Category Archives: Thoughts of Ms Lemony Drizzle

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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2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,400 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 23 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Love, care, family, tea, cake

This post covers a multitude of cakey sins…..(and for anyone waiting for a blog post about last night’s FABULOUS Lemony Drizzle and Tilly-Rose vintage Christmas craft soiree..I will write this up as soon as time allows..but this post is just bursting to get out..).

Yet again I return to ‘what’s it all about’, in terms of why do I bake? Why do I feed people with my cake? Why do I keep struggling to fit this in with my full-on day job?

A few things have strengthened my conviction that it’s all about love, care, family, tea, cake…

1. Nine year’s ago (9!) I wrote out all my favourite recipes, in gold/glitter ink no less, in one of those fancy moleskine notebooks (which were probably new on the scene, back in 2002) as a Christmas gift for some friends. I wondered (worried, even) at the time whether they would appreciate the time, effort, care and love that went in to digging out all my recipes (from my notebooks and my memory) and writing them down, long hand. I categorised the recipes into starters/soups, mains, and desserts, cakes, chocolates etc. Only 1 recipe out of the collection was ‘untried’. Anyway, I’ve barely thought of this collection of loved foods since 2002 – until this week. I had dinner with the said friends (don’t you love old, tried, tested friendships?) and ‘A’ dug out the notebook – now splattered with foody splodges and with the pages wedged with additional notes and recipes pulled from magazines and newspapers. Yes they use the book; yes they have tried (and now love) many of my recipes and yes, they did indeed appreciate the time, effort, care and love that went in to producing that low cost gift back when we were all a little bit younger. Think about that as you’re rushing around the high street looking for gifts this festive season……….

2. It’s very, very rare that myself and Mr Tea frequent a tea room or cafe that we truly feel ticks all the tea/cake boxes. Today we did and so I’m more than happy to give it a plug in the hope that business picks up for this new establishment in these economically hardened times. The place is Margaret’s – it’s on Wentworth St in the centre of Peterborough. Who’d have thought that my home town would FINALLY, FINALLY, get a decent, non-chain tea room right in the City centre. The tea room is named after one of the owner’s mothers. There are pictures of Margaret and her family dotted around the place – now, perhaps you’re thinking, Oh God No!!!! But the photos are simply wonderful,nostalgic, limited in number and placed on a couple of stylish, vintage pieces of furniture. There is fashionable wall paper, crisp white tablecloths, a superb display of mouth watering, homemade cakes under  stunning glass cloches, little hand written notices on the tables inviting you to eat warm scones and clotted cream. The menu includes an impressive list of loose leafed teas – we had the house/Margaret’s blend and it was VERY flavoursome, served in a large white tea pot. Margaret’s manages to combine love, care, effort, family – with style, thoughtful/ethical food (some locally sourced) and excellent, friendly service. It’s just a shame that I’d had a big breakfast and couldn’t sample the cake! But I will be back – hop along and try it out yourselves to ensure Margaret’s is a local success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. I was fortunate enough to be interviewed this week by the Editor of  the local Nene Living magazine. She’s writng a feature on vintage tea rooms (and it was she that told me about Margaret’s) and wanted a few Lemony Drizzle thoughts about why they are popping up all over the place. So I waxed lyrical about nostalgia, the importance of community and coming together in difficult times (well, did you hear the Chancellor’s budget statement this week? Don’t get me started…). I said that taking afternoon tea is an INCLUSIVE affair – I get many men attending my tea parties for a good natter and a slice of cake and I’ve seen ‘strangers’ in Sophie T’s vintage tea room in Yaxley (another great place I will review properly at some point) lean across and chat to people at the next table (how rare is that?). I’ve had guests get rather tearful when they see my beautiful tea sets because it reminds them of the china their own mothers or grandmothers used. My china is almost all sourced from within my own and Mr Tea’s family attics and I think of my nearest and dearest EVERY time I use it. Love, care, family…

4. Finally on this topic (for the time being!)….I’ve taken the plunge and applied for the next series of the BBC’s Great British Bake-Off! Well..why not – I’m a show off, and not only do I love to bake (had you guessed?) I love to FEED people and see them eating and oohing and aahing over my cakes (when all goes well anyway) so I’d love to have a go on the telly though I have NO illusions about getting very far because the standard is going to be incredibly high in the next series, even if I manage to get picked. The application asked for details about my ‘signature’ bake (I don’t have one, yet), family anecdotes and recipes etc…. so again I got to talk about the importance of love, care, family, tea and cake, cake and more cake! Who knows what the producers will think – but I do know I wrote the application from the heart – and not once did I talk about ‘my journey’ – something Mr Tea absolutely baulks at on these reality shows!

Ta ta for now….I’m off to bake a Victoria sponge for my own lovely Mother’s birthday tomorrow. Happy Birthday Mum x x

 

Baking for gluten free guests

I must say I was a little daunted by the thought of catering for a
friend who has Coeliac Disease – this is not a matter of someone being ‘a bit
fussy’ (and we all know a few of those) … but Coeliac sufferers really do
just that, suffer, if they eat any food with gluten in, which includes wheat,
rye and oats. So I was determined to do my best so my friend didn’t miss out on
the full afternoon tea experience. I was amazed to be able to buy xanthan gum
in the supermarket, which helps the ingredients in GF recipes emulsify and
stick together, but couldn’t for love nor money buy rice flour around any of
the supermarkets or more specialist shops in Peterborough. Not being a GF
expert I wasn’t sure whether I could substitute a GF mixed flour blend for rice
flour so I avoided some of the gluten free sponge recipes I’d had my eye on
trying.

