Saturday, 16 November 2013

Peaches and cream upside down cake

One thing I can't stand is throwing perfectly good food out, and I often have random eggs left over if I've bought a box to make a cake with. Since I detest eggs and will only interact with them in baking-related form (or pancakes on pancake day and even that is only under duress), they often find themselves dumped unceremoniously in the bin. As a result I will often look for random things to bake with a specified amount of eggs to use them up - which can be counter productive since I then inevitably have to go and buy more things...

Anyway, we were having my Mum round for a Sunday roast and I decided to try and find something desserty to make which could use up the 2 eggs I had hanging around in the fridge. I scoured my 'to bake' list and came across this Peaches and Cream Upside Down Cake from Laura Loves Cakes and decided this would be perfect as a dessert if I just made a single layer and served it with some whipped cream, and handily this would fulfil my egg objective aswell!

I halved my usual victoria sponge recipe - which I think is the much the same as the one that Laura used - and followed her instructions for the peaches. It was a lovely, fresh and light dessert, perfect for after a whopping great big roast.

Here's what I did...

100g caster sugar
100g butter
2 eggs, beaten
100g self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp milk
2 peaches
85g light brown soft sugar
carton of whipping cream

1. Grease the bottom and sides of a sandwich tin and line the base with baking paper. Preheat oven to 190c.
2. Slice the peaches into eight, toss them in the brown sugar and arrange them on the base of the sandwich tin.
3. Mix together the caster sugar, butter, eggs, flour, baking powder and milk in a bowl and beat until smooth.
4. Pour the cake mixture over the peaches and smooth the top. Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown and springy when pressed.
5. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack - don't leave it too long, I think this cake is best enjoyed warm!
6. When you're ready to serve, whip up the cream and serve it on the side.

There was a little disappointment as the peaches and the sponge around them were quite pale and watery looking, I would have liked to have got a bit more caramelisation on them. Not sure what went wrong but it's happened to me before with fruit type cakes, I guess maybe there was too much juice on them? Anybody have any tips for fruit based baking?

I'm entering this into Calendar Cakes, the monthly blog challenge by Dolly Bakes and Laura Loves Cakes, and Laura is the host this month with the theme being 'desserts.' I know this isn't a classic pud, which to me would be something piping hot with custard, but we did have it for dessert so hopefully it counts!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Fizzy cola jaffa cake cake

 This was a cake for my friend Alex's birthday a couple of months ago. I'd had a tip off that she liked the look of this one and jumped at the chance to make it for her - it's something I probably never would have tried myself otherwise because I would have been scared and suspicious of the jelly layer and also because... *whispers* I don't like jaffa cakes. Sorry, sorry... I just don't. I don't know why - I like jelly, I like cake, and I like chocolate, especially of the orange variety. I think my issue is with the texture of the jelly against the cake/chocolate - it just makes me feel weird!

Anyway, the recipe was from Sunday Brunch and involved making a chocolate cola cake, then topping with a layer of orange jelly and covering with a chocolate ganache.

It was pretty straightforward and handily I had all the pans in the right sizes required, as the base of the frying pan you use to make your jelly layer needs to be the right sort of size to fit your cake. The recipe claimed that I wouldn't need all the jelly but that is LIES - I used all of it and could have done with a bit more! Perhaps my pans were on the large size, or perhaps my expectations were incorrect! It was a horrendous moment turning the jelly layer out onto the cake, I was convinced it was going to tear, but success!

The ganache was my favourite bit, lovely and gloopy, and just the right texture to hang nicely over the sides without running too much.

It was a good cake - jelly layers in cakes are definitely not my favourite thing, but it worked well and I was pleased with the effect!

I think I slightly over did the cake as I did find it quite dry - but the recipe did say to serve with cream and I didn't, so that could have lessened the dryness! The birthday girl hates cream though so it went without, but I think I would definitely do a batch of cream to go alongside it next time. Recipe is online here.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Baileys and chocolate cheesecake

Just a really quick post about this all kinds of amazing Baileys and Chocolate Cheesecake I made back in September. I've been wanting to expand my dessert repertoire and I think a no-bake cheesecake is one of the best desserts in existence - not only is it super easy to make, I don't think I've ever met anyone who doesn't like cheesecake so you really can't go wrong.

