Afternoon Tea at The Swan, Bankside

This past Saturday Fi and I were treated to afternoon tea at The Swan Pub on Bankside. This was a birthday present – a pretty awesome one if you ask me – from our Aunt and Uncle. The present also included a tour of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. So we did our tour, wandered around the exhibition and then headed next door for a champagne afternoon tea treat. There’s something so perfectly British about Afternoon Tea isn’t there? Plus added champers? A totally winning combination in my opinion!
Afternoon Tea
So afternoon tea at The Swan looked a little something like this.
 
Champagne Afternoon tea and cakes
And included…
– Brioche finger rolls with four different fillings; cream cheese & cucumber, egg & cress, ham hock & mustard and smoked salmon.
– Scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream
– cakes, so many cakes; shortbread jammie dodgers, mini chocolate eclairs, coffee opera cake and lemon curd madelines.
I think you’ll agree that it’s a veritable feast for anyone’s taste buds.
Now here’s a pic of Fi enjoying herself!
Fi enjoying afternoon tea
There aren’t hundreds of types of tea to choose from, like at some other hotels, and you don’t get offered seconds (or thirds) of the food but there is plenty of food to go around. And it’s a decent option if you want to do Afternoon Tea without spending lots and lots of your hard-earned cash.
Finally I really must recommend that you do the tour of The Globe Theatre – it was so interesting, very informative and the building is spectacular. Did you know it’s there is no metal in the construction? It is held up by over 9,000 wooden pegs – how amazing is that?
– Lau xx

 

Baking for Easter

Easter is quite possibly my favourite time of the year as it seems to signal the start of the summer and outside dining. I love the opportunity to get together with all the family and chill out in the garden, plus it brings with it the possibility of a barbecue as well as a fabulous roast dinner on Easter Sunday. Never mind the easter egg fun.

This Easter my sisters and I have decided to cook out amazing pulled pork at some point over the four days for the parental units to enjoy. Plus I’m planning on trying out a coffee and walnut cake as I’ve never made one. But before that point we get to make all the yummy sweet stuff that contains easter treats. You know what I mean, all the creme eggs and mini eggs that appear in the shops as soon as Christmas is over. Well it would be rude not to include those in some sort of baking wouldn’t it. So that’s what this post is all about – Baking with Easter sweets!

Hopefully you are all well aware of the awesome mini egg blondies that we made last year. If not then what are you waiting for? Check them out right here, right now. So these have been made again because they are just totally awesome and Fi has an actual real life obsession with mini eggs.

So yes, we made mini egg blondies, but we also decided to try making creme egg brownies. Now different versions of these have been all over the internet and on twitter, so it really was high time we had a go ourselves. They honestly couldn’t be easier – mostly because I used a packet brownie mix – sometimes you just have to cheat!

Here’s what you do –
1. Create your normal brownie batter – I used the Ghiardelli brownie mix because it’s totally awesome.
2. Throw in 10 mini creme eggs to the mix.
3. Pour the whole lot into the brownie tin.
4. Chop another 8 mini creme eggs in half and lay these gooey side up on the top of your batter.
5. Bake as per normal brownie instructions.

Creme Egg Brownies Creme Egg Brownies

Creme Egg Brownies

See, easy peasy and don’t they look amazing? I promise you guys, these actually taste like heaven. Seriously the gooey levels are epic in this. These beauties ended up at work and they all disappeared in record time. I think that’s a good sign, right?!

Now you give them ago and let me know what you think.

Lau xxx

Banana and Walnut Bread

So every now and again I have this grand plan that I’m going to eat copious amounts of fruit instead of the usual crap that has infiltrated my diet. When this happens I head off to the supermarket and stock up on apples, bananas and some more exotic looking/sounding fruit and make a pact to switch the chocolate for the fruit. And then 24 hours pass and my enthusiasm wanes and the bananas go brown before I remember they even exist. When this happens I tend to whip up my standard banana cake with cream cheese frosting, courtesy of the Australian Women’s Weekly Kids Cookbook that I’ve had for eons. But a few weeks back I decided I needed to try something new and step out of my comfort zone – I’m not a fan of such things if I’m honest! So I decided on a banana and walnut bread. Yes big things happening over her, I’ve added walnuts and made a bread instead of a cake – get me. Give me a day or so and I’ll be taking over the world with giant leaps like this!

