Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bake me a cake as fast as you can...

The Bank Holiday weekend is almost upon us and cake tins up and down the country are being greased up in preparation.

If you've already had your fill of Victoria Sponge (greedy!) and are looking for a fresh idea to enter our Cake Competition (or any Cake Competition in fact) then why not try one of these divine recipes, rounded up from some of my favourite foodie blogs. All of them are winners in my opinion!

OK so it's technically a pie and cake combo but really who cares? I'm not a purist when it comes to baked goods. This Salted Caramel Cheesecake Pie looks and sounds absolutely mouthwatering and will surely wipe the floor with the competition. This recipe is by Joy the Baker and you can find it here.

Image from Joy the Baker

If fresh fruit is more your bag, why not take advantage of the British Strawberry season with this Strawberry Chiffon Shortcake from the Smitten Kitchen? The light and airy layers of chiffon, whipped cream and strawberries look divine. Step forward and seize first prize! You can find the recipe here.

Image from the Smitten Kitchen.

How juicy and refreshing do these Lemon Meringue cupcakes, baked by Emily Schuman of Cupcakes and Cashmere look (and is that a green milk glass cake stand I spy? Give it 'ere!). The recipe is by Martha Stewart and involves the use of a mini kitchen blow torch (seeing as I've now fulfilled one of my all time life ambitions by piping icing out of a bag, perhaps utilising one of these could take it's place? I do have a Birthday coming up after all...) You can find the recipe here.

And what am I baking for Monday's Cake Competition I hear you ask? Wouldn't you like to know. I would also like to know but sadly I haven't decided yet, I'll let you know when I do.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Competition Time!

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was involved in organising a street party taking place in the road next to ours on Monday 4th June in honour of the Queens Diamond Jubilee. If you missed out on this exciting announcement at the time you can catch up here. We're in the final stages of planning now and everything is coming together brilliantly.

I have been helping organise a cake competition and I'm now very pleased to be able to share the details!

I'll be manning the cake table all day and will also be selling tickets for our awesome tombola - prizes include tickets and gift vouchers donated by many of our local businesses. Proceeds of the tombola will be donated to the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust.

Many thanks to The Pottery Cafe who have donated this fabulous Emma Bridgewater Jubilee Mug which will make a grand first prize for the Cake Competition.

Image via Reuters.

The Pottery Cafe on the Northcote road is a bright and airy space where you can paint your own beautiful Emma Bridgewater pottery whilst enjoying a spot of tea and cake. They cater to adults, children and can also accommodate parties. Emma Bridgewater designs have a lovely country farmhouse feel about them and are instantly recognisable. This beautiful mug will be a lovely memento of your victory for years to come! You can visit the Emma Bridgewater website here.

Exciting details of other prizes up for grabs in the Cake Competition to follow.

Monday, May 28, 2012

What's Occurring?

It was a cool 32 degrees in London yesterday. Not the best weekend to be slaving over a hot oven but it had to be done! Here is a little sneaky peek at the results. Although we enjoyed tucking into these luscious cupcakes it was actually the photos that I needed for a little project I'm hoping to debut later in the week (which may or may not also have something to do with a 25kg sack of organic flour which was delivered to my front door this morning).

I can't wait to share!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Milk Glass

Whilst perusing the Primrose Bakery website a little while ago these green cake stands caught my eye. I was struck by the minty cool colour of the glass and the way it popped against the pale pink cake. I vowed to keep my eye out for just such an item when I'm next perusing in an out of town antique shop.

Images from the Primrose Bakery.

A couple of weeks later I was browsing in Liberty when I found myself on the fourth floor. This is now home to lifestyle brand RE offering 'raRE, REmarkable, REcycled, REscued and REstored homewares and accessories'. They also have a little shop in Corbridge, Northumberland and you can visit their website here.

RE specialise in selling all my favourite things - vintage cake tins, blancmange moulds, little hand made brushes for sweeping up, painted glassware, candles that look like pieces of cake, antique furniture and all kinds of other aesthetically pleasing items. And what did I spy winking at me from across the room?

Images from Re-Found Objects

When I visited they had a beautiful jade green cake stand, pitcher, lemon squeezer and tumbler. The glass is really heavy, chunky and beautifully moulded. Is there a word for when something just feels really satisfying in your hands? Sadly all the items came with a rather heavy price tag too so I was forced to leave them behind.

A moments Internet research informed me that this is actually thing. It's called Milk Glass and is made in the USA. You don't seem to be able to get it over here very easily at all and I cannot stop thinking about it. I want it all, immediately, bearing my cakes aloft and adorning my kitchen mantelpiece.

