Dylan Alcott shares magical Australian Open moment with great mate


Dylan Alcott never gets sick of holding up trophies.

The Australian wheelchair tennis star added some more silverware to his collection when he teamed up with countryman Heath Davidson to win the quad wheelchair doubles title at Melbourne Park.

The Aussie top seeds outgunned Brit Andy Lapthorne and American David Wagner 10-7 in a deciding tiebreak after winning the first set 6-2 before dropping the second 3-6.

It’s the fourth time Alcott and Davidson have triumphed together at the Australian Open, giving Alcott his eighth grand slam doubles crown.

“I get to play tennis with one of my best mates,” Alcott said. “Not many people can say that.

“We don’t just hang out in tennis, we hang out in everyday life, too. It’s the 20th anniversary of us meeting this year.

“I have four Australian Open titles. Pretty awesome. Very proud of Heath and where he’s come from.”

Alcott will chase his seventh consecutive Australian Open singles crown on Wednesday against Dutchman Sam Schroder, but is happy just to have the chance to play at all.

“We are so lucky to be playing tennis at the moment,” he said. “We aren’t taking that opportunity for granted.

“I feel very grateful to be here. When other people can’t do their jobs, have lost loved ones, lost their jobs, can’t travel, are in lockdown … when you are grateful for the moment, I think you can relax.

“Win, lose or draw, who cares. I’m just lucky to be here. I’m thinking like that.”

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In north-east Arnhem Land, surfers brave the savage swell for a shot at magical waves


A hammerhead shark breaches the ocean’s surface, as if to sniff at the splashing presence paddling hard towards the outgoing tidal foam.

Cyclone swell — a churning, spitting ocean phenomenon unique to Australia’s north — is starting to roll in.

And the human out among it is Gove District Hospital doctor Tim Blake.

“I’m sure the majority of surfers have no idea there’s so much surf up here in this small pocket of northern Australia,” Dr Blake said.

On the Gove Peninsula, jutting out from the western edge of the Gulf of Carpentaria, Dr Blake is part of a tight, intrepid community of surfers with a common interest.

Like their peers the world over, they’re chasing the wildest, most exhilarating wave, then riding it to shore on a far-flung frontier.

Tyren Smith and Tim Blake are part of a tight-knit surfing community.(ABC News: Michael Franchi)

“There’s a core community that have been here for 10-plus years — you’ve got a real mix of old salty dogs and young grommets just frothing on everything, charging in,” Dr Blake said.

One of those wide-eyed students of the sea is 10-year-old Tyren Smith, who hails from the remote community of Ramingining, hundred of kilometres away.

“This is my third time surfing, and I just like it,” he said, after paddling in through a glassy bay near Yirrkala, a beachside Indigenous community.

“I’m learning how to stand up on the board, doing tricks.”

Crocs, sharks … and surfers

The Gove surfers are far from alone in the waters of north-east Arnhem Land.

Saltwater crocodiles, sharks and stingers all inhabit this isolated marine wonderland, as do less deadly residents like dugongs and sea turtles.

“I don’t think about the crocs and the sharks, that’s why I don’t get scared,” Tyren said.

A young boy lies in an above-ground backyard pool and smiles at the camera.
Budding surfer Tyren Smith washes off sand in a backyard pool in Yirrkala.(ABC News: Michael Franchi)

Dr Blake captures many of these animals on his drone, which he fires up during most of his surfing sessions.

“I’ve never seen a croc while I’ve been out there surfing, but I’ve seen a number of crocs with the drone,” he said.

“I’ve droned over the surf spots and seen quite a few — maybe five — one of them three-and-a-half metres. It’s enough to really make you think.”

While many health officials will warn you not to set foot in the Arafura Sea, Dr Blake believes the lure of the wild waters could help the region thrive.

An aerial view of Yirrkala Beach in north-east Arnhem Land.
Saltwater crocodiles, sharks and stingers inhabit the waters off Yirrkala Beach in north-east Arnhem Land.(ABC News: Michael Franchi)

East Arnhem Land is a magnet for young professionals with a penchant for adventure.

Each year, dozens of health workers, teachers and charity staff find their way to this culturally rich corner of the remote Northern Territory to learn more about the north.

But keeping them in the region can be challenging.

“You’ve got a very transient workforce, with six months, 12 months turnover for most areas in a lot of remote Australia,” Dr Blake said.

“That absolutely kills the service [delivery], because you’re relying on trust with Indigenous communities.”

Despite the obvious dangers involved, Dr Blake believes he’s found one way to boost population retention in the region.

Surfboards stand next to the beach on the north-east Arnhem Land coastline, as the sun sets in the background.
Dr Blake believes surf culture could help the region thrive.(ABC News: Michael Franchi)

“There are a lot of people that go back down south because they don’t realise there’s surfing here.

“Once they discover it, then they have that additional interest, and it keeps them here.”

As cyclones loom, so too does magic surf

With the monsoon now settling in across the Top End, it’s not long until the return of what Dr Blake calls the most “magic” surf of the year — the cyclone swell.

“When a cyclone comes, depending on where it is in the Gulf, you’ll get huge waves with winds that are very favourable,” he said.

“It makes for beautiful conditions … with large wrapping waves, and what they do is hug the reef, and just run down.

“It’s just magic.”



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Congratulations! These are the 11 new Magical Towns of Mexico



6 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.


In a ceremony attended by a few tourism authorities, the 11 new Magical Towns were named .

The ceremony was broadcast live through which the municipal presidents of the towns received the appointment that adds them to this national tourism strategy whose Magic Towns program endorses and promotes short walks with all security measures.

These are the 11 new Magical Towns

  1. Isla Aguada, Campeche
  2. Zempoala, Hidalgo
  3. Ajijic, Jalisco
  4. Tonatico, State of Mexico
  5. Paracho de Verduzco, Michoacán
  6. Mexcaltitán, Nayarit
  7. Santa Catarina Juquila, Oaxaca
  8. Tetela de Ocampo, Puebla
  9. Santa Maria del Rio, San Luis Potosí
  10. Peanut, Yucatan
  11. Sisal, Yucatan

Ajijic, Jalisco

Ajijic, Jalisco / Image: Via México Unconocido

Ajijic is one of the most colorful towns in Jalisco. It is located on the shores of Lake Chapala , in the municipality of the same name. Although there are no official figures, the original population of Ajijic estimates that about 20,000 foreigners live in this town, mainly from the United States, Canada and England.

Isla Aguada, Campeche

Isla Aguada, Campeche / Image: Via México Unconocido

This charming fishing village has attractive beaches on the part that faces the Gulf of Mexico and beautiful mangrove environments on the lagoon portion. It belongs to an extensive area considered as a flora and fauna protection area that includes the entire extension of the Laguna de Terminos . Here you can see various sea and land birds, such as the jabirú stork, the heron.

Peanut, Yucatan

Maní, Yucatán / Image: Via México Unconocido

Maní in Yucatán was the first Mayan community to which the Franciscan missionaries arrived to build the convent complex dedicated to San Miguel Arcángel , which is still standing and dates from 1549. Another reason why tourists fall in love every time and they speak more about Maní are its traditional embroidery. The work can be done by machine or by hand, however the work is arduous.

