Gluten Free Baking Course with Paul the Baker

Yesterday I was delighted to attend a gluten free cakes and tea loaves course at Peterborough City College, hosted by Paul White aka Paul the Baker. This whole GF thing is still very new to me, I was diagnosed as intolerant at the start of the year and am still trying to find my feet a little. Luckily it’s not a complete ‘no’ to gluten, so if I do still fancy a slice of normal cake (or pizza!), I can still have one every now and then, and keep on cooking and baking as I love. The courses at Peterborough are really very reasonable (as they’re subsidised), so when I saw this one advertised at just £20 for 4 hours, it was too good to miss. The course took place at the college’s training kitchen, all industrial ovens and stainless steel, a little intimidating to start with! Peterborough college training kitchen cookery course It was only a small group of us and Paul soon put us all at ease, it was to be a relaxed day and certainly no bake-off style competitions. He had 3 recipes for us, with all ingredients and equipment included in the cost of the course. paul white gluten free recipes baking course First up, a gluten free swiss roll. Now I already love swiss roll as is (my original gluten-filled post is still one of the most popular on the blog); it’s simple, straight-forward and fat-free. But this gluten free version takes things to a new level! Amazingly it uses exactly the same quantities, method and ingredients as a normal swiss roll, just substituting regular flour for a gluten free blend (we used Doves Farm throughout the day). My swiss roll before, and after baking (note the light and fluffiness!)… gluten free swiss roll frothy mixture gluten free swiss roll simple tray cake golden finish … and then rolled and filled with raspberry jam. rolled gluten free swiss roll The result? Soft, fluffy and sweet swiss roll. Amazing! Back home I finished it with a sprinkle of icing sugar and of course had a few more big slices 🙂 gluten free swiss roll raspberry jam icing sugar dusted light fluffy sponge Next on the course, a gluten-free tea bread. Again the recipe is quite similar to a ‘regular’ one – flour, milk, yeast, pre-soaked dried fruit, and a little sugar and butter. Due to the limited time we had in the kitchen, Paul recommended baking these in muffin cases so they’d cook a little easier. The mixture went on for seemingly ever, I ended up with two whole trays full! I added some extra dates to the second batch to fruit them up a little. gluten free tea cake buns fruity and golden raisin and date gluten free bread buns tea loaf The one thing I really did learn from the day is that gluten free baking doesn’t look the same when it’s done. Whilst you’d expect normal bread rolls to go a lovely golden brown on top, when they are gluten free they only just start to colour. It’s a bit of a fine art making sure they are cooked inside but not over-done. Nevertheless I was really pleased with the way they turned out – sweet and fruity and perfectly snack size. These bad boys will keep me going for breakfast for the next few weeks! They are great on their own and even better with a smidge of butter 🙂 gluten free tea breads served with butter breakfast or snack gluten free dried fruit and date tea bread rolls One slight downside however, I really struggled to get the muffin cases off, even when they were cool. Next time I make these I will just grease the tin and cook them straight in there.   Last on our recipe list were gluten free brownies. Even more unusually, these are majority made with sweet potatoes – no butter, no sugar, just a sweet potatoes, GF flour, a little maple syrup, cocoa powder and some chopped dates for added texture. The mix was simple to make and went straight into the oven. Again it was a little tricky to tell when these were done, although the top went crispy they seemed to take forever to cook inside! Finally they came out and had a lovely brownie crust on top.   As we were running short on time I finished mine off with a twist at home, cutting into small squares and drizzling with a little dark chocolate. chocolate drizzle on gf brownie bites At the college I was a little unsold on these, the texture and taste is not what I’d expected from a brownie, but once they’d cooled and had the chocolate topping my mind was definitely made up. For a cake that’s both gluten free and vegetable based they are amazing! Fudgy and sweet, easy to make and great little treat bites. gluten free sweet potato brownies with dark chocolate drizzle So overall my day at the college was a pretty big success! Three yummy bakes, some great new acquaintances, and a new zest to go out and try some more GF recipes. Whilst I’ve decided that Peterborough is perhaps a little far to go (200 mile round trip), I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for some more courses soon. A day in someone else’s kitchen is always great fun!

