c March 2012 | Garden, Tea, Cakes, (Books) and Me

Blog Award for me!

My blog has been kindly awarded the Liebster Blog Award from the lovely Wendy's World. I was very surprised and delighted to have been selected, and must apologise for the delay in reciprocating with this blog post. What the heck is a Liebster Blog award? That was my first thought, hope its not a scam was my second thought! Well of course its not a scam here is a little more about it. 

The origins of the Liebster Blog award are somewhat unclear but the general consensus is that it originated in Germany, Liebster meaning favourite or dearest, to showcase bloggers with fewer than 200 followers. Upon accepting the award the recipient must then pass it on to five more blogs of note. A way of introducing other bloggers to the blogs you enjoy.

So a huge big thank you to Wendy's World! Here are the five blogs I enjoy and would like to also like to pass on a Liebster Blog Award to.

A Little Bit of Heaven on a Plate such wonderful photos and recipes of all types of foodie delights but of course the cakes are my favourite
ChrisTea and Cakes having recently learnt to crochet and dusted of my sewing machine I love Christy's crafty exploits 
Living is a great adventure enjoying following Nell's wedding plans for the year ahead including making her own dress
The Nom Bakery no calories are spared when it comes to baking full fat only! Some great inspiration for baking.
What I baked this weekend amazing cakes and bakes are shared with the blogging world, I dare you not to be tempted.

Congratulations to you all, remember to display your award on your blog and follow these simply steps. Link back to the blog who gave the award, and select five other blogs you love who have no more than 200 followers.


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Heaven on a plate
On a day out to Church Stretton, Shropshire early this week I discovered an amazing hardware shop called Salts that sold everything you could want in a kitchen. It was here I got tempted to buy my special baking tray. I've waited far too long to buy myself a Madeleines tray, having been inspired to bake them many years ago when watching the film The Transporter. Oh yes who would of made a connection between Jason Statham and baking, although as my cousin pointed out they are both hot!

60g unsalted butter - melted
1 large egg
50g caster sugar
50g plain flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
grated zest of 1 large lemon
icing sugar for decoration

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C
Melt the butter, use some of the melted butter to liberally grease the Madeleine tray.  Put the rest of the butter to one side to cool. 
  • Whisk the egg and caster sugar together until it is thick and fluffy, the whisk should leave a ribbon trail when you lift it out of the mixture.
  • Sift the flour into the egg and sugar mixture and fold in.  
  • Add the vanilla extract and lemon zest, folding in gently.
  • Add 3 tablespoons of the cooled melted butter, again fold into the mixture.
  • Fill each mould half full and bake for just 8 minutes, until golden and firm to the touch. 
Love my Madeleine tray
  • Turn the Madeleine's out onto a wire rack to cool. 
  • Dust with icing sugar before serving.
Light and lovely
I'm submitting this recipe as part of March's AlphaBakes Challenge on The More Than Occasional Baker and Caroline Makes blog of which Caroline is this months host. This months letter is 'M' for Madeleines.
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Review: Hotel Chocolat Extra Thick Easter Egg

Chocolate is up there at the top of my list of food heaven along with cake, so I was delighted when I took delivery of a Hotel Chocolat Rocky Road to Caramel™ Extra Thick Easter Egg. One of several types of Hotel Chocolat Extra Thick Chocolate Eggs available. 

I'm sitting comfortably in anticipation of what I will discover when I remove the lid, it was like opening a chest full of chocolaty treasure. I was not sure what to expect from the description of 'extra thick chocolate eggs' but boy they weren't joking, this is unlike any other Easter egg I have ever had. No chocolate lover will be disappointed with the Rocky Road surprise that awaits. On one half of the egg, wonderful puffed rice, cookies and chunks of chocolate on the other lovely caramel. I've broken up one side of the egg with the help of a rolling pin, on account of the lovely thick shell. This should keep my chocolate addiction controlled for a good while (that's the theory at least).

Super thick chocolate and a Chirpy Chick peeking out
I've talked so much about the shell I've not even mentioned the wonderful selection of twelve individual chocolates contained inside the egg. All of which contain my favourite fillings caramel, chocolate, cookies or Praline. In keeping with the Easter theme there is an adorable Cocoa Pod Bunny and a Chirpy Chick chocolate too.

At first I thought the price for this Easter egg £26 was on the high side, but having considered the quality and massive quantity of chocolate it contains I would be delighted if someone bought this for me. To be frank there is no comparison between this Easter egg and the eggs available in a supermarket. Now what to do with the lovely box the Easter egg was in, I'm sure to find a use for it.

I was sent this Easter egg from Hotel Chocolat for the purpose of review, all views are my own. 
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Local Food Festival - Shropshire's Best

On Saturday morning I popped out to browse around a local food festival organised and held by Greenfields Farm Shop in Muxton, Shropshire. There were many lovely craft and food stalls representing the local area, I got tempted to pull my camera out a few times for you to share some of my lovely finds. As ever I got drawn in by all those naughty but nice stalls, as you do.

