Thursday, 30 May 2013

Banoffee Cupcakes


After my recent trip to the Richmond Tea Rooms I had a serious banoffee craving. They served a mini banoffee pie as part of their afternoon tea and it was absolutely divine. I needed more banoffee in my life! I thought cupcakes would be a perfect sized portion of gooey banoffee goodness.


I made the sponge by creaming together 100g butter and 100g caster sugar. I then added 1 heaped tbsp Speculoos (see previous post for more info on this) to give the sponge a hint of biscuit flavour. I then added 2 eggs and 2 mashed up bananas and mixed well. Finally I folded in 125g self raising flour and 1 tsp baking powder.


I popped the batter into cases. The mixture made exactly 12 cupcakes.


I baked them on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for about 20 minutes, then left them to cool.


I cut holes in the middle of the cupcakes and filled them with Carnation Caramel, which if you've never had, is amazing and super yummy! To be more specific, it's a ready made Dulce de Leche caramel sauce.


I topped the cupcakes with fresh whipped cream, I just smoothed it on with a spoon, but you can pipe it on if you have time. I then added wedges of banana that I had brushed with lemon juice to stop them from browning too soon, and a sprinkle of grated chocolate.


These probably disappeared faster than any other bake I have taken into work. They were absolutely delicious, and I could have eaten several if they hadn't all gone so quick! I will be making a version of these for my Charity Cake Sale this weekend. I'm going to make Carnation Caramel buttercream as I don't want to leave fresh cream out. These are definitely for immediate consumption or at least within 24 hours (refrigerate overnight), but I can assure you that won't be a problem!


I'm entering these into September 2013's Calendar Cakes Challenge, where the theme is cupcakes. The challenge is ran by Laura Loves Cakes and Dollybakes.


Recipe slightly adapted from Carnation.

Friday, 24 May 2013

The May Lust List

Spring weather has finally arrived! I'm so pleased to see the sun out and the air feeling much more pleasant. I have put my gloves and hat away and hope I don't have to see them again for a few months. Spring means growth and I love seeing the trees grow again and the flowers appearing. The trees in my neighborhood look so pretty at the moment! I went to Buxton recently and spring had definitely sprung as the Pavillion Gardens were looking beautiful. I'm inspired by fresh fruity flavours in my baking this month like lemon, orange and lime. I hope you will be equally as inspired by the lust list items this month!


Green Cake Stand
Just Bake, £20.00 - Also available in pink and blue
Just Bake have just brought out these gorgeous cake stands that are not only elegant and stylish, but they also have a unique difference in that the cake tier can be removed from the stand to provide an extra shelf in a cake tin. Get one quick because Just Bake are offering a 20% discount on these cake stands until Friday 10th May!


Lavender Infused Sugar
Sainsburys, £2.99 - Also available in Cinnamon and Vanilla
Sainsbury's have added a lot of great new products to their baking range. I recently purchased a tub of their new lavender infused sugar and I am so excited to try it out! I'm currently deciding on the right recipe to use it in - watch this space!


Double Sided Macaron Mat
Sew White, £12.99
With their bright or pastel colours, and huge range of flavours, macarons are the perfect sweet spring treat. These mats ensure all your macarons stay the same size so they fit together perfectly when sandwiched. This mat is reversable so you can make big or small macarons with it.
If you'd like to learn how to make perfect macaron's Cake Club HQ are holding a class next month in Manchester!


Smiley Faces Cookie Cutters
Lakeland, £9.99
These super cute cookie cutters are great for bringing a smile to your face as well as your biscuits! Kids will love baking with these, and you fill the biscuits with anything you like. I recommend chocolate spread, raspberry jam or lemon curd.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Coconut & Lime Loaf



I have been dying to bake with lime for ages as it my absolute favourite citrus fruit. Coming up to summer as well, I think citrus fruits are a great flavour to bake with. I wanted to start with a simple recipe so I could see how lime tasted in cakes as I've never tried it before. I found this recipe on the Be-ro website.


To make the sponge I creamed together 100g butter and 100g caster sugar, added 2 eggs and 1 tbsp milk and mixed in, then folded in 25g dessicated coconut and the zest of one lime. Finally I folded in 100g self raising flour.


I poured the mixture into a standard loaf tin and baked on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for about 45 minutes.


I poured a mixture of 2 tbsp caster sugar and the juice of one lime onto the hot cake and left it to cool in the tin.


When it was cool I sprinkled the top of the cake with some dessicated coconut.


This loaf was simple to make, with a superb result. The lime is a delicious flavour and the coconut adds texture. It went down very well with my colleagues, and I even passed on the recipe to one of them. The only thing I would change is to double the recipe next time! I will definitely be making this for my Charity Cake Sale in a couple of weeks time!