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Lolly Cake

lolly cake slices new zealand recipe ideal for kids no baking required

The ingredients and recipe for this cake came in one of the most amazing Christmas presents ever – a baking package all the way from my brother and sister-in-law in New Zealand! You may remember a couple of years ago now, my post on Cakes with the Kiwis, when we were lucky enough over travelling round for a couple of weeks. Of course lolly cake featured – and they were so amazing to remember how much I loved it and send me the kit over.

lolly cake ingredients christmas gift from new zealand

The name might be a bit confusing to UK readers – it doesn’t have anything to do with lollipops on sticks, or even ice lollies. Over on the other side of the world, ‘lolly’ is the kiwi word for sweets, much as the US call it candy. The lollies in question, the main part of the cake, are these Eskimos.

pascall eskimo sweets lolly from new zealand

They’re not readily available in the UK, I understand there is a similar version called Fruit Puffs, also not available here! The closest thing I would describe them too are foam fruits – you know the pink shrimps, yellow bananas etc? I’ll be sure to try a version with these soon and post the results, watch this space.

eskimo lollies lolly sweets foam brightly coloured kiwi

Once you’ve got hold of the sweets, the most difficult bit is out of the way! Other ingredients are simply crushed biscuits, melted butter, condensed milk, and a little desiccated coconut to roll on the edges. This would be a great recipe to make with kids – supervising the lolly cutting of course, the rest is all hands-on stickiness with no baking required.

The original recipe (as sent to me) can be found on the Griffin’s website. They make an amazing malt biscuit which adds that certain something to the cake. I’m hoping the same effect can be made with a malted milk biscuit or similar over here when I attempt a UK version….

The  cake is made as simply as crushing the biscuits, cutting up the lollies, then mixing with condensed milk and butter.

The mixture needs to be rolled into a log shape and chilled for several hours before I eating, which was a bit sticky to start with but made infinitely easier using a big sheet of greaseproof paper.

lolly cake rolling tips with greaseproof paper

Likewise, to coat the edges in coconut, another roll around in the greaseproof paper saved my kitchen from an otherwise nutty mess!

lolly cake being rolled in desiccated coconut new zealand recipe

Once chilled the log is inconspicuously ordinary as a cake…

finished lolly cake log covered in desiccated coconut ready to eat

… until you cut in and reveal the amazing brightly coloured lollies!

This is one seriously addictive cake, I just cannot describe. The malty warmth of the biscuits melts into the creamy condensed milk, and the lollies come through with a squishy tangy marshmallow like texture. Sooo good!

lolly cake slices biscuit eskimo lollies condensed milk and coconut brightly coloured sweets

Unsurprisingly this batch didn’t last long at all in our house, and hence the hunt begins to track down an Eskimo lolly alternative in the UK. More here as it happens!

lolly cake slices brightly coloured pieces of marshmallow sweet in biscuit mixture

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

CCC at The Cake & Bake Show, Manchester 2014

Yesterday I was privileged to be a part of the Clandestine Cake Club stall at Cake and Bake Manchester 2014. CCC founder Lynn Hill had wanted us organisers to be a part, spending the day explaining to fellow cake-fans our simple concept of baking, sharing and eating cakes. Simple and very social, needless to say we had a lot of interest!

After a gruelling 6am start, Julia, organiser of CCC Derby and I, soon perked up once we were on the stall!

clandestine cake club stand cake and bake 2014 manchester central derby organiser julia

And it wasn’t long before the crowds started to arrive.

clandestine cake club stall at cake and bake show 2014 crowds gathering for taste on the table judging

Each day CCC was hosting a ‘Taste on the Table’ competition, for members of near and far clubs to enter their best bakes, to win fab baking prizes from Renshaw and Nordicware. And they did not disappoint – before long we had a fantastic array of cakes adorning the stall.

clandestine cake club taste on the table competition at cake and bake manchester central 2014

And the icing on the cake as you may put it… I was kindly volunteered by the rest of the team to judge the competition with none other than Peter Sidwell from Britain’s Best Bakery. Nerve-wracking doesn’t even describe it – tasting 10 cakes sounds like a lot of fun, but surround by crowds of eager bakers was a little over-whelming! Thankfully the girls were on hand to snap me at my most flattering…

clandestine cake club taste on the table competition judging with peter sidwell britains best bakery

Peter was a real pro, and between us (conferring with me hidden behind the banner!) we chose a Chocolate Porter Cake with Baileys icing as the winner – baked by Heidi from N. Yorkshire & Tees Valley CCC. She too was rather overwhelmed but a very worthy winner, for a great combination of flavours and lovely light texture.