Mexcaltitán, Nayarit

Mexcaltitán, Nayarit / Image: Via México Unconocido

Mexcaltitán is one of the most amazing towns in Mexico. In fact, its history is closely linked to national history. Its name means “in the house of the Mexicans or of the moon “, and according to a legend, this place is Aztlán, from where the Mexica left for central Mexico. It is located in the municipality of Santiago Ixcuintla , near the Pacific Nayarit.

Paracho de Verduzco, Michoacán

Paracho de Verduzco, Michoacán / Image: Via México Desconocido

Without hesitation, the guitar is the most important symbolic expression of Paracho . It is perceived when entering this small town located in the heart of the Purépecha Plateau , where the first thing that jumps out is the premises full of these musical instruments that have made it famous nationally and internationally. One of the best experiences of knowing this town of luthiers is visiting the workshops where they are inspired to make their works of art.

Santa Catarina Juquila, Oaxaca

Santa Catarina Juquila, Oaxaca / Image: Via México Desconocido

Religious tourism thanks to the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception and the temple in which she is venerated is perhaps the reason for the greatest influx. The short story is that in 1630, the image was moved to a small grass chapel. During the burning of the land for agricultural work, a fire broke out that reached the sanctuary. Although the chapel was reduced to ashes, the Virgin remained intact , from which a great miraculous faculty began to be attributed to her. Finally, the Virgin was taken to the head of Juquila in 1784, where a temple was erected that has been rebuilt on several occasions.

Santa Maria del Rio, San Luis Potosí

Santa María del Río, San Luis Potosí / Image: Via México Desconocido

40 minutes from the center of San Luis Potosí, the pulse of this town is the rebozos and the life of this place revolves around this ancient craft. And it is in the Casa del Rebozo Museum where the best works and pieces that the masters produce are shown; Also here they give classes and train the new generations.

Sisal, Yucatan

Sisal, Yucatán / Image: Unknown Mexico

Sisal was the first commercial port of Yucatan , its name in Mayan means ‘place where the cold is heavy or penetrating’. The origin of this beautiful town dates back to pre-Hispanic times, where it was known as Ah-Canul , which means ‘protector’.

Tetela de Ocampo, Puebla

Tetela de Ocampo, Puebla / Image: Via México Desconocido

Guarded by the Sotolo and Soyayo hills, Tetela de Ocampo wakes up every day with an eye on the past. Look back, when her name was Tetela de Oro and not Ocampo, and her days were marked by the rhythm of mining and wrought iron workshops. Then the nineteenth century would come, and the liberal concerns of the people would make it participate in numerous battles against the conservatives of the time. The year 1862 would also come, so that the incendiary Tetela would always remember her participation in the Battle of Cinco de Mayo.

Tonatico, State of Mexico

Tonatico, State of Mexico / Image: Via México Desconocido

Tonatico has the charm of the province surrounded by lush vegetation. It is a beautiful colonial town that will catch you from the moment you enter its streets. You can walk along the zócalo, relax in its hot springs and venture through the amazing Grutas de la Estrella and discover the whimsical forms that nature arranged just for them. If you want to admire the landscape, El Sol Park is a great option to do so.

Zempoala, Hidalgo

Zempoala, Hidalgo / Image: Via México Desconocido

This town has a former convent and a charming center; However, the proximity of the Aqueduct of Padre Tembleque (10 km away) is perhaps the attraction that becomes the essential when walking in these directions. This hydraulic work, located between the towns of Zempoala, in Hidalgo, and Otumba , in the State of Mexico, was erected in the 16th century and its construction involved the fusion of three different construction traditions: the Roman, the Hispano-Arab and the Mesoamerican. It was named a World Heritage Site in 2015.



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RCB vs KKR: Virat handing new ball to me boosted confidence: Mohd Siraj on ‘magical’ performance


By: PTI |

Updated: October 22, 2020 11:32:48 am





Mohammad Siraz

Royal Challengers Bangalore pacer Mohammed Siraj, who ripped through Kolkata Knight Riders’ top-order with a “magical performance”, said skipper Virat Kohli’s surprise decision to hand him the new ball lifted his confidence in the IPL match here.

Siraj’s first three wickets came without conceding a run as he became the first bowler in IPL history to bowl two maidens in a single game. RCB restricted KKR to a paltry 84/8 and chased down the target in 13.3 overs.

Once Chris Morris generated swing early on, Siraj was asked to bowl the second over following a discussion with wicketkeeper AB de Villiers.

“We hadn’t planned that I would open but when we went out, Virat bhai said ‘Miyan, ready ho jao (Sir, get ready!), you will have to bowl…’ It boosted my confidence,” the Hyderabadi pacer, who returned with figures of 4-2-8-3, said after the eight-wicket win on Wednesday.

“Morris beat the batsmen (in the first over) and then Virat bhai spoke to AB de Villiers (behind the stumps) and gave me the bowl,” he added.

“Initially, I didn’t think it would swing so much after seeing the wicket. I just backed my strength and really enjoyed a lot.”

Brought in the second over, Siraj struck in his third ball with a good length ball that went away of Rahul Tripathi.

In his next delivery, he cleaned up Nitish Rana, with a ball that sharply cut back in and breached the left-hander’s defence. In the next over, he accounted for Tom Banton with another outswing delivery.

His bowling figures became the most economical this season.

A natural in-swing bowler, Siraj has been practising with the new ball and generating outswing in the practice sessions.

“I’ve been a natural inswing bowler but while practising I have started bowling outswing a lot better.

“In our practise sessions, we have Devdutt Padikkal and Parthiv Patel. I bowl the same length to them which I bowled to Nitish Rana. I did the same thing in the game and was able to execute it well,” he said.

Having endured a tough outing against the same side in 2019, it’s now a story of going from being zero to hero for Siraj.

Siraj was hammered for 36 runs in 2.2 overs before being removed from the attack for bowling two beamers as KKR chased down 206 with five balls to spare in their IPL 2019 match.

In the same game, Siraj had also dropped a sitter from Chris Lynn and faced a lot a criticism.

Often sidelined in presence of Chris Morris, Navdeep Saini and the spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar, Siraj got his fourth match on Wednesday when he was included in place of Shahbaz Ahmed.

“I’ve always had a lot of support from the RCB setup. All I wanted to do this year was give a magical performance. I wanted to do something different this year,” Siraj, who played his fourth match of the season, said.

“Whenever I used to think about my performance in the IPL, I had made up my mind that I would deliver a performance to remember. It’s about doing something different, something magical,” he concluded. PTI TAP

Loss against RCB was morale-crushing, but destiny still in our hands: McCullum

Brandon McCULLUM Brandon McCULLUM head coach of KKR and Abhishek Nayar assistant coach of KKR during match 39 of season 13 of the Dream 11 Indian Premier League (IPL) between the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates on the 21st October 2020. (BCCI/IPL)

Disappointed with his team’s “timid approach” with the bat , Kolkata Knight Riders head coach Brendon McCullum has admitted that the crushing defeat against Royal Challengers Bangalore would definitely affect the morale of the side, but their destiny is still in their hands.

He believes KKR can go all the way to the final, despite just hanging on to the fourth spot in the eight-team competition with 10 points from as many games.

“This (loss) is going to affect a little bit in terms of our confidence. We need to work hard on ensuring our morale doesn’t drop at the same time having those honest conversations around how we improve,” McCullum said after the eight-wicket loss to RCB in an IPL game here on Wednesday night.