The first stall I hit was A Pie and a Pint, I skipped the pint after all it was only just ten in the morning! But I did give in and purchased a sausage roll and a meat and vegetable pasty. Later at home the sausage roll was warmed up in the oven and I have to say the pastry was lovely and flaky and melt in your mouth, and no sign of any gristle in the meat like you can sometimes find in awful shop bought sausage rolls. The pasty was equally as tasty.
Its not a pie or a pint
Now you all know the problem I have with fudge, so the only way at the moment for me to enjoy proper fudge is to buy some. Now when I spotted The Ultimate Fudge Outlet stall I knew I was on to a winner, there really was an amazing choice of different flavours to choose from. I selected the Caramel and Honeycomb Fudge. I am doing quite well, its day 2 and there is still some left!
Decisions, decisions?
Cakes. Every food festival has several cakes stalls, and why not, after all cake is always extremely popular. I'm a sucker for a cup cake or fairy cake, but that's a debate for another occasion. There was an excellent selection of cakes stalls to choose from and I showed a lot of restraint and only picked one cake, a Red Velvet Cupcake from a stall called Nom Noms. 
Red Velvet
I think this is the first time I have had a Red Velvet where the actual inside of the cake really did have an appearance and texture of velvet. It tasted wonderfully moist but not dense, with a lovely light cream cheese topping (sorry I don't like the word frosting). For the first time when buying a Red Velvet cupcake I was not disappointed.
Naked cupcake!
I also popped into the farm shop, I bought a huge loaf of fresh white bread, some liquorice sweets for my mum on behalf of my brother and a few bunches of Spring Daffodils. 

These were just a few of the stalls at the food and craft festival, though I was slightly disappointed to find that Mike's Homemade was not there. I had planned to buy some Passion fruit and Orange curd that I had spotted on his Facebook page a few weeks ago. I have some great ideas on incorporating this into volcano cakes and a Passion Fruit and Orange Meringue. I will have to keep my eye out next time I pop into the farm shop.

This post is my way of sharing all that is good about the county of Shropshire. 
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No Fat Sponge Cake Recipe - The Verdict

Earlier this week I promised to post more details about the No Fat Sponge Cake recipe featured in my Afternoon Tea post. No fat as in no butter, stork, lard or any other form of baking fat. The inspiration behind this cake came a few months back when I'd spotted a blog post on Jam and Clotted Cream.  I replaced the Stevia based sugar that Beth baked with and used slightly more standard caster sugar.
          Not so naughty, but was it so nice?
I know many of you are interested to know what the cake was really like.

Whipping up a storm
The good points...
  • The rise on the cake was impressive much to mine and every ones surprise. It was whisked for a full 10 minutes so there was plenty of air added and the mixture increased in size by two thirds, make sure you have a big bowl. I thought my poor hand blender was going to burn out.
  • If you are on a reduced fat diet and you miss sponge cake then this is the cake for you.
  • It would work well as a single flan piled with fresh fruits and their juice.
and the not so good points...
  • It does not keep for long. I made the cake and it was eaten the same day, with the final piece disappearing in the evening. I suspect by the next day it would require a fruit sauce or custard to perk it up!
  • I filled my cake with homemade plum jam, but it was still a dry cake so in my opinion its best eaten with a cup of tea.
  • It is not a normal sponge cake and does not taste or have the consistency of your standard sponge cake. It tasted slightly different, different but not bad different.
Its very likely I will not bake this cake again, but I am glad that I did bake it and it give us much to debate about around the afternoon tea table!

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Featured Article of the Week

My post about Cherry Scones has been selected as Featured Article of the Week on Coffee and Vanilla: Cherry Scones.

On behalf of my lovely Cherry Scones, thank you very much.
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Afternoon Tea - Nice But Not So Naughty

Anyone care for a sandwich?
As you know from previous posts we have regular family afternoon tea get togethers. Our latest get together was hosted by my mum. Look closely, for all the cups and saucers, cake stands, bon bon dishes, plates and glasses have come from charity shops, even the wonderful tablecloth. It all looked magnificently upcycled and  vintage!

Time to get down to the important matter of what we had to eat and drink.


Cucumber Sandwiches
Chicken Sandwiches
Egg Sandwiches
Salmon Sandwiches


No Fat Sponge Cake
Vanilla and Lemon Meringue Kisses


Tea - Darjeeling Castleton Moonlight

No Fat Cake
Now I confess that normally we would go all out with the butter and cream when it comes to cakes and goodies. But at the moment one of us eating low fat, so I thought it only fair we all did our bit and joined in.  Hence the reason why I made a No Fat Sponge Cake, in the spirit of being sisters one for all and all for one, and all that! I will be posting more details about the No Fat Cake later this week. 

I think you will agree my mum dressed the table beautifully, she also made the lovely sandwiches. One of my sisters made the Vanilla and Lemon Meringue Kisses these were delightful, particularly the ones with the lemon cream, very refreshing. The Florentines were not homemade but shop bought, yes that's right they were out of a packet, reasonably small and dainty but not particularly spectacular.

For refreshments I had a special tea we were trying for the first time. A black Darjeeling tea Castleton Moonlight second flush from Canton Tea Co. A few months back they had a little giveaway and I was lucky enough to be selected the winner of a canister of tea. I don't know what I was expecting from the tea but it was truly fragrantly refreshing, in taste and scent. If it was possible to describe a tea as tasting and smelling beautiful then this would be the tea. 

Meringue Kisses
We all enjoy our get togethers and I'm sure we will start planning our next one soon, it's most delightful way to spend a couple of hours eating cake and relaxing and catching up with the gossip.

I will however be awaiting the fall out from this post when it is seen by my aunt and cousin, love you both!   
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Cherry Scones Recipe

Today though I chose to bake Cherry Scones, I do love them though surprisingly I've never actually made them.  The Cherry Scone recipe that can now be ticked off my list ✓ 
Cherry scones recipe
Cherry Scones
I've yet to find a favourite recipe for scones and these were not a perfect scone by any means, not enough rise for my liking but tasty none the less. 
Scone recipes
Tea and scones anyone?
This post is part of March's Tea Time Treats, the theme this month is of course Scones, hosted by Karen at Lavender and Lovage and Kate at What Kate Baked, with Karen taking the lead this month. 

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