My Great British Baking Show Challenge!

I recently finished watching the entire first season of The Great British Baking Show. I generally dislike cooking/baking reality shows, but this one is everything I could ever want. I love the hosts and the contestants; it’s not overly competitive or sensational; and it’s amongst home bakers, who I can actually relate to.

I feel so inspired to do more baking, and to challenge myself to try different recipes and techniques. When I saw that a number of the recipes from the show are available online, I knew that I had to try them.



I decided to start with the technical challenge from Episode 1. The contestants all made judge Mary Berry’s Classic Cherry Cake with Lemon Icing. There were a few challenges along the way, including getting the cakes out of the bundt pans, making candied cherries, caster sugar, and self-rising flour, and perfecting the consistency of the icing.


If you’d like to see how I did, check out the video!

Here’s the recipe, from Mary Berry. I’ll copy it down below, in case the link isn’t permanent. Just remember to generously butter your pan!

Cherry Cake with Drizzle Icing


  • 200g (7oz) red glace cherries (see notes below)
  • 225g (8oz) self-raising flour (see notes below)
  • 175g (6oz) softened unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 175g (6oz) caster sugar (see notes below)
  • Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
  • 50g (1¾oz) ground almonds
  • 3 large eggs
  • For the decoration:
  • 175g (6oz) icing sugar
  • 1 lemon, juice only
  • 15g (½oz) flaked almonds, toasted
  • 5 red glace cherries (quartered)


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Grease a 23cm/9in bundt tin or savarin mould with butter.
  2. Cut the cherries into quarters. Set aside five of the quartered cherries for the decoration later. Put the rest of the quartered cherries in a sieve and rinse under running water. Drain well then dry thoroughly on kitchen paper and toss in two tablespoons of the flour.
  3. Measure all the remaining ingredients into a large bowl and beat well for two minutes to mix thoroughly. Lightly fold in the cherries. Turn into the prepared tin.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes until well risen, golden-brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out and cool on a wire rack.
  5. For the icing, mix the icing sugar together with the lemon juice to a thick paste. Drizzle over the cooled cake using the back of a spoon, sprinkle over the toasted almonds and reserved cherries.

This recipe makes candied cherries from maraschino cherries. I used it as a guide for candying my jarred cherries. This is a recipe for candying fresh cherries.


This article explains how to make your own self-rising flour.

If you don’t have caster sugar, you can pulse granulated sugar in the food processor until it’s a little finer. Then measure out the 175 grams.

Winter Essentials – Skincare and Relaxation

Having moved from Wisconsin to California last summer, this winter doesn’t really feel like winter. To me winter has always meant piling on as many layers of clothing as humanly possible; slipping on icy sidewalks (always in front of a crowd of people); and spending as much time as possible inside, under a blanket…preferably next to a fireplace…with some hot cocoa. What can I say? I get high maintenance in the winter.

Here in California, I feel like I can already see a hint of spring peeking around the corner, which is absurd to me. But the winter can still be a little gloomy. Tea, hot cocoa with extra marshmallows, and a bit of pampering are all but necessary. Plus, my already dry skin requires some extra care.

Here are the 3 must-have items that my dry skin can’t be without in the winter, and 3 that I rely on when I’m in need of some relaxation. Read on to see my picks, and let me know your winter must-haves in the comments!

The Skincare

1 heartMy lips are dry all year round, but cold, dry winter weather is especially rough. This year my lips got super sensitive too, so I’ve had to be really picky with my lip products. I look for a chapstick/lip balm with a small number of natural, super moisturizing, non-irritating ingredients. I have two favorites at the moment, both of which, oddly enough, are from small companies in New York.


This unscented Vegan Lip Balm is from Meow Meow Tweet. The Organic Cocoa Lip Balm is from S.W. Basics in Brooklyn. They both focus on using high-quality, natural, organic ingredients. I spent a ridiculous amount of time reading reviews and recommendations, and it was surprisingly difficult to find a great lip balm without any potentially irritating ingredients. These two feel amazing and they’re super affordable (even with shipping!).