This one from the Caked Crusader had been burning a hold in my To Bake list for a few months and I decided to give it a whirl when we had some friends around in September (yep, that's how behind I am here!).

Due to my greed good hostess skills I didn't get any picures of the fully formed cheesecake, but I'm sure you get the drift here. My tin was definitely slightly too small, since the biscuit base to cheesecake ratio is a little off - not sure they are supposed to be quite 50/50 but to be honest I think the base is the best bit. I always eat the top bit and save the base for last!

This was a brilliant dessert - the cheesecake was lovely and creamy with a hint of the Baileys and the chunks of Flake added to the texture and gave nice little chocolatey hits. I am definitely making this again, I think a brilliant one for Christmas too.

I've also just remembered that my best friend and I were recently drooling over the Baileys flavours and I think adapting this using the orange truffle flavour would be genius! And that has also given me renewed devastation at the demise of the mint chocolate flavour Baileys, mint chocolate Baileys cheesecake would be amazing!

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Rhubarb and Almond Loaf

I made this cake last month and looking at it now, I really want to eat it again because nothing says autumn to me like a golden loaf cake with a smattering of almonds and hint of spice.

It was a last minute bake for Mike's Dad's birthday, which was the day after we got back from our France holiday. I'd almost written off being able to make him something this year, but when we got back my Dad had left us some goodies from his garden and allotment and amongst them was a bunch of rhubarb. I'd barely unpacked my suitcase before I was thinking about what rhubarb-based cake I could make!

As I was pushed for time I settled on a rhubarb and almond loaf cake from the Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days book. It was a good cake, but I was slightly disappointed with the rhubarb content and kicking myself for not listening to my instincts! You stew 4-5 stalks of rhubarb, but then when incorporating it into the cake batter the recipe just calls for 100g of it. I had WAY more than 100g of it, but dutifully measured it out and added it. Even though I thought it looked like a stingy amount in the bowl, panicked thoughts of soggy cake and sunken fruit were flying through my mind so I went with it.

Mike wasn't too bothered as it meant he got to eat a giant bowl of leftover stewed rhubarb which he very much enjoyed! But when we came to cut and eat the cake I was a little disappointed in the rhubarb to cake ratio. That said, I'd definitely make again as it tasted great, perfect Autumnal cake! The photos are a bit scant as we hardly had time to take any pictures, and just managed a few snaps after it had been cut.

I won't reproduce the recipe, as a quick google revealed it's already knocking about in many places (here and here are examples). Despite the stingy rhubarb content, Hummingbird comes up trumps again!

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Gateaux du Kim: the inspiration!

Have you even been somewhere and felt totally inspired by the food? When they say that on Masterchef I've always rolled my eyes but now I've had that feeling myself I know exactly what they mean! Admittedly, they get inspired and create some amazing, original dishes, while I get inspired and look for other people's recipes to follow, but whatever.

Nice, France is one of my favourite places in the world. Mike and I have been there for our holidays the last two years and have totally fallen in love with it - to me it has everything you could want from a holiday - stunning coastline, bustling old town, gorgeous weather and lots of other amazing places to visit just a short bus or train ride away. What really caught my eye though was the bakeries and patisseries and all the beautiful pastries and breads they have on display. Trust me, these were no Greggs. What amazed me so much, beyond the taste, was how intricate, dainty and delicate a lot of them were. There was not a slab of layer cake, a buttercream loaded cupcake or a whoopie pie in sight! They were so different to the types of things I would usually bake aswell, that they've really inspired me to look for some different recipes to try out, beyond my usual cakes and bakes. I'm writing this post to force me to actually give it a proper go (and convince you that you really do need to go to Nice - or France in general - if you haven't already and try them for yourself!)

So without further ado, here are a lot of pictures of food that my greedy eyes spied while on holiday! Please also admire my collage making skills...

