Brunch at Bettys

Back in the summer, as part of a hen weekend in the wonderful city of York, 5 lovely ladies and I brunched at Bettys tea rooms and cafe. After spending the previous day at York races, we were very excited to go to one of Yorkshire’s finest and fill up on all the yummy wares we’d heard so much about.

hen party afternoon york races followed by bettys tea

Luckily the great British weather was on our side, and a heavy summer downpour had meant the streets were almost clear, and we only had a short wait for a table. I have it on good authority that the queues often stretch right round the building!

exterior view bettys cafe tea rooms york

Of course this gave us a great excuse to have a peek around the shop and take-away cakes, and my goodness what a selection!

From macarons in all colours and flavours…

brightly coloured macarons at bettys tearooms york pistachio lemon strawberry rose chocolate

… to fresh fruit cakes, tarts and slices…

bettys tea room york window display cakes tarts biscuits strawberry and raspberry summer fresh

… and not to mention these wonderfully cute chocolate bees, ladybirds, and mini pigs.bettys english tea room york cake displays summer bumblebees pigs and ladybirds

And gifts for the baker (or eater!) in your life:

bettys tea room york cake shop gift displays bettys tea room vintage flyer confectioners and caterers

It still being breakfast time, it only seemed right that we start with something a little more savoury though. The summer menu was absolutely full of delights, and so difficult to choose!

bettys cafe tea rooms york summer menu

I eventually settled for a Swiss Breakfast Rosti – and was certainly not disappointed. A giant cheese, cream and potato rosti, topped with bacon, eggs, and mushrooms – it was absolutely delicious.

bettys tea room swiss breakfast rosti brunch and cake review

One of the best things about Bettys for me was the silver service – in every way. From the silver tea pots and fine china, to the immaculately dressed and wonderfully polite hostesses. It was all wonderfully British and very proper!

silver service tea set at bettys tea room york brunch or afternoon

Breakfast washed down with some tea, well, it was now 11am, so… elevenses? We couldn’t come to Bettys and not have cake!

There was so much choice – everything from the shop and more besides. From a fantastic display to the famed cake trolley, we were literally spoilt for choice.

cake and flower display pastries chocolates tarts at bettys tea room cafe york cake trolley at bettys tea room cafe york

And a great selection I think we made:

chocolate bomb engadine torte raspberry white chocolate tart strawberry paris-brest cakes at bettys tea room cafe yrok

I opted for a strawberry Paris-Brest – a wheel-shaped choux pastry filled to the brim with strawberries and cream, and topped with chocolate shavings. Delicious!

strawberry paris-brest pastry cake at bettys tea room york review

Tummies completely full of breakfast and cake – we paid another quick trip to the shop for some souvenirs. What would the boys say if we returned home cake-less!

I went for one of Bettys classics – a Yorkshire Fat Rascal. This little devil is a plump, fruit filled scone, with a cheeky little face made out of almonds and cherries.

yorkshire fat rascal fruit scone at bettys york tea room

And of course I couldn’t resist his younger other – a delicious sounding chocolate and orange rascal.

bettys fat rascal scone packaging review takeaway cake chocolate orange rascal and fat rascal scones from bettys cafe tea room york yorkshire

Stopping for a few more pictures on the way – the queues had already started to build up outside. It’s apparently not unusual for people to queue all the way round the front of the tearoom, for an hour or even more!

bettys cafe tea rooms york outside stained glass window queue at bettys tea rooms in york

When we were there, in mid-July, the Tour de France decorations were still adorning the streets in force. How cute is the bunting made from little yellow, green, and patterned t-shirts?

tour de france jersey bunting in york outside bettys tea room yellow red green striped

And I couldn’t leave without some snaps of the wonderful window displays in Bettys – it truly is a great institution and one I hope to go back to soon!

summer picnic basket cake display gingham at bettys tea room york bakers and confectioners window cake bunting display at bettys tea room york

Advertisements

The Pudding Pantry, Nottingham

They say word-of-mouth is one of the best ways to get noticed – and who am I to contest. This lovely new little bakery/coffee shop was recommended by a friend, and now here I am doing the same for you!

