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

Jubilee Vintage Union Jack Cake

Jubilee Vintage Union Jack Cake on a coronation glass plate
Time to share another Jubilee Cake with you, this one was a practice run ready for next weeks big Jubilee party. I was inspired to try stencilling following a recent trip to the British Sugarcraft Guild Show held at Telford last week. During which I had tickets to a Lindy Smith demonstration on stencilling. I had never really been interested in stencilling, and thought the only thing you could do with edible dusts was mix them with vodka for painting sugar paste with. How wrong I was. It is so simple and effective to use them with particularly with stencils.

Now back to the cake...I made a plain sponge mix but used small tins, filled with vanilla butter cream and homemade strawberry jam. Now to the clever, but very simple decoration. 

I rolled out some white sugar paste, took my new Union Jack flag stencil placed this onto the sugar paste. Using a cake smoother press down on the stencil, so it adheres to the sugar paste. Using a small clean soft brush such as a new make up brush, gently brush a little coloured dust in the appropriate area of the stencil. Once finished dusting, carefully peel off the stencil and there you have it - a Union Jack. I repeated this several times, moving the stencil so the flag was at different angles. I also used less dust. This created a Union Jack with a faded look, hopefully giving the decoration a vintage feel. I cut out the design using the largest round pastry cutter I have, this gave me the perfect fit for the top of my Jubilee Vintage Union Jack Cake.

I am delighted with how it turned out, and think it looks wonderful displayed on a special coronation glass plate that belongs to my mum. 

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Honey and Rose Cupcakes

A recipe from Honey and Rose cakes. I've never baked with honey before, so was rather anxious working with this sweet goopy syrupy goodness. It was also the first time I have used the bottle of rose water I bought a month ago. This recipe is heavy on the honey and as such I think it over powers the rose water. It still tasted lovely, but I think you could get away without quite so much honey. You will also notice that there is no sugar in this recipe, all the honey replaces the need for sugar.

Rose and Honey Cakes Recipe
Rose and Honey Cakes Recipe

Oven Temperature 180 degrees / gas mark 4
Baking Time 20 mins
Makes approx. 24 cupcakes

Honey and Rose Cakes Recipe
1 jar honey (310g approx.)
225g butter
300g SR flour
3 eggs
1 tbsp rose water
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

100g butter
225g icing sugar
2 tbsp rose water
Sugar paste flowers to decorate

Whisk the eggs until light and fluffy, stir in the rest of the wet ingredients. Then add the dry ingredients, combining thoroughly. 

I whisked the eggs separately for a good 3-4 minutes to get as much air into the mixture as possible, as I was worried the honey would make for a heavy cake. But it turned out fine, it did not have a super rise to it but it was light enough.

For the topping, mix the butter and icing sugar together, then mix in the rose water. Pipe or spread onto the top of the cakes. I've also been busy making sugar paste flowers to decorate the cakes.
Honey and Rose Cakes Recipe
Rose and Honey Cakes Recipe

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Ironbridge - Tea, Cake and Shopping

I am lucky to have a UNESCO World Heritage site on my doorstep, the Ironbridge Gorge. Not only is there oodles of history to immerse yourself in, there's also lots of lovely shops and places to eat. On a recent trip I discovered a reasonably new addition to the Gorge, Ironbridge Antiques, Arts and Craft Centre and not forgetting the tea room. There is an amazing collection of over 50 stalls in the centre, there is something for everyone. I was particularly taken with the craft, antiques and glass wear stalls. Best of all, the stalls are from local crafters and suppliers. I had a good browse around and had my eye on a few items, but it was then I came upon the tea room.

Tea Room
There are some special touches to tea room area, it has a real vintage crafters feel to it. All these little extras have you looking around at your surroundings, and the lovely dressers full of goodies.

I chose tea, of course, and a slice of Lemon Drizzle Cake. Both of which were wonderful, I do think that tea tastes so much better in a china cup and saucer. There are even special glass teapots, for fruit teas so you can enjoy the tea visually as well as by taste and scent. Next time I visit I will be going fruity! 

Whilst there I was chatting to Donna who runs the centre. We were discussing how unique it was to have somewhere that helps small local businesses get their goods for sale to a bigger audience. This includes all the cakes which are baked locally.

  • China cups and saucers
  • Loose tea and tea strainer
  • Adorable tea cosys
  • Fabulous choice of cakes 
I don't know how I resisted this cake
It was a rather a wet day when I visited so did not get to enjoy my tea outside by the river - will hopefully pick a better day weather wise next time I visit. A little later I also got to enjoy a strawberry cupcake thanks to Donna's gentle persuasion, which I shared with my sister once she arrived. Sharing cake - this is something that happens rarely where I'm concerned!

Are you feeling hungry yet?
So what did I buy. Well I could not resist the spoon rests made from glass bottles, I've never seen these before and thought they were rather amazing! I also treated myself to a small cream enamelled dish.

Spoon rests the new way to recycle  - genius!

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Regal Jubilee Cupcakes

Here is my interpretation of Jubilee Cupcakes, and not a Union Jack in sight. I have been busy producing sugar paste royal crowns, using the new mould I told you all about last month. This was my first use of lustre powder, which you mix with a little vodka and brush on to the crowns. I'm still perfecting the technique, so don't look too closely.

I thought rather than do the whole red, white and blue theme, I would use the more traditional regal colour of purple. Which, I think really sets off the gold crowns wonderfully, along with the matching cup cases. Don't worry though you can expect plenty of red, white and blue cakes in the coming weeks for the Jubilee.

For those interested the cakes are chocolate chip, I used up  left over mixture from my Rhubarb and Chocolate Pudding recipe.