The bakery around the corner from our hotel where we started most of our days
Lac chocolatier - stunning!
Dessert at La Rotunde Brasserie at Le Negresco
Fenocchio's ice cream - where we ended most of our days
Our favourite meals: Tip Top, Monaco and Le Chat Gourmand, Nice
And finally... PIC N MIX BISCUITS!!!! Need I say more?!
I'm pleased to say that the wheels of Gateaux du Kim are already in motion - since coming back from holidays I've made ice cream and macarons! Blog posts on those to come, as I couldn't possibly post about things I've made in the incorrect order! (is that just me?!)

What about you lot - what sort of places inspire you in the kitchen?

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Kim vs Novelty Cakes Round 2: Chocolate Hedgehog Cake

The Runcorn and Widnes Clandestine Cake Club celebrated its first birthday in August and the theme was a birthday party picnic! My thoughts immediately turned to my birthday parties from when I was little. My Mum had this book when I was little with loads of ideas for food and cakes for kids birthday parties and I always used to look at the hedgehog cake in there and think it was amazing. I never asked for it - not really sure why - but I always wanted it and unsurprisingly never got it! Hopefully a picture of the page itself will follow, we are trying to dig out the book!

My Rachel Allen Cake book had been sitting on the shelf gathering dust for ages and I knew it contained a chocolate hedgehog cake, so I decided that HAD to be the one to make. I was apprehensive, as the Great Sausage Dog Cake Saga of 2011 took its toll on me, Mike, and our relationship in general and so I had pretty much sworn off novelty cakes. However, one of the things that's ace about Clandestine Cake Clubs is that you can try new things without worrying that they will go wrong - OK, so you don't want to serve up a rotten cake to CCC members, or have to turn up empty handed, but at least you know you'll be greeted with sympathy and suggestions for next time rather than having to disappoint someone on their birthday, anniversary or wedding day.

So the cake got made - I couldn't find a pudding basin anywhere but managed to get a 3 litre pyrex bowl and I was worried that it hadn't risen properly/I had just generally messed it up but when I put it together realised that the bowl was just excessively large. The cake was pretty burnt I think - we've not long had a new oven and it's definitely a hotter oven than the last one (or perhaps just actually works properly) so I'm still getting used to temperatures and timings -  at least that's my excuse anyway...

I baked the cake two days before the cake club thanks to the top tip I read in Peggy Porschen's book about any cake that you have to carve in any way should be baked the day before you do it. To be honest it wasn't really necessary as the cake didn't take much carving, but it did mean I had maximum time available for decoration the next evening which was good. Mike mysteriously disappeared upstairs as I uttered the words, 'right, better make this hedgehog then' presumably to get out of harms way but then had a pleasant surprise when I calmly called him down an hour or so later to assess the hedgehog.

I have to say, I was well chuffed with him and think he was quite ace. The icing might have been a bit thick because it did start to come away from the sides a bit, but I gritted my teeth and got on with it, ignoring the flashes of Sausage Dog looming in my mind! Other than that though, the icing has got to be the nicest chocolate buttercream I've ever tasted - which is a good job, because there's a lot of it! And it also made up for the fact that the cake was slightly overdone.

Nervously awaiting his fate
Go for the head first - it's more humane...
It was pretty difficult to watch him being sliced open and devoured at the cake club as I had grown quite attached to him. Definitely one to bear in mind for future birthdays, it's got to be one of the easiest novelty cakes out there so it's a great one to start off with.

Here's the recipe from Rachel Allen:

For the cake:
175g butter
175g caster sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
175g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
25g cocoa powder
2 tbsp milk

Icing and decoration:
125g milk chocolate
225g butter
450g icing sugar
25g cocoa powder
2 x 125g packs chocolate fingers (I actually used a pack of mini chocolate fingers which were the perfect size for spikes!)
1 cherry, smartie or M&M - whatever colour you want his nose to be!

1. Preheat oven to 180c. Grease the inside of an ovenproof bowl (needs to be 2.4 litre or 4 pint capacity, and 23cm diameter) with butter and dust with flour.
2. Cream the butter until soft, then add sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
3. Whisk eggs and vanilla extract together, then gradually add them to the creamed butter mixture, beating throughout. Sift together the flour, baking powder and cocoa, then fold gently in to the rest of the mix, add the milk and mix gently to combine.
4. Pour the mix into your prepared bowl and bake for 50-55 minutes until the cake is springy to the touch and skewer comes out clean.
5. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
6. To make the icing, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of just simmering water. Remove from the heat and set aside.
7. Cream the butter until soft, then sift in the icing sugar and cocoa powder and mix. Pour in the melted chocolate and beat in until combined. Taste it, it is YUM.