Situated in Trinity Square, just a minutes’ walk each from the Victoria Centre and Cornerhouse, The Pudding Pantry opened up about 2 months ago, and is an oasis of calm amid all the shops, bustling restaurants and busy streets.

the pudding pantry nottingham review trinty square new tea room coffee shop

Inside the decor is bright and fresh – it reminds me of being at the seaside, with soft blues and greys, and lots of white painted wood.

the puddng pantry nottingham tea room coffee shop bakery review trinity square

There are also plenty of quirky touches – as any good tea room should have!
Vintage tea pots on display under the unique lighting:

tea room decor teapot cups chic lighting

Hand-bound wooden fronted menus:

wooden hand bound menu the pudding pantry nottingham tea room coffee shop

And a hand-written specials board of the days sweet treats:

hand written blackboard menu personal touch tea room nottingham the pudding pantry

And what an array of sweet treats there were – on display in the windows; in and around the main glass-fronted counter, we were absolutely spoilt for choice! From pastries to muffins to sliced cakes to scones… they really do have the whole lot.

viennese whirls food porn glass counter tea room coffee shop fresh pastries raspberry and custard twist banoffee danish the pudding pantry nottingham blackberry and mint cake whole purple and green swirl icing summer tea room nottingham array of cakes and stands cupcakes muffins at the pudding pantry nottingham

My cake camarade opted for a scone with jam and cream – but was asked did she mind that it would be about 10 minutes as they were freshly baked to order? What a treat!

freshly baked scone homemade jam clotted cream nottingham coffee house afternoon tea pudding pantry

And the warm summer weather tempted me into something fresh and fruity – the amazing looking, sounding, and definitely tasting blackberry and mint cake. It was divine!

blackberry and mint cake purple icing swirl vintage tea plate

So consider my word well and truly spread – definitely a tea room to try next time you are in the area!

Dad’s 60th Birthday Liquorice Allsorts Cake

happy birthday dad liquorice allsorts cake homemade black cream filled tube yellow coconut and blue aniseed round

You may have guessed from the title, but today is my lovely dad’s 60th birthday. If this doesn’t call for a cake, what does!

Liquorice allsorts are one of his all-time favourite things. For as long as I can remember they have been a staple birthday / father’s day / christmas present when stuck for any other ideas. While trying to figure out what to call the individual allsorts, I came across this brilliant h2g2 guide. Very entertaining but not sure I’d agree – why on earth would you leave chocolate until last!

As I was making 3 cakes I wanted them all to be different flavours, so they truly were allsorts!

First and most time-consuming from a decorating perspective – a replica of the blue sugar ball covered allsort, which normally has an aniseed jelly inside. This one was much sweeter however – a lemon madeira cake centre, covered with a blueberry buttercream, and finished with rolled circles of blue fondant.

liquorice allsorts blue aniseed ball recreated as birthday cake fondant blueberry and lemon

To make both the round cakes I used the smaller of my Ikea Sockerkaka moulds – a perfect size so we wouldn’t be eating cake for the rest of the month! And very quick & easy to clean between recipes as well.

ikea sockerkaka silicon cake mould small

Next up, in the same circle mould, the yellow coconut covered allsort. Sticking with the coconut covering made it easy to recreate the look, and inside I used my Tropical Fruit Cake recipe. A simple circle of black fondant on the top finished the liquorice look.

liquorice allsorts birthday cake yellow coconut and black and white tube

Finally, and sneaking into the above picture, the black liquorice tube filled with a white cream, for want of a better name! This one was an easy chocolate swiss roll , filled with a vanilla buttercream. To get the outer look, I wrapped white fondant around the ends, before rolling the whole cake in some black-coloured chocolate fondant. My hands were rather black too after kneading the food colouring into that!

black and white liquorice allsort made of cake chocolate swiss roll covered in fondant

By the wonderful power of hindsight, I do wish I’d made the swiss roll a bit smaller. Putting all the cakes together on the board I realised that the planned “60” was actually rather tricky to read!

