26 June 2013

Glastonbury Prep


This will probably be my last post for a few days as tomorrow I'm off to my third Glastonbury Festival.

I am very excited.

I've just finished my packing. The weather is looking good. There's a chance of some showers but it's not looking like anything that'll cause too much in the way of ridiculous mud and it's always an advantage to avoid the blazing hot sunshine. I'm still taking my wellies along though; you never can trust these forecasters!


Today I got my eyelash extensions done again. It's been a while but I thought it would make my life easier what with Glasto and Vegas coming up. And I do love them!


I am actually going to attempt to do a couple of blog posts via my phone but you never know how good the reception is going to be at Glastonbury...I probably won't even be able to send a text! So it all depends on that. Either way, there will be a couple of fun-filled festival posts here next week!

Have a great few days y'all!

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24 June 2013

Strawberry Shortcakes


Wimbledon has begun and strawberry season is upon us. This year is expected to be a vintage one with growers reporting fruits bigger, sweeter and juicier than ever. Today I witnessed this myself at Marks and Spencer; shelves and shelves of large luscious strawberries, ready to be smothered in cream and demolished.

But if you want to do something a bit different, this gorgeous summer dessert could be one to try. And these shortcakes look so pretty too!


For 6 shortcakes, you will need:
200g butter
100g caster sugar
Pinch salt
1 egg yolk
260g plain flour

500g fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
2 tbsp strawberry jam
560ml double or whipped cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

80g dark chocolate
80g white chocolate
A little icing sugar

1. Chop the butter up into cubes and place in a mixing bowl with the caster sugar and salt.
Mix with a metal spoon until just soft.

2. Add the egg yolk, sift in the flour and mix to a stiff dough - first with a spoon then bringing it together with your hands. Do not over work.

3. Remove dough from bowl, wrap in clingfilm then gently roll quite flat. This makes it easier to roll it out properly after it's been chilled. Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.


4. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan assisted/Gas Mark 5. Line a tray with baking paper.

5. Roll out the dough so it's about 6mm thick. Do this as quickly as possible as the butter warms up quickly making it difficult to handle.

6. Using a cutter, cut 12 discs (around 7cm across) and carefully move each one to the baking sheet. 


7. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until lightly coloured. Remove from oven and leave to cool on the sheet - do not attempt to move them as they will easily break when warm.

8. Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave (about 1 minute). Dip in a few of the strawberries and leave to dry. Repeat with the white chocolate.

9. Add the vanilla to the cream and whip to soft peaks.

10. Place one disc on a plate and arrange 3 equal-sized strawberries (all cut to the same height) on top with a little jam and a blob of the whipped cream in the centre. Top with the second disc and sprinkle with icing sugar. Add another blob of cream and arrange the chocolate dipped strawberries on top as required.


And then enjoy! 

These babies are fabulous served with ice cream, strawberry sauce, crème fraîche or just good old-fashioned single cream.


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23 June 2013

A Party and A Cake Success


I'm pleased and very relieved to say that my cake made it up to Cambridge intact and it was a real success! Lisa and Gareth were really thrilled with it as were their friends and family.  

Hurrah!


A few people asked me if I feel strange seeing all that hard work being cut up into pieces. Not at all! It's actually interesting for me to be able to see the inside of the cake: how equal the layers are, whether the sponge was cooked properly etc. And it's lovely for once to witness people enjoy my cake and get direct feedback.


The party itself was a lot of fun. Alex and I arrived dead on time (as we were delivering the cake) at 2pm and I didn't get to bed until 1.30am! 


This is Mr Marley


I was a big fan of that doggy.

It's a shame the weather wasn't great - chilly and windy; standard British summer - but it didn't stop us having a great time.  Later on in the evening, Lisa's parents had even arranged for a pizza stall to make beautiful fresh pizzas for everyone


Delicious!

We drank, we danced, we ate way too much cake and had a fabulous day in the process. 

This morning it was up early to get back to Jimmy Chew who was being puppy-sat by my Dad. I think Jimmy might have some news on that coming soon.


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21 June 2013

Baking & Decorating

Sorry I've been quiet on here this week. I've not been doing much exciting since afternoon tea as I'm trying to be as well-behaved as possible before Glastonbury and Vegas.  Healthy eating, gym, long walks with Jimmy Chew.

Also, I've been busy baking. My friend Lisa moved to Australia a few years back and got married there in March. Saturday is her UK wedding party for those who couldn't make the do in Sydney and she asked me if I would make the cake. The happy couple wanted it to be travel themed reflecting their round the world belated honeymoon.

After about ten hours work, here is the result! What do you think?

(I didn't make the cake topper - that was made for their original wedding cake)


The top suitcase is a three-layer vanilla sponge with buttercream and raspberry jam and the bottom one (which is huge!) is a three-layer chocolate fudge cake.

Although I find creating the detail such as the silver latches comes quite naturally to me, I still find rolling out and covering these big cakes in sugarpaste quite a difficult job! But I got there in the end!

I just hope I can get it up to Cambridge in once piece!

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17 June 2013

24 Karat Gold Afternoon Tea


My enthusiasm for afternoon tea has definitely increased in recent times. I get a buzz from seeing (and scoffing) all those tasty little sandwiches and glorious sweet creations presented at the table in all their glory. I love tea too; that helps.

This afternoon I was really looking forward to meeting up with my friend Ellie with whom I used to work with in the city back around 2000. It's been about a year since our last get-together so this catch up was long overdue and I wanted to organise something a little different.

I know it's mid-June and the weather is rubbish but I don't care; I'm dressing for summer!

I love this little ASOS dress.

We were off to 51 Buckingham Gate Hotel, which you can find a stone's throw away from Buckingham Palace, to sample their signature 24 Karat Decadence Afternoon Tea in their homely little Library.


The menu was intriguing: Gold Leaf Champagne Jelly, White Chocolate Delight with Gold Leaf and Strawberry Tart with Gold Flakes along with the classic selection of scones and delicate sandwiches. It also promised a half bottle of Luxor Pure Gold 24k Brut Champagne.

So how come we ended up with a whole bottle?


We assumed they'd ran out of the smaller bottles! Or were they feeling generous this overcast Monday afternoon? Either way, we weren't complaining!


Ladies and Gentlemen: the finger sandwiches


And those golden delights


My tea of choice was the Green Tea Passion: very fragrant and refreshing, accented by tropical fruits. Probably the only healthy thing I consumed all afternoon!


We had everything we needed for a lovely afternoon!


It was all so grand. The sandwiches were tasty (particularly the mustard chicken) and the cakes were exciting and delicious. The strawberry tart was my favourite!

They just looked perfect!


Okay, at £99 for two it's not the cheapest afternoon tea you can find in central London but this was definitely something special....just look at those cakes! The Library is relaxed and informal and the service was impeccable. It would be the perfect gift for that golden person in your life!

Thanks again to Katie and Chelsie for the recommendation!


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