“But I still firmly believe that we have a side which can be there later on in the tournament, come finals. We just need to improve slightly.

“We’re still fourth in the tournament, which is very fortunate for us. Destiny is still very much in our hands. We have just got to tighten up some of those areas where we’re deficient tonight and make sure we improve on our performance,” he said.

McCullum admitted that they were not good enough and lacked intent in the lop-sided contest against RCB.

Electing to bat, KKR top-order crumbled against Mohammed Siraj’s (3/8) devastating new-ball show to register their second lowest total — 84 for 8, a target which RCB chased down in in 13.3 overs with eight wickets in hand.

McCullum said there was no demon in the pitch but their batsmen lacked intent against some quality RCB bowling.

“…I didn’t think there was a lot in the wicket. Siraj obviously bowled well and (Chris) Morris at times also. But if anything, we were just a little timid in our approach,” the former New Zealand captain said.

“That’s just a bit frustrating because we spoke at length before the game about trying to be positive and show some strong intent, so that’s something we’ll have to address in the next few days.”

Siraj became the first bowler in the history of IPL to bowl two maiden overs as he dismissed Rahul Tripathi (1), Nitish Rana (0) and Tom Banton (10) to virtually kill the contest in the first four overs.

“I just think we weren’t able to enter the game at any stage, none of our top-order batsmen were able to get anything going,” McCullum said.

“Defending 85, you might just win one in 50 games. I think RCB were very good tonight. We’re very poor with bat in hand. You’re not going to win too many games from 40 for 6. But we’ve got to bounce back because we’ve got another game in a few days.

“With the conditions being slightly challenging at times, you’ve got to find a way to still pick yourself up and try and get a result in the next game,” he added.

McCullum said self belief is the need of the hour after such a disappointing performance.

“For us, it’s about maintaining belief. As long as our morale stays high, and our belief within the dressing room stays high, then we have the talent within our setup, the intelligence and quality of players, to be able to go deep in the tournament.”

KKR have four matches left to secure a play-off spot and next face Delhi Capitals here on Saturday.

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Even sneery anti-sport types should weep over the Wallabies’ magical and magnificent Bledisloe ‘victory’


If you pick one of the first two, you are, I imagine very close to the quiet majority on the subject, as even I – still tragically proud of being the only Wallaby in history sent from the field in a match against the All Blacks for violence – accept that while the current slew of NRL finals and rugby championships really does excite a huge chunk of the population, it leaves a hefty majority of the population about as cold as the great Fran Lebowitz. (To be fair, however, she was a special case, once boasting that she was someone who truly “wished my cigarettes came already lit.”) And despite it being a hoary cliche, the truth of it is, more people participate in the arts than the football codes plus cricket and basketball combined.

But let me make a quick plea for you to acknowledge that the scenes we saw on Sunday afternoon on the occasion of the first Bledisloe Cup Test were every bit as magical as the Walter Scott quote? Come on!

How fabulous was it to see such enormously athletic men going so unbelievably hard for all that time, hammer and tongs, no quarter asked or given, with grimaces, grunts and growls, powered by passion pure? And that, friends, was just the haka!

As to the game itself, for my money, sport doesn’t get a whole lot better than that, and it was the perfect example of my long-brayed FitzSimons theorem that: “While nothing is so dull as a dull rugby game, there is nothing so magnificent as a great rugby game.”

And that performance by the Wallabies was nothing less than magnificent. Up against the finest team in the world, in a country they haven’t won in for 20 years, our blokes got to an even score when the full-time siren blew, and then – then, friends – they went for another eight minutes without a break, roaring from one end of the field to the other, never backing off a centimetre, each minute “crowded to the full with glorious action, and filled with noble risks”.

And in the end they registered a magnificent 16-16 victory. (You heard me! Against the All Blacks on New Zealand soil, a draw really is a bloody victory.)

Seriously, name me another sport in the world, where for EIGHT MINUTES without break you can have the sports fans of two countries, roaring, on the edge of their seats, alternately thrilled and then fearful as the ball went from one end to the other. And then, while you are it, tell me the time such extremes of emotion were experienced in an art gallery or theatre, love them as I do – no, honest.

How can you not get misty-eyed, just a little, and . . .

And what?

You still want to stay with Fran or Paddy and sneer unpleasantly in our general direction? You think that the only model for a life well lived is the aesthete, the literary, the clever – and never the physical, the brutal?

You want Oscar Wilde, not wild and woolly? Well, funny you should say that. For let me make reply to you, the way I did to McGuiness in these pages, all those years ago.

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For even Wilde had a brute side to his life! Richard Ellmann’s excellent biography of Wilde recounts an occasion in Oxford when the young men of Magdalene College got together and decided on a plan of bursting into Wilde’s room to give him a good pummeling for being so effete. So it was that four of the heftiest and most offended by his dandyism shouldered their way through Wilde’s door while many others waited on the stairs to watch events unfold.

“The result was unexpected,” the biography recounts. “Wilde booted out the first, doubled up the second with a punch, threw out the third through the air and taking hold of the fourth – a man as big as himself – carried him down to his rooms and buried him beneath his own furniture. He then invited the spectators to sample the would-be persecutor’s wines and spirits, and they accepted.”

Ah, Oscar, you should have been in the English second row!

And I am sure the rest of you get the point, even if McGuiness didn’t. If someone so revered an aesthete as Oscar Wilde didn’t mind engaging in hard physical pursuits – and let’s not forget his sport at Oxford was boxing – surely it is proof positive, that not all footballers are a generically Neanderthal breed. And it is OK to enjoy watching them play!

And if you are still not convinced, I leave you with Oscar’s final words on the subject, the quote that proves there is something in this for everyone. “Rugby is a good occasion for keeping 30 bullies far from the centre of the city.” (Still, I wish you hadn’t said that, Oscar.)

Twitter: Peter_Fitz

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Magical Stay-Moist Vanilla Cupcakes | RecipeTin Eats


Using the batter from my much loved Vanilla Cake, these Vanilla Cupcakes have a professional bakery-style cupcakes and stay perfectly moist for 4 whole days which is unheard of for cupcakes!

No secret ingredients. Just a secret Japanese baking technique applied to classic butter cupcakes ingredients. It’s like…. magic! ✨

Vanilla Cupcakes with my secret Less-Sweet Fluffy Vanilla Frosting

It’s notoriously hard to find a really good, classic cupcake recipe. Many promise game changing techniques, but all too often they fall short.

So why should you believe me when I say this is the last Vanilla Cupcake recipe you’ll ever use?

Because this is already a tried and proven recipe made using the batter from my Vanilla Cake. But don’t believe me. Browse the reader feedback!

“Holy mackerel, this cake is amazing.”

“…this is the sponge I’ve been looking for my whole life. It’s so perfect I almost wept with sheer joy.”

“Wow wow wow!”

(Also, the directions to make these cupcakes are hidden deep in the Vanilla Cake recipe notes, and an astonishing number of readers have already made these cupcakes!)

The Perfect Vanilla Cupcake

These Vanilla Cupcakes are …..

