Friday, 30 November 2012

FarFetch.com cake project



This week I’ve been busy working on a fun project with FarFetch.com for their ‘Unwrap’ Christmas campaign. London taxis have been covered in special Meadham Kirchhoff illustrated festive wrapping paper. Once inside, passengers are given one of my mini layer cakes and a chance to win something nice from FarFetch.com. I was very excited that Harpers mentioned my cakes on their blog too! 

Ps this isn’t the first time that the Meadham Kirchhoff label has been paired with cake – check out the tiered beauties in the background of their recent Marie Antoinette inspired show.





Sunday, 30 September 2012

Autumn Wedding: Chocolate Cinnamon Cake


I made this cake for my friends Cat and Steve's seaside Autumn wedding in Poole last year. I love the combination of a simple iced cake decorated with fresh flowers (especially as these ones have such a pretty, warm palate). Inside are 6 layers of chocolate cake with a cinnamon spiced swiss meringue buttercream. It was so nice being able to walk on the beach, catch up with uni friends and warm up with hot chocolate over the weekend. Congrats to Cat and Steve!












Friday, 31 August 2012

Lemon and Poppyseed Syrup Cake


This time last week I was in the Czech countryside sipping cold Gambrinus (the local beer or 'pivo' of choice) and hanging out with my husband’s family. Every year we get together in their country house for a relaxing week or two of visiting lakes, eating home cooked goulash with bread dumplings and not doing too much at all. On hot days I love taking a break from the sun for a mid afternoon baking session and this lemon and poppyseed syrup cake is always a favourite.

One of the best things about baking in the Czech house is getting to use my mother-in-law’s antique scales and whatever ingredients happen to be in the kitchen. Since Czech tea is usually made with honey and lemon, there is always a good supply of lemon juice in the house. The poppyseeds were picked up from a field on the way back from one of our lake trips. The recipe uses the weight of the eggs in their shells to dictate how much sugar, butter and flour to use (handy as these antique scales have lost a couple of their little free standing weights!).
  
INGREDIENTS
For the cake:
4 eggs
Caster sugar (weighing the same amount as the 4 eggs in their shells - approx 250g)
Unsalted butter (as above)
Self raising flour (as above)
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup (120ml) poppy seeds
1/4 cup (60ml) milk
Zest of one lemon

For the syrup:
Juice of one lemon
1/2 cup (120ml) caster sugar

Fresh petals to decorate (I’ve used sunflower petals as they are a nice lemony yellow)

METHOD
1. Preheat your oven to 170C and line an 8” round baking tin
2. Weigh the eggs in their shells
3. Weigh out the sugar, butter and flour to match the total weight of the eggs
4. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy (this will take a few minutes)
5. Gradually add the eggs, flour and salt until just combined  
6. Stir in the poppyseeds, milk and lemon zest
7. Spoon the mixture into the lined tin and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
8. To make the syrup, heat the lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar has dissolved
9. Once the cake is out of the oven, prick the surface all over with a sharp knife and pour over the warm syrup. Leave to cool in the tin and decorate with the petals before serving.


















Fox & Deer Cukrárna, Prague


If you're ever in Prague or any town in the Czech Republic you'll see plenty of Cukrárnas - little cafes selling cakes, sweets, ice cream and all things sugary and sweet ('cukr' is Czech for sugar). My favourite things to look out for are 'karamel' sundaes made with vanilla ice-cream, drizzled with caramel sauce and topped with hazelnuts and whipped cream and medovník, a sweet layered honey cake which is surprisingly light. Lots of Cukrárnas are wonderfully retro with faded signs and old fashioned lino but during my trip to Prague this year I spotted Fox & Deer - a cute and modern version near Dejvicka

The famous astronomical clock in old town square
I spy a cherry red kitchenaid

Cute staff snaps
Caramel tart with pecan


Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Giant Jubilee Victoria Sponge Cake for Bourne & Hollingsworth and Betty Blythe

All the Olympic jubilation in London has reminded me to share my last feat of giant baking. This is my four tier Victoria sponge cake complete with red glittered strawberries for the Bourne & Hollingsworth Diamond Jubilee garden party. Each tier was made from a levelled off 4 layer sponge like this one, sandwiched with jam and vanilla buttercream and placed on a cake board for stability. There are also some hidden dowels in the centre of each tier to stop them from sinking into each other. The red glitter on red strawberries was a tip from fellow Make Lounge teacher Charlotte White.