So back down to it I decided on a recipe from DK’s Step-by-Step Baking book and I’m glad it’s the one I chose as it’s super-easy and has helpful instruction pictures. Phew! So here we go, here’s the recipe. First off you’ll need…

  • 375g strong white bread flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 125g walnut pieces (chopped)
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 ripe bananas (chopped, oh and peeled obvs!)
  • finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 125 ml vegetable oil
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 100g soft brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Now down to the method (it’s easy I promise!):
First off preheat the oven to 180oC and grease your loaf tins (2 x 1lb loaf tins)
Sprinkle flour into the tins and tap to remove all the excess flour
Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt into a bowl and mix together.
Mix in the walnut pieces and create a well in the center

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Mash the bananas with a fork until they create a smooth paste and add to the beaten egg with the lemon zest

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Add the oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla and lemon juice and stir together

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Pour 3/4 of the banana mixture into the well in the flour and stir well
Gradually blend in the dry ingredients, adding the remaining banana mixture until the mixture is smooth

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Spoon the mixture into the tins

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Bake for 35-40 minutes until the loaves start to shrink away from the sides of the tins and a skewer comes out clean
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Enjoy your banana bread and you know it’s fine to have for breakfast as it’s a bread AND it contains fruit – winning!

– Fi xx

Perfectly Simple Welsh Cakes

Greetings friendlies, how are you this merry day?

Today on this here blog I’m going to share one of my all time favourite cakey things with you – Welsh Cakes! My history with these baked goodies goes a little bit like this: for as long as I can remember whenever we’ve seen my Mum’s best friend, nicknamed the Welsh Wizard (thanks to her Welsh heritage), she’s always armed with freshly baked Welsh Cakes. It’s one of the main things I remember from being knee-high to a grasshopper – arriving at her house to the aroma of Welsh Cakes and eating about twelve during our stay or having her produce a tin of them as soon as she gets out of her car!

It’s fair to say that I’ve become addicted to these lovely yummy morsels and it’s most definitely a tradition that I adore. They are frankly absolutely scrumptious in all their squishy, doughy, fruity brilliance and I love them, but considering my absolute love for them it’s absolutely ridiculous that I’ve never made them – a travesty I know! Anyway last Christmas this friend gave us her family recipe and the baking stone needed so that we could get on with making them ourselves. Hooray! So finally after ten months we finally got round to making them and let me just say they did not disappoint, they were as scrumptious as I’ve always remembered and I now just might make them all the time!

So anyway here’s the secret family recipe so all you lovely people can give them a whirl, you lucky things!

When you consider the five ingredients it’s even more ridiculous that I’ve not made them before as they are all store cupboard essentials, so no special trip to the shop is needed. Shame on me! So anyway you will need:

  • 8 oz self raising flour
  • 3 oz margarine
  • 4oz caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • A sprinkle of raisins/sultanas

And to make them, it couldn’t be easier, just follow these six simple steps!

  1. Rub the flour, sugar and margarine together
  2. Add the eggs, which you’ll have beaten already and mix together to form a dough
  3. Just before the dough is ready to roll out, sprinkle in the sultanas or raisins
  4. Roll out the dough until it’s about a cm thick and cut out your shapes – circles are traditional
  5. Pop onto your heated and buttered baking stone  and heat for about 5 minutes on each side, until they start to brown
  6. Eat! It’s customary to eat them warm with a sprinkling of sugar and spread of butter but it’s not essential.

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Let me know if you give them a whirl and fall in love with them as I’ve done – I’ll be surprised if you don’t! Happy baking.

– Fi xx

The Great British Bake Off is back!

Just checking in to remind everyone in the UK that The Great British Bake Off is back on our TVs tomorrow night – Tuesday 20th August – and we couldn’t be more excited! Fi and I have been missing the brilliantness that is Paul and Mary as well as the hysterical times of Mel and Sue, hence the super levels of excitement.

You may remember that our obsession with the GBBO culminated in our Bake Off Send Off evening last year, where we got together with friends to watch the final episode and bake our favourite things from the show. Fi even baked a showstopper cake, what a masterpiece.

The trailer for the series is available to watch here and it looks like there’s going to be sandwich cakes, bread and maybe even trifles (or have I made that up?) plus of course lots of gorgeous kitchen aid mixers – baker envy here right now!

Happy watching Lau xxx

Whoopie Pie love

20130128-140328.jpgRecently I made some Whoopie Pies to help soften the blow when a friend returned to work after her wedding. She’s been a big fan of them since I first made them for work peeps way back in December 2011, and has been put out ever since that I haven’t made them again! For the wedding celebration version I didn’t play around with our original whoopie pie recipe too much, as they are delicious just as they are. All I did was make the buttercream pink, which actually went down a treat, much to my pleasure. I realised two things after everyone’s reaction; firstly everyone loves these gorgeous treats of deliciousness (including me) and secondly I don’t make them often enough – once a year is nowhere near enough! Let’s be honest they aren’t tricky or expensive to make as all the ingredients are usually in my fridge/cake making cupboard. With this thought in mind I wanted to share some of the whoopie pie recipes I’ve seen recently, with the promise that I will make some of these soon.