2 heartThe hand and body moisturizer I recommend to everyone is totally not sexy, but it works. Vanicream was recommended to me by a doctor years ago because it doesn’t irritate sensitive skin, and it’s super moisturizing without leaving you feeling like an oil slick. I buy it in this giant tub, and I don’t get gross, cracked hands anymore.

Vanicream is my everyday absolute must-have, but when I feel like treating myself, I’ll use something with a luxurious scent. The Soap & Glory body butter is incredibly thick and creamy, and it soaks right into your skin. It leaves you with a pretty floral scent (if you’re sensitive to fragrance, try smelling this one at Ulta before you commit).


3 heartYou know you have dry skin when applying face cream is the best feeling ever. I switch to a thicker, more hydrating moisturizer in the winter, particularly for nighttime. I’ve been enjoying the Origins Night-A-Mins. It has exactly the texture and hydration that I was looking for – it’s ultra rich and creamy. But it does have kind of a strong citrus scent. If you prefer using something fragrance free, I highly recommend the brand Paula’s Choice – they have something for every skin type, too.

The Relaxation

Now that we have the essentials covered, let’s get into some relaxation. The days are shorter, the skies are gray and gloomy, and we can get into a slump after the excitement of the holidays passes. Little acts of self-care make such a big difference for me when I’m feeling down or am just worn out from work.


1 heartI’m in favor of having a mug of hot tea on me at all times in the winter. I kind of agree with Sheldon that getting a hot beverage in your hands should be the first step when you’re upset.🙂



2 heartNothing sets the mood for a relaxing evening like lighting a favorite candle. I’m still burning my Bath and Body Works candles from their fall collection. I think Marshmallow Fireside is the definition of cozy in a scent. (I’m thinking about getting some more wintery scents. If you know of any good ones, let me know!)



3 heartFor my Wisconsin folks: when you’ve been outside in freezing weather, and you feel cold down to your bones, the only way to warm up is with a hot shower or bath. Try turning it into a pampering experience: add a few drops of essential oil into your bath, treat your hair with a conditioning mask, or light a candle to help you unwind while the feeling returns to your toes.

I hope this post inspires you to indulge in some self-care and make the most of your extra time indoors this winter.


*Some links above are affiliate links.

Let’s talk about makeup.


As I mentioned in a super meta post here, I’ve been thinking about broadening the scope of this blog (and have already started to do so). Instead of just baking, I want to use this space to talk about life in general and things that interest me. One area I might chat about is makeup. This probably seems totally random for many of you, and I apologize if you don’t give 2 hoots about the subject.

I thought a good place to start would be trying to explain (for myself as much as you guys) why and how this interest developed.


I just got into makeup 1-2 years ago. It was a combination of my friend Jenna introducing me to the wonderful world of Ulta; trying to feel more adult and put together for post-student life; and thinking about makeup for engagement and wedding photos. I never expected to suddenly have a bursting makeup drawer and a deep commitment to a handful of beauty channels on YouTube.

But, here we are.


To me, makeup combines creativity and self expression with technique and attention to detail. It might not seem like it, but it actually has that in common with baking. In both there is technique to learn and steps to follow (and I love myself some orderliness); and in both there’s also the potential for endless creativity – colors and textures and flavors to combine and experiment with.


But what truly sucked me into all things beauty is the women I watch on YouTube who have come to feel like my friends. They talk about things like concealer and BB cream and drugstore dupes, but they reveal part of themselves as well, so that it starts to feel like I’m hanging out with them over a cup of coffee. Which, incidentally, is where the name for my own YouTube channel came from – Coffee With Adi – I would love for my viewers to feel like they’re sitting at the breakfast bar with a cup of coffee while I whip up a batch of cookies.

I’m rambling. The point is, I discovered some lovely ladies on YouTube who distracted me from the stress and anxiety of my day to day life, and somewhere along the way I started to care about what they were talking about. The end result of which was me purchasing too much makeup.


So stay tuned for future posts on products I’m loving, tips and tricks, reviews, and ramblings on makeup and skincare.