To assemble your hedgehog...

1. Place the cake domed side down on a work surface, and level the top if you need to. Spread a bit of the icing over the flat top of the cake, then cut it in half down the middle so you have two half domes.
2. Sandwich together the sides so you have a rough oval shape, then spread a bit of the icing onto a large plate or cake board and place the cake on top.
3. Spread the icing all over the cake, and shape a face/snout for the hedgehog at one end. Use a fork to give a spiky texture to the icing.
4. Stick the chocolate fingers (halved, if you used the full size ones) into the hedgehog for spikes, pointing backwards. For the eyes the recipe suggests sticking chocolate fingers in, but I used two of the M&Ms. Stick your cherry/smartie/M&M/whatever on for the nose, and voila! Now all you need to do is wrestle with your conscience to cut into him...

I'd definitely recommend this Rachel Allen book if you are fancying taking your first steps in novelty cakes. There's lots of other great looking recipes in there aswell, but the celebration and novelty cake section is particularly good with clear instructions which is great for someone like me for whom novelty cakes are particularly terrifying and temper-testing!

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Lemon and Poppyseed Bundt

Like the Pistachio and Lime cake a few months ago, this is a cake where there's not much to say. I made it for Mike's Mum's birthday last month. It just seemed to fit the bill for a summer birthday - light, moist and fluffy with a bit of zing and a splash of bright white icing. It is a Dolly Bakes recipe that I first made last year when I used oranges aswell. This year I stuck to the original - straight up Lemon Drizzle. 

I was mildly horrified when I took it out of the tin as I thought it looked burnt but I assure you there was not a hard crust in sight, the whole cake was wonderfully soft and bouncy!

 For anyone that hasn't made a bundt before, I implore you to try - this is a great one to start with but Dolly Bakes has a whole host of beautiful bundts to tempt you. I was convinced mine would sink, stick and/or burn but I trusted the recipe and was so pleased with the results. I think bundts are great 'occasion' cakes as they don't have to be faffy and they make for stunning cakes.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

30th birthday party baking

This year so far has been full of hen do's, weddings and big birthdays and another one of these was my cousin's 30th birthday in July. Initially I was disappointed as her party was to be on the same day as one of my friend's weddings, so I thought I wasn't going to be able to bake anything for her. But then she announced she was having a 'dessert table' and I realised I could probably squeeze in a batch of cupcakes or two, so I was in! Unfortunately I only managed a few quick snaps of these cupcakes, due to reasons that will become apparent as you read on!

Her only request for the cupcakes was raspberries and milk chocolate, but other than that I was free to decide. For that flavour request, I immediately remembered these Chocolate ganache raspberry filled chocolate cupcakes from Cupcake Crazy Gem's blog and thought I'd make them, but as the day grew closer and I realised how much I had to go, I ended up just making my standard chocolate cupcakes and just using the raspberry buttercream from Gem's recipe. I was a bit disappointed that my frosting didn't look as vibrantly pink as Gem's but it did taste lovely and fresh! Looking back I wish I'd been able to go the whole hog and follow Gem's recipe, but there's always next year!

I wanted to do something novelty for the second batch, and pored through my baking books, eventually narrowing it down to popcorn cupcakes from one of the Hummingbird books. I even bought all the ingredients and had some red stripy cardboard cases that looked like popcorn boxes! But the weather started to heat up and I then got gripped by the idea of making ice cream cone cupcakes again! Everything was telling me it was the wrong thing to do - it was boiling, we had to transport them and the cones were wobbly, the piping had to be perfect... but I couldn't stop myself!

Poor Mike had to spend an entire evening cutting up cardboard cake boxes to make containers for them so they would stand upright. It was roasting hot in the kitchen so all the cakes had to go in the fridge overnight to make sure they didn't turn into sludgy messes. We had to transport all 30 cakes in a car on the hottest day of the year so far, while tottering in heels and a fancy dress (me, not Mike!) to my Mum's and leave them there while we went to the wedding, then pick them back up again in the evening to take to the party. We were all stressing so much about the heat that Mum ended up covering the cake boxes with tea towels and putting ice packs next to them to try to keep them cool during the day!

