Category Archives: Lemon curd

An afternoon of vintage loveliness!

Finally, I have time to post details of the delightful topsecretteaparty
at Tilly’s Vintage Craft Workshop a couple of Sunday’s ago. I was really
excited about this tea party, because every time I visit Tilly’s barn, at Hall
Farm, Chesterton on the outskirts of Peterborough I come away with bags of
ideas about things to make and sew – of course I can rarely find the time to
make most of it a reality, but the inspiration is there and surely it’s only a
matter of time before I actually make some of these projects?! It was at Tilly’s
that I learnt to applique (I made a lovely little lavender bag and was very
pleased with my efforts), the wonders of bondaweb (great for a lazy sew-and-so
like Lemony he he..), and the possibilities for upcycling tired clothing / how
to jazz up jackets etc., plus all that is fabulous about wet felting – I got to
make a gorgeous flower corsage out of beautiful merino wool. Have a look at Tilly’s
Facebook page/events and see what takes your crafting fancy https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Tillys-Vintage-Workshop-Craft-Studio/216476658376432.

Anyway….Tilly and Lemony decided afternoon tea at the Barn
would be a fab way of introducing people to vintage crafting – a civilised tea
party around Tilly’s wonderfully large table whilst drooling over my cakes and
scones and Tilly’s shelves full of fabric, linens, ribbons and books/magazines…
what could be nicer? The fact that Tilly currently has several vintage wedding
dresses hanging up was a bonus – so pretty!

Six lovely ladies came to tea – a wonderful
mix of chatty people with such different backgrounds and interests –
dressmaking, photography, textiles, academic research, a café owner,
radiography…!! They all enjoyed browsing Tilly’s shop and workshop whilst
sipping their elderflower cordial from champagne flutes.

Then they got down to
the serious business of afternoon tea…which included egg mayonnaise finger
sandwiches on wonderful Hambleton’s Bakery 7 seed granary bread; cheese scones
with red pepper cream (Appearance No.2 for these little savoury delights, as
they were such a hit at the fashion+tea party the weekend before); plain scones
with Hall Farm strawberry jam – made by the farmer’s wife a few feet from Tilly’s
barn! Plum, pear and apple jam was also on offer from Saints and Sinners in
Spalding (Lovely) and, of course, lashings of clotted cream.

I made a morello cherry and vanilla
buttercream layer cake – which was incredibly messy to cut and serve but tasted
great nonetheless!! Meringues sandwiched with my homemade lemon curd (always
have to have something Lemony on the menu!) 

and some iced gingerbread biscuits –
which I have to confess were a last minute substitution as I seem to have lost
the knack of making shortbread – two attempts were nibbled on by myself and Mr
Tea and rejected – what’s happening?! I have won awards for my shortbread in
the past (at Nassington and Yarwell village show, in case you were wondering!)
and now I just can’t get my act together – I’ll keep trying though as I love
shortbread and I hate to be beaten by something so simple!

Tilly told the guests all about her
Barn and workshops and one of the guests, Sue, gave everyone lots of ideas for
crafty keepsakes including using baby clothes. I then forced everyone to take
home bags containing leftover cake – I like to think they can share my baking
goodies with their loved ones long after their own tummies are full up! And as
luck would have it, one of the guests, Amy, is setting up a photography
business so asked to take some piccies which I’ve made use of here… isn’t it
nice meeting new people and helping each other out? You can look at Amy’s
photographs on her blog http://amylewinphotography.wordpress.com/

Tilly and I have lots of ideas for
future joint ventures and I’m hoping to become a more regular visitor to the
Barn, at Tilly’s regular sew-in café (Wednesdays 7-9pm and Saturdays 2-4pm) –
after all, I’m determined to make at least some of my Christmas gifts this year
so I need to get sewing! And if you come along to the topsecretteaparty on 2nd
December you might just get to visit Tilly’s for some Christmas inspiration of
your own…

Lemony x x

 

 

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My lemon curd experiment

I know I mentioned some weeks ago that I’d made some lemon curd…so finally I have a few minutes before bedtime to post the details….I’m still thinking about it, as it was particularly yummy and, as I’d been challenged to come up with a dessert that would go into a pudding basin mould, I thought I’d combine my lemon curd attempt with making a suitable pud for a BBQ I was invited to over the August Bank Holiday weekend (oh what a distant memory now – though it’s actually warmer now than it was that day!!).