Ebay provided the usual catch 22 - either buy it cheaply from an American seller and pay through the nose to have it shipped over or pay through the nose straight up in England. If any of my comrades living out of town (you know who you are) should chance upon any milk glass in your local Princess Alice Hospice please do snap it up for me and I will reimburse you in the fullness of time.

It's not just in green either, you can also get it in milkshake pink!


 Images fromRe-found Objects

 Image via Pinterest

And white!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Horray for Summer!

Citizens of Clapham! Did you know that The Pepper Tree do an offer from Monday to Thursday whereby you can get a Thai curry with rice plus a cinema ticket for the Picturehouse  for £13.50? That's either a practically free meal or a practically free cinema ticket depending on how you look at it. Ciaran and I dropped in last night with our buddies Graham & Sarah from the flat downstairs - I went for the super spicy and nose hair burning Pepper Tree curry, delectable. We went to see the new Avengers film, I have never grown out of superheros. They'll be some sore heads this morning - the common was still pretty packed when we walked home at midnight - first day of summer eh?

These jolly ice creams were enjoyed in Beaumaris during our trip to Anglesea.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Hannah Couper Photography

Aren't these photos beautiful? They're taken by the gorgeous and very talented Hannah Couper. You can see more of her work here and read about it on her blog here. We're very excited to have her as our photographer for our wedding next April!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ynys Llanddwyn

Summer has just arrived in London like a bolt from the blue. Before my thoughts turn to Pimms and watermelons I thought I would share a few dark and moody photos from our recent trip to Wales. We spent a few days in the Isle of Anglesea and whilst we were there visited the isle of Ynys Llanddwyn. Ynys Llanddwyn means 'The Church of St.Dwynwen'. The ruins in the photos above are of a little chapel built in the 16th century on the site of the original Church of St.Dwynwen. Dwynwen lived in the 5th century AD and is the Welsh patron saint of lovers. A Google images search of Ynys Llanddwyn yeilded many pictures of women posing atop the landmarks of the island bearing their breasts, not sure if the two things are related?!

This was a bracing blustery day and we were sure the clouds would erupt and we would get rained on but we were lucky. We walked all along Newborough beach and out to the farthest point on the Island to eat our roast lamb sandwiches (when in Wales...)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Almond & Rose Sugar Shortbread

Happy Friday! Here is my last recipe of the week! This Almond and Rose Sugar shortbread is crumbly and buttery and fragrant.

I made the rose petal infused sugar by combining a few spoonfulls of pink rosepetals (I get mine here) with some organic golden caster sugar and storing in a kilner jar for a few weeks. Give it a gentle shake every few days and you'll soon have some lovely sugar infused with the delicate scent of roses!

100g Butter (this must be fridge cold and cut up into small cubes)
100g Plain white flour
60g Rose infused caster sugar (plus more for dusting)
100g Ground almonds
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Almond essence
Whole almonds to decorate

Pre-heat oven to 160c.

Place the butter in a mixing bowl and sift in the flour, ground almonds, caster sugar and salt. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles breadcrumbs then sprinkle over almond essence. Start to form the mixture into a ball - it should come together into a nice soft dough. Press into a round cake tin of your choice (the smaller the tin, the thicker the shortbread pieces will be. I used a 6'' round tin) and mark with a knife where you will make your cuts. I cut the almonds in half and pressed them into the surface and also made a crimply border with my finger. Pop them into the oven for about 20 mins until toasty and golden around the edges. Let them cool in the tin for approx 10 minutes before cutting into wedges and turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Victoria Sponge

Next up is this juicy Victoria Sponge. As well as spreading a generous layer of my home made strawberry jam in the middle I heaped on some creme fraiche followed by fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. The sun even made a brief appearance and stayed out just long enough to enjoy a slice!

Victoria Sponge

110g Butter (softened)
110g Golden caster sugar
110g Flour
1 tsp Baking powder
2 Large eggs beaten
1 tsp Vanilla essence
Strawberry Jam
Creme fraiche
Selection of delicious berries
Icing sugar for dusting

Cream the butter until light and fluffy then beat in the sugar. Beat in  the eggs and vanilla a tiny bit at a time, lest they curdle (if they do just add a couple of tablespoons of the flour to bring the mixture back into line). Sift the flour and baking powder into the mixing bowl then fold in gently with a metal spoon. Divide the mixture between your two tins and pop in the oven for about 25 minutes.

When ready let them cool down a little in their tins before turning out onto a wire rack. Once the sponges are completely cool slather the bottom layer with the jam followed by the creme fraiche followed by the berries. Ceremoniously place the second sponge on top and give it a little dusting of icing sugar. Enjoy!