60th birthday cake liquorice allsorts black tube yellow coconut and blue aniseed round

liquorice allsorts birthday cake blue aniseed balls created from fondant yellow coconut tropical fruit cake and chocolate swiss roll with fondant covering

Still, with black hands and a bomb-site of a kitchen, it had to do! I’d bought a pack of allsorts to model the cake on, so used some of these to decorate the edge of the cake board, and the others as well-earned reward for a tired baker 😉

Trying to spell out a message with allsorts was not a big success, so a piped message in matching liquorice-black took their place. And more allsorts for me to eat!

happy birthday dad hand piped icing liqourice allsorts cake board

liquorice allsorts birthday cake tropical coconut fruit chocolate swiss roll blueberry and lemon aniseed balls made of fondant

We celebrated with afternoon tea at Perkins Restaurant in Nottingham, (as it was THAT good last time), alongside some suitably over-sized helium balloons.

60th birthday giant helium balloons afternoon tea at perkins restaurant nottingham

And of course it was amazing as always! The staff let us while away the afternoon with plenty of tea refills, and just when dad thought all the cake was gone – out they came with much, much more! One happy daddy 🙂

dads 60th birthday at perkins restaurant nottingham liqourice allsorts cake handmade

Happy 60th dad! x

Birthday Afternoon Tea Party

Ah yes, the week of my birthday, where, once again, friends and family gather to eat their own body weight in cake. There is a definite theme to all my birthday presents and the respective celebrations at which they are received – cake, cake, and more CAKE! Take for example this amazing 3d patisserie card – will definitely be finding a permanent home for this little lovely in my kitchen.

patisserie 3d birthday card cake lover

This year Rob and I hosted a birthday afternoon tea at home; we moved house in September and still love our new bolthole, as today proved it’s perfect for parties!

A windy Sunday afternoon in Derbyshire didn’t deter the party goers, and we made sure the house was well decked out for an afternoon tea party – balloons, banners, and of course bunting, zig-zagging across the hallway. I’m wondering how long I can get away with having this up for, the cats seem to have designs on pulling it down though…

pastel bunting and cats hosting traditional afternoon tea party at home

Starting with sandwiches, served with champagne, we tucked in to the veritable feast in front of us.

birthday afternoon tea champagne sandwiches and cake

afternoon tea party at home derbyshire happy birthday

Enjoyed freshly baked from the oven, delicious fruit scones made by Al…

afternoon tea party freshly baked scones

… and topped with home-made (by t’other Jen) blackcurrant jam, and whipped cream. Yum!

afternoon tea party fresh scones with homemade blackcurrant jam and whipped cream

Offerings from my kitchen included strawberry swirl meringues, and gluten-free brownie bites (both recipes now posted & linked up!) home afternoon tea birthday party chocolate brownie bites strawberry swirl meringues finger sandwiches

And and experiment with one of my brilliant birthday presents, a cake pop maker, little white kitty cat cake pops! They are not my finest work of art but not a bad testament to my battle with the evil that is candy melts.

kitty cat cake pops white chocolate candy melt birthday party ideas pink glitter sugar ears

cat cake pop white chocolate in place of a nose birthday party fun

And what else could you finish a birthday party with, other than a big sticky birthday cake?!

birthday girl blowing out candles afternoon tea party

Made by the lovely Jen this was one brilliant birthday cake:

chocolate swirl birthday cake with candles

– that just got better and better when I cut inside. Look at the chocolate checkerboard!

checkerboard chocolate happy birthday cake

Some more fun and games…

fun and games birthday afternoon tea party host at home derbyshire

… before waving guests off with full tummies and little party bags! Who doesn’t love a party bag, at any age?

mini afternoon tea party bags chocolate freddo cat toy

Thanks to all my lovely guests for a great afternoon, helping to make (and demolish) all the yummy food, and of course my fabulous presents! All that remains now is for me to get baking and start using some of them…

The Walk Cafe Nottingham – Reopened and Reviewed

A few weeks back I learnt that one of my favourite tea rooms in Nottingham had been taken over and reopened – of course I had to go and see for myself!