It’s pretty straight forward to make lemon curd – even Delia says so 🙂

I used a tip I read, to stir with a whisk rather than a wooden spoon, so whether that helped the creaminess factor I don’t know. It took a lot longer to thicken than my recipe stated, but it got there eventually, though the pictures show it wasn’t looking very promising at first!! To make 2 decent jars of the lemony good stuff, simply put the zest and juice of 4 lemons (unwaxed are nicest), 200g caster sugar, 100g butter into a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Once the butter has melted add 4 lightly beaten eggs and stir occasionally with a whisk until the mixture thickens – this took around 20 minutes. Cool then pour into clean jars. Keep in the fridge or eat immediately if you’re greedy! Would keep for a week or two though.

So after admiring the sunshiny loveliness of the curd I used it to make a frozen lemon, cream and meringue bombe. You need some meringue pieces – to save time on this occasion I used shop bought meringue nests, which I broke into pieces – I wasn’t at all impressed with the quality of the meringue so it really is worth making your own – it’s not hard so have a go! I whisked a vast quantity of icing sugar with whipping cream and the juice of about half a lemon – this thickened up into a cloud of sweetened lactic gorgeousness (had a few sneaky spoonfuls to try it out at this point….). So…. simply put a layer of the cream mixture, followed by dollops of lemon curd and meringue pieces and keep repeating until you fill your cling film lined pudding basin (or loaf tin, if you want to make a terrine). Now.. on top of this I laid a thin layer of madeira sponge which I’d soaked in a big glug of sherry – so the sponge fitted the diameter of the pudding basin… hope you’re following this! Pop it into the freezer overnight.

To turn out, I sat the bowl in a washing up bowl of hot water for a couple of minutes then turned onto a serving plate. Garnished the top with some lovely raspberries…. a good sprinkling of icing sugar would have been nice too. It was very yummy indeed…. the sherry had infused the whole bombe…it wasn’t overly sweet…just lemony and lovely for sharing with family and friends. Give it a try! If you want more exact quantities just leave me a comment and I’ll dig out the details!

Summerhouse tea party – grand opening!

Well, that’s it then – my first ‘public’ tea party event is
over! Myself and Mr Tea had to work really hard last week to get the
summerhouse looking ship shape and lovely in time, but, I think we did it – I was so pleased that I managed to sew some vintage shabby chic cushions despite being up till the wee hours. Then it was up early last Friday to make bunting –it looks so fresh and fabulous, don’t you think?! I want to make some more…once I can face cutting all those triangles out again!! Good way to use up
remnants of pretty fabric and VERY satisfying when you do it all yourself!

Now to the food…… I spent a fair while deciding what to put
on the menu. Partly because there were two men coming and lets face it, men don’t
always like dainty afternoon tea (Mr Tea is an exception maybe!). So my
solution was a) make a sticky date cake – dark, rich and not at all dainty –
which went down well with the four women as well as the men actually so I’m
glad I went with that option. 2nd solution? Serve scones (I baked a
mixture of plain, fruit and almond) with Talisker whisky clotted cream!!! That
did the trick too – what man could turn down cream with single malt running
through it?! I decided to serve honey as I thought that would go well with the
whisky cream and it seemed to work – I loved the honey/scone combo, even
without the cream. I have to say my scones came out SO big this time – rose and rose in the oven! I’m not complaining but I think I’ll use my smallest cutter
next time so they’re not too big. Strawberry jam, of course, for those who didn’t
want honey; the jam came from the farmhouse kitchen at Hall Farm, Chesterton,nr. Peterborough and very lush it was too.