Judging duties out the way, I had plenty of time to wander round, sample and shop!

Of course I had to try this fantastic cupcake dress, made of 800 cupcakes and over 5000 sugar flowers – simply stunning.

cake and bake show 2014 purple cupcake dress

And some fantastic things to see at the other stalls – Nielsen-Massey were making cocktails with their extracts…

giant nielsen massey vanilla extract cake and bake show

… and Billingtons had created a brilliant Sugar Market, with lots of fudge made from their different varieties. Handily placed very close to our CCC stand, we stopped by there more than a few times!

billingtons sugar stall cake and bake show

Around the show there were some absolutely fantastic display cakes, of Disney, Pixar, and other famous ‘faces’:

cake and bake show cloudy with a chance of meatballs display cake cake and bake show 2014 frozen reindeer and snowman cake disney monsters university cake sully mike wazowski sugar art cake and bake show 2014

I just loved this tray of ‘savouries’ – how great an idea to have the scotch eggs with creme eggs inside!

edible art cake scotch creme eggs pork pies all as cakes

At the heart of the show was a giant jungle-themed installation, with the show’s main competition inviting bakers to create everything animalistic and evergreen. Some more absolutely outstanding cakes – they must have taken days if not weeks!

cake and bake show manchester 2014 jungle peacock and monkey cakes edible art cake and bake show 2014 jungle art cakes lions head cake and bake show crocodile cake life size all edible

Back at the CCC stall we were thrilled to have some familiar faces drop by. Glenn, Christine and Kimberley from 2013’s Great British Bake-Off – all of whom were absolutely lovely and only too happy to chat everything cake.

clandestine cake club team with glenn cosby and christine wallace gbbo 2013 cake and bake show 2014 clandestine cake club ccc at cake and bake show 2014 with kimberley GBBO 2013 finalist

And the delightful GBBO Series 4 winner Frances Quinn. She was such a sweetie, genuinely a lovely person, although seeming a little rushed off her feet!

clandestine cake lynn hill and team with francis quinn gbbo series 4 winner

Over by the Bakery we bumped into (ok stalked a little), Eric Lanlard of Cake Boy fame. He is a huge CCC supporter and so enthusiastic about everything baking related.

cake and bake show 2014 ccc clandestine cake club with eric landlard

After a hard days cake-chatting I made it home a little after 9 – rather weary after a 14 hour day but delighted to have met so many fantastic people on the stall. Here’s to spreading the Clandestine Cake word!

And of course I didn’t come back empty handed – a combination of shopping with free samples from Dr. Oetker, Rainbow Dust and Sugar & Crumbs – plenty to keep me in the kitchen trying new things over the next few weeks.

cake and bake show manchester 2014 goodies new covent garden cookbook billingtons sugar tin colours sugar and crumbs icing

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.

Low(er) Sugar Chocolate & Cognac Cake

low sugar chocolate and cognac cake made with prunes diabetic recipe iced with sprinkles sugar strands

A couple of weeks back we were very kindly invited to spend the weekend in a holiday cottage Rob’s parents had rented. Never one to turn down a free holiday, we kindly accepted, and I set thinking about a cake that would survive the 4 hour drive (as if I could turn up empty handed!)

Rob’s dad is diabetic, although this never seems to stop him eating huge slices of my latest creation, I wanted to try something that would be a little healthier, and perhaps he could eat even more of 🙂

The recipe came from Diabetes UK originally (the link for which keeps changing, so I’m adding this UKTV one as a backup). I won’t lie, it was an instant yes when I found it because I could finally use some of the cognac that’s been sat in the cupboard for over a year!

courvoisier cognac cake recipe chocolate how to use up

As for the recipe itself, I’m afraid I wasn’t very sold on the taste when I did a taste bake of a little of the batter. The squidgy texture was definitely there, but the sweetness was definitely lacking. Not wanting to completely undo my diabetic-friendly work, I amended the recipe slightly with the use of some Tate & Lyle light at Heart, which is 50% sugar and 50% sweetener – it is sweeter than normal sugar so if you’re baking using regular brown sugar I’d added about a third more. For those on a really strict diet you could just use sweetener.

