Afternoon Tea at Perkins Restaurant, Nottingham

Last week, I finally got round to going with a much-promised retirement afternoon tea with my mum (her, not me, sadly!), and decided that one of my favourite restaurants, Perkins in Plumtree, was a perfect fit to start our celebration of her new-found free time. We’ve vowed to go for afternoon tea many more times so watch this space!

Perkins Restaurant is set just outside the village of Plumtree in Nottinghamshire, and is housed in an old railway station. The railway line is no longer in use and it’s a lovely peaceful setting where you can while away many hours before you know it.

perkins restaurant nottingham old train station outside view sweeping driveway panoramic

perkins restaurant plumtree nottingham front door old station building facade

Inside the décor is quite simple and classic but with a few well done twists. Vintage prints and posters adorn the walls, a light and bright colour scheme runs through out, and a large conservatory on the back gives the whole space a spacious and airy feel.

stained glass bright coloured windows in perkins restaurant plumtree nottingham looking into conservatory

We were of course dead set on having afternoon tea, and I’d called ahead to see if they’d be able to do it early evening for us, so I could head over straight after work (3 week trips to New Zealand haven’t left me with much annual leave this year… 🙂 ), they were more than happy to oblige, and certainly did not disappoint!

picture view afternoon tea at perkins restaurant plumtree nottingham review cake stand tea

From four kinds of finger sandwiches…

fingers sandwiches for afternoon tea cheese salmon cucumber white and brown bread

… to chocolate tart and cream-filled meringues:

afternoon tea cake stand top layer meringues with cream salted caramel chocolate tart

…and scones and almond cakes inbetween!

afternoon tea full cake stand sandwiches scones meringues tarts review nottingham

We chatted and munched for actual hours, all the pieces were full of flavour and beautifully baked.

Just when we couldn’t manage another bite, only the chocolate tart was left, and it looked quite heavy. Would we make it? One bite and it was an instant hit! This was no ordinary chocolate tart. This was SALTED CARAMEL CHOCOLATE TART. I’m sure I say this a lot but it was honestly one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. Words can really not describe, the crunchy nut base, smooth but salty caramel, and creamy, sticky chocolate topping, mmm…. Even now, writing this a week and half later, my mouth is literally watering at the thought. A recipe I will definitely have to hunt down!

salted caramel chocolate tart at perkins restaurant plumtree nottingham afternoon tea

Of course we had an absolutely wonderful time. The food was delicious, service excellent, and, well, the company wasn’t bad either 😉

mum and daughter afternoon tea at perkins restaurant plumtree

There’s no date in the diary yet, but stay tuned for our next afternoon tea adventure, coming soon I’m sure!

I Heart Nutella Brownies

nutella brownies heart shape three ingredient recipe small bites

If you regularly browse the baking world like I do, no doubt you’ll have seen these fantastic Nutella brownies popping up on blogs and baking sites the world over. If you haven’t, take a seat. I’m about to show you something amazing.

I also wanted to finally show off and use this super-cute silicon heart mould from the fab dotcomgiftshop. I bought it about a year ago and have consequently forgotten to use it at every opportunity since. Until now!

i love chocolate dotcomgiftshop silicon mould baking brownies recipe hearts

There’s quite a lot of controversy on various sites with plenty of bloggers claiming they invented this recipe. I didn’t. That’s for sure. I’m just going to share its amazingness. But does it actually matter? Not in my opinion. Lets get to the chocolate!

The basic amazing thing about these brownies is that they only contain 3 ingredients. Really.

Ingredients

140g Nutella
1 egg
35g plain flour

nutella three ingredient brownies chocolate spread egg plain flour recipe easy

And the method’s not that tricky either…

– place all the ingredients into a bowl

nutella three ingredient brownies all in bowl chocolate spread flour eggs

– mix well

nutella brownie batter three ingredients chocolate mix pink heart background

– spoon into your chosen bakeware, making sure it’s greased or lined (I used a quick spritz of cake release spray in each heart). The brownies do rise during cooking so don’t fill whatever you’re using to the top – mine were just over half full

heart shaped mini brownie bites in dotcomgiftshop silicon mould nutella three ingredient recipe

– pop into the oven at 180 degrees. Mine came out perfectly after 15 minutes but the mould is quite small. Adjust upwards for bigger moulds and tray bakes, aiming for a crust to form on the top and no wobble to your mix.

perfect heart shape brownie bites cracked crust nutella three ingredients

– leave too cool at least a little (burnt mouths just are no fun) and enjoy!

mini heart shaped nutella brownie bites three ingredient recipe

Of course you can adapt the recipe to include so many different things, chocolate chunks, nuts, sweets, icing on top, the list is endless! And as these brownies are SO quick to make (you can easily whip up a batch in under half an hour), why not try them all 🙂

Oh yes – and served warm with vanilla ice cream, hot and cold heaven!

nutella brownie heart bites with vanilla ice cream hot and cold dessert easy baking ideas recipe

Mrs. Bridges Tea Rooms, Leicester – Review & Blogger Meet Up!