Located on Bridlesmith Walk, the cafe is right in the centre of town, but tucked away in an unassumingly serene little arcade, providing welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Heading up Bridlesmith Walk, from Bridlesmith Gate:

bridlesmith walk nottingham shopping arcade leading to the walk cafe reviews

And arriving at The Walk Cafe!

the walk cafe nottingham outside on bridlesmith gate hidden gem

On walking through the door a host of delicious delights greeted us, the choice was not an easy one.

the walk cafe nottingham lemon and carrot cakes all homemade in glass cake stands

We got talking to one of the owners, Laura, who told us that the kitchens were too tiny to bake everything onsite, instead she roped in on of her neighbours, who makes makes all the cakes from scratch each week. As well as classics like lemon, chocolate, coffee, etc., she likes to try something different every week, such as this seasonal apple and elderflower cake.

chocolate apple and elderflower homemade cakes at the walk cafe tea room nottingham review

And those with special requirements needn’t miss out! These gluten free cakes looked equally as delicious.

gluten free chocolate and lemon drizzle cakes at the walk cafe nottingham

Aside from the cakes, The Walk also offers a range of other sweet and savoury items, and we pored (and drooled) over the wonders in the big glass fridge. Macarons! Cupcakes! A chocolate SHOE! What more could a girl want?

bright macarons at the walk cafe nottingham

cupcakes and white chocolate shoe the walk cafe nottingham reopened 2013

Finally for us to dote on, a beautiful range of cake stands and loose leaf teas.

afternoon tea cake stands and loose leaf teas and the walk cafe tea room nottingham

The tea menu is no less extensive, there are some wonderful blends and flowering teas to choose from.

extensive loose leaf tea menu at the walk cafe nottingham

Eventually making our way to sit down, we were pleasantly surprised to find the decor has been brightened up a little, with fantastic hand=painted floral artwork on the walls:

the walk cafe nottingham hand painted wall artwork

reopened the walk cafe nottingham review hand painted flowers antique furniture

Whilst still maintaining the quirky with beautifully mis-matched furniture, a mix of old and new.

vintage furniture at the walk cafe nottingham tea room decor tables and chairs

the walk cafe nottingham 2013 chandelier above purple themed dining table and chairs

I opted for some coffee and walnut cake (later followed up with a toasted tea cake, what a greedy pig!), both of which were well-portioned and very tasty.

carrot and walnut cake slice tea room afternoon tea the walk nottingham

Everything was served in vintage china – cups, teapots, and plates.

vintage fine china teapots and teacups at the walk nottingham

As you can tell we had a lovely time – I for one am very glad this great venue has finally re-opened and restored to its former glory, and beyond! Laura and her staff were friendly and attentive, despite a busy Saturday rush. They’ve only been back open for a couple of months but I’m hopeful many more to come, and am already looking forward to going back.

Belgian Waffles at the GingerBread Tea Room, Bruges

A couple of weeks ago we finally managed a summer break, albeit a short one, and took a mini-cruise around Europe. We stopped at Le Havre in France, Bruges, and then Amsterdam – I love travelling so waking up in a different place each morning is my idea of heaven!

When in Bruges I had to get Rob to try some of the local cuisine. Having spent a fair bit of time in Brussels with work I was already au fait on their delicacies, but he was in for a real treat. We had to take a coach in from the port at Zeebrugge, and on the way the guide advised us that for the best waffles, we should go to one of the many Tea Houses that scatter the streets of Bruges. I didn’t have to be told twice!

The main square, the Markt, or Market Square, has cafes and tea rooms all along two sides. An amazing spot for sightseeing, the downside is that you pay for it. A lot. A couple of drinks on the square cost us over 10 Euros. For food… well, we took a wander.

markt market square bruges brugge panoramic photo sunny summer 2013

And we didn’t have to go very far! Mere steps away, down the pedestrian street of Sint-Amandstraat, we stumbled across this lovely little place.

ginger bread tea room bruges frontage Sint Amandstraat off markt outside seating waffles traditional belgian

Complete with outdoor setting perfect for people-watching, we chose to head inside and received a warm greeting from the owners.

ginger bread tea room bruges Sint Amandstraat off markt market square outside seating for waffles