UPDATE: I have made this recently and doubled the recipe - which I highly recommend! Bake on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 30 minutes, then 160C/325F/Gas Mark 3 for a further 45 minutes.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Richmond Tea Rooms


Afternoon tea is a long standing British custom which centres around our nation's love of tea. It used to be associated with the past and the upper classes, but now it is enjoying a come back thanks to trends like vintage clothing, baking and period dramas. I've never been for afternoon tea before, mostly because I actually don't drink tea (sorry fellow Britains!) but I wasn't about to let that stand in my way when cakes were involved! I decided to take some friends that were visiting me for the weekend to the Richmond Tea Rooms for a special lunch.


The decor of the Richmond Tea Rooms is inspired by both Alice In Wonderland and Tim Burton. Features such as the red and black diamond painted wall, 'eat me' and 'drink me' signs and the antique till really give the tea rooms quirkiness and character. There is also an indoor conservatory and a canopied area, in which a 'Mad Hatter's' tea party was going on while I was there. You can book tables at the tea rooms, but on Saturdays they only take bookings for groups of 8 or more. A wait for a table in the tea rooms can be around an hour. So me and my two friends sat in The Lodge, which adjoins the tea rooms and serves as a cocktail lounge in the evenings. The decor in The Lodge included tartan wallpaper and chandeliers made from antlers, and it still had the pretty vintage feel we had hoped for.


I decided to go for the Queen's Tea which included finger sandwiches, a large scone with jam and clotted cream, a selection of cakes and pastries, and a tea of your choice (there are 16 teas on the menu) for £18. I swapped my tea for apple juice and we also shared a bottle of pink bubbly! One of my friends also went for the Queen's Tea, and the other chose the Hatter's Tea, which is the same but without the cakes.


The food was stunning and when it arrived I was so excited. I also was slightly overwhelmed as there was so much of it! I think a Queen's Tea could be shared between two people easily. I only ate half my cakes and scone, I took the rest home and enjoyed them later.


Our finger sandwiches were filled with cream cheese and cucumber, ham and tomato, beef and horseradish, and egg mayonnaise. The scones came with clotted cream, which was very buttery, and a little pot of raspberry jam. The cakes we got were a mini banoffee pie, summer fruit jelly with fresh cream, bakewell tart and a carrot and walnut cake. I didn't know if you could choose the cakes, I saw another table as I walked out with vanilla slices and I was a bit jealous!


The absolute star of the cakes for me was the banoffee pie (below) it was perfect in every way. Light smooth texture, and just the right amount of banana and toffee flavours. I was in heaven eating this!


I liked the summer fruit jelly, but found it very difficult to eat. The mini jar it came in was incredibly cute, but impossible to eat from. I would have preferred it served in something else. The almond frangipane of the bakewell tart was lovely and light, I had it at home the next day with ice cream. My only criticism was that it didn't have enough jam. The scone was delicious and perfectly baked, I really enjoyed it with the jam and cream.


The pink bubbly was also absolutely delicious too! Here I am enjoying a glass.


As well as afternoon tea, Richmond Tea Rooms also offer a selection of light lunches, and an extensive selection of cakes. The food is excellent quality and combined with the atmosphere it is the perfect place for an afternoon tea. I had a lovely time here and it felt really special. This would be a great place for a celebration, I'd like to go back and see what the cocktail lounge is like in the evenings. We also spotted Jason Orange from Take That enjoying a cup of tea while we were there!

NB. All opinions are my own, I decided to go to the Richmond Tea Rooms and was not invited there to review it.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

The Lowry Food Festival & Paul Hollywood




On bank holiday Monday I went to the Lowry Outlet Food Festival. The festival was on for three days and featured live entertainment, a bustling Artisan market, demos from top TV chefs Gino D’Acampo, James Martin and Paul Hollywood, cookery masterclasses from local chefs and celebrity book signings. My primary reason for attending was to see Paul Hollywood after I missed him demoing at The Cake & Bake Show.


Paul had great stage presence and immediately launched into banter with the audience by making jokes about Mary Berry's, or as he calls her "Bezza", drinking and age. These jokes continued throughout the show, but Paul made sure to tell us that she gives as good as she gets! They are currently filming the fourth series of The Great British Bake Off, and despite the higher level of difficulty in the challenges this year, the bakers are of a very high standard and Paul has already called two bakes 'perfect'.


The American Baking Competition is due to air in 3 weeks on CBS, and Paul is one of the judges alongside Marcela Valladolid. The winner receives a quarter of a million dollars and a book deal! There is no specific prize for winning The Great British Bake Off, but involvement in the show pretty much guarantees a book deal.