But it was all worth it... there was a last minute panic when en route to the party we turned out of a blind junction and had to slam on the brakes, causing the ice cream cones boxes to almost fall out of my lap, but we made it! Everyone seemed to like the novelty factor of the ice cream cones cakes and couldn't believe that they were baked in the cones - so they disappeared from the dessert table almost instantaneously. It was the biggest gathering I'd ever brought cakes along to, and I felt really proud as I looked around the room to see people tucking in to things I'd made. The positive reaction I got made me feel like I should have more confidence about baking for bigger occasions, so hopefully I will be able to remember that in future, if any more opportunities come my way... but maybe as long as it's not the hottest day of the year. Don't think my blood pressure could take it again!

How do you find baking for bigger gatherings? Thrive on the pressure or shy away? Do you have any tips on how to pull it off?

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Reese's Revenge - chocolate and peanut butter cake revisited

Back in July the theme for the Runcorn and Widnes Clandestine Cake Club was Independence Day Delights - I absolutely love Americana bakes so this was perfect for me, and the venue was brilliant - an American diner in Runcorn! Who knew such a thing existed?! Certainly not me, and I couldn't believe my eyes when I walked in to Rockwell's. Hidden away above a pub (I think?) it's packed full of in your face all American style with a pool table, pinball machines, statues, a car coming out of the wall and a couple of booth tables being made out of old Waltzers. Amazing!

I decided to revisit a cake that is something of a 'classic' in my baking history - the chocolate and peanut butter cake. I've busted it out a fair few times now - first created for my best friend's 30th birthday, it also appeared at Nic's Notebook's 30th, a food festival cake-off, and as a random commission for someone at my best friend's work. It had been a while though so I thought it was time to give it another outing.  That, and I am now something of a peanut butter fiend - in cakes and sweet things only though, brandish it at me on toast and I am likely to run a mile! Yuck.

It was basically the same deal as the other ones - chocolate sponge with peanut butter frosting, but I thought I had better try and jazz it up a bit with the addition of Reese's Pieces - sprinkled on top and also lurking in between the sponge layers, ready to surprise you with a crunchy PB hit! The rather military type circle of Reese's cups around the outside were a last minute panic - I usually cover the sides of the cake with the buttercream too, and then do a ring of halved cups around the bottom to finish it off (read: hide my sloppy frosting). For some reason this batch of frosting didn't seem to be stretching very far and I couldn't risk only being able to cover half the sides! I quite liked them though, I liked to think of them as a band of PB cup soldiers, with their fancy buttercream blob hats, protecting the Cake Castle from intruders!

Anyway, they didn't do a very good job of it, clearly....

It was a great cake club in a brilliant venue - check out the write up here to see all of the awesome cakes that were made. And yes, that Oreo Cookies & Cream cake was as crazily amazing as it looks! Can't wait to go back to Rockwell's and try the food now!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Rhubarb crumble muffins

So I know we've just come out of a heatwave and 'something hot with custard' is probably the very last thing on anyone's minds, but in the (slightly amended) words of Queen - the blog must go on!

For Father's Day I cooked Sunday lunch for my Dad and no Sunday lunch would be complete without dessert. The only vague request I had from Dad was 'strawberries' so I started to hunt out a good strawberry showcasing dessert. I know that it was June and my mind should have been going to cheesecakes and tarts but I do love a crumble (who doesn't?) and I came across a recipe for Strawberry and Rhubarb crumble on the BBC Good Food website that I couldn't resist.

I only managed to snap a quick shot of the crumble on my phone, here it is in all it's glory. I have to say, the pine nuts were delicious sprinkled on top, they really added some extra flavour to the crumble. I'd never heard of strawberries in crumble before but it definitely worked and gave a lovely sweet balance to the tangy rhubarb.

