Antics

Laptop detox

Last Thursday, I went home for long weekend to break up the four days of no contact hours I have this semester. Much to my mortification when I unpacked, I realised I left my laptop charger at home. Anyone who knows me, knows how important my laptop is. I rarely go anywhere without it. And why wouldn’t you when it provides reading, writing, university work, access to any information readily available at the touch of a fingertip? So the prospect of four, suddenly very long days stretching ahead felt very daunting. Luckily I had prepared my work for the following week in advance, so the 80% battery ration was not overly critical. My weekend went very differently laptop-free.

Lemon and white chocolate Victoria sponge with scraped icing around the sides

Within an hour of being home, I started baking. I made a lemon and white chocolate Victoria sponge with scraped icing around the side. This was partially spurred on by the horrendous state of our uni kitchen (despite personally deep cleaning it two or so days before…). It felt liberating to be able to create something with a free range of preparation space.

Listening to the impact of another failed Brexit vote on Radio Four (yes I am an elderly woman), I modified this recipe. with fresh lemon juice and zest, a hint of white chocolate grated into the batter and icing, and replacing jam with lemon curd. It was really nice to surprise my parents with cake when they came home from their day!

This spurt of baking escalated. The good feeling from this initial cake lead to cheesecake and flapjacks (after watching the Stand Up 2 Cancer Bake Off):

The flapjacks were a little crumbly, and I would follow Paul Hollywood’s advice of adding more than 2-3 tablespoons of golden syrup to hold everything together and let the outside caramelise more. Again, I used the white chocolate and lemon flavours for my cheesecake. This was also a little crumbly, the biscuit base falling apart over time. Whilst not overloading the base with melted butter, next time I will be adding more than the recipe uses; but the main body is perfectly creamy! The firmer you would prefer the cheesecake, the longer you leave it in the fridge to set. Making these were a nostalgic and fun experience, much more engaging than filling time up on my laptop.

Over the weekend, I saw both my grandparents. These visits spurred on my final two cakes, coffee and a marble cake:

You really can’t see the full effect of the marble sponge here, but simply separating the batter into two and adding chocolate and vanilla respectively makes a massive visual difference. It was lovely to give my grandparents the cakes too. I realised that between uni and my grandmother’s walking holidays, I hadn’t seen her so far this year. It was really enriching for us to catch up: I got to see her new yellow/orange MINI and Maurice (whom you may recognise from my first post) and Mavis Davies.

In all, I can happy reflect that a laptop free weekend was a refreshing experience of getting out to see family more, and being able to share some baking with them. Not having the fall back of a laptop meant that I had to actively consider how best to fill my time in the down moments: actually reading that book I’ve been meaning to get through, being more present with my family, ploughing through my to-do list and feeling good about it. All in all, if you want to challenge yourself over lent, I can thoroughly recommend having a relaxed ban on technology for a few days (or at least assure you it’s not the end of the world if you leave your charger somewhere!). I wish you a happy week ahead as I tuck into the last slice of coffee cake!

(Of course, it’s all fun and games until realising I had left my straighteners at my parent’s. Looks like another week of sacrifice ahead!)

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