I made sundried tomato bread, which used the GF flour blend and didn’t contain yeast (so a bit like a savoury cake really) – it was really runny when I poured it into the loaf tin but it came out lovely and moist and easy to slice for sandwiches. I also made another loaf with GF bread flour and yeast, which looked like wallpaper paste, not nice at all!! But it cooked fine –looked like a blond German rye bread in texture (not to everyone’s taste I imagine) but tasted quite pleasant.

I also made scones, using the flour blend and xanthan gum – I divided
the recipe to make half fruit and half cheese scones and I could tell by the
feel of the dough that they were going to be a success. I must say I really
enjoyed both of them – just as nice as my ordinary scones.

I also baked a lovely cinnamon, date and fig cake – which, as well as being gluten free also contained no sugar – though I did sprinkle liberally with sugar so it didn’t seem quite such a virtuous cake when served! It was so moist and so sweet from the dates and figs – just gorgeous really!

Finally I made a batch of almond macaroons – I think making cakes
or biscuits that don’t call for wheat or oats is a good choice for Coeliac
sufferers – it’s not tweaking or imitating – it’s making the most of cakes
which just don’t need flour to make them delicious.

So I was rather pleased with yesterday’s efforts and we all sat at
the table for a very long time, waiting so we could eat just a little bit more….
What more could a hostess ask for? Fab.

If you want to find out more about Coeliac Disease visit http://www.coeliac.org.uk/

Does size matter?

When it comes to cake, does the size of the slice matter? This has been on my mind since having a delicious slice of lemon curd and fresh cream sponge at a lovely little tearoom in Burnham Market in North Norfolk last week. Mr Tea ordered one of his favourites, Victoria sponge with jam and fresh cream. I knew when I saw the small slither that Mr Tea would not be impressed!  The look on his face said it all!! He maintains that it’s not greed that led to this disappointment (hhmmm), but the thought he’s not getting good value for his hard earned pennies. The cakes were both moist, with plenty of filling and were not a disappointment, but I must admit, I also felt cheated. So I’ve become a bit Carrie Bradshaw and have continued to ponder whether size really does matter. Maybe when it comes to cake we just can’t equate a measly portion with enjoying our indulgence. Anyway, be assured, there will be NO small slices of any cake served at a Lemony Drizzle tea party!!

1st top secret tea party planned sshhh!

I’m so excited about the first Top Secret Tea Party event, planned at a top secret location in Cambridgeshire for Sunday 24th July. 9 guests plus my good self and Mr Tea…. all family and friends of Ms Lemony Drizzle so I can test out my hosting skills, table laying and not to mention a trial run of a yummy selection of finger sandwiches, scones (with some special jam) and homemade cakes. So…I’ve been trying out some new recipes… so many to choose from that it’s hard to narrow it down… I think a good tea party needs to have a selection of cakes that complement each other. So, even though I’m a complete chocoholic and would walk over hot coals for a decent bit of the dark stuff, I don’t think something too gooey and rich is suitable on this occasion, not if my guests are to get through the whole tea! I’ve got some nice new ‘blue lady’ tea leaves to try too.

I just hope the weather is fine and sunny! The location will be just lovely if it is but if rain should fall there’s somewhere to shelter and it will be fine and cosy.

Lemony x

Cakes and costs

Well I took some time off the day job today to work out costs of cakes etc…. now my mouth is watering after looking at my notebook that I write all my recipes in…. one recipe I’m yet to taste test is a meringue roulade with morello cherries and rose petals…. sounds divine! I’ll share it with you once I’ve given it a try.

I’ve also been marvelling at the magnificant pile of crisp white table linen that my father-in-law unearthed in his attic over the weekend. Mr Tea’s lovely mother was a tea and cake fiend in her day and it seems that a lot of her bits and pieces are still around. Which is a lovely reminder of a very special person. It all needs laundering but some of the lace tablecloths are truly beautiful; works of art really, and some reflect my in-laws travels around the world when they would entertain and show everyone how the British do tea parties! I will certainly be thinking of Mr Tea’s mother when I lay the table for my first top secret event.

X

Top Secret Tea Parties goes live!

Hello from Top Secret Tea Parties… I’m Ms Lemony Drizzle – no, not my real name …

I’ve been waiting for the right moment to launch this blog and am just bursting with ideas and thoughts about tea..cake… tea parties and the fact that the underground tea party idea seems quite novel in these parts. These parts being the Cambs/Lincs/Northants borders – so that includes Stamford, Oundle, Peterborough and all points in between!

So I’ve decided to rectify that and to launch ‘top secret’ onto the world…. for now I’ll just post my thoughts and ideas about tea and cake on here but I’m hoping to organise some top secret tea parties to share my love of afternoon tea. I’m hoping to use some secret, interesting venues around the area. I want to set up a wonderful table with good quality linen and china and serve my guests an abundance of tasty, homemade afternoon delights. Ms Lemony Drizzle is pretty committed to using good quality ingredients, no hidden nasties, and most of the ingredients will be fairly traded and sometimes organic. Not at the expense of good taste though. Ethics over taste? I don’t think so!

Right I need to delve deeper into how to operate this blog… but I’ll be back later to tell you what I’ve been up to today in Stamford.

Ms Lemony Drizzle x x