I do just love the Belgian hospitality. All the members of staff served us at some point and they were all so friendly, laughing and joking with us. And giving us the time we needed to chose from the vast menu…

gingerbred tea room bruges home made with love pink menu front

…. was it really ever going to be anything other than waffles!

waffle menu tea time gingerbread tearoom bruges

Other than the service one thing I absolutely loved about this place was the decor. Perhaps because it was pink! But quite subtly so – lots of kitsch patterns, cute knickknacks, all very well done, creating a lovely ambiance in the tea room.

gereserveerd reserved belgian sign waffles in bruges pot plant gingerbread tea room

pink decor ginger bread tea room bruges quaint wooden tables review recommendation for waffles

pink decor and chandelier library bookcase cute vintage tea room bruges

And then came the waffles… Safe to say we weren’t disappointed! I opted for cream and chocolate, whilst Rob had ice cream and chocolate. And plenty of chocolate there was too. When in Belgium…

belgian waffles with chocolate cream and ice cream ginger bread tea room bruges

Everything was served on a beautiful matching vintage tea set. How lovely are the plates?!

belgian waffles at ginger bread tea room bruges review recommendation

authentic belgian waffles in bruge cream and chocolate vintage decor

A ludicrously short amount of time later…

empty plate vintage design pink decor belgian waffles devoured bruges

If I’d been able to get away with it there would have been some plate-licking… but on a thriving Sunday afternoon I just about managed to restrain myself 🙂

Safe to say Ginger Bread Tea Room gets a hearty thumbs up from us – Rob certainly enjoyed his first Belgian waffles, and if we’re ever back in Bruges a return trip will definitely be on the cards.

You can find them on facebook – GingerBread Tea Room –  – they don’t open every day of the week so be sure to check before you go to avoid disappointment.

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!

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

Afternoon Tea Review: Tower Restaurant, The National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

Last weekend a girl friend and I went for a short break in the beautiful city of Edinburgh. We completely lucked out with the weather – gorgeous clear blue skies and bright sunshine the whole time, perfect for a bit of laziness education on some of the Edinburgh Bus Tours.

The Castle and Grassmarket:

edinburgh castle and grassmarket area summer sunshine june 2013 panorama

Views back to the city (Castle on the right) from Ferry Road:

edinburgh city view from bus tour to leith suburbs castle and old town volcanic plug

We’d decided well in advance that afternoon tea was a must for the weekend, and, recommended by the rather amazing www.afternoontea.co.uk , we booked a table at the Tower Restaurant, atop the National Museum of Scotland. I’m pretty sure our decision was made entirely on it having terrace!

The museum itself was well worth a look on the way to tea. It has 4 floors of completely varied exhibits, from Scottish history, to Formula One cars, animals, and a whole heap of interactive stations where you can play games, press buttons, and generally have a play with some amazing things. Plus, there is a great rooftop garden, with all manner of different plants, and amazing views across to the castle.

national museum of scotland roof terrace views over edinburgh castle with grandstand and old town

We arrived at the Tower Restaurant a little early, weary from a days activities, but they were only too happy to seat us early. Having spent a lot of the weekend in the sun already, we opted to sit inside, rather than on the terrace, happily next to some wide-open sliding doors, so we could still see out to the old town and reap the benefits of fresh air.

tower restaurant edinburgh view of old town rooftops sunny summer skies afternoon tea terrace

tower restaurant edinburgh sunny terrace with a view bistro tables afternoon tea review

It was pretty obvious what we were there for – afternoon tea all the way! Our order was taken, and we were then handed the menus:

afternoon tea menu tower restaurant national museum of scotland edinburgh review

And as if the food selection was not enough, they had a great range of teas to complement it:

afternoon tea place setting the tower restaurant tea selection edinburgh

What seemed like a long wait later, but was probably very short (I was hungry!), we were presented with this fantastic solid silver cake stand. A work of art in itself!

silver cake stand full of afternoon tea at national museum of scotland tower restaurant

afternoon tea table setting tower restaurant national museum of edinburgh review summer sunshine

And the food! So much! So much choice!

afternoon tea silver cake stand amazing selection of food review sandwiches cakes scones tarts mousse

As seems the sensible thing to do, we started from the bottom and worked our way up.