I am posting these cakes for the Blogging Jubilee Baking Competition over at Homemade by Fleur blog. This competition is being sponsored by Appliances Online, with an amazing prize of £100 Amazon vouchers!

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Rhubarb & Chocolate Individual Puddings Recipe

Have you started harvesting your Rhubarb, on the look out for a recipe other than Rhubarb Crumble, then Rhubarb and Chocolate Pudding is perfect for you. I find that whilst a few people may wince at the thought of eating rhubarb, they soon change their mind once they have tasted this pudding. This recipe is from a magazine cutting, sadly I don't know the publication. But it has given me the chance to use my recipe file.
Large Chocolate Rhubarb Pudding
Usually when I make Chocolate Rhubarb Pudding as you can see above. This time I decided to make individual puddings, in my small effort to limit portion sizes when it comes to pudding. 
Lovely rhubarb
This recipe will make approximately 9 individual ramekins.
Oven temperature 200C/180C fan or gas mark 6.
400g(approx) rhubarb (cleaned and chopped into small pieces)
65gr sugar
2 eggs
100g self raising flour
112g butter or margarine (softened)
100g golden caster sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
12g coco powder (sifted)
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
50ml milk
25g dark chocolate chips

Place the chopped rhubarb in the bottom of your ramekin dishes, filling the dishes 3/4 full, sprinkle over the sugar, see photo above.

Add all the sponge ingredients into a bowl, with the exception of the  chocolate chips. Whisk until combined. Then add and stir in the chocolate chips. Spoon the mix over the rhubarb, and spread out evenly. Sprinkle a little sugar on the top, this will give you a lovely crunchy top.

Bake in the oven for around 20-25 mins or until the sponge is cooked, test by inserting a skewer which should come out clean.

Serve as it is or with custard or ice cream.

Recipe for Rhubarb and Chocolate pudding
Rhubarb and Chocolate pudding recipe
Rhubarb and Chocolate pudding recipe
Rhubarb and Chocolate Pudding
I am entering this recipe into Ren Behan at Fabulicious Food  Simple and In Season blogging challenge. This month Urvashi at The Botanical Baker is hosting. 

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Spring Garden Tour - Part 1

Copper Beech dominates the view
There is no doubting that we have had plenty of rain for weeks now. The good news - the garden is pleased! Although the Daffodils have now faded, its seen an explosion of life for the shrubs, flowers and trees in the garden. So I thought it was about time a gave you a Spring tour of the back garden. It was not the sunniest of days, but at least it wasn't raining.


The Clematis 'Early Sensation' has had it's best year for flowering, and is most impressive. The Auricula's this year have also done exceptionally well, and with an increasing number I need to think of a better way of displaying them.
Early Sensation
Ferns and Hosta
Alpine Auricula
I need an Auricula Theatre
Pansies and Hosta
Peony waiting to flower and Erysium mauve

Fruit and Vegetables

The Rhubarb is already bigger than that shown in the photo below, although it will be picked in the next day or so. This year I may even have a few Blackcurrants thanks to a cutting from fellow blogger Living is a great adventure. See look how well its growing!
New Blackcurrant plant

First sowing of Broadbeans, Dwarf French Beans and Salad
Bags of potato's just peaking through
Row of Strawberries


There are lots on seedlings and young plants in the greenhouse, here are just a few. I forgot to take a photo of my tomato plants, but they are growing at a rapid pace and have just been transplanted into bigger pots.
Sweet Peas, Dwarf Balsam, Canterbury Bells, Cosmos
Pansies, Knautia Macedonica and Lettuce
In the coming weeks I will give you a tour of the front garden, hopefully in the sunshine.
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Coffee and Cake - Twitter Style

Kedleston Hall - National Trust
Last week my sister and I had a few days visiting a number of National Trust properties in the Nottingham/Derby area. Whilst in the area I wanted to find somewhere nice to stop for cake and a drink. So I decided to put the power of Twitter to the test, and after some RT'ing I received a recommendation from @SweetBabySprout
Having visited Kedleston Hall and eaten lunch there, by mid afternoon and on route to the hotel, we were in need of some caffeine and cake. The Bottle Kiln was easy to spot; you cannot miss the distinctive bottle shape kiln that towers above the building.

Before we made it into the cafe we had a walk around the wonderful Japanese style garden area where there was sitting if you wanted to enjoy some alfresco dining. Although the sun was out it was a very cold day, so it would need to have been a few degrees warmer to tempt me to sit outside. There were also two lovely gift shops to browse around, everything was displayed perfectly, ready to entice you. I think they must of known I was coming as they had a wonderful Jubilee themed display.

I'm afraid I cannot divulge what I purchased from the shop, as that would ruin my brothers birthday present. I thought the aprons on display were lovely, I could not be tempted though as I already have two at home. I also spotted a small box of saucer crackers, like Christmas crackers only tiny, perfect for your cup and saucer for an afternoon tea. I so wish I had bought some of these whilst I was there.
A big cup of Mocha, cream scone and banoffee pie!
The Bottle Kiln specialise in gourmet artisan coffee, the aroma of which filled the air as you walk through the door. I decided to have something a little different from tea and chose a Mocha, which for those of you that don't know is A shot of espresso with fair trade hot chocolate and creamy milk'. Delicious! Now what to eat? There was some lovely cake to chose from, scones, banoffee pie, coffee and walnut cake. The scones towered high filled with cream and jam, and topped with a fresh raspberry. My sister picked the banoffee pie and a hot chocolate, although we both ended up sharing both cakes.
Leaning Tower of Scone
The down side about this blog post is that I don't live nearer to the Bottle Kiln, and I'm most jealous of those of you that have it on your doorstep. But a big thank you to @SweetBabySprout for tweeting me.
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