Tag Archives: birthday cake

We are 1!

The reason for this blog post, as the title suggests, is a very important milestone in the life of Afternoon Tease…on Saturday 25th October we celebrated our 1st Birthday! When asked whether it felt like a year, I had to admit I wasn’t entirely sure. I definitely feel exhausted enough for it to have been a year and in a (good) way it actually feels longer, like we’ve become part of the King Street furniture :).

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On reflection (which has happened a lot recently), we’ve come such a long way in that year, especially when I think back to our opening day, where we bumbled around cluelessly behind a barely held together facade of professionalism. We’ve established a day to day routine and put a lot of processes in place to make sure that all of the jobs get done…cakes made, cleaning completed and most importantly…customers served, however every day is different and we are still always kept on our toes! A year has always sounded like an unfathomably long time & although I’d been celebrating every single month of the business since opening, I was somehow surprised when the year came around!

To celebrate our Birthday we decorated the cafe…

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and I made a ginormous, two tiered chocolate stout cake using Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast, an oatmeal stout brewed with coffee!

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I also added a few shots of our espresso (Caravan‘s Market Blend). It seemed a fitting cake for the celebration as the chocolate Guinness cake has to be our most popular cake and I wanted to make this one bigger and better than ever!…

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Here’s the finished article…

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It didn’t take long for it to start disappearing…

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going…

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going…

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going…

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gone…

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Our Birthday turned out to be our busiest day on record, which felt amazing! Many of our regulars, who we have now also come to call friends, dropped in to wish us Happy Birthday and we received some amazing cards, some even homemade nonetheless…

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and a very special ode, written by wonderful customer and author, Menna Van Praag, which has now taken pride of place in our toilet (if you’ve seen how cool our toilet is you’ll know this is a good thing)…

Ode

A couple of particularly dedicated cake fiends, Kaylan & Dawn gave us a very touching gift, which finally brought the tear to my eye that I’d held at bay all day. They presented me with a sliver cake slice, which had belonged to Dawn’s Grandmother. They’d had it engraved with ‘Saturday is Cake Day’ a tradition that they withhold stringently every week 🙂

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Good friend and important member of the opening team, Ivana (Miss Igs), came back for a guest shift and was reunited with Francesco, our beautiful La Marzocco coffee machine…

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I’d decided that it’s be nice to have a little shindig at the cafe in the evening for some of the people (I couldn’t fit you all!) who had been important to our first year. I found it very hard to keep my invite list manageable but the ‘bijou’ proportions of the cafe helped me reign it in. Saying that, at one point it did feel like we were having some kind of competition to see just how many people we could get in…

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Unfortunately for me (and everyone else) I was heckled into saying a few words. After a terrible fumbly start, where no actual words escaped my mouth, I managed to string a few together…firstly to thank my team. As a very independent and stubborn person, it’s a source of frustration to me that I physically can’t run the cafe on my own 🙂 …however, I’ve got (and have had throughout the year) an amazing team, who work so hard and make the Afternoon Tease experience what it is. I read a review recently that said that it was nice to find a place where the staff looked like they genuinely enjoyed being there…it made my day!

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The current dream team enjoying a pre-party tipple!

I also thanked my Electrician, Richard, who has had to respond to a few crazed early morning phone calls, my family who support me on a daily basis in so many ways and my friends who have stuck by me despite the fact that I’ve pretty much gone AWOL socially for the last year, have declined most invitations and haven’t made it out past 9pm…they’ve stuck by me and are still persevering 🙂

The biggest thanks has to go to my customers, without whom, Afternoon Tease just wouldn’t exist! I’ve met some amazing people in the last year and absolutely love the eclectic mix of people who pass though our door! One year is only a short period of time in the grand scale of things and I hope to be around for many more!

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Plate Lickers is 1…our birthday party!

Last Saturday saw us celebrate the first birthday of Plate Lickers Supper Club!

It’s really hard to believe that it’s been a whole year since Ivana and I joined forces, came up with a name, found a venue, concocted a menu, filled a room with 30 hungry people and….fed them! From that day forward Plate Lickers has been going strong and with the amazing support of our guests has sold out everytime (sometimes in as little as an hour). We still love every minute of preparing for and hosting our supper clubs (ok maybe we don’t like the sleepless nights beforehand) and have met so many lovely people in our 12 month existence. We wanted to mark our anniversary event with a special Birthday party, the menu for which remained secret until the plates were put in front of our guests!

We had decided to return to one of our favourite venues, St Pauls on Hills Road where we had also held our Middle Eastern and the 2nd of our Childhood Memories events…

St Pauls

We welcomed our guests with a retro classic, a snowball, made with Advocaat, lime juice & lemonade…

Snowballs

Everyone helped themselves to a paper bag of olive oil roasted chickpeas and were given a choice of 4 flavoured salts to salt ‘n’ shake into their bags…

Salt 'n' shake chickpeas

Some mingling happened…

Mingling

Mingling

And then we took to the floor to say hello and introduce the first course…

Welcoming our guests

British asparagus, from Peter Elliott, who sells it from the roadside on the A10 near Hauxton, served with purple sprouting broccoli (or ‘psb’ as I like to call it ;)) and a drizzle of homemade hollandaise sauce…

Plating up the starter

Ivana

We called on Delia’s expertise for the hollandaise and it worked a treat, although we both agreed that we could have gone a tad easier on the lemon.

