Wednesday, 12 December 2012

I'm Back!

I'm sorry that I've been so much of an absentee blogger recently, it's been a fairly busy time! I've just decided to blog a birthday cake I made a couple of weeks ago. It was actually ordered by one of my teachers for another of my teachers, lemon sponge with lemon buttercream and a gold/ivory colour scheme.
I have a few other posts to write soon. Including a very exciting project from last month!
Hayley x

Monday, 22 October 2012

Celebrating in style- Afternoon Tea at Pearl

So I guess most people head straight for a club to celebrate their 18th birthdays- not me! I’m far too much of a foodie to miss an opportunity for edible celebrations, and I was excited about going for a lovely dinner with my parents on my 18th birthday (which was Sunday the 14th). However, The foodieness of my birthday weekend was completely ramped up when I got an amazing surprise on Friday night; my sister Katie and her boyfriend Chris (who live in far away Bristol) came back to surprise me- they had previously said that they couldn’t make it back! So they arrived late on Friday night and told me they were taking me to afternoon tea the next day!!! Not just any tea- the Chocolate afternoon tea at restaurant Pearl in Holborn; this isn’t just a beautiful restaurant in an exceptionally gorgeous hotel building

 ...but it is also where I did my work experience under Jun Tanaka 2 years ago, it is an excellent restaurant and it holds a very special place in my heart. Though Jun has now left the restaurant for a very well deserved break, it is still brilliant and home to so many lovely pearl chandeliers- and chocolaty treats!!
We were presented with this fancy box of Twinings teas to choose from, we shared a pot each of Earl Grey, Russian Caravan and the fascinatingly delicate Silver Tip. 
The first “course” was a very filling selection of finger sandwiches, miniature smoked salmon and egg mayonnaise rolls and fluffy scones- we definitely thought that skipping breakfast had been the right decision at this point! Call me clichéd but I absolutely love cucumber sandwiches at tea- they make me feel all Victorian! But my favourite of this selection was the rare roast beef and very subtle horseradish- yum!
(apologies for the blurry photo!)
We were set loose on the chocolate buffet after our sandwiches, yep- a chocolate buffet, it was absolute bliss. 

There were two (white and dark ) chocolate fountains with lovely ripe strawberries and pineapple, but the highlight was the beautiful selection of patisserie that was available, between the three of us we managed to try one of each!
Here’s plate of pastry goodness, a white chocolate and pistachio torte, raspberry and dark chocolate tartlet and a milk chocolate earl grey mousse, all of them were extremely yummy, the glaçage on the pistachio torte was sheer and shiny, with a cute little macaron on top, but my favourite was the earl grey mousse, the delicate perfume and airy mousse was the perfect break from the super sweet and super rich of the other pastries on my plate!
This is Katie’s first selection, layered strawberry shot and mango, lime and white chocolate mousse; both had the perfect balance of creamy chocolate with the fresh fruity flavours, and the accent of the lime was brilliant, all the fragrance with no harsh sourness or bitterness- mmm!

And finally Chris’ very chocolaty choices, a rich brownie with whole hazelnuts and a gorgeous icing sugar pattern; a layered chocolate pave and a hazelnut gateau l’opera, with perfectly even and amazingly thin layers. All of them were so rich and indulgent, with so many textures of mousses, biscuits, sponges and crisp tempered shards. The best was the opera, classic coffee and chocolate flavours.
It was a wonderful afternoon, we actually ended up spending 3 whole hours lounging and grazing and supping, it was a wonderful celebration and I would recommend the chocolate tea to anyone, the staff are lovely and wonderfully attentive, and you couldn't wish for a better setting.

Hayley x  

Monday, 15 October 2012

Special People, Special birthdays, Special Cakes!

This is a very important year! Not only on the national level with the Olympics etc, but it’s also the school year that my friends and I all turn 18! I had an amazing (and foodie!) 18th birthday this past weekend, which I will blog about soon, but for today I have a couple of cakes that I’ve made for friends recently. Very recently in one case!

First of all- Aimee: my amazing best friend of 14 years who became a fully fledged adult in September. She is such a Francophile, and she loves Paris in particular (who doesn’t?) and so I had to go with a Parisian theme on this cake, complete with Eiffel Tower, Leuvre Pyramid, baguettes, croissants, macarons and metro tickets (that Aimee has all over her bedroom wall :-) It also had a tricolore ribbon trim and tricolore coloured cake layers.
I was quite happy with this Eiffel tower- entirely royal icing :-) 

this lovely photo was taken by the birthday girl herself, she is an amazing photographer with an brilliant camera!