Choc-Mint Whoopie Pies – chocolate and mint is one of my favourite flavour combinations so these are a must I think!

Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies – Another classic flavour combination, perhaps second only to mint and chocolate!

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies – I don’t know about you but I always think here’s something sophisticated about red velvet anything, and as I’ve never made anything that’s red velvet before I think I might start with these!

Raspberry-Lemon Whoopie Pies – I’m intrigued by this flavour combination. As raspberries and lemons always make food taste very fresh, but I’m intrigued as to how that would work in a cakey item like whoopie pies….

Gingerbread Whoopie Pies – I love ginger biscuits and gingerbread cake so there’s no reason why I won’t absolutely love Gingerbread Whoopie pies as well!

Banana Whoopie Pies – Now I know Lau will loathe these with a passion as they feature bananas, but I will still have to give these a whirl as I adore bananas in anything and everything. I always feel I’m being healthy when a banana is involved, even if I’m clearly not!

What do you think, are you inspired by the above ideas? I for one can’t wait to get started!

– Fi x

A Pink Showstopper Cake!

Nutella Doughnut Muffins, Chocolate Tarts, a Pink Showstopper and Marshmallow Cupcakes

As Lau’s already mentioned we decided to celebrate the brilliance of the Great British Bake Off with a Bake Off Send Off full of lovely creations. It seemed only fair that we celebrate the last 10 weeks of brilliance, from Mel, Sue, Paul, the genius that is Mary Berry and of course the finalists themselves, in some special way – and baking seemed the most fitting! So we all made different creations, check out this photo of all our sweet creations – what do you think?

For some reason when discussing what we’d make for this occasion I decided doing the showstopper cake would be quite fun, what was I thinking! Don’t get me wrong it was fun but it was a lot more work that I anticipated! So after I’d volunteered to create the showstopper I had to come up with something impressive, but what! I knew I wanted to go for a multi layer cake, as I’d seen this gorgeous looking cake on Pinterest but it took me a while to decide on what colours, I was torn between a rainbow cake or different shades of one colour. Eventually I found a blog post about a pink layered cake and thought, YES, this is the one! Three layers seemed like a better idea than five as there was only going to be four of us to eat it after all! So to create the cake I followed the recipe on the blog post, as I wanted to ensure the pink food colouring worked properly, which I couldn’t guarantee with another type of cake. So below are the ingredients you’ll need and the recipe for you to follow:

285g Butter, softened at room temperature
285g Caster sugar
285g Self-Raising Flour
5 Eggs
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
Food colouring

The top layer just out of the oven!

Grease and line the round cake tins with baking parchment
Cream the butter and the sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy
Beat in the eggs, a little at a time, and stir in the vanilla extract
Fold in the flour, adding a little milk if necessary, to create a soft cake mix
Divide the cake batter equally between three bowls and add food colouring to achieve the right colour for each layer. I used about 30 drops for the brightest pink layer, then 20 and 15 drops for the other layers. Although in hindsight I wish the bottom layers had been more different in colour, so perhaps 20 and 10 drops are a better suggestion for the lighter layers.
Bake each cake in the over on 180C/350F/Gas 4 for 20-25 minutes or until golden-brown on top
Leave to cool on a wire rack

The three layers assembled

So after I’d decided on the layered cake idea and made my three sponges, I was only left with the question of decoration. After a lot of deliberation I decided to keep it simple with butter icing and fondant icing. So first off I made a load of butter icing by combining a LOT of butter and icing sugar (about 400g of butter 750g of icing sugar) with a splash of milk until smooth. This was the first time I’ve used icing sugar rather than caster sugar for butter icing and it made a much smoother icing, so I’d definitely recommend doing that in the future.

Once I’d covered the entire cake with the icing I pressed some black and red fondant icing hearts onto the surface of the cake. This reminded me a bit of the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland but it also served to show my love for the bake off! The hearts were made out of Dr.Oetker Coloured Ready to Roll Icing, which worked perfectly.

I was quite pleased with my decoration, not only was it easy to create, which was imperative after baking three different sponges!, but it also made the cake look really simple and I liked the contrast that created when the cake was cut and everyone saw the three different coloured layers of cake. Hopefully, you all agree that the decoration is simple as well as special considering the occasion!

-Fi