Category Archives: Christmas

New year, new cake?

Hello – well it does seem a long time since I last posted on my blog. I find the beginning of the year a bit of a struggle. After over indulging at Christmas (who doesn’t? do you know anyone?) I always feel I need to be restrained in January. Lots of pounding the treadmill (which is just not the same as running in the great outdoors, but I don’t enjoy running in the dark, gloomy half light of January or February so I make do with the gym; needs must). Lots of cooking with a ton of veggies. “Being good” perhaps you could call it. But BOY does it get boring after a while! So as we’re more than half way through February surely, SURELY it’s time to EAT MORE CAKE?! The rest of the year I don’t have this dilemma; I bake. I test. I lick the spoon. I eat cake. I share my cakes. And I run/keep fit and do my best to burn off some of the calories. It’s a nice life. So please, please can the winter be over so I can get back to normal? It’s not that I haven’t done ANY baking, that would be unthinkable. I’ve made brandy snaps (SO easy, SO nice, SO  retro, SO difficult to photograph!!), I’ve made coffee and walnut cake, I’ve made orange and almond cake – and that was actually wheat and fat free – take that January!! I’ve made chocolate sponge to soak in coffee and alcohol to turn into chocolate tiramisu. And I made Mr Tea a chocolate cinnamon cupcake, with chocolate fudge frosting and hand made plump red hearts (just a small cake you understand, what with Valentine’s Day falling in blooming self righteous February). But I want to bake MORE! I want to share more cake, I want to take tea sitting in my lovely little summer house, with Mr Tea or some other family and friends. It’s TIME – make it happen, somebody, please!!!

And as I’ve been focusing so much on thinking about baking lately (nothing new there) – I’ve also noticed just how many other people are getting into baking. People I wouldn’t normally expect to see sharing a cake or two have been bringing them to meetings. Even at a meeting at the Food Standards Agency recently, sshhh, don’t tell anyone – they baked and ate chocolate brownies!! Another running/baking colleague and I might even run for Sport Relief in March – and bake cakes to eat and sell afterwards – it’s a new trend, bake-share-run – you heard it here first! We even discussed having a Sport Relief Bake Off in our department – but we’d need a bank of ovens, oh and the time to bake all morning rather than doing any work…..

So the baking trend is not only continuing but reaching out to new bakers young and old in 2012. I commented on nostalgia and the need for us to have civilised, sophisticated tea parties in the article that Nene Valley Living Magazine published in January (you’ll find it online).

So bring on the warmer weather, spring flowers, green not brown roadsides and verges, bird song and more opportunities to bake and share cake!

Why not treat your Mum, Daughter, Son, Grandchildren, Wife, Friend, or Yourself! Sunday, 18th March 2012 – Peterborough

Join me and my co-host Tilly at a beautiful vintage barn venue in Peterborough for full afternoon tea on Mothers’ Day. Enjoy finger sandwiches made with Hambleton Bakery bread, savoury and sweet scones (everyone loves them!), and a selection of cakes and bakes. All served on pretty bone china, with starched white table linen and fresh flowers, with lots of loose leaf tea (or coffee if you’d prefer), friendly chatter and time to browse the pretty surroundings. Just what you need to drag you out of the winter slush and gloom!

Email mslemonydrizzle@sky.com to book and pay £20 per guest in advance via PayPal.

Lots of love, care and cake

Lemony Drizzle x

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Top-Secret-Tea-Parties/159296277491762

 

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Review of Yaxley vintage tearoom

Sophie T’s Vintage Tearoom opened in Yaxley, Peterborough, a few months ago and it’s already become very popular with the locals, including me! I first read about it in the Yaxley Gazette and had my first cuppa there 24 hours later – I couldn’t wait to see whether it was going to be a welcome addition to a village that, whilst having a large population has a woeful number of places for tea and cake (or coffee or sandwiches for that matter). Sophie’s is run by Lynn and when I first visited I recognised her husband, Andrew, who was helping out with the weekend rush, immediately – we were at infant, junior and secondary school together!! Also checking out the tea and cakes that weekend was another amazing reminder of my childhood in Yaxley – the wife of our wonderful head teacher, Mr Ash, who lives in Yaxley. This brought back such memories for me – I loved Yaxley infant and junior school (liking school wore off by age 12!) despite being forced to eat cabbage on Day 1 and getting my first (and I have to confess, last) detention from Mr Ash for talking in the dinner queue. Oh Happy Days!!

