Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Why are we trying to raise money? What is the journey we've been on?

I have recently been talking a lot about our personal story and saying we’ve had a journey to get to this point. So for those that don’t know us here is a little insight into why I say this.

Gary and I got married 4 years ago, at that time Gary was in huge amounts of pain and unable to walk without a stick. The future looked bleak for him, he was unable to walk around to the local shops. I was driving him everywhere and for every journey I was considering how close I could park, minimise the walking and help him as much as possible. He was unable to do the things he loved and was rapidly gaining weight due to lack of exercise and low moods. As a result of his foot condition, Ledderhose Disease, he decided to stop his PhD and find a job which was less active where he could sit down each day. There was no suitable treatment available to him on the NHS so, due to family and friends, we raised the money for him to have radiotherapy privately. Amazingly this treatment was effective and over the last 4 years the pain has gone and the lump significantly reduced in size.

Gary has gone from barely being able to walk to being able to run.. pain free.. He’s had a significant amount of weight to lose, he has now lost 100lbs! He has worked hard on his training and is doing really well with his running. He has now signed up for a half marathon for next year and is targeting a marathon in the future. It is so hard to describe the massive change that has occurred in the last 4 years. To describe just how bad the situation was with him and how it’s gone from all we think about to barely even passing my mind at all.

Shortly after Gary’s radiotherapy finished we found out I was pregnant. we barely had time to absorb the joy of the positive test result before the sickness overtook me and I ended up in hospital for the first time. I ended up needing to spend the whole pregnancy resting and on the sofa, fighting to eat and drink enough to sustain my body. I was on anti sickness meds the whole time and in a constant battle with the medical professionals to get the help I required. After this I ended up having a horrid labour, blood loss and an infection. The short story is that I ended up with Post Natal Depression and scars from the whole situation. Anyone that’s had depression knows how hard it is to do anything, I had to continue to look after our daughter but the rest of the time passed in a blur really. Due to this, my body entering starvation mode during pregnancy and the general stresses of life I ended up gaining several stone of weight. Again I feel like I can’t really explain why I think it’s been such a journey and I know some of you won’t understand this at all.. but I’ve picked myself up and carried on. I’ve lost 5 stone now and am regularly running 3 times a week. I have run and exercised in my life previously but I have now achieve new personal bests on my 5 Km times and am aiming for a 10Km best.

So why this run?

Gary’s Nan died last year from Pancreatic Cancer. It was a very short battle and it was spotted too late for there to be any treatment. It was a complete shock to the family as she was the youngest and healthiest of his grandparents. We chose this run because firstly it’s in Worthing, this is where Gary’s Nan lived and it will be passing very close to her house. Secondly we chose this run because it’ll be around the year anniversary of her death. We are doing this run in her memory and with much love and emotion. This is not just a 10Km to us, this is an important run, it’s a run for her, it’s a run for us and it’s a run for her family.

If you'd like to donate to our cause the link is here:

Manley Family

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Pistachio, Praline and Vanilla Cake

I was asked to make a Pistachio, Praline and Vanilla Cake for a local coffee shop. They had had this cake in the past and it had proved popular so they wanted me to try it out.

I tried a few different recipes and adjusted them. In the end this is the recipe I came up with that has worked each time: 

125g Pistachios
250g Butter
250g Caster Sugar
5 Large Free Range Eggs
70g Plain Flour
285g Self Raising Flour

Preheat the oven at 140oC (this may vary from oven to oven so you may need to experiment). Line an 8" cake tin with greaseproof paper. 

Grind up the pistachio nuts in a food processor until they are small crumbs. Add in the sugar and whiz it up to combine everything. 

Place the butter and the sugar mixture into a mixer and mix until really light and fluffy. 

Add the eggs one egg at a time until fully combined. 

Sift in the flours and mix on a low speed until just combined, be careful not to over work the mixture as this results in a flat and fragile cake. 

Place the mixture in the tin and into the preheated oven. I initially check the cakes after 1 hour but they usually require closer to 2. My oven is very temperamental so this will vary depending on your oven. I cook on a low temperature, due to the oven, and for longer so use your usual cake settings if you are used to making cakes. 

Once a skewer comes out of the cake clean leave it to cool. 

For the vanilla butter icing I mix: 
250g Butter - I do find that the quality of the butter makes a difference and my preference is Anchor
500g Icing Sugar
Vanilla Essence

Mix together the butter and icing sugar until fully combined. Pour in the vanilla essence, depending on taste, but I usually start with 2 teaspoons. 

I then use this to spread between the layers of the cake and on the top. 

For the praline element I firstly caramelise some sugar in a saucepan. After experimenting I've found that a larger surface area at a high heat is the best way to achieve a caramel rather than crystals. Once this is ready I then add in chopped pistachios and leave it to cool. 

Once solid I crush it up in a pestle and mortar and sprinkle it on the top of the cake. 
Praline Sprinkling

I sell these cakes individually so if you'd like to order one then please just drop me an email. I usually have availability for these cakes.
Finished Cake

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Gingerbread Pound Cake

I was asked to come up with a gingerbread pound cake for the local coffee shop so after some research I came up with this recipe: 

285g Stork
285g Caster Sugar
285g Self Raising Flour
70g Plain Flour
4 tbsp Black Treacle
4 tsp Ground Ginger
5 Eggs

Preheat the oven to 180oC and grease a round bundt tin. 

Cream together the stork and caster sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the black treacle. Slowly add the eggs, one at a time, until all is well combined and light. 

Sieve in the flour and ginger then mix together slowly being careful not to over work it. 

Pour into the bundt tin and cook until the cake is spongy and a skewer comes out clean. Mine took around 1hour30mins. Leave to cool. 

I decorated it with a simple water icing which was made by mixing icing sugar and water together. This was then poured over the top of the cake. 

Gingerbread Pound Cake
Please let me know how you get on if you try this recipe. I love to hear stories and see photos. 

If you'd like to order a cake for wholesale or individual orders please get in touch for details.