I was left with a solitary stick of rhubarb and there was NO WAY I was letting that bad boy go to waste - for some reason, I'm hit with panic when I need to make a rhubarb recipe as I become convinced that I'm not going to be able to find any. I think there was some kind of Great Rhubarb Shortage in the summer of 2010 and I haven't been able to shake that panicked feeling ever since! So this also means I cannot throw any away.

There have been lots of gorgeous looking rhubarby recipes floating around recently (Rhubarb Custard Crumble cake from Baking Addict and Classic Victoria sponge with rhubarb and custard from Fold in the Flour caught my eye) but I eventually settled on these Rhubarb Crumble muffins that I saw on A Baked Thesis.

Close up crumble topping..mmm

They were so easy to make and absolutely divine! I love cakes/muffins that don't require any decoration once they've cooled because it cuts down the oven-to-stomach time considerably! We had ours with custard and it was a match made in heaven!

Patiently awaiting a custard soaking
Arrrr yeahhhh

Any leftover rhubarb in future is likely to find its way into these again I should think - it's a great one to use because it only requires about one stick which is often what you end up being left with. Hell, I may even buy some especially! It would be well worth it.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Mississippi mud pie

I cannot believe how quickly this year is going, it doesn't seem like very long ago that I was posting my Christmas bakes (although to be fair, with my turnaround time it probably wasn't!) and now we're on to Mike's birthday which means we're halfway through the year!

Mike's birthday is always another good one on the cake calendar but this year I decided to not bake him a cake and instead, to bake him his favourite ever dessert... Mississippi mud pie! I only found out recently that it was his favourite because Tesco have started stocking it again and he almost collapsed with excitement when he found this out. It's not something you often see on dessert menus or in shops so I hadn't realised he was such an avid fan.

The fudge sauce lurking under the cream!
I set about scouring for recipes and wasn't even sure what it was meant to be or look like to be honest. There seems to be a lot of variation in recipes, with some being topped with cream, some having an actual pie crust and some even containing coffee! In the end, I decided to go with a recipe that seemed the most similar to Tesco's version (because that is definitely the best to him!) which was a Simon Rimmer recipe that I came across on Hungry Hinny's blog. It got a thumbs up from her and it had a Bourbon biscuit base so I thought it would do the trick (just had to look up the Masterchef Synesthesia again after typing 'biscuit base' - it never gets old!).

Actually keeping this a secret from him was very difficult, because I find it very hard to keep a secret anyway, but also because he was with me when I went shopping for the ingredients! I was worried the two packs of Bourbons and excessive amounts of cream would give it away, but luckily for me he doesn't have much of a clue what ingredients go into things so I was safe! I did think he would crack on when he started greedily scanning the dessert fridge for Mississippi Mud Pie but he never twigged - thankfully it was out of stock...

I was a bit surprised at the small quantities of ingredients that went into this, and if the recipe hadn't come recommended I would have started to panic. Just two eggs (the Hummingbird's version had 5 I think!), and 85g of sugar and butter for the filling?! So I started off anxiously (when do I not?!). I did think there could have done with being a bit more butter in the Bourbon crust as it was only just binding together and I found it hard to spread it up the sides of the tin.

I definitely think I baked it for too long - I checked it after 40 mins (recipe said 40-50) and it was clearly overdone and cracked/sinking in the middle. I was starting to feel a bit crestfallen (especially when my Mum turned up and said 'is that what it's meant to look like?') but the appearance of the chocolate fudge sauce pulled me right back up again, it covered and evened the pie well. The other issue was I wasn't sure if I would be able to get the sides of the tin away without the side of the pie falling apart! In the end, I ran a spatula around the outside to loosen it and hurled it into the fridge overnight.

Pre cream... actually didn't think it looked too bad in the end
The next morning, I whipped 350ml of whipping cream, spread it over the top and topped with chocolate curls.

Love the colour of the curls against the white of the cream
 Birthday boy was so pleased with it, and had no idea that it was what I was making! I only had a small taste as I don't really like chocolate puddings, but I did think the filling was on the hard side so I would be tempted to give this another go with a watchful eye the cooking time. It looked great too, I've been wanting to try out more non-cake based bakes and desserts and this is another one to add to the repertoire!

It's also worth checking out the fudge sauce bit of the recipe in it's own right, even I was spooning the leftovers out of the pan!
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