I also made the tallest, wobbliest layered sponge you’ve
ever seen, as Mr Tea felt we needed a spectacular centre piece for our inaugural
tea party event. So I used a whole jar of my homemade lemon curd (another blog post about that when I have time to write it…) between the bottom two layers and then cream whipped with lemon juice and icing sugar between the top two. Very nice, but personally I find these big layer cakes a bit over the top when you want your guests to enjoy a bit of everything on offer – a tower of sponge can be a bit daunting don’t you think? Or maybe that’s just me!

Also on offer were chocolate dipped Viennese Fingers – using
the recipe that the lovely Lynn, she of the Bakelady blog and Clandestine Cake
Club fame, recently posted online. http://bakelady.wordpress.com/recipes/chocolate-covered-viennese-fingers/ Thanks for that Lynn – I hadn’t made these
before and I thought they were extremely tasty. I sort of preferred them
without the chocolate – bit rich maybe? But I might try dipping them in white
chocolate, or milk? I’ll give it a go – or pipe them into circles and sandwich
together with buttercream or jam as per Lynn’s suggestion online.

I’m working backwards here..sorry folks! Onto (or back to?!)
the savoury fare…… I’ve been experimenting with bread at my ‘practice’ tea
parties, to find some that’s both tasty and also suitable for having the crusts
cut off for finger sandwiches. Whilst I’m always more than happy to bake my own
loaves it’s hard to make homemade bread that’s ‘square’ enough for dainty
sandwiches. But I think I cracked it this time….. firstly, I made some mini bread
rolls (poppy seed and plain), and served these with individual pots of homemade
smoked mackerel pate. Each pot had a little fabric cover tied over its lid to
add to the vintage shabby chic feel. And many thanks to my lovely friend Shan
who had the patience to tie the bows around the jars when I was getting rather
hot under the apron in the kitchen! Secondly – I’ve discovered Hambleton’s
newest bakery branch, in Oundle – all the bread is baked locally (mainly in
Oakham I think) and the staff were SO knowledgeable and happy to discuss my
requirements. So we had their 7 seed wholemeal bread and also a white tin loaf
and not only did they slice beautifully, they tasted delicious (properly proved
bread with no nasty ingredients – worth its weight in gold in my opinion) AND
the remaining bread is STILL fresh – 3 days after we bought it. I shall be back
to Hambleton’s (and you should see their chocolate brownies!!). Fillings for
sandwiches…. Rare roast beef and mustard (another manly addition!) and cream
cheese and chives.

Watching my six guests run down the garden path under huge
umbrellas was so funny! I stood in the kitchen until they were all settled by Mr
Tea and then we opened a bottle of champagne to celebrate the grand opening of
the summerhouse. I’ve never seen rain get harder and harder and harder with no
sign of stopping – but we were all cosy inside our little pop up tea room and
we lit some candles which added to the atmosphere. A few runs back to the
kitchen to top up the tea pots was a doddle and, before we’d finished our cake,
the rain stopped and the sun almost, almost came out! We all sat around the
table until well after 5pm and it was so lovely to be with such great people
having a nice chat and a laugh. I’ll tell you how nice they all were – we received
flowers, 6 x duck eggs, chocolates and a thank you card afterwards – that felt
pretty good I can tell you.

So now I’m wondering whether we could use the summerhouse as
a winterhouse?! If guests wrap up warm I can provide blankets to go around their
legs and we can warm ourselves over endless pots of tea whilst we chat and eat
cake…… sounds like a good plan to while away a gloomy winter afternoon rather
than wait for spring to appear? I’ll keep you posted! But I have other tea
parties planned at different venues in October…. Watch the events page closely
and do pop along and join in the fun if you can.

Lemony x