I think the cake went down quite well, the Eiffel tower is still in Aimee’s glass cupboard! She even blogged about it on her wonderfully cool fashion blog, you can see the post here:

The second cake in this post belongs to Liv, not only a best friend but also an almost birthday-twin! Her 18th is today, and mine was yesterday! We have so many silly jokes between us, it was tough to decide which to present to her in cake form today! I went for one of our favourite Youtube sensations in the end, the amazing Potter Puppet Pals- if you havn’t watched them I suggest you follow this link straight away!
The cake was decorated with gold and silver stars, a copper glitter ‘18’, but most importantly sugar versions of the Harry, Hermione, Ron, Neville, Voldemort and Dumbledore puppets (I will point out that Neville is represented by a butternut squash!)

Neville, the slightly lonely butternut squash

Voldemort had to hide at the back- he's too evil for the front!

Liv cut the cake this afternoon, and I was told that it was very yummy! (chocolate cake with Nutella and marshmallows as the filling- a favourite combo of ours! )
Happy Birthday Livla!! 

Thursday, 13 September 2012

A Big Surprise

While we were on holiday, my parents celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary. The day before when my Dad joked that I should remind him, I told him that I had almost forgotten, and then on the actual day I just said “happy anniversary”-what a negligent daughter they must have thought they had! Little did they know that my sister Katie and I had been planning a surprise anniversary party for them for some months, and I was extremely nervous that I would let it slip! The latter stages of planning happened almost entirely over iMessage and FaceTime, with me in Switzerland, Katie in Bristol, and the party happening 2 weeks later in London! In the end, after lots and lots of cover ups and little white lies, the plan all worked out and they were suitably surprised! Here’s a picture of my parents with me, my sister and our family friend Sue when the lift doors opened into the function room at the Valley (our football team Charlton Athletic’s home ground) full of their friends and family!   

Of course, even though it was all undercover this occasion definitely required some serious cake action! Luckily, my friends parents were lovely enough to let me use their kitchen to create the main cake; and my Aunt and Uncle lent us their kitchen to make the rest of the food for the party, including a stand of lemon and vanilla cupcakes that went down a storm!
Here’s the main cake, the bottom tier was a 10” chocolate and the top a 6” coffee, both sugarpasted. On the join of the two cakes was a line of edible pearls, the glittery red “30” was made way in advance, I just cut the letters from fondant, covered them in glitter and left them to dry until they were sturdy enough to stand up against the top tier. On top, there was a small cluster of white roses which I dusted with pearl shimmer powder, as my parents’ original wedding cake was topped with roses, and 30 years is the Pearl wedding anniversary. The reason for the cake table decoration is probably quite clear, we are massive Charlton fans! I must point out- my sister actually made the Charlton flag in this picture- I thought it was amazing!

As I said, I also made cupcakes, just to absolutely make sure that we had enough cake to have a few leftovers ;-) the red glittery cupcakes were vanillas, and the white pearly cakes were lemon sponge filled with lemon curd with vanilla buttercream, they all went by the end of the night, with the exception of 2 we managed to get home to make sure my parents had tried them.

 The party was definitely worth all the planning and the sneakyness, it was a lovely evening and Mum and Dad were well and truly surprised! Also, if anyone (Charlton fan or not) is looking for a good party venue in South East London, the Valley was wonderful. The rooms are lovely, quite reasonable in price and the staff are all lovely and so helpful, definitely worth a look around!
Hayley x

Monday, 10 September 2012

Marscapone Gnocchi

My mum is a great shopper, and she usually returns from the supermarket with more than just bread and milk! This week's surprise buy was a tub of marscapone that she found for 35p, bit of a steal really! So I decided to knock up some gnocchi, using the cheese for moisture rather than potatoes. The flavour of the gnocchi is lovely and rich. And they're lovely light little pillows (I use a sneaky little bit of self raising flour to add some extra lift) :-)

So the ingredients are:
250g marscapone
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
(about) 300g plain flour
(about) 150g SR flour
1/2tsp salt
Generous 1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg

So put the marscapone, eggs, salt and nutmeg into a bowl and beat them well- you don't want marscapone lumps really.

Start adding in the flour, you want a fairly soft dough; don't add all the flour at once as you might need slightly different amounts. Bring the dough together and try not to work it too much.


Split the dough into 6 pieces and form them one by one into sausages, then cut the gnocchi from the sausages. I like quite generous big gnocchi cushions, but you can make yours smaller if you prefer.