tate and lyle light at heart brown sugar stevia blend diabetic cake recipe

Oh and my other minor amend? More alcohol! 2 tablespoons didn’t seem like nearly enough cognac, especially to soak the pound of prunes I’d chopped. The batter does taste strong, but by the time it’s baked into the cake it’s quite a subtle tangy kick.

soaking prunes in cognac for low sugr diabetic cake recipe

Ingredients

125g chopped prunes
50ml cognac (approx. 3 tablespoons)
225g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
40g cocoa powder
200ml buttermilk (or normal milk + 2 teaspoons lemon juice, see below)
100g butter
150g light at heart brown sugar, or alternative equivalent in sweetener
3 large or 4 medium eggs

You’ll note from above I didn’t have any buttermilk to use, but normal milk is perfectly fine as you just need to add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice to get it to curdle and thicken as required.

how to make buttermilk from normal semi skimmed milk and lemon juice for cake recipe

Method

– Soak the chopped prunes in the cognac for a couple of hours. If you’re short of time pop them in the microwave for a few 10 second bursts and you’ll soon find they plump up
– Cream together the butter and sugar until soft and fluffy, before beating in the eggs and prune mixture, with two tablespoon of the flour
– Sieve in the rest of the flour, along with the cocoa and baking powder, adding alternately with the buttermilk, and folding in with a metal spoon between additions
– Spoon into a tin, minimum of 20cm square / 8 inch round, or equivalent, and bake for 35 – 50 minutes at 180 degrees. Test to see if it’s done by inserting a skewer or the handle of a thin teaspoon. If it comes out clean, the cake is ready, if not, return to the oven for 5 more minutes and check again

I chose to bake mine in my Ikea Sockerkaka cake tins – I have big plans to use them stacked up but haven’t found the right occasion yet. One day…

ikea sockerkaka silicon cake moulds review usage

In any case the big silicon mould was a dream to work with, it held the cake perfectly and was easy to release when ready.

chocolate cognac and prune cake made in ikea sockerkaka mould diabetic recipe low sugar

Due to a lack of ingredients in my new-house cupboards, sadly I struggled to keep up the low-sugar ethos when it came to the icing. Suggestions are rife to top with coconut, low-sugar jam glazes, or even eat plain with ice cream. I caved to a simple chocolate icing (175g icing sugar, 25g cocoa, water to form a stiff paste), complete with chocolate sugar strands/sprinkles.

dripping chocolate icing on prune and cognac cake low sugar diabetic chocolate sugar strands sprinkles

And as for our weekend in Norfolk? Sunny, relaxing and far too busy to capture any pictures of the cake’s inside (which, by the way, was beautifully moist and chocolately, and highly recommended).

Walks with Tammy the dog on Walcott beach:

german shepherd alsation dog on norfolk beach summer 2013

And a fantastic 40’s weekend we stumbled across in Sheringham – complete with dancing in the streets, over half the town in fancy dress, and war-plane fly bys.
sheringham norfolk 40's weekend clock tower wartime recreation

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.

Mojito Marble Bundt Cake

mojito marble bundt cake recipe clandestine cake club derby summer cocktails party green and white lime rum mint

This weekend marked the marvellous return of cake club, after its all-too-long summer break. The event on Sunday was part of Derby Clandestine Cake Club, themed as ‘Summer’s Last Cocktail Party’. Well, where to start with a cocktail cake!

I’d been thinking about a marble cake for a while, and the different ingredients of a cocktail seemed like the perfect opportunity to do this. A little light research later (and a rather sore head), I settled on a mojito. A simple mix of rum, lime, and mint – the drink version (recipe here) is muddled with sugar and topped up with soda, but obviously these are not required in the cocktail version. A couple of friends had suggested carving it into a cocktail glass shape, but there was a new bundt tin in my kitchen awaiting its first use…

morrisons five pound silicon bundt cake tin four pint bakeware bargain

As I’ve not made a bundt cake before, I wanted to stick with quite a basic recipe to ensure the consistency and bake was right, and Nigella’s vanilla bundt recipe seemed to fit the bill perfectly, minus the vanilla of course. I was dubious when it wanted a four pint bundt tin, but after a quick check with some pints of water that’s what mine held! It’s a lot of cake mixture but is padded out a lot and lightened by the addition of the yoghurt, so it’s not as bad as it sounds 🙂 I added a little extra flour and sugar to balance out the flavour and texture of the mint, rum and lime.