Spiced Hot Cocoa Truffles (video)


I’m reviving another recipe for my home-baked gifting video series. This time I’m scrapping the original recipe and starting from scratch.

These truffles are delicious on their own, but you can also drop them into a hot cup of milk or water to make hot chocolate! Have you ever had a classic chocolate truffle, with a smooth shell on the outside and a creamy, soft center? These are basically like the center of the truffle by itself. They’re firm enough to stay together, but easily meltable for your next hot cocoa craving. I add some cinnamon and cayenne, both in the truffle itself and also in the coating, for an irresistible kick.

If you’re gifting these, pile them up in a cute mug, and you have the perfect wintertime gift!

Watch the step-by-step video below, at Coffee With Adi!

Spiced Dark Chocolate Hot Cocoa Truffles
Adapted from techniques in Bittersweet, by Alice Medrich

Note: You can easily scale this recipe up or down – just keep the proportions of chocolate to cream the same.

6 ounces Dark Chocolate 60-64% cacao (or 7 ounces of 55-60% chocolate, or bittersweet or semisweet chocolate that’s unspecified)
A pinch of salt
3 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons Cayenne Pepper, divided
6 ounces Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons Cocoa Powder for dipping

  1.  Use the heel of a chef’s knife to cut your chocolate into small pieces. Place the chocolate into a medium heatproof bowl. Add 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp cayenne, and a pinch of salt.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the cream to a low boil. Immediately pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Stir gently with a rubber spatula just until the chocolate is fully melted and the mixture becomes smooth.
  3. Place the bowl in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours.
  4. When you’re ready to form the truffles: Line a baking pan with parchment paper, tin foil, or wax paper. On a dinner plate combine 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon cayenne. Scoop about 1 tablespoon of the cold chocolate and quickly roll it between your hands to form a ball. Roll the ball in the cocoa spice mixture to coat, and place onto the prepared baking pan.
  5. Place the baking pan into the fridge or freezer. Once the truffles are chilled, you can stack and cover them for storage. Store the truffles in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks or the freezer for about 3 months.

To make hot cocoa: Thaw the truffle slightly if it was in the freezer. Heat up a mug of milk or water, drop in a truffle, and stir until melted. Sip, relax, enjoy.

Doughnuts for Dinner

Doughnuts for Dinner


B and I had a little baking marathon the other night. It started with wanting to use up a few items in our fridge: a tub of mascarpone cheese and a couple beets from Imperfect Produce. As B is wont to do, he settled on an ice cream recipe – Jeni’s beet and poppy seed ice cream. The beets had to roast in the oven for an hour, so naturally we decided to start on some doughnuts in the meantime.

Also working on beet ice cream. How gorgeous is that? #jenissplendidicecream #beet #organic #farmfresh

A photo posted by Coffee With Adi (@coffeewithadi) on


I got a doughnut pan over the weekend, and I’ve literally wanted one ever since Joy first posted about hers 2 years ago. If you haven’t noticed already, I’m kind of a Joy the Baker fangirl.

First time using my doughnut pan!!! Brown butter doughnuts a la Joy the Baker!

A photo posted by Coffee With Adi (@coffeewithadi) on

Continue reading “Doughnuts for Dinner”

(video) Poppy Seed Sandwich Cookies, revisited

(video) Poppy Seed Sandwich Cookies, revisited


I first blogged about these cookies just over 5 years ago, when I made them for my cousin’s Bar Mitzvah. If you’d like to check out the original post, you’ll see some gems like this picture on the right:

Five years later, I’m re-posting this recipe along with a video – part of a series I’m doing on home-baked gifts and holiday baking. They’re crisp cookies loaded with poppy seeds, topped with a touch of salt and coarse sugar, and sandwiched together with dark chocolate. It’s a wonderful treat to make for the holidays or for a gift. Not only do they freeze beautifully and travel well, but they are also delicious, unique, and a bit sophisticated.

Check out the step-by-step video here!

Read on for the recipe!
Continue reading “(video) Poppy Seed Sandwich Cookies, revisited”