The event in Bedford Square was brilliant fun (have you been to the Blitz or Prohibition parties they run?) with cocktails, garden games, dancing in the rain and tea, cake, scones and union jack cake pops from the Betty Blythe's Fine Food Pantry.


Gin cocktails were served in enamel Jubilee mugs 
Our friend Jon's egg and spoon race prize
Pretty props from Betty Blythe
Lovely Lulu from Betty Blythe and me.
NHK from Japan were making a film about the Jubilee and interviewed me about baking!

Special Spitfire



Wednesday, 20 June 2012

White chocolate dipped pistachio and apricot cookies

When it's rainy and grey in London cookies, preferably pretty homemade ones, always cheer me up. These ones have a lovely combination of flavour and textures - sweet and creamy white chocolate, crunchy pistachio and chewy apricot. This recipe makes quite a big batch of about 36 cookies so you might want to keep half a batch in dough form chilling in the fridge ready to bake on the next rainy day. Try swapping out pistachios for walnuts, white chocolate for dark and so on too.

INGREDIENTS

For the cookies:
450g plain flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
225g unsalted butter
225g caster sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
150g dried apricots, roughly chopped
150g pistachios, roughly chopped

To decorate:
200g white chocolate
50g pistachios, roughly chopped

Makes about 36.

METHOD

1. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl and set aside.
2. Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy (about 4 minutes).
3. Gradually add the egg, vanilla, apricots and pistachios and then the flour mixture until combined.
4. Shape the dough into 2 disks, cover in cling film and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
5. Roll out each disk in between 2 bits of greaseproof paper to about 1cm thick and chill in the fridge again for 30mins (this gives you nice clean shapes when you cut out the dough).
6. Preheat your oven to 170C.
7. Cut into whatever shapes you fancy, I used a 5cm round cookie cutter but would love to try stars or hearts like these ones next.
8. Place on a lined baking tray and bake for 15 mins or until firm at the edges and then let them cool completely on a wire rack – you want a nice chewy texture so try not to let them go brown (like some of mine did...) as cookies keep cooking for a few minutes once you’ve removed them from the oven.
9. Melt the white chocolate in a deep bowl (I prefer to use a microwave for this in 30 second blasts to prevent burning the chocolate)
10. Peel the cooled cookies off of their greaseproof paper lining and dip into the chocolate. Place on your wire rack to set (and let the excess chocolate drip off) and top with the chopped pistachios.

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s basic butter cookie dough


Friday, 25 May 2012

Rhubarb Victoria Sponge Cake - fit for a Queen's Jubilee

It's officially Spring (and in London this week it even feels like Summer) which means that one of my favourite ingredients is in season - rhubarb. Here's a delicious and seasonal twist on the classic Victoria sponge cake. Serve with tea and an extra blob of the sticky pink rhubarb compote on the side. This would be perfect for a Jubilee party - I'll be at the Bourne & Hollingswoth one next weekend- how about you?


PS you can also find my recipe on the Good Food Channel website.


INGREDIENTS
For the sponge:
200g unsalted butter 
200g caster sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 a vanilla pod
200g self raising flour
Pinch of salt


For the filling:
400g trimmed rhubarb
200g sugar
1/2 a vanilla pod
300ml double cream
Icing sugar for dusting


METHOD
1. Preheat the oven to 170C.
2. Butter and line the bases of two 20cm cake tins.
3. Beat the butter and sugar until very pale and fluffy using an electric mixer - at least 4 minutes.
4. Add the vanilla and eggs one at a time with a small amount of the flour. This stops the mixture from curdling.
5. Add the salt and remaining flour until just incorporated - don't over mix at this stage.
6. Split the mixture between the two tins and bake for 25 minutes. The sponges are done when they are golden in colour, springy to the touch and a skewer or cake tester inserted into the centre comes out clean. Let them cool in their tins.


While the sponges are baking you can make the filling:
1. Chop the rhubarb into 2.5cm chunks and mix with the sugar and vanilla in a bowl. Leave to sit for 20 minutes, this draws some of the moisture out of the rhubarb and lets it take on the vanilla flavour.
2. Heat the syrupy mixture in a saucepan over a medium heat until the rhubarb is soft but still holds it's shape.
3. Sieve the mixture (saving the syrup), put the syrup back into the pan and keep heating until it thickens up.
4. Combine the rhubarb and syrup and leave to cool.
5. While your rhubarb is cooling, lightly whip the double cream


On a cake stand or pretty plate, spread the bottom layer of sponge with the rhubarb compote, then add a layer of whipped double cream. Top with the second sponge and sift over the icing sugar to decorate.  

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