  • Soft and fluffy, with a plush velvety crumb;
  • Infused with elegant buttery and vanilla flavours;
  • Perfectly shaped with a sweet golden dome;
  • Much more tender than your usual run-of-the-mill cupcake recipes;
  • Less sweet than typical cupcakes;
  • Safer to make than typical “cream butter and sugar” recipes; and
  • Stay fresh and moist for 4 days (minimum).

Sydneysiders may be interested to know that these Vanilla Cupcakes are just like the cupcakes at My Little Cupcake in Neutral Bay, a hidden gem with a cult following which (10 years on) I still say trumps the famous Magnolia Bakery in New York. Ballsy! Call me on it – try these cupcakes! 😂

Vanilla Cupcakes with colourful buttercream frosting
Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

Freshness evidence!

Here’s my attempt to show you how these cupcakes stay incredibly fresh. The cupcake below is 4 days old. If it was dry and stale, the crumb would not bounce back like it does, it would just tear and stay indented.

And if it was dense, I would not be able to prod it at all!

Showing how these vanilla cupcakes stay fresh

This recipe uses classic cupcake ingredients but with Japanese techniques applied for the softest, plushest cupcakes you’ll ever make!

This post goes into detail on the steps to give bakers of all levels the confidence they need to make this. If you’re an experienced baker, you may wish to skip ahead to the recipe or recipe video. (Or Dozer 😂)


What you need for these magical Vanilla Cupcakes 

Here’s what you need for these Vanilla Cupcakes. Everyday pantry ingredients! Don’t waste your money on cake flour – these work better with plain/all purpose flour!

Vanilla Cupcakes ingredients

  • Plain flour (aka all purpose flour) – there’s a widely held misconception that cake flour is the secret to tender, fluffy cupcakes. This is simply not true. These cupcakes actually come out better using plain flour rather than cake flour. You can taste the vanilla and butter slightly better, the crumb is slightly more velvety AND it keeps ever so slightly better too. Cake flour works very nearly as well so if that’s all you’ve got, it can be used. Do not substitute with self raising flour or gluten free flour;
  • Eggs at room temperature, not fridge cold – whipped to aerate, these are key to make the cake extraordinarily light and fluffy. You don’t get an eggy flavour. It’s important for the eggs to be at room temperature as they whip better;
  • Baking powder – not baking soda (bi-carb), it doesn’t rise as well. This is our safety net, extra helping hand to make the cake rise;
  • Milk, full fat – just plain cow milk. Low fat works as well but rises marginally less. Do not substitute with non dairy milk or buttermilk;
  • Sugar – best to use caster / superfine sugar if you can because it dissolves better in the eggs. But regular / granulated sugar works just fine too – you may just end up with slightly more (tiny!) speckling on the surface (from residual undissolved sugar grains. Barely visible to ordinary people – I’m just particular!
  • Oil – just 1 1/2 teaspoons adds a noticeable hint of extra moistness, especially on Day 4, without weighing down the cupcake in the slightest; and
  • Vanilla extract  – the best you can afford. Imitation will work just fine, but the flavour isn’t as pure or real. I use Queen Vanilla Extract. Don’t waste your money on vanilla beans or vanilla bean paste – it’s not worth it for cupcakes.
Showing the inside of moist Vanilla cupcakes with vanilla cupcake frosting
Vanilla Cupcakes with my secret Fluffy Vanilla Frosting (less sweet, stable for days!)

How to make Vanilla Cupcakes

This cupcake recipe is straightforward and is in fact less risky to make than the typical recipe that starts with “cream butter and sugar….”. That single step is open to wide interpretation and is the single biggest cause of baking fails – especially cupcakes. The smaller the cake, the more prone to errors… but not with this recipe!

Beat eggs until fluffy

How to make Vanilla cupcakes

1. Use a handheld beater instead of a stand mixer – for small batch batters like this, it comes together better using a handheld beater you can move around the bowl rather than a large stand mixer bowl. If using a stand mixer, you’ll need to scrape down the sides and base well to ensure the batter comes together evenly. There is no excess batter in this recipe!

2. Whip the eggs and sugar – Beat the eggs with sugar for a whole 7 minutes until thick and glossy, it changes from yellow to white, and tripled in volume (just over double depth in the bowl).

The aeration created during this step is key for a soft, fluffy crumb. This is a technique borrowed from Japanese sponge cakes, world renowned for being the fluffiest in the world!

Here’s what it looks like before and after beating:

How to make Vanilla cupcakes

Top Tip: Don’t knock the air out

After the egg has been whipped, keep beating to a minimum otherwise you’ll knock the air out. Just follow my time and beater speeds and you can’t go wrong!


Gently fold in dry ingredients

How to make Vanilla cupcakes

3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

4. Gradually add the flour mixture into the egg mixture in 3 lots, mixing for just 5 seconds on Speed 1 in between. This should make the flour just incorporated – don’t worry if there are some streaks on the bowl not mixed in. Key here is minimum mixing!


Whisk together some batter with hot milk (tempering)

How to make Vanilla cupcakes

5. Melt butter and heat milk – use a microwave or stove to heat milk with the butter until it melts. HOT milk helps with rise for these cupcakes – I was dubious so I tried the Vanilla Cake with cooled melted butter in milk and found it did not rise as well.

6. Mix some batter into hot milk (tempering) – this serves two purposes: a) bring down the temperature of the hot milk so it won’t “cook” the eggs (ie. tempering); and b) it lightens up the density of the hot milk (see above – it becomes foamy) so it blends together faster when added to the rest of the whipped egg mixture. Remember, minimal beating is key so we don’t knock out the cake-rising-bubbles we created in Step 2.


Finish batter & fill cupcake liners

How to make Vanilla cupcakes

7. Slowly pour milk mixture back into whipped eggs over 15 seconds while beating on the lowest speed. Scrape down sides of bowl, then mix for 10 seconds  – the batter should now be smooth;

8. Fill cupcake liners with batter – I find the easiest way to do this is with an ice cream scoop with a lever. The standard size is 1/4 cup which is actually the perfect quantity for cupcakes!

KEY TIP: Do not overfill!

Only fill 2/3 to 3/4 of the way up the cupcake liner for a perfect shaped cupcake with a sweet golden dome. Too full = unsightly overflow and sometimes, it can even sink 😩. It is better to UNDER fill rather than overfill.

Why can overfilling make cupcakes sink? Because the sponge gets support from the liner – it climbs up the paper as it rises. Once it reaches the top, overflows or rises above the cupcake liner, it no longer has the support and this can cause the middle to sink.

How much batter to put in cupcakes


Bake 22 minutes

How to make Vanilla cupcakes

11. Bake 22 minutes until golden and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.

12. Remove after 2 minutes  – Rest for just 2 minutes to let them cool slightly, then get them out of the muffin tin asap otherwise they will continue cooking and may overcook. Cupcakes are small – they overcook easily!

Vanilla Cupcakes in muffin tin, fresh out of the oven

This is what your cupcakes will look like – beautifully golden with a sweet little dome. Not too rounded – flat enough for tall swirls of frosting to sit. But not too flat – so it looks pretty even just dusted with icing sugar (powdered sugar) or drizzled with a glaze.

The Perfect Vanilla Cupcake

Best frosting for cupcakes

The best frosting for cupcakes comes down to personal taste and, more often than not, storage, shelf life and transport logistics.