Et voila! Just boil them for a minute or two until they float, then serve up! For some lovely texture, I like to fry off the boiled gnocchi, getting a lovely crunchy goldenness :-)
I served them up with a garlicky tomato and spinach sauce, and they got pretty good reviews from my parents!

Hayley x

Sunday, 2 September 2012

A Culinary Tour of (some of) Switzerland

I love Switzerland. We’ve been going on family holidays to the Bernese Oberland for years and years, we even have pictures of my Nan in our favourite town, Interlaken, decades ago; and my Great Grandmother had visited decades before. We decided to mix it up a little this year, as my Mum had wanted to see the famous Matterhorn for years, partially due to its appearance on Toblerone packaging! So this year, we spent a week in the mountain town of Zermatt, before moving on to our old favourite Interlaken for the second week.  Swiss food is delicious, often very rich and with a wonderful emphasis on CHEESE!! There are also lots of lovely bakeries in Switzerland, so here are a few of the delights we sampled on our trip J 

This first product is called Bergführerbrot, and it came from a lovely little bakery in Zermatt called Fuchs, there were multiple branches of Fuchs in Zermatt, we stumbled across one and bought this, a product that was voted the best bakery product in Switzerland in 2010. It was a very dense, spiced fruit and nut cake; and it reminded me of a cross between a bread pudding and a malt loaf. The name means something along the lines of mountain-leader bread, with Bergführer referring to the brave mountain climbers and dwellers of the Swiss alps; this is the reason for the heavy texture and the dried fruits- it was created as sustinance for those heading up into the harsh peaks around Zermatt. Though it was really yummy, I don’t think it was the best bakery product we tasted- really interesting to try though.
A random picture, but a fun one- here is a slightly different range of mountains!! Toblerone, even yummier in the country of its production! 
This is one of the loveliest bakeries we go to, it’s in a town called Grindelwald. We’ve been going to this bakery for ages and the cakes are gorgeous! The thing i’ll point out is the plaited loaves on the top bread shelf, they’re called Butterzopf, a rich buttery plaited bread similar to Challah, and they’re absolutely delicious.
And finally, that cream covered monster there is a delicious apple cake, packed with juicy apples, grated up core and all. It’s from a bakery at Kleine Scheidegg, from where you can get the train up to Jungraujoch- “the Top of Europe”. The cake is so moist, and is absolutely smothered in whipped cream- yum!
And finally, (I am counting this as a baked product as after all it was bread we were dipping!) this wonderful, bubbly, wine laced unctuousness of a cheese fondue *drools*. Yep, it's about as Swiss as it gets, particularly when enjoyed in a mountaintop restaurant with cowbells clinking in the background... ahhh bliss... 
So, before I spend my savings on rushing back, i'll wrap it up. There’s a very brief view of the Swiss delights we gobbled up!
Hayley x

Friday, 31 August 2012

Colourful Cupcakes for a Brilliant Wedding!

The weekend that I went on holiday this year was extra special, I love travelling and so i’m always really excited to be going on holiday; but I was also super excited this year because the day before I flew to Switzerland was the wedding of one of one of our closest family friends! The wedding was amazing, it was such a laid back and fun day (we’re talking a bride in shorts, and a BBQ and Bouncy Castle reception!) and I made a few cupcakes to put on the food table. These were all vanilla cupcakes (a pretty safe bet for a crowd usually!) decorated with glitter and very brightly coloured sugar flowers. I made the flowers in lime green and orange, bride Heather’s favourite colours when she was younger, and I made lots of different styles of flowers to make sure the display was varied and colourful. The cupcakes were on my 36-cupcake stand.

I was quite happy with how they turned out, and they went down quite well, I was informed that many of them were finished off at breakfast time the next day! However, they weren’t really needed at the wedding, as Heather, the bride and also another keen baker; had created her own stunning wedding cake, with the theme of sea, land and sky. The cake was absolutely gorgeous; I had a slice of the chocolate-with-nutella-ganache bottom tier, which was rich and super chocolaty- as lovely on the inside as it was on the outside J
The day was incredible, but I did discover one thing- bouncy castles are hard work when you aren’t a little kid any more, we were all exhausted!
Hayley x

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Apple Pie

As I said in my last (very brief) post, I recently went to Switzerland for a couple of weeks. Before we went away, we had a glut of apples (we don’t have a tree, just a tendency to over-buy on fruit and veg!) that I decided needed turning into a pie. I love baking pies, it’s such a 50s housewife/Snow White thing to do and so so yummy! I made a basic (all butter- I swear that the apples even out the unhealthiness of the butter :-S) shortcrust pastry, then made the filling by slicing the apples and coating them with: caster sugar, muscovado sugar, orange juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, a little salt and a couple of tbsp of cornflour to thicken up the juice released by the apples. I filled the pie (very very generously- those apples needed using up!) with the apple slices and the sugar and spice coating.  

