicarbonate of soda and quickly beat them in. Finally stir in the pineapple, salt, fruit zest and lime juice.

Pour the cake mixture into the tin, leveling off the top as you go, then pop in the oven and bake for 45 minutes.The cake is ready once you can slide a skewer into it and it comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then transfer it carefully to a wire rack to cool completely.

Frosting Method
Whip the double cream until stiff, then beat in the cream cheese and the agave nectar. Stir through the zest and juice until well combined.

Spread half of the mixture on top of one cake, place the second cake on top, then spread the rest of the mixture on the top of the cake. Grate over the remaining zest and decorate as you wish!

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One of the best bits of fashion advice I can give to my fellow fat babes is to ignore size labels and don't be afraid to try on pieces from non plus size retailers. We're living in a time where oversized pieces are extremely popular and with the amazing range of fabrics available you can very often find pieces in a size much smaller than you would usually wear that look awesome! One of the best places for finding fat friendly pieces as I (and lovely Dani Vanier) have written about before is Monki. 

Whenever I'm near Carnaby Street I'll try to pop in to see if they have anything good in and on my latest trip (with lovely Steph) I managed to grab this amazing pink mesh dress! It was in the sale down from £35 to £15 and they had one size large left, I think it was meant to be. Despite their advertising their size larges as being made to fit size 18/20 this darling frock fits my size 26/28 body with room to spare. It's such an adorable style and colour that I couldn't say no and it's so easy to wear over so many thinks - a bra and skinny jeans or leggings, thrown on over a bikini at the beach or over a simply cami dress like I have on here. Unfortunately this particular style is now sold out but there are three other mesh dresses available at Monki that you could go for instead - one  -  two  -  three

To crank up the sass levels and stick with my signature look of mixing opposing styles I decided to accessorise this sugary sweet look with this Girl Next Door Backpack from Fearlesss (£10.00*). I love how the black leather and don't mess with me sentiment contrasts with the pale pink and frills and these super cute Stella Court Shoes from Simply Be (£25.00).





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Unless you've been living under a rock for the last few week's you'll no doubt be aware that one of my all time favourite bloggers Bethany Rutter has launched a collection with plus size fashion saviours navabi. Her collection is all I could have wished it to be, bright and bold and unlike anything else I've seen available in my size before. Not only are the colours wild and the styles to die for, but so much thought has gone into the cut and fabric used for each piece. Big structured bows, elasticated panels to the waist sides of trousers, soft statement ruffles in the prettiest pink gingham you'll ever see and tops made from stretch fabric so they fit a myriad of body shapes. It's hardly a surprise that so much thought and hard work has gone into the Arched Eyebrow x navabi collection, but it surpassed even what I had been anticipating.

As I'm a very lucky lady and was invited to the launch party for Bethany's collection, I was also able to pick my favourite piece to have for my very own! After trying on several gorgeous styles I made my very hard decision and chose to go for the Pink Boyfriend Blazer with Red Lining (£89.99*) - the clash of the fuscia and bright red stole my heart but even more so, the choice of a stretchy woven fabric means that it actually moulds to my body shape and doesn't look mega boxy like most blazers do. It also means that it is soft and comfortable and a real dream to wear - I foresee this being my key transitional piece this year and I can't seem to stop throwing it on over every outfit I try!

My two favourite ways to wear this beauty so far is either over a plain cobalt blue midi dress with a lovely ruffled collar or like I am here with a simple tee and trousers. I never thought that culottes would be a look that I embraced and for a long while every pair I tried just didn't sit right over my tum and bum, but then I tried some plisse ones and my life was changed for the better! My favourites at the moment are these lovely Black Floral Print Pleated Culottes that are only £12 in the sale right now and they just so happen to look lovely with another sale bargain, these Wide Fit Black Cross Strap Sling Back Heels (£13.00).





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You know what's a great bit of kit to have in your closet? A great sweater collection. I don't know what it is, maybe that it looks effortless but when detailed with something interesting it shows stylish intent. Maybe it's just that it screams 'I'm not trying too hard' or 'hell I just wanna be comfy but I must obviously still look fabulous'. For a long time it was pretty damn hard to find a plus size sweater that actually had an interesting design rather than just an oh so not funny novelty print or was emblazoned with diamante butterflies, but over the last few years I've managed to add some real gems to my collection. 

A new edition to this part of my wardrobe is this LIMITED COLLECTION Black Sweat Top With Gingham Bow Detail (£26.99*) that I've been happily chucking on as soon as a cold spell makes itself known. It's a great little sweater - nice and soft on the inside and I would say true to size but I confess I have now taken a few minutes to stitch my bows down so they lie flat. As you can see from these pics I had a bit of a wind issue the first time I wore it and it was a real struggle to get them to stay in shape, so to avoid this I just added a single little stitch to the edge of each one. 

It looks great with jeans, very swish over a maxi skirt, awesome with some gingham capri length trousers and as is my personal preference, with a banging midi skirt such as this LIMITED COLLECTION Cobalt Blue Pleated Overlay Skirt With Stripe Waistband (£21.99*). I think the striped waistband makes all the difference here adding that little something extra that elevates it from just another double layer skirt. It's generously sized and the fabrics are light and cool, my only gripe being that I wish the underneath layer was a little longer to allow you to wear chub rub shorts without them being super visible.

I'm loving that my confidence level is rising again after my recent bad spell of anxiety, I'm finally back to wearing a full face of make up and clothes that I love which is a sure sign that I'm feeling better. It also means that I am wearing and actually feeling good in more casual looks like this rather than feeling the need to be very dressed up but not having the ability or mental energy to put together anything fabulous. Here's hoping this optimistic spell continues! 




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If there's one thing I consider an essential for a Summer wardrobe, it's some really fun prints. Bold florals, gorgeous African batiques, fruity repeat patterns, novelty designs like cocktails and vintage cars - I am all over it. 

Now we all know I have a real penchant for an oriental inspired embroidered piece but these tend to be on quite heavy fabrics that are a little too hot for this season, so finding this LIMITED COLLECTION Black Tiger & Floral Print Wrap Dress (£36.99*) emblazoned with a delightful blossom and roaring tiger print was a dream! The wrap style and fluttery sleeves are almost kimono-like and make for a perfect warm weather dress - it's also really generously sized and I could easily have dropped down one. Its also nice and secure with a button and belt to tie so you don't have to worry about accidentally flashing anyone!

To protect myself from those sudden light showers that are usually so present during an English summer the LIMITED COLLECTION Dusty Pink Silky Embroidered Bomber Jacket (£35.99*) was an obvious choice. Not only does the dusky pink satin compliment the flowers on the dress but the embroidery on the back again echoes the oriental influence that I love so much.

Yours Clothing have got lots more delightful printed pieces in their current range, if you'd like to take a peek just click here!





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*This post contains items that were gifted for review. For more information head to my disclaimer page.
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