On the savoury layer:

– mini cheese quiche
– smoked salmon and cream cheese bite
– egg mayonnaise sandwich
– chicken and tomato wrap

afternoon tea national museum of edinburgh sandwiches and tarts smoked salmon cheese wraps

Next up – cakes and scones:

– plain scone
– fruit scone
– shortbread biscuit
– dundee cake
– chocolate brownie with cream

cakes biscuits scones and brownies afternoon tea edinburgh

Scones of course served with jam and clotted cream – wow they were good!

tower restaurant edinburgh scones plain and fruit with jam and scottish clotted cream

fresh fruit scones with jam and clotted cream at tower restaurant national museum of scotland edinburgh

And finally the top layer – belly’s feeling a little full now…

– lemon and white chocolate mousse
– red fruits tart

afternoon tea silver cake stand lemon and white chocolate mousse red fruit tarts

I had my mousse with the shortbread biscuit on the side – a perfect combination!

afternoon tea review lemon mousse with white chocolate topping eaten with scottish shortbread biscuit afternoon tea edinburgh

We were completely stuffed – but not a crumb left in sight!

afternoon tea tower restaurant edinburgh empty cake stand all eaten

A quick amble round before we left, we found the terrace had amazing views of Edinburgh Castle; well we’ll just have to come back, and sit out there next time…

terrace at tower restaurant national museum of edinburgh afternoon tea with views of the castle and old town

And our review? YUM!

I honestly think it was one of the best afternoon tea’s I’ve ever had. Not only was there a huge amount and selection of food, but every single bite was delicious, even the bits I wasn’t expecting to like.

A definite must next time you are in the beautiful city of Edinburgh!

Fondant Fancies & Afternoon Tea Party

pink and purple fondant fancies in cupcake cases artistic photography mary berry recipe

In case you didn’t hear already, it was MY BIRTHDAY this week! Not that I get at all excited… 😉

I’d decided on an afternoon tea party to celebrate, but what else. After hosting at home last year, this year a very lovely friend offered to hold it ar her house. She told me I was under no obligation to make anything but could if I so wanted. How well she knows me!

After being thrust into the spotlight after featuring on Season 3 of The Great British Bake Off, shown at the end of last year, I’d been wanting to make fondant fancies for a while, but, to be honest, wasn’t sure I was up to the challenge! Well, no time like the present, and they are so perfect for a tea party.

All roads seem to lead back to Mary Berry’s fondant fancy recipe, and I’m really not one to dispute. However a 4 egg cake seemed like rather a lot and a bit more than needed for an afternoon tea, when there are so many kinds of cake to be sampled. So – I scaled it down a little, and made a few adjustments at points I disagreed with – marzipan? No need! Buttercream? The butter/icing sugar ratio didn’t seem right!

Recipe (makes about 10 fancies)

Sponge cake base

120g butter
120g sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon milk
120g self raising flour
flavouring – I used 1 teaspoon of lemon juice

Simply beat all the items into smooth mixture, and spoon into the tin. To make one large cake (and cut into squares afterwards), about a 10 – 15 cm square tin would be ideal, however I used a teeny little shortcut and checker-boarded my alphabet and number cake pan so that the cakes bake in their own tiny little squares. It took them around 15 minutes at 180 to cook like this.

fondant fancy recipe review mary berry cake pan with small squares sponge mixture

I paid for my shortcut ever so slightly when it came to taking them out after baking – 10 little squares all stuck on every side (despite some good tin greasing before they went in!) It took a good 5 minutes, and a very thin knife-like spatula,  to carefully prize all the little sponges away from the square blocks of the tin.

sponge squares for fondant fancies easing out of the tin

Buttercream

50g butter
100g icing sugar
flavouring – again I used lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon

Once beaten together I set aside a small amount in a piping bag, putting in the fridge to firm up slightly. At this stage I chose to skip the marzipan and apricot jam Mary Berry’s recipe uses – sponge, buttercream and fondant seems a good enough combination as is!