There’s a wide variety of frostings pictured throughout this post – I’ve noted the frosting used in the caption under each photo. My frosting library is currently sadly lacking (I’m working on it!) but here’s a few options for you:

  • Vanilla Buttercream – the classic and easiest of all whipped butter based frostings. Use the recipe in my Vanilla Cake (recipe will frost 12 cupcakes with tall swirls, or 24 frosted with a knife like the pastel coloured cupcakes at the top of this post);
  • My Secret Less-Sweet Fluffy Vanilla Frosting (below) – far less sweet and rich than buttercream, pipes like a dream, and 100% smooth. It’s like a really fluffy buttercream / dense whipped cream But unlike whipped cream which deflates in the fridge within hours, this Fluffy Frosting  holds its form for days!
  • Swiss Meringue Buttercream – many people consider this the superior version of traditional buttercream. Made using cooked egg whites whipped into a meringue, this is more technical to make than classic buttercream and yields a thick-yet-light silky smooth frosting that’s suitable for piping as high as you want, and holds its form for days. I haven’t shared a recipe yet but have used this recipe by a website called Sugar Spun Run in the picture below.
Piping Fluffy Vanilla Frosting onto Vanilla Cupcakes
My secret Less-Sweet Fluffy Vanilla Frosting

 

Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Swiss Meringue
Vanilla Cupcakes frosted with Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Best way to store cupcakes

Being the little cakes that they are, cupcakes are prone to easily drying out if not stored correctly.

  • Airtight container, stat! Don’t leave cupcakes out on the cooling rack longer than necessary. Once cool, get them in an airtight container as soon as possible;
  • Mild weather: Naked cupcakes are best stored on the counter rather than in the fridge – at 25C/77F (highest temp), my cupcakes last for 4 days without loss of freshness. Use a cake dome with heavy glass lid (to ensure no air gets in) or an airtight container;
  • Hot weather: Any hotter, store in the fridge in an airtight container BUT ensure you bring to room temperature before serving (naked cupcakes will take 30 minutes to come to room temp). The butter in the cupcakes firms up in the fridge, so cold cupcakes seem dry. Also, cold cakes just aren’t very pleasant!
  • Freeze as follows: place sheet of baking/parchment paper on cupcakes, then wrap in cling wrap or place in single layer in ziplock bags. With paper in between, you can stack. Place in an airtight container (for extra security / avoid freezer smells) then freeze. To use, thaw in the fridge overnight (still in container) then bring to room temperature before serving;
  • Iced / frosted cupcakes need to be stored the way the frosting needs to be stored. Most butter, cream cheese and cream based frostings need to be refrigerated. Follow the storage directions on the recipe you use. Then take cupcakes out of the fridge before serving;
  • No direct contact with cling wrap: Do not cover naked cupcakes with clingwrap – the surface will get tacky on Day 2 and the cling wrap will stick so when you take it off, it rips the surface off 😩; and
  • Do not stack naked cupcakes on top of each other – for same reason as above.

Photo showing how to store Vanilla Cupcakes

TIPS to nail the cupcakes – Every. Single. Time!

1. Read the recipe from start to finish before you start. You can shortcut reading for my quick ‘n easy dinners, but for baking, read first then start!

2. Follow the recipe steps in the order listed – don’t get sassy and try to do things ahead or leave things until later. For example, if you melt the butter and heat the milk way in advance and it’s too cool by the time you use it, the cupcakes won’t rise as well;

3. Once you start, don’t stop until the cupcakes are in the oven – this is because the batter in this recipe relies on the aeration of whipped eggs. If you leave the batter lying around, the bubbles will deflate and your cupcakes won’t rise as much as they should (they will still rise from the baking powder, just not as much). So if your chatty Aunt Marge calls while you’re mixing the batter, let it go to voicemail!

4. Make sure your baking powder is still good – if you do everything right and the batter looks like it does in my video, but your cupcakes don’t rise, the culprit is probably your baking powder. Even if it’s not past the expiry date, if not stored in a cool dry place, or if “someone” left the lid off for days, it can lose rising power. To check if your baking powder is still good, place 1/2 teaspoon in a bowl and pour over boiling water. It should immediately bubble energetically. If not, it’s dead – chuck it!

5. Handheld beater instead of stand mixer  – While for Vanilla Cake, I recommend using a stand mixer for ease, for these cupcakes, it’s the other way round. With this smaller batch batter, it’s easier to make using a handheld beater because the ability to move the beater around the bowl makes the batter come together easily with less bowl scraping.

However, you can use a stand mixer if you prefer. Just be sure to regularly stop and scrape down the sides AND base of the bowl using a rubber spatula. There’s no spare batter when only making 12 cupcakes!

6. Eggs at room temperature  – these will fluff better and faster, leading to fluffier cupcakes. It’s easy to warm up fridge cold eggs – just leave in warm water for 5 minutes. What’s a room temperature egg? Pick up the egg. Fridge cold? Too cold. Cool but not cold? That’s ok. Very warm? Hopefully not – unless they just came out of a chicken! 

7. De-chill icy cold mixing bowls – run them under warm tap water then dry before using. Not hot tap water – just warm. Why? Eggs aerate faster and better when slightly warm. Cold bowl will lower temperature of eggs. This is a general useful baking tip to apply on days when it’s 17°C – eg softened butter creamed in an icy cold bowl will make it firm up; and

8. Don’t substitute ingredients unless I specifically say you can in the recipe notes. Regular readers know that I’m very flexible with most of my savoury meals. But with baking, I get stern – because I want your cupcakes to work!

Birthday Vanilla cupcakes with sprinkles, ready to be served
Vanilla Cupcakes with my secret Less-Sweet Fluffy Vanilla Frosting

Vanilla Cupcakes – Recap!

PHEW! That is a LOT of information for these seemingly innocent looking little cupcakes! So just to recap the key points:

  • This recipe yields cupcakes with a professional bakery-style crumb that are more tender, fluffy and moist than your usual recipes;
  • This is done by applying Japanese baking techniques to typical Western cupcake ingredients;
  • The cupcakes stay fresh and moist for 4 days which is an exceptional shelf life for cupcakes;
  • Check to ensure your baking powder is still good (see recipe Note 2);
  • Follow the recipe steps in the order listed, do not jump around;
  • Once you start making the batter, do not stop until the cupcakes are in the oven; and
  • Most importantly, figure out how you’re going to deliver a freshly made cupcake to me. I’m done with cupcakes for a while. Someone make them for ME!😜

Especially for those who have been in pursuit of the perfect cupcakes all their lives, I hope you try, love and treasure this recipe as much as I do. For me, the biggest upside is that they’re still like freshly made on Day 4. Because every single other recipe I’ve tried were always disappointingly stale the next day. – Nagi x


Watch how to make it

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Vanilla Cupcakes – stays moist 4 days!!

Servings12

Tap or hover to scale

Recipe video above. Your search for the perfect Vanilla Cupcakes is over! These have a professional bakery-style crumb that’s way more plush and velvety than typical recipes. And very importantly, these stay perfectly fresh for 4 days – unheard of!While for Vanilla Cake, I prefer using a standmixer, for these cupcakes, I find it’s easier to use a handheld beater – see notes for why.Metric – click button above ingredients. Sweetness – Note 11. Cake flour – no need, better with plain flour. See Notes for four key things to guarantee success.