After putting the lid on the pie (the most Snow White-esque part of the process for me) I decided it needed some sprucing up, so it was time to whack out the blossom plunger cutters and make it a more fairytale-pie, I covered the top with pastry flowers before glazing with milk and baking.

I probably should have cooked the apples down before baking to get some of the juices out, but I went for the quick option and filled the pie with the raw apple filling, the pastry was still baked through properly and had a crisp base, but as soon as I cut out a slice the tin was flooded with appley sauce! It was yummy and syrupy but there sure was a lot of juice! We weren’t complaining though, especially when it mixed in with a little of the double cream we ate it with ;-)

The pie also made for a pretty good rushed breakfast the next morning, you’ll get to find out what the rush was all about in the next post!  
Hayley x

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Be back soon!

Sorry it's been all quiet on the cake front for a few weeks, but be assured that there will be lots of posting going on next week! In the meantime, enjoy this picture of the Matterhorn, one of the most gorgeous and imposing mountains I've seen, wish I could be back on holiday, Switzerland has great cake as well as great scenery!!
Hayley x

Sunday, 29 July 2012

An Ode to FroYo

Just look at this beauty! My oh so yummy Snog frozen yogurt from Snog in Covent Garden this evening, natural frozen yoghurt with toasted coconut, raspberries and brownie chunks mmmmm. And why does this deserve such praise? Because the yoghurt is so so creamy, and it's 100% fat free! Just imagine how healthy it would have been if I had resisted the brownie joy :-) the yoghurt at Snog is sweetened with Agave nectar as well, so no refined sugar (if you get nice healthy toppings) so there it is, I didn't make it but it needed a little shout out cause it was just so innocently yummy :-)
Hayley :-)

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Pretty in Pink

Rather absurdly, my summer holidays began today (the absurd part being that on the way back from school I was under an umbrella, some summer eh?) This means the end of term, which provided me with a decent reason to bake up some cupcakes; a dozen for my German teacher who is leaving and 2 half dozen boxes as little gifts for my 2 of my mum’s colleagues (she’s a school teacher so the end of term is doubly busy in our household) I went for pretty pink flowers as my “theme” to try and bring a little summery-ness to this slightly gloomy British July. These were basic vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream, topped with glitter galore, various shapes of pink fondant flowers and little edible pearls- very girly and colourful enough, I hope, to bring a little summer-energy.

The dozen for Mrs Lee, I went for a fairly concentrated pink glitter circle so that the outer petal detail on the paler flowers would show properly.

And a half dozen box, one of the two for Mum’s colleagues.

And a closer look at one of the flowers, cause I like to poorly imitate fancy magazine photos!
So now its “summertime”, hopefully the weather will clear up soon cause at the moment it really doesn’t feel like the holidays!  
Hayley x

Friday, 6 July 2012

Lovely Leaves (and creepy monster eyes!)

Over the last few weeks, I’ve spent lots of my food technology lessons decorating cupcakes! It’s been lovely and relaxing to have these little cakey interludes to my normal day of studying, and –even better- I’ve been able to teach some of my friends some leaf painting goodness! I used PME plunger cutters- ivy and rose leaves as well as multiple size daisies; and they were painted with Kroma airbrush paints (though I wasn’t actually using our airbrush) and Rainbow Dust metallic paints (I’m very lucky with my school’s sugar craft supplies!) We had so much fun!
First up- this gorgeous rainbow-leaf cupcake was made by the wonder team of my friends Liv and Kate:
And second, this beauty was created by the aforementioned Kate and also Alex- this was their first go at leaf painting and I think this is a pretty cool result! The colours of these leaves were so magic, and I added on a couple of tendrils as well as their initials to finish off the cupcake- and I’d say the result was pretty cute!
This is what I was up to while Alex and Kate were working their magic on the leaves and flowers above, just a few simple ivy leaves and tendrils
And finally, this is what I was doing when Kate and Liv were painting their rainbow leaves, this is inspired by our recent visit to Alton Towers, more specifically the ride Nemesis. The back story of the ride revolves around an alien, and the sign of the ride is a big creepy eye with what looks like redweed from War of the Worlds all over it, so I decided to immortalise the ride on a cupcake. I don’t think it’s the most appetizing design- but suitably creepy!
Happy Weekend!
Hayley x