HOLIDAY OF THE YEAR | SCOTLAND | CHERRY, PISTACHIO & COCONUT CAKE

Welcome October and goodbye to our trip of the year! On 26th August, Ryan and I were lucky to fly off just in time on the day when the unbearable haze hit Singapore. It was a huge relief to me and my sensitive nose because having to sneeze all day = ruining the entire day, not cool!

This summer, Ryan and I returned to Scotland (again), primarily for Sonya (his sister) and Barry boat wedding in London! We thought this is a perfect time to unwind from our daily grind and soak in the beauty of nature our dear Mother Earth created.  Also, our stay in Scotland was caught between the end of summer and early fall, double perfection! During this period, it started to get cold, which was comfortable for long walks along vast valleys while admiring patches of heather blending in to the autumn colours. 

Again, we travelled via British Airways from Singapore>London>Aberdeen, the whole journey was approximately 14 hours. Though both of us did not drift off to sleepy town long enough, it was strange that none of us were jet lag! This time, we headed back to Aboyne instead of Banchory to live with Vic and Teresa in their rented apartment. Aboyne is a village situated on the edge of the highlands of Aberdeenshire. Serenity, earthy and laid back were the three amazing things to label this place! Also, the village is just a stone throw from their new house! Before the holiday commenced, Vic and Teresa were hustling with the progress of their upcoming dream house, an energy efficient eco home. I’m extremely proud to share with you that the new house is the first to ever install solar ice installation in Scotland!

 The trail from Aboyne to the new house!

The trail from Aboyne to the new house!

 

The house was what Ryan and I were looking waiting for. After a 20-minute stroll from the current rented house, my jaws dropped. The symmetry of the front house, lingering smell of wood and high glass windows matched how Teresa has described to us over our Skype calls!

"Whenever I look at this house, it feels like I'm up in heaven, everything is unbelievable...Then when I get back in the car and drive back to our current apartment, I'm back to reality!" Teresa said that one time when we were still raving about how gorgeous their house is. 

I could almost understand how she is feeling now, with all that Vic and Teresa have dreamt about building a house. Every part of the house, be it the roof, the cemented flooring, and the balcony which oversees a river they partly own are turning to fruition. Surely, it is a huge satisfaction that their dream came true. 

After the house tour, team SingLand (Singapore & Scotland) had our holiday to-do’s all written down in a list.

1)      House tour

2)      Catch a movie in Aberdeen

3)      Visit more castles

4)     Film Teresa’s Cherry, Pistachio & Coconut Cake

5)      Meet Ryan's friends

6)      Road trip to Isle of Skye (The fairy pools!)

7)      Fix a nail appointment with Teresa and spend some girly-girl time at a cafe

Less is more. Doing less things with more quality time dedicated to each of the above events. That's our holiday objective. Amazingly enough, the team was on form! The essential team spirit and team dynamics managed to reap off the benefits to accomplish the entire list, whoop whoop. Of course, things were planned flexibly and we switched the sequence of the events here and there, so that we had ample time to relax, recharge and recover. . After it was meant to be a holiday.  

3)      Visit more castles

 Yes! There are hundreds of castles in Scotland, but we could not possibly visit all of them, so we chose the best, famous and intriguing one! So here's the Craigievar Castle, formally housed the Forbes family and now owned by the National Trust for Scotland. The pinkish fairytale castle reminded me of the simplified version of the Walt Disney castle, a striking architecture that stands out amongst massive farmlands and walkways from afar. With phases of conservation efforts, the contents of the castle such as the different bedrooms are lovingly preserved over three centuries till today. 

Yes! There are hundreds of castles in Scotland, but we could not possibly visit all of them, so we chose the best, famous and intriguing one! So here's the Craigievar Castle, formally housed the Forbes family and now owned by the National Trust for Scotland. The pinkish fairytale castle reminded me of the simplified version of the Walt Disney castle, a striking architecture that stands out amongst massive farmlands and walkways from afar. With phases of conservation efforts, the contents of the castle such as the different bedrooms are lovingly preserved over three centuries till today. 

 Along the farmlands...I spy with my little eye, something starts with C

Along the farmlands...I spy with my little eye, something starts with C

Road trip to Isle of Skye (The fairy pools!)

Just last year before my first visit to Scotland, I was browsing aimlessly on Pinterest and this mystical, magical and tranquil pool instantly caught my eye! *I need to go there, I need to go there* Yet, due to the unusual wet weather last winter, our trip to Isle of Skye was adjourned. But this time, we were lucky to have warm summer and breeze welcoming us in open arms! Our trip to the fairy pools was a success! I finally drew a big fat tick beside it on my bucket list! 

In case you're flabbergasted by ''fairy pools'', I strongly encourage you to drive all the way up west, immerse yourself in endless glen (valley), trails of heather, misty hills, and sheep munching on grass like nobody's business. 

 We finally reached the fairy pools! It's a shame that I did not climb down to capture a closer shot of the falls:( I was honestly scared that I might slip. Oh well...

We finally reached the fairy pools! It's a shame that I did not climb down to capture a closer shot of the falls:( I was honestly scared that I might slip. Oh well...

 En route to Glen Tanar with the Priest's

En route to Glen Tanar with the Priest's

This holiday was indeed fruitful. With our daily 9 am breakfast sessions, board games time after dinner, road trip to the west coast, and Sonya & Barry’s wedding, the conversations and laughter we shared were unforgettable. Not a single minute was wasted spending time with Vic and Teresa, after all we only get to see each other physically once in a year, and none of us can assure when will be the next time.

With all gratefulness, thankfulness, and blissfulness, I’m dedicating this video that I’ve singlehandedly filmed and produced with Teresa, for all the patience, enthusiasm and support she has given me to complete this part of our holiday checklist! Muah, Xx

Ingredients (serves 8)

  • 90g light brown sugar, 20g for the topping
  • 180g ground almonds
  • 100g pistachios
  • 45g desiccated coconut
  • 50g self-raising flour
  • 150g butter, melted
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 300g cherries
  • 4 tablespoons roughly chopped pistachios, for the topping
  • 1 teaspoon almond essence

Kitchen equipment

  • 1 round baking sheet for a 10-inch cake tin base
  • Grease proof paper for a 10-inch cake ti

Directions

  • Measure, and cut a strip of grease proof paper according to the circumference and height of the cake tin.
  • Spread a thin layer of butter at both ends of grease proof paper and stick them together.
  • Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/gas mark 5.
  • Ground pistachios in a food processor for 5 seconds and pulse. Scoop out 4 tablespoons of roughly chopped pistachios for the toppings. Continue to pulse remaining pistachios for 10 seconds.
  • Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Pour over melted butter, mix in beaten eggs and almond essence. Spoon batter into the cake tin, and smooth down an even base with the back of a spoon.
  • Wash, and slice cherries into halves over the cake tin to remove the stones- let’s not miss out every drip of cherry juice that adds sweetness and colour to the cake. Drop pitted cherries onto the batter.
  • Sprinkle the top with light brown sugar and chopped pistachios.
  • Bake in the centre of the oven for 25-30 minutes, then turn the cake around and bake for a further 8-10 minutes until the cake between the cherries goes all sunny golden.
  • Let the cake cool in the tin for 20 minutes to settle. Gently remove the base of cake tin, and the grease proof paper. Serve with yogurt or enjoy as it is!
  • Cover the cake with cling wrap, it will keep in the fridge for up 3 days. Allow it to return to room temperature, or heat it in a microwave oven for 3-4 minutes for best flavour. 

Enjoy!Xx

-Ally