A sunny Saturday afternoon in Leicester, I met up with some fellow Midlands bloggers, all with a great love for cake! A repeat of last years lovely trip to White Rabbit in Nottingham, this year with an extra guest in the form of Liana from Swirls Bakery, who blogs over at My Sugar Coated Life. And not forgetting E & B from Make, Do and Spend, and Kerry from Kerry Cooks.

As many female outings start, we caught up over a wander around The Lanes, a collection of little streets and squares, all with a great mix of vintage shops and individual retailers. We even found a bakeware sale!

vintage shops in the lanes leicester pink pigeon dollymix vintage fake grass outside sunny summer chairs

vintage suitcase selection shopping leicester the lanes dollymix vintage

And of course our afternoon wouldn’t be complete without cake! Kerry had booked us into Mrs. Bridges Tea Rooms, a fantastic find just off the lanes; a tea room has been in the same location since 1890! Wouldn’t you love to see what it was like full of Victorian ladies?

mrs bridges leicester tea rooms review outside view loseby lane city centre

Perfect for the summer, they also have a lovely little courtyard out the back, complete with pink parasols:

mrs bridges tea room leicester reviews the courtyard outside seating pink parasols

Inside the decor is simple, with a deli sandwich & cake counter downstairs, and lots of little tables upstairs.

mrs bridges tea rooms leicester review cake fridge selection cupcakes chocolate tart meringues

We’d booked in advance, but even on a Saturday afternoon could have found a corner if we’d just turned up. We bagged a spot right by these beautiful stained glass windows, perfect for people-watching of those outside!

stained glass windows at mrs bridges tea room leicester

And the menu? Well I wish I taken a picture! It was so extensive, the 5 of us took rather a long time to decide! From a wealth of savoury items – scrambled eggs, bagels, jacket potatoes, sandwiches, salads… to the most amazing selection of sweets, it was a tough choice.

welcome to mrs bridges tea rooms leicester blogger review afternoon tea sandwiches and cakes

We started off savoury and weren’t disappointed – sandwiches and salads alike came in huge portions, overflowing with fresh produce:

deli sandwiches at mrs bridges tea rooms leicester review

And onto the desserts! Kerry went for some sweet cinnamon French toast, on basis that most of us had never had it before. She was absolutely delighted when it came out!

kerry cooks with cinnamon french toast at mrs bridges tea rooms leicester

And who could blame her, it looked, smelled, and tasted absolutely divine. Expect to see this featuring on some of the aforementioned blogs soon 🙂

cinnamon french toast dusted with icing sugar at mrs bridges the lanes leicester

Liana chose this absolutely stunning white chocolate and pistachio delice, with strawberry topping. From the soft sponge base to the creamy, chocolatey mousse, this delice was delicious! Definitely a recipe I’m going to hunt down and try.

white chocolate delice with pistachio and strawberry macaron review at mrs bridges tea room leicester

E and I went for blackcurrant cheesecake, with apple macaron and sorbet.

blackberry cheesecake with apple macaron and sorbet slate plate mrs bridges leicester

An equally enthusiastic wow! The cheesecake was creamy and fruity, the sorbet so refreshing, and that apple macaron….

mrs bridges tearooms leicester review blackcurrant cheesecake with apple macaron and sorbet on black slate

I didn’t manage to get a photo of B’s chocolate brownie and toffee sauce, but managed the important bit – the tasting! Another amazing dish 🙂

Safe to say us bloggers had an absolutely brilliant time at Mrs. Bridges. We left with big smiles and full tummies, and a return visit is definitely on the cards if I’m in Leicester again. It’s a very well run tea-room, friendly staff, a great menu, brilliant location, good prices, and all-round yummy food. A big thumbs up!

baking and lifestyle blogger meet up at mrs bridges leicester

Blackcurrant Crumble Mini Muffins

mini blackcurrant muffins recipe fresh home grown british fruit crumble topping

At the moment I’m happy revelling in fresh produce from the garden. Not mine, I hasten to admit; we’re still living in a rented house, and I a vowed a couple of moves back not to spend ages weeding gardens and planting nice things just to move out before they’re ready. Rant over.