With the remaining buttercream, I covered the 4 sides and top in a thin, smooth layer. Then, with the refrigerated icing, I piped small circular buttercream blobs onto the top of each cake.

fondant fancies recipe buttercream crumb coat piping stiff refrigerated buttercream blob on the top

Whilst the cakes were setting in the fridge, I set to the fondant.

Fondant covering

400g fondant icing (ready to roll)
water
flavouring and colouring
chocolate, to decorate

The fondant I used was already quite soft, and I broke it down into small chunks, placing into my stand mixer. Adding only a little water (30-50ml), I set the mixer off on a slow speed, and helped to break down the pieces by squashing with a spatula. More water can be added if needed!

making liquid fondant for fancies break into small pieces using stand mixer

Relatively quickly the fondant broke down into a paste, but I had to speed up the mixer and let it run for a good few minutes in order to get it completely smooth and free-flowing. It had an odd texture a little like melted marshmallows!

liquid fondant for fancies glossy shiny icing

After seeing the disastrous attempts at dipping the cakes into the fondant on the GBBO, I decided this method resolutely was not for me. Instead, after colouring the fondant (split in half, pink and purple, my favourite colours) , I placed the cakes on a wire rack, on top of a baking tray covered with cling film, drizzling the fondant over them.

drizzling liquid fondant over fancies sponge cake using wire rack with cling film to avoid mess

A little gentle coaxing with a teaspoon was all it took to ensure the sides of the cakes were all perfectly covered in fondant.

fondant fancies covered in icing pink coloured dripping onto wire rack with cling film

Placing the wire rack over a tray worked a treat – it caught all the drips and the clingfilm was easily taken off afterwards for a super-quick clear-up!

pink and purple fondant fancies covered in icing recipe mary berry

The final step – icing on the cake if you like! – thin lines of chocolate, drizzled across from a piping bag.

drizzling milk chocolate onto fondant fancies pink and purple pastel colours

My only final dispute with Mary’s recipe is the timing. 30 – 60 minutes cooking, ok. 30 – 60 minutes preparation? I don’t think so! It took me at least a couple of hours to do everything from start to finish, including cooling times, edging in buttercream, and I only made half as many as the original recipe suggested! The other point not mentioned is drying time – I left the cakes in the pantry overnight and they were only just dry, the fondant does take a long time to set.

Next morning – using one of my great birthday presents, a light and photo studio, the cakes had their own photo shoot.

photography studio baking blog plain background stand up lights birthday presents

And they looked amazing!

finished fondant fancies from mary berry recipe omitted marzipan baby pink and lilac purple chocolate stripes

For a finishing touch, I placed the cakes in some complementing pink and purple cupcake wrappers, pinched at the edges to make a square shape to fit. And adorned with shoes and handbags – so very me, perfect for my birthday party!

fondant fancies in pink and purple shoe and handbag print cupcake cases

pink and purple fondant fancy from mary berry recipe shoe and handbag cupcake case

And afternoon tea? Well, where do I start! The fancies were great little jewels atop the cake stands, but not forgetting fab finger sandwiches, crunchy chocolate fridge cake, mega mini meringues, and wonderful warm freshly-baked scones, all washed down with a glass of bubbles and plenty of tea 🙂

happy birthday jen scottie dog chalkboard bright flowers afternoon tea

afternoon tea champagne fondant fancy meringue with berries finger sandwiches

afternoon tea cake stand fondant fancies chocolate cake finger sandwiches homemade

More cake you say? Look at my AMAZING birthday cake – a black forest gateau of a cake and sooo delicious – complete with name candle sparklers!

jen name sparklers for birthday cake chocolate with silver and gold sprinkles

(Oh yes, we did set the fire alarms off…)

sparklers on birthday cake afternoon tea chocolate

It was such a lovely afternoon – my tummy is still full of all the yummy, yummy cake. A great end to my birthday celebrations and thank you so much to my lovely friends that made it happen. Mwah! x

jen birthday afternoon tea champagne fondant fancies finger sandwiches meringues thumbs up