Ingredients
225g butter
325g white sugar
6 eggs
380g plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
250ml low-fat natural yoghurt
75ml white rum or 1 1/2 teaspoons rum flavouring
Grated rind & juice of 2 limes or 1 tablespoon of lime juice
Good handful of fresh mint leaves of 1 1/2 teaspoons of mint flavouring
Gel food colours as required

Icing as desired – I used 250g icing sugar mixed with a pack of mojito flavouring

Method
Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
Add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the yoghurt, and beat in with a tablespoon of flour each to prevent curdling
Sieve and fold in the remainder of the flour and baking powder
Divide the mixture into three parts, ready for flavouring and colouring

splitting cake batter into 3 bundt cake recipe bowls

For the mint section, I’d ended up with a whole mint plant as it was the same price in the supermarket as a few sprigs! In just a week it’s grown like wildfire, I’ll have to find it a bigger pot and some recipes to use it in.

fresh mint plant from asda cheap mojito cake recipe

Using a good handful of leaves, I put them through the blender so they were finely chopped, and mixed in with some green and black gel food colourings.

fresh mint leaves glass bowl for mojito cake recipe

freshly ground mint leaves for mojito cake mini food processor

mixing green and black gel food colour into cake batter for mojito bundt recipe

For the lime batter, I was quite uninspired by the size and quality of limes in the supermarket, so ended up using just the juice and zest of one, substituted with some bottled lime juice. I coloured this part using a mixture of green and yellow gels, to give it a really zingy lime colour.

lime for mojito cake fresh versus bottled juice asda

And last but by absolutely no means least – the alcohol! I had a couple of bacardi miniatures in the cupboard and these were perfect, about 1 1/2 bottles (5cl each) gave a great rum kick to the batter. There was no colour in this part as I wanted to keep it white like the rum.

bacardi miniatures for mojito cake recipe rum lime and mint

The three batters ready:

lime rum and mint flavoured and coloured cake batter for mojito marble bundt cake recipe

With the bundt tin well-greased, simply spoon in alternate mixes in and around. I used a mixture of spoonful dollops and some swirls and drizzles; don’t actually mix the cakes together as it’ll do this well enough and marble itself. I wish I’d taken more pictures of this stage but it was getting a little sticky!

mojito marble bundt cake batter swirl mint lime and rum

Bake at 180 degrees for 45 – 60 minutes, until an inserted skewer comes out clean, i.e. there’s no raw cake mix on it.

Allow to cool in the tin and carefully turn out:

mojito marble bundt cake freshly baked lime rum and mint recipe swirl mixture

I wanted to keep the icing simple and white to offset the marble of the cake. To keep up the flavour I used some pre-mixed mojito mixer – the Funkin brand is quite new to me but you can find them in most supermarkets now, they really are a great idea and all the ones I’ve tried really do taste like the cocktails (even if you don’t add the alochol!)

funkin mojito mixer lime and mint flavour to have with bacardi marble cake recipe baking ideas

I added the mixer to some white icing sugar to get a good thick paste, and simply drizzled this all around the top of the cake, topping with a good layer of mixed green and white non-pareils (sugar sprinkles), and a little edible glitter.

clenadestine cake club summer cocktails event derby mojito bundt cake marble batter recipe drizzle icing

mojito marble bundt cake clandestine club recipe method instructions lime mint and rum alcoholic

I’m totally in love with bundt cakes now and want to make more already! The shape lends itself to such easy decoration but looks stunning with little effort.

mojito marble bundt cake with green sprinkles and white flavoured icing rum lime and mint recipe alcoholic

Onto cake club I trotted, and the selection of cakes was fab! One of the things I love about CCC (Clandestine Cake Club) is that the themes can be anything and everything, and all the bakers come up with such different ideas. From a Rusty Nail to a Shirley Temple – we had such a great afternoon devouring all of these 🙂

clandestine cake club summer cocktails buffet derby

And I was so happy to see the marble effect when my cake was cut into! The mojito flavours came out brilliant and I was absolutely delighted with the colours:

swirl effect inside mojito marble bundt cake recipe for clandestine cake club green lime mint and rum flavour

In some parts the batter had curled itself down and then risen into a swirl during baking – entirely intentional of course!

inside mojito marble cake swirled effect green white lime mint and rum icing and sugar sprinkles

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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