Instructions

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F (160°C fan) for 20 minutes before starting the batter (Note 8). Place shelf in the middle of the oven.

  • Place cupcake liners in a standard muffin tin. (Note 9)

Cupcake Batter:

  • Whisk Dry: Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

  • Heat Milk-Butter: Place butter and milk in a heatproof jug and microwave 2 minutes on high to melt butter. Do not let milk bubble and boil (foam ok). Cover and leave in microwave to keep very warm (stove: cover with lid and leave on turned off stove). (Note 10)

  • Briefly mix eggs: In a separate, preferably heavy based glass bowl, beat eggs for 30 seconds on speed 6 of a handheld beater.

  • Add sugar: With the beater still going, pour the sugar in over 30 seconds.

  • Beat until tripled: Beat eggs for 6 minutes on speed 8, or until tripled in volume and almost pure white.

  • Gently add flour: When the egg is whipped, scatter 1/3 flour across surface, then beat on Speed 1 for 5 seconds. Stop beating, add half remaining flour, then mix on Speed 1 for 5 sec. Add remaining flour, then mix on Speed 1 for 5 – 10 sec until the flour is just mixed in. Once you can’t see flour, stop straight away.

  • Temper milk with some Egg Batter: Pour hot milk, vanilla and oil into the now empty flour bowl. Add about 3/4 cups of the Egg Batter into the hot milk (don’t need to be 100% accurate with amount). Use a whisk to mix until smooth – you can be vigorous here. Will look foamy.

  • Slowly add milk: With the beater on Speed 1, pour the Milk mixture into the Egg Batter over 15 seconds, then turn beater off.

  • Scrape and final mix: Scrape down sides and base of bowl. Beat on Speed 1 for 10 seconds – batter should now be smooth and pourable.

Bake:

  • Fill muffin tin: Pour batter into muffin tin, filling to 8mm / 1/3 from the top. Easiest to use a standard ice cream scoop with lever (filled to very brim).

  • Bake 22 minutes or until golden and toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean.

Cool & frost:

  • Remove from oven. Cool just 2 minutes then use a fork to help remove and place on cooling rack.

  • Cool completely before icing with frosting of choice, or cream and fresh berries or jam.

Frostings

  • See list of ideas in post and links to recipes! Pictured in post with the following:– my Secret Less-Sweet Fluffy Vanilla Frosting;– Vanilla Buttercream (in my Vanilla Cake recipe) – makes enough for 12 x tall swirls (pictured in post) or 24 knife-smeared (3rd photo in post)– Chocolate and Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream (coming in a couple of weeks!)

Recipe Notes:

To ensure success:

  • read recipe from start to finish before starting;
  • make sure your baking powder is not past its expiry (see Note 2);
  • work in order of steps per recipe; and
  • once you start, keep going until it’s in the oven. Do not at any point leave batter sitting around – bubbles will subside!

RECIPE NOTES
1. Cake flour works just fine with this recipe, but butter and vanilla flavour, and crumb is ever so slightly better using plain  / all purpose flour. Also, cake flour makes the cake surface sweaty and sticky the next day.
2. Baking powder – dead baking powder is a common problem with cake fails. To ensure yours is good, even if not past expiry, place 1/2 tsp in a bowl and add 1/4 cup boiling water. If it bubbles, it’s good. It not, it’s dead – chuck it!
Baking soda (bi-carb) won’t make the cake rise quite as well. If you have no choice, then use 3/4 teaspoons of baking soda.
3. Eggs – important to be at room temp as they fluff better when whipped which is key to the fluffy texture of these cupcakes. Quick way to warm up fridge cold eggs – place in a large bowl, cover with warm tap water (just warm, not hot), leave for 5 minutes. Wipe dry (to avoid residual water dripping into bowl), then use per recipe.
Large eggs –  50 – 55g / 2 oz per egg this is the industry standard of egg sizes sold as “large eggs” in Australia and the US. If your eggs are significantly larger or smaller in size, just weigh your eggs and use 200 – 220g / 8 oz in total (including shell) or 180 – 200g / 7.3 oz in total excluding shell (crack eggs, whisk THEN pour into a bowl to measure out what you need).
4. Caster / superfine sugar are finer grains than regular / granulated sugar so it dissolves easier when whipped with the eggs. Granulated / regular sugar sometimes doesn’t fully dissolve which doesn’t affect the rise or texture but can leave some very fine brown sugar specks on the surface / sides. Not a big deal – just visual if serving undecorated. (But who serves cupcakes naked??)
Do not reduce sugar – 3/4 cup is the minimum required for the eggs to whip into a stiff enough foam to make cupcakes rise sufficiently.
5. Milk – if you sub with lower fat milk then the texture of the crumb becomes a little less tender. Do not substitute with non-dairy milk, such as soy or almond milk.
6. Vanilla come in all sorts of qualities. I use Vanilla Extract. Better quality (more expensive) = better flavour, but I think vanilla bean paste is wasted in cakes. 
7. Oil – just 1 1/2 teaspoons makes a noticeable difference to the moistness on the day it’s made and most especially 4 days later.
8. Oven preheating – 30 minutes preheat is recommended to ensure no loss of heat when the oven door is opened. Never use the rapid heat function on your oven for baking, no matter how fancy your oven is!
9. Muffin tin and cupcake liners – use cupcake liners that sit about 4mm / 1/6″ above the rim of standard muffin tin holes (1/3 cup holes). This is the perfect size to use 1/4 cup standard ice cream scoops to fill with batter, and makes perfect size cupcakes.
Recipe will also work for larger and mini cupcakes but you’ll need to adjust the bake time.
10. Milk must be hot / very warm when mixed with batter. So heat it up just before starting the batter. Don’t do this way ahead and let the milk cool (this affects rise).
11. Sweetness note – these cupcakes are sweeter than Asian cakes, less sweet than typical Western cupcakes (usually 1 cup sugar for 12 cupcakes).
Please do not reduce sugar – 1 1/2 cups is minimum required to make the eggs foamy enough to rise.
12. Different measures in different countries – tablespoon and cup sizes differ slightly from country to country. In most recipes, the difference is not enough to affect the outcome of the recipe, but for baking recipes, you do need to be careful.
These cupcakes have been specifically tested using both US and Australian cups (the two countries with the greatest size variance) and they came out exactly the same. So you can have confidence that this recipe can be used no matter which country you are in – only exception is Japan (cup sizes are considerably smaller (200ml) so please use weights provided).
For absolutely certainty, opt to use the weights provided (click Metric toggle button above ingredients). Professional kitchens only use weights.
13. Storage – because cupcakes are small, they will dry out faster than cakes if left out. So be sure to put unfrosted cupcakes into an airtight container as soon as they are fully cool.

  • Best way to store – airtight container in pantry, not fridge. Will stay near perfectly fresh for 4 days;
  • If extremely hot where you are, they will need to be refrigerated. This does dry them out a touch, but they are still excellent. Take out 30 minutes before serving to bring to room temperate before serving;
  • Frosted cupcakes must be stored according to the storage directions of the frosting – most will require refrigeration above a certain temperature or if kept for a prolonged period of time;
  • Freezer – place parchment paper on surface, then wrap in cling wrap and put in an airtight container, or place in ziplock bag. Freeze up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in fridge, bring to room temperature before serving.