Last week I happily received some fresh blackcurrants from a work colleague (thanks Gill!), and after a few fresh fruit salad breakfasts, decided to use the rest in this recipe. In a lovely little twist, I then took some of the muffins over to my parents, and collected some of their home-grown courgettes. I’d like to say this is the start of a little saga of collecting fresh fruits/veg, baking them, and swapping for some more. But it’s not. It’s far too hot and sticky for that 😉

fresh blackcurrants british fruit harvest heart shaped bowl recipe ideas

I was really torn with what to do with these blackcurrants, so many choices! Jams, tarts, pies, macarons, the list is literally endless. In the end I settled on a combination of cake and a great British classic – crumble.

On looking for some crumbly inspiration, I was delighted to see one of my favourite blog reads, the Vagabond Baker, pop up in my google search results. So, this recipe is an adaptation from Rachel’s delightful apple recipe, with a few interjections from other recipes such as this one on BBC Good Food. I loved the oozy custard on Rachel’s recipe, but also wanted a super-crispy crumble topping, so ended up adding a little extra sugar for a fantastic caramelised crunch.

Ingredients (Makes approx. 24 mini muffins)

For the muffins
100g blackcurrants
50g butter
50g sugar – light brown is preferable
1 egg
50ml milk
150g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

For the blackcurrant jam sauce
25g blackcurrants
1 teaspoon sugar

For the crumble topping
25g butter
25g light brown sugar, plus 1 tablespoon extra to caramelise
25g plain flour
15g rolled oats

Method

– To make the muffin mixture, melt the butter, and beat in the rest of the ingredients, leaving the blackcurrants to last. Don’t overbeat – it’s better to have a few bits of flour still showing that to have a big blackcurrant mess!
– Using a mini muffin tin, either use paper liners, or grease generously (e.g. with cake release spray), and spoon in the mixture until the holes are around 2/3 full. Try and ensure a good distribution of blackcurrants – there should be a good few in each muffin.

blackcurrant mini muffin mixture in tin recipe and method

– Make the jam sauce by microwaving (or heating on the hob), the remaining blackcurrants with their sugar and around 2 teaspoons of water. It should only take a few minutes for the fruit to break down and turn into a bubbly jam. Any blackcurrants which don’t conform, stir and squish with the back of a spoon, so you have a runny jam.

– For the crumble, place all the ingredients in a large bowl, cubing or cutting the butter into small chunks. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the dry ingredients until it forms a dense crumb.

blackcurrant jam and crumble topping for mini muffins recipe

– Spoon a little of the jam mixture into the centre of each muffin

blackcurrant jam topping mini muffin recipe small cupcake tin

– And top with a good sprinkling of the crumble mixture, making sure all sides, and the jam, are completely covered.

crumble topping on mini blackcurrant muffins recipe oat

– Put the muffins into the oven, at 180 degrees, for around 12-15 minutes. This will entirely depend on your oven, but you want to take them out when the crumble is just starting to colour.

– Using the extra tablespoon of sugar, carefully sprinkle a pinch over the middle of each of the muffins. Again, using your fingers, drip a few drops of water on top of the sugar, so it starts to dissolve.
Return the muffins to the oven, and flick on the grill. Keep a close eye as when they start to caramelize it will happen very quickly, and there’s a fine line between crunchy caramel and burnt! It should take a couple of minutes, and the tops will start bubbling and become lovely and golden. Once they do, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

caramelised crumble topping freshly baked on mini blackcurrant muffins fres

Once cool, carefully extract from the tin, using the point of a sharp knife to lift them out.

freshly baked mini blackcurrant muffins with caramelised oaty crumble topping

They are best enjoyed straight away, whilst they will keep in an airtight container, the caramelized crumble will gradually lose its crispiness. If this does happen, you can easily pop them back under the grill for a couple of minutes to crisp back up.

Needless to say they didn’t last very long in our house! I am completely in love with these little bites, but can’t decide what I like more, the sticky, fruity inside, or the caramel, crunchy topping…?

crunchy crumble topping and sticky fruit inside to blackcurrant mini muffins

mini blackcurrant muffins with caramelised brown sugar crumble topping recipe