Paul showed us how to make Stilton & Grape flatbreads (picture above from his book 'Bread'). He said that when kneading dough it can look like cellulite, and you have to continue kneading until it's smooth and doesn't look like cellulite anymore. If only this worked on my thighs!! The flatbreads were proved for about an hour, the filling added, rolled out, and then pan fried. He threw pieces into the audience, I wasn't in the firing zone, but it smelt delicious!


You may remember from Mary & Paul's Masterclass shows that Paul likes to hold bowls of whipped meringue over Mary's head to check it's ready. Well, Paul told us that this went a big wrong recently as the meringue fell out all over Mary's head! He found the whole thing hilarious, but Mary got her own back when her and Sue hid his car during GBBO filming. It sounds like they all have a lot of fun when they get together!


With the leftover dough, Paul effortlessly and speedily plaited an 8 strand loaf, which you can see at the bottom of the above photo. He made a few comments during the demo about the recent negativity he has received from Greggs. After seeing him plait the loaf live, I have no idea why such negative comments were made, the man is clearly talented! He advised splaying your fingers when rolling out the strands, and slapping the dough to remove any air pockets.


Finally Paul took several questions from the audience. We learnt that his absolute favourite bread is sourdough, that he once put salt on 1000 donuts, sold them all and only received one complaint, you can prove dough overnight in the fridge, and one luckily audience member got her shoulders 'kneaded'! He ended the show with a very sincere thank you from himself and everyone involved in The Great British Bake Off for the continued support and for watching the show.


After the demo I went for a wander round the stalls to see what was on offer. I was surprised to see Ford Farm's cheese with port. The drink is often consumed alongside cheese, and I think mixing it together is a great idea. Also it makes the cheese a gorgeous pink colour!


Popcorn is really enjoying a surge at the moment in the snack market. I've seen experimental flavours such as chocolate brownie and sun dried tomato in the shops, but Joe & Seph really push the boat out with their gourmet popcorn flavour mixes. I wasn't brave enough to try the Madras Curry flavour, but I enjoyed a taster of the Caramel, Coconut & Cinnamon flavour. They offer a range of sweet and savoury tastes from Cheddar & Smoke Paprika to Strawberry Cheesecake. It's got me thinking of ways to use popcorn in my baking!


I loved this retro food truck with drag queens serving the food, such a great concept, and the queue for Camp Cooks was miles long! They will show up at your wedding, birthday party, corporate event...you name it!


It was great to see some international flavour at the festival. I saw Turkish delights (pictured above) as well as Portugese and Indian. I purchased some fish pakora mix from the Samosa Co which I am looking forward to trying out.


There were so many delicious cheeses available, Lymn Bank Farm had some great flavours like Horseradish, Tomato & Basil and Onion.


The Spice Trail had a fantastic array of fragrant and colourful spices for sale. Spices can change a simple dish to a special one, I like trying new ones out although I am a bit of a wuss with hotter spices!


These giant cupcakes were on offer from Chula's Cupcakes. They were all gigantic and the toppings crammed with chocolates and sweets. I had one of the Oreo ones, but was disappointed to find egg shell in the sponge. Besides that, it was delicious!


I've seen End of the Rainbow Cupcakes at a few food festivals and markets, I love their great value cupcakes at only £1 each. They've also expanded their range to small loaf cakes pictured above on the right.


The Cherry Tree had a varied selection of chutneys and jams on offer, they also sell cook in sauces, curds and marmalades.


The gorgeous and colourful macarons by Dinkin's Patisserie really brightened up my day. They were all perfectly uniform and vibrant, with some great flavours like apple & caramel, blackcurrant and bubblegum.


This fabulous and unusual looking fudge is primarily flavoured with alcohol. There was Blue WKD, Cheeky Vimto and Baileys home made fudges for sale in beer and wine glasses. I thought these were great novelty items and some interesting flavours! Would be great for a fun and tasty gift!


This strange stuff is called Fuffle and is a mixture between chocolate and fudge. Either way, I tried some and it was very yummy!


I finished my day by purchasing a feta filled gozleme from The Kitchen - a vegetarian cafe in Bolton. It was made in front of me and tasted really fresh and delicious. My boyfriend is a vegetarian and if we're ever in Bolton I would love to take him there.

I had a great time at the Lowry Outlet Food Festival, the weather was glorious and everyone in Manchester seemed to be there! The Salford Quays/Media City area is really stunning and the perfect venue for an event like this as you can sit out by the water and eat your purchases, or step inside the Lowry Outlet Centre to cool down. The array of stalls was fantastic, but my ultimate highlight was of course Paul Hollywood! Did you attend the Lowry Outlet Food Festival? Let me know what you thought, bought and tasted in the comments!