14. Nutrition per cupcake. Cupcake only ie no frosting.

Nutrition Information:

Calories: 143kcal (7%)Carbohydrates: 21g (7%)Protein: 2g (4%)Fat: 5g (8%)Saturated Fat: 3g (19%)Cholesterol: 38mg (13%)Sodium: 40mg (2%)Potassium: 79mg (2%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 13g (14%)Vitamin A: 185IU (4%)Calcium: 37mg (4%)Iron: 1mg (6%)

Life of Dozer

It is a good thing that oven door is heatproof, otherwise he’d scorch his little nose!

Dozer watching cupcakes in oven





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Is There a Magical Rep Range for Hypertrophy?


Most people are somewhat familiar with the association between exercise reps ranges and their targeted effect on the body during resistance training. The heaviest load one can lift at a given weight correlates with maximal strength, while anything one can do above 20 times or more clearly signifies muscular endurance.

 

Somewhere between these two ends of the spectrum, however, lies muscular hypertrophy. Some coaches and trainers contend that ten reps are the magic number, while others believe a range of 8-12 is more accurate. So, what is it? Will I grow huge biceps if I do 4 sets of 8 or 3 sets of 12?

 

 

Quite honestly, it doesn’t matter, there is no magic window, and the answer is more complicated than one may think.

 

How Does One Gain Muscle?

While you might already be scratching your head wondering why rep ranges aren’t as big of a deal for gaining muscle as you’d previously thought, it’s important to understand how muscular hypertrophy occurs in the first place.

 

There are three main ways that one can enhance muscle protein synthesis via the mTOR pathway resulting in an increased muscle cross-sectional area.1

 

  1. The first way is through increased muscular tension, which occurs through using a heavy load while performing an exercise through a full range of motion. As a muscle spends more time under a given weight, and then the load increases, this increases the time under tension (TUT).2 Through the use of slower tempos, pauses, and increased weight, one can dramatically increase their TUT in a given exercise.
  2. The second method to increasing muscular hypertrophy is through muscular damage, most often associated with severe soreness or the delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) one feels multiple days after a hard training session.2
    This soreness occurs because of small micro-tears within the muscle fibers themselves, especially during eccentric and concentric muscle contractions. When given adequate time to recover and proper nutrition, the muscle fibers repair themselves and allow one to handle a slightly more significant stimulus the next time around.
  3. The third method with which muscular hypertrophy occurs is through metabolic stress. This stress often occurs through the use of lighter weights at a higher given rep range and is associated with the burning sensation one feels while lifting.2
    As the muscles continuously contract and relax, blood pools and muscle cell swelling occurs.1 This metabolic stress restricts blood flow and ultimately induces muscle hypoxia, which in turn, allows for the metabolites, such as lactate and hydrogen ions, to build. These metabolites induce an anabolic effect, which leads to molecular cell signaling for increased hormonal responses on the body.

 

Each of these three methods plays off of one another and should be used in a complementary fashion to yield the best training results possible.

 

What Matters

Understanding what drives muscular hypertrophy from a physiological standpoint easily explains why subscribing to an arbitrary rep range is sub-optimal for training.

 

Through the manipulation of the three previously mentioned variables, one can control the volume load they are training with, which is perhaps one of the most important considerations of all when seeking muscular hypertrophy.

 

Volume load is a simple formula that you can calculate as:

 

Sets x Reps x Load = Volume Load

Increasing volume load through a properly periodized program will ensure that more significant stimulus is being placed on the body and ultimately driving adaption.

 

 

Take, for example, the previously mentioned reps/sets count of 4 x 8 or 3 x 12. If I lifted 4 sets x 8 reps x 100 lbs, that would be 3,200 lbs versus 3 sets x 12 reps x 100 lbs, which would be 3,600 lbs.

 

My 3 x 12 would likely yield more significant results with all things being equal, such as tempo and TUT, because it’s a larger stimulus.

 

Now imagine that I did 4 sets x 8 reps x 150 lbs = 4,800 lbs, versus 3 sets x 12 reps x 120 lbs = 4,320 lbs. Theoretically, my 4 x 8 would be better for muscular hypertrophy.

 

You can see that the rep range is only one factor in the equation, meaning that increased volume load can be achieved in a variety of ways with no magic rep range genuinely existing.

 

What is interesting, however, is that somewhere in the 8-12 rep range still appears optimal for inducing muscular hypertrophy because it strikes a balance between moderate weight at a reasonably high rep range.3

 

Attempting to do 50 reps with 10 lbs will only result in a 500 lbs volume load, whereas 5 reps at 100 lbs could achieve the same result in less time.

 

Conversely, it would take 10 sets of 1 repetition at 300 lbs to reach 3,000 lbs.

 

In contrast, 3 sets of 10 repetitions at 100 lbs would equal the same volume load despite it requiring a much more extended rest period between sets for the 300 lbs single repetition sets.

 

Remember, however, that this relates to muscular hypertrophy. Volume load, while necessary for muscular strength, does not play nearly the same role as it does for gaining muscle.

 

Additionally, one can only handle so much volume before one will inadequately recover. That is another article for another day.

 

All in all, I hope that you have a greater understanding of how muscular hypertrophy occurs and how you can manipulate your training. You mustn’t get stuck in a dogmatic routine following an arbitrary rep count simply because that’s what you’ve always thought was best.

 

Doing a little research and digging for more in-depth answers is vital if you truly want to get a grasp on how training works. Thank you for reading, as always.

 

References

1. J Jones E, Bishop P, K Woods A, and Green J. “Cross-sectional area and muscular strength: a brief review.” Sports Medicine (Auckland, NZ) 38: 987-994, 2008.

2. Hornsby WG, Gentles JA, Haff GG, Stone MH, Buckner SL, Dankel SJ, Bell ZW, Abe T, and Loenneke JP. “What is the impact of muscle hypertrophy on strength and sport performance?” Strength & Conditioning Journal40: 99-111, 2018.

3. P. Loenneke J, Dankel S, Bell Z, Buckner S, Mattocks K, Jessee M, and Abe T. “Is muscle growth a mechanism for increasing strength?” Medical Hypotheses 125, 2019.



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Magical estate offers lifetime access to Crystal Castle


The house boasts 270-degree hinterland views.


A magical estate offering lifetime access to Byron Bay’s home of healing energy, Crystal Castle, is expected to attract widespread interest when it hits the market today.

A portion of the original holding known as Crystal Estate is being sold by Crystal Castle founders and owners Naren and Sono King.

The magical Crystal Estate in the Byron Hinterland is scheduled for auction on September 13 through Belle Property – Byron Bay / Lennox Head.


Crystal Castle is one of Byron Shire’s best-known tourist attractions, famous for its extensive collection of natural crystals from around the world, gardens, rainforest walks and cafe.

“They’ve adjusted the boundary so that this property still shares a backyard and its own private entrance into Crystal Castle,” said Braden Walters, principal of Belle Property – Byron Bay and Lennox Head who is running the auction campaign with Brad Rogan.

“The new owner will have lifetime access to Crystal Castle.

“Whenever you need your crystal fix you can wander into the gardens or head to the cafe for coffee, breakfast or lunch.”

Crystal Castle is home to some of the world’s largest crystals.