Lynn and Andrew have kitted Sophie’s out like a vintage living/dining room with well-worn furniture and even vintage hats and coats hanging from the coat hooks. There is a vast array of mismatched vintage crockery – I love the tea cups all hanging on the wall and the wonderful tiered cake stands (which are available to buy). There are vintage newspapers on each tea table too, a nice touch.

Lynn serves soup, sandwiches, eggs/beans on toast plus, of course, scones with jam and cream and a selection of homemade cakes. On previous visits I’ve tried the sandwiches and soup which were both very good. Last weekend I finally got to try a piece of cake – which was a difficult choice because they all looked so inviting. I plumped for a piece of coffee and walnut layer cake and, to my surprise, so did Mr Tea – he always maintains it’s not a cake he likes but he was seduced by the depth of coffee buttercream in the middle and neither of us were disappointed. It was sweet, moist, rich with coffee and most definitely the nicest slice of coffee and walnut cake since I last tasted my Nan’s version, circa 1982.

There is a function room upstairs which is available to hire and this is also kitted out like an old fashioned dining room. A piano was a new addition downstairs and a lovely gent was playing Christmas songs whilst we ate; what with the twinkly lights in the window and a steaming pot of tea (with wonderful double layered, hand knitted tea cosy!) I’m only too happy to while away time in Yaxley again..many, many years after I last did so.

 

Gingerbread tea party for Christmas

Friday 2nd December – this was the 2nd joint Top Secret Tea Party / Tilly’s Vintage Craft Workshop event and, again, it was just fabulous!

Tilly’s barn, in Chesterton, Peterborough, is an Aladdin’s cave of beautiful things. Currently Tilly has decked the barn out for the festive season with lots of felt garlands, innovative Christmas tree decorations, oranges studded with cloves and tied with ribbon, a stunning white Christmas tree and lots of fragrant candles. I can’t think of a nicer place to spend a Friday evening with a bunch of lovely, chatty women and a couple of young girls.

I served luxurious hot chocolate – the kind that’s made from cream, milk, melted chocolate and… nothing else! It’s the only kind of hot chocolate I like and is perfect for a cold winter’s evening. Equally delicious is a tea cup of mulled wine…..I make mine using red wine, orange juice, sugar, honey, cinnamon, cloves and ginger.  I also put the kettle on and made several pots of steaming hot assam tea.

I made a squidgy ginger loaf cake, studded with stem ginger and sultanas and drizzled with fondant icing (these cakes are great because they keep for a week or two so are perfect for guests popping in over the holidays); chocolate and cinnamon cupcakes topped with marshmallows and two chocolate logs. One was a traditional ‘buche de noel’, filled and covered with chestnut , chocolate and cream mousse and the other was made the same way but minus the chestnut puree. If you’ve ever cooked with canned chestnut puree I’m sure you’ll agree it’s the most unpromising of ingredients – it doesn’t smell or taste pleasant until you mix it with other ingredients; then it imbues the chocolate mousse with a nutty taste and really does lift a chocolate log to another level. Delicious!

 

 

Tilly showed our guests how to make vintage inspired gift tags and Christmas decorations – some using some of my gingerbread cookies which I’d baked and brought along – I have a tin full of these, all wrapped with wool, lace, ribbon and little snowflakes – the whole tin looks and smells divine (why not fill a pretty tin with something similar and give as a gift?). Tilly also had us all captivated by showing us something many had last made at school – pom poms! We used some of those plastic sacks that often drop through your letterbox for charity donations, cut them into long strips and matched with strips of wool. It’s better than throwing the bags away, if you’re not going to fill them with goods for the charity. We wound the strips around circles of card, well, you wouldn’t think something so simple could keep a bunch of grown women (and two girls) so quiet! We were all very pleased with our pom poms and these can be attached to gifts or hung on a tree (or used to entertain the cat). Tilly gave us so many ideas, using up bits of fabric, paper (buy a snowflake stamp/cutter and stick the cut outs to card/gift tags), wool, ribbon, things that you might have lying around at home (garden twine… string…brown paper…newspapers…comics…holly) that really give your gifts and home the individual touch.

I wasn’t feeling too well a few nights after the tea party so I spent a quiet couple of hours finishing more gingerbread decorations whilst curled up on the sofa with a cup of tea – time and energy well spent!

I can’t wait for the next Tilly / Lemony Drizzle joint event…. A Mothers’ Day Vintage Tea Party – book your places now by emailing mslemonydrizzle@sky.com.