Category Archives: Cupcakes

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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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.

Bags, bangles and cupcakes

Sunday’s fashion tea party was such a lot of fun! I couldn’t
resist buying a beautiful scarf with bobbles round the edge and a lovely bird
print – I got carried away after fashion stylist and personal shopper Emma
Smith showed all the guests (and yours truly!) how to wear scarves this
Autumn/Winter to look stylish rather than like a Sloaney 80s girl! Emma styled
her three lovely models, Hannah, Christine and Liz in the same cardigan but
dressed it up/down differently to show different looks suitable for ladies in
their 30s, 40s and 50s (and beyond!). The poor models didn’t get to eat any of
my lovely cakes until they’d been paraded around, poor things, but perhaps that
meant the anticipation could build?!! Emma then went through some ‘key items’
including a beautiful wool cape. I wasn’t sure about the chunky patterned
jumper though Emma, a bit ‘David Soul’ for me but perhaps I should have tried
it on!

Once everyone was relaxed they browsed all the
gooooooorgeous jewellery and bags and tried on clothes, calling on Emma to help
them decide what worked and what didn’t.

It was SO hot on Sunday that nobody wanted a cup of tea,
even though all my lovely tea cups looked so beautiful lined up on the shop
counter! But luckily I had a bag of ice and made jugs of elderflower cordial
and pink lemonade which kept everyone refreshed. I served smoked salmon and
cream cheese sandwiches and – the biggest hit of the day – miniature cheese
scones topped with piquant red pepper cream. As this wasn’t a ‘sit down do’ I’d
made everything bitesized and ready to eat– I think I could have doubled the
number of cheese scones and they still would have been eaten by the fashionable
ladies! Interesting, too, that several guests said that they really liked
having lots of savoury goodies because they aren’t cake fans. However, I think
I won a few over with my colourful macaroons and Autumn spiced cupcakes.

The cupcakes contained cinnamon, ginger, lemon and orange
zest and the buttercream frosting was topped with caramelised hazelnuts and
walnuts and a delicate pear wafer (just dip very thin slivers of fresh, firm
pear into a warm sugar solution that has had lemon juice added to it to prevent
discolouration, then put the slices in the oven for an hour or two on a very
low heat). I broke my no cupcake rule (again) but I think if the cake TASTES
nice and doesn’t just look good then I can get away with it! No one was
complaining….

 

It was the first time I’d made macaroons. I found them a bit
fiddly and if I make them again I’d bake them for slightly less time to try to
keep the colours more vibrant. But they looked so pretty – just the thing for a
fashionable crowd! I sandwiched the pink, yellow and blueberry rounds with
rose, lemon and vanilla buttercream, and the chocolate ones with chocolate
hazelnut spread.

And of course I made scones (I managed to make tiny ones
this time!) which were served with local strawberry jam and clotted cream. I
was amazed that the cream stayed really thick in the heat – too thick in fact
for the guests to dollop onto their scone halves whilst also holding their
drink!

We all agreed this was a lovely event, and something worth
doing again. It would be great when all the Christmas party frocks are in stock
– I definitely need help with that!! And I can serve a sophisticated selection
of cakes with a Christmassy ‘dinner dance’ theme perhaps….

Many, many thanks to the lovely Emma Smith from ‘Me and Mrs
Smith’ – not easy to stand and do your thing when it’s 30 degrees and you’re
pregnant, so well done Em for not fainting!! And many thanks also to Jodi and
Liz for letting us host the event at the fabulous Ruby Loves boutique in
Stamford – I LOVE shopping here so it was great to have the place to ourselves
for the afternoon.

Maybe I need to book Emma for a personal shopping session at
Ruby Loves, just for me….. or….. she says, getting excited – Emma and I would
love to come to you, if you get your girlfriends together for a ‘wardrobe wean’
– Emma will tell you what to chuck, what to keep and how to wear it all, whilst
I lay on a tea party? Bring your own fizz! How does that sound? Get in touch if
you’re interested in booking a Lemony and Mrs Smith double act!!

Lemony x