Buddha in gardens of Crystal Castle at Mullumbimby for advertorial
Pic From: Mish Shakti [mailto:mish@crystalcastle.com.au]

The Shambhala Gardens at Crystal Castle. Picture: Mish Shakti


It’s the first time any part of the property has been put to market in 34 years by the Kings, who have moved nearby and continue to run Crystal Castle.

Perched on an elevated section of the 17.06ha parcel, the modern four-bedroom house boasts one of the best views in the hinterland as well as 630 metres of Wilson’s Creek frontage, including a natural waterfall and swimming hole.

“There is something very special about driving up the private driveway to the top of the hill which puts you in such an elevated position,” Mr Walters said.

“Normally when you’re in a house the birds are above you, but in this house they fly by at eye level. It’s really amazing to watch.”

More from news

Millionaires’ Row mansion sale among the biggest this year
Prestige buyers trade the beach for the bush

Wilsons Creek runs through the acreage on Goonengerry Road, Montecollum.


The prime parcel at 461 Goonengerry Rd, Montecollum is 20 minutes from Byron Bay and seven minutes from the colourful village of Mullumbimby.

Mr Walters said the location and land size lends itself to a wide range of potential opportunities, including a farm stay, a retreat or additional dwellings by the creek.

“Because it’s in the tourist/accommodation zoning, you’re allowed up to 11 dwellings on the property, subject to council approval,” he said.

The house was designed by architect David Miskell.


Living an off grid, self-sustainable lifestyle also adds to the appeal, with the house completely powered by three 8.5kw solar systems with batteries.

“With the solar and the creek, you could completely isolate yourself and live off grid here,” he said.

The property is listed for auction on September 13 with a price guide of $3.5 million.



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Here come the Suns as AFL’s Magical Mystery Tour rolls on


From the start of this bizarre and unprecedented footy season, the AFL said it would need to be agile and flexible as it navigated uncharted waters and attempted to complete a meaningful premiership season.

This was never more evident than Saturday when Essendon defender Conor McKenna became the first AFL player to test positive test to COIVD-19.

But footy’s reboot has proven the fans will need to be equally adaptable to the fast-changing landscape, with on-field performances set to wildly fluctuate from one week to the next and supporters set for a roller coaster season of highs and lows.

The Lions’ coach Chris Fagan dubbed it the Magical Mystery Tour and the past two rounds have shown that footy has never been more mysterious or unpredictable.

Round three started with Hawthorn’s shock 32-point win over the reigning premier Richmond.

The Hawks, embarrassed by Geelong the week before and dismissed by experts as being too old, produced an ageless performance.

A Hawthorn AFL player kicks the ball against as he is being chased by a Richmond player at the MCG.
The Hawks executed Alastair Clarkson’s gameplan with precision.(AAP: Michael Dodge)

The return of Jaeger O’Meara and a vastly improved showing from fellow midfielders

James Worpel and Tom Mitchell had a telling influence, with the Hawks from the outset displaying superior commitment, a greater willingness to run and move the ball.

While the exceptional Isaac Smith smoothly loped and penetrated, the Tigers were fumbly and disjointed, with their typically slick ball movement blunted by a well-structured and disciplined opposition.

It was another flawless coaching display from modern great Alastair Clarkson, who presented a winning plan to his players that was perfectly executed.

James Sicily was brilliant, while late inclusion Jack Scrimshaw caught the eye.

Wearing four-time premiership defender Grant Birchall’s old number 14, Scrimshaw looks a spitting image with his neat left foot and slightly hunched running style.

Hawks fans will naturally hope the comparisons don’t end there.

While Hawthorn nailed the game plan, what on earth was GWS thinking.

The Giants were missing one of their most effective kicks Josh Kelly and lost another quality connector Lachie Whitfield to a first-quarter concussion, but their timid and indirect ball use against the Bulldogs on Friday night was perplexing.

Western Bulldogs and Giants AFL players involved in a melee on the field.
The Bulldogs and Giants were involved in more than one heated clash during the encounter.(AAP: Scott Barbour)

Despite having three imposing tall forwards — Jeremy Cameron, Harry Himmelberg and Jeremy Finlayson — and the Bulldogs relying on a relatively small back line, the Giants continually chipped sideways and backwards when a faster and more direct approach would have stretched their opponents.

Grandstand expert and former Geelong premiership captain Cameron Ling was particularly scathing.

“Their ball movement is baffling,” he said.

“When you’ve got so much talent in the team… you’re not going to kick a winning score playing like that.”

As for the rivalry, there’s nothing contrived when it comes to the hatred between the Dogs and Giants.

I loved the theatre of the Friday fireworks but Greater Western Sydney was guilty of overplaying it.

Sending Nick Haynes to the coin toss to get in the face of Bulldogs’ captain Marcus Bontempelli wreaked of a side that was over stimulated and lacking focus.

The Bulldogs didn’t shy away from the physical nature of the contest — the constant push and shove throughout the night, or the all-in melee at three-quarter time that looked more at home in a bygone era — but Luke Beveridge’s side also maintained a more hard-nosed attack on the ball and ultimately won the most important fight — for the four points.

In their opening two games of the season the Dogs looked listless, but this was a tremendous display of slick-handed, high intensity footy.

On return from injury, Tom Liberatore was a key protagonist hunting the ball and opposition with ferocity. If the midfield can start to better connect with the side’s struggling forward line, the 2016 premiers might yet give their fans some joy in 2020.

The Mystery Tour’s most magical performance came on Saturday night as Eddie Betts in his big blue shorts put a big wide grin on the faces of fans and his teammates.

The Blues’ first win over Geelong at Kardinia Park since 1996 was the shock of the round.

An AFL player gets patted on the head and back by teammates after his goal.
Carlton turned in the shock of the round by beating Geelong at Kardinia Park.(AAP: Dylan Burns)

Finally, Carlton arrived on time and played with conviction from the first bounce.

The typically slow starters booted five goals to one in the opening term and led by as much as seven goals before Geelong’s ultimately futile fightback.

The best of Betts is behind him, but the 33 year old’s capacity to make defenders nervous, his clean ball handling, game awareness and freakish skill gave the Blues a spark that’s been missing in recent seasons.

The XL shorts will be flying off the shelves of the Carlton shop if Eddie’s electrifying antics continue.

To underline the unconventional nature of the season, 2019 wooden-spooners Gold Coast won again and it wasn’t the least bit surprising.

After breaking a 19-game losing streak last week with a convincing win over West Coast, The Suns claimed their first ever victory over Adelaide.

And they didn’t just beat the Crows, they slaughtered them.

A red-headed AFL footballer kicks the ball flor a long goal for his team as defenders watch on.
Matt Rowell produced another big performance as the Suns dismissed the Crows at Carrara.(AAP: Dave Hunt)

Stuart Dew’s once-ridiculed side is no longer an easy kill and has transformed itself into a well-drilled, high-pressure unit.

The success starved club is consumed by an insatiable hunger and inspired by a newfound spirit.

Hugh Greenwood’s powerful second-quarter clearance that set up Matt Rowell’s magnificent running left-foot goal was a jaw-dropping passage of play that typified the reinvigorated line-up.

To the Suns, Rowell is the brilliance of John Lennon and Paul McCartney combined as he fronts an exciting young group with its star on the rise.

In the Magical Mystery Tour, here come the Suns.



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