Sunday, March 31, 2013

Feeding the wedding cakes...


The Wedding cakes are coming along nicely! I've been administering a weekly dose of brandy -  they're soaking it up and smelling wonderful!




In the past I have always fed my fruit cakes with brandy the traditional way - by making holes in the cake with a skewer before using a teaspoon to drip the brandy in. What usually happens is that the brandy runs across the surface of the cake making it soggy and doesn't really penetrate right through to the middle. Using a hypodermic needle means I can squirt the brandy right into the core of the cake! I was a bit squeamish of the needle at first but I soon got used to it - now it seems like the most natural thing in the world!

Monday, March 25, 2013

My Wild Weekend!


Last week was pretty quiet on the blogging front so I'm making it up to you on this freezing cold Monday afternoon with a fantastic set of photos snapped by the wonderful and talented Hannah Couper! These were taken at my hen party earlier in the month! I was such a pleasure to have all my best girlfriends together in one place and I'll never forgot how much effort everyone had put in to make it so special!

My two oldest friends, Celina and Anna were in charge and I was kept entirely in the dark! They rented an enormous house in the countryside in Kent, invited my girlfriends and organised the most fun filled, hilarious weekend imaginable! Everyone had contributed something and we had games, delicious food and plenty of booze!






Ciara and Maddi kicked things off with some fun and silly games to break the ice and help everyone shake off their inhibitions (though I'm not sure we had many to start with!). The game we're playing above is called Bungalow and was perfect! To play, stand in a circle and start making a rhythm with your hands and feet like this: stamp stamp clap clap stamp stamp clap clap. Once everyone has the rhythm going, one person starts a chant over the top that gets passed around the circle like this....

Hey Anna! (or whoever)

Yeeeah?

Let me see your bungalow! Hey Anna!

Yeeeah?

Let me see your bungalow!

Then Anna replies...

My hands are high my hands are low and this is how I bungalow!

Then Anna (or whoevers turn it is) busts out her funniest and best dance move and performs it in the centre before everyone joins in. Anna then takes up the chant and passes it onto the next person!

This game is so simple but so hilarious - we had the Bungalow tune in our heads all weekend.


One of my good friends is currently working over in Africa for Actionaid. I was so touched that not only did she wait up late to be able to call me during the party but sent 6 x bottles of fizz to help fuel the mayhem in her stead!


 I can't actually remember what had just happened here.










We shared lots of stories and secrets!




On Saturday morning we all woke up feeling more than a little worse for wear. We pulled on wellies and walked to a country pub for fish & chips and a hair of the dog. When we came home we were desperate for a cup of tea - Anna had made a delicious red velvet cake and Celina had baked brownies! Mmmmmm perfect! A cup of tea, a chocolate brownie and forty winks on the sofa. I had just about nodded off when there was a knock at the window behind me...

  








They had only gone and hired sumo suits! I can't describe how much fun this was - for a start, the suits are so heavy that it's a challenge just standing up in them. As soon as you have your balance and are ready to wrestle your way to victory, you start laughing and all your strength suddenly disappears! We played until we were covered in mud and it was starting to get dark. Then it was time for...





Jess had brought along home made playdough especially for this game and I'm sure you can guess what we're making....




This game was brilliant fun! We split into teams of three - each team had 20 loo rolls and 10 minutes to make the best wedding dress! My team won - my sis Flo is in the photo above, modelling our boho creation!











More games, more fizz, more drinks and the most amazing Moroccan feast - whipped up by Kate and Lauren. Thank you so much you wonderful girls! I will remember this weekend for as long as I live.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Daffydowndillies...


These daffodils are just about the brightest thing I've seen so far this month. This Winter seemed to drag on forever and now it looks like the April showers have come early! Nevertheless the sun is climbing a little higher in the sky every day and we get the most amazing light just before it's about to rain, when the sun is burning brightly behind the rain  clouds - everything looks sort of orange and you just know the heavens are about to open.

It reminds me of the saying En avril, ne te découvre pas d'un fil (in April do not remove a thread) - I'll be staying toasty in my woolly jumpers and warm socks until the sun raises it's head for real in the merry month of May!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Aprons at the ready...


I absolutely love a good fruit cake and am slightly obsessed with the Rachel Allen recipe that I have been using for our Christmas cake the last couple of years (you can check out the blog posts here and here and buy the recipe book here!). It seemed only fitting to have this much beloved cake as our Wedding cake and of course I wanted to make it myself! I love the tradition of keeping the top tier (or top and middle in our case) for either your anniversary, Christening of your first child or any other event or non event that you wish to celebrate! That's the beauty of fruit cake, once it's sealed up in marzipan and icing it can just hang out, for years if need be and still be as delicious as the day you baked it. This also means that you can make the cakes weeks in advance (about 6 is ideal) which is handy because let me tell you, as the big day draws closer your time becomes more and more precious and the last thing you want to be doing the night before your wedding is staring nervously through the oven door and praying that your sponges rise! 

Yummy homemade candied peel!
Cake tins at the ready!
I decided to bake my 8, 10 and 12 inch round cake tiers all on the same day! I knew this would be a big challenge so wanted to be as well prepared as possible. We've all had those frenzied baking moments where the air is filled with flour and you seem to be using every spoon and bowl in the house! In order to pull off these three cakes with the desired aplomb, I knew my kitchen would have to be an oasis of calm. I used this as an excuse to give my baking cupboard a good Spring clean - emptying, cleaning and re-arranging my cupboards. I now have an entire cupboard dedicated to baking with my sugar craft tools, icing nozzles, food colourings and other cake decorating paraphernalia on one side and my flours, sugars and other ingredients on the other. I also did a Delia and measured out the ingredients for all three cakes individually into little bowls - this meant that I wasn't constantly having to wash up the scales, switching back and fourth between flour, butter and sugar. I hired the cake tins from Blue Ribbons - they cost £3 each for two days of hire. They were lovely and solid and a real pleasure to use! The Blue Ribbons staff are also very helpful - not only do they stock everything under the sun related to cake making and decorating, they're always very friendly and happy to give advice.

Lots and lots of butter!


The whole day ran remarkably smoothly and I'm now the proud owner of three perfect little fruit cakes! The next step is to carefully feed them with brandy over the next (gulp) three weeks so that they're extra moist and juicy! Watch this space!