British asparagus & psb w/ homemade hollandaise

British asparagus & psb with homemade hollandaise

We decided to pop out and chat a bit about the main course before we served it up as it’s always quite a rush to get the hot food in front of our guests at this point in a supper club and we don’t feel we get to give it the full attention and description is deserves…

Welcoming our guests

We were really proud of this dish, our take on ham, egg and chips…

Ham, egg & chips

We used Dingley Dell gammon, smoked in-house by our favourite local butchers Northrops, who also deserve a special mention (especially Martin) for giving us consistently good advice. On this occassion we wanted to boil the gammon instead of baking it, on seeing just how big a 7kg joint of gammon was, I realised there was no way I was going to fit it in my fridge to soak overnight, so I lugged a huuuge saucepan along to Martin and he very kindly soaked it for me. The next day, we popped back in with a bag of chopped up carrots, celery, onions, a few peppercorns and bay leaves, which Martin placed around the joint of meat before vac packing it for us! We were essentially going to boil our gammon in a bag (or cook it ‘sous vide’ if you want to be posh about it :)) for 5 hours…there’s no way we could end up with anything but the moistest of meat!

We’d decided that we wanted to really push the boat out and challenge ourselves for this event, how better to do that than to poach 36 eggs! Until about a year ago, I had never poached an egg, but a sure fire way to get good at something is to do it en masse! My technique was to get a pan of water to a very light simmer (very small bubbles just breaking the surface), crack an egg into a small bowl or teacup, then using a balloon whisk, spin the water, creating a vortex. Gently pour the egg into the centre and DO NOT TOUCH! just let the vortex work it’s magic for 3 whole minutes. The success of your poached egg has a lot to do with it’s freshness but sometimes, I reckon you just get a stubborn one! All I can say is….persevere 🙂

The ‘chips’ part of our main course was based on the American dish ‘home fries‘, which we made by parboiling, then crushing new potatoes and roasting them in the oven with butter and onions.

We served it all up with our homemade ketchup and not so homemade mustard…

Homemade ketchup

I love the moment when we place the last main course in front of a guest and Ivana & I can take a deep breath and watch everyone tuck in!

Busy eating

The next course was the one that got people chatting the most…peanut butter and jelly popsicles…

Popsicles

Handing out popsicles

Unwrapping the popsicles

A layer of chocolate ganache mixed with salted peanuts and a sandwich of peanut butter swirled vanilla ice cream and blitzed raspberries…

The finished article - pb&j popsicle

Tucking in

After a quick party game of musical chairs to mix things up a bit and to get everyone chatting to people they may not have met yet, we rolled out the piece de resistance!…our giant 12 inch, fade, orange drizzle Birthday cake, which we sandwiched with homemade orange curd and iced with dark chocolate ganache and literally hundreds and thousands of hundreds and thousands…

The cake

This is what it looked like naked…

Decorating

Fade cake

Hundreds and thousands

and here’s the finished article before it was wolfed down…

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Slicing the cake

A slice of the action

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We offered our guests the choice to eat it now or to have a slice packed away in their party bags :)…

Party bags

and those who ate all of their dinner were awarded a special badge…

He licked his plate!

I think I say it every single time but THIS Plate Lickers was my favourite yet…so much fun! We couldn’t do it without guests who ‘get’ what we’re trying to do and come with an open mind, a sense of fun and are ready to be fed…for that I thank you all!

There’s no stopping us now, we’ll be announcing a June supper club in the next couple of weeks so if you would like to hear about it first, and you haven’t done so already, click here and join our mailing list and follow our #platelickers chatter on Twitter.

Branded

Thanks to Ozzy for the lovely photo’s. The full set can be seen here.

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Punting & afternoon tea…the perfect combo…

I’m very excited to share some news about a cakey collaboration I’ve been working on with ’Let’s Go Punting’, a small independent punting company in Cambridge. This summer I’ll be providing birthday cakes for their birthday party tours and ‘Afternoon Tease’ packages for their picnics and hen parties!

In my mind, punting and afternoon tea are the perfect combo, but then again maybe I’m biased 😉 What better way to spend a summer weekend, kicking back and relaxing, whilst being chauffeured in a punt down the river Cam, laughing at the hoards of tourists trying to ‘do it themselves’ and careening into one another…it’s more entertaining than an episode of Britain’s Got Talent I can tell you! 🙂 Anyhow, I digress…you’ll now be able to do all of the above but with the added bonus of enjoying an inimitably English, homemade afternoon tea on the riverside! Take a look at the menu below, which can be booked alongside any of their punting packages…

A selection of delicate finger sandwiches (no crusts of course!)

filled with… 

cucumber & cream cheese

ham & wholegrain mustard

free range egg mayonnaise & cress

or cheese & homemade chutney

Homemade mini scones…

with a choice of either plain scones served with lashings of jam & clotted cream…

or cheese scones served with butter…

A homemade cake…

There’s a choice between either a victoria sponge sandwiched with jam & vanilla buttercream icing…

a chocolate fudge cake with chocolate ganache icing…

or a lemon drizzle cake sandwiched with lemon curd buttercream icing…

and as if that weren’t enough there’ll also be…

Mini homemade brownie squares

and…

Homemade iced tea 

Now, with the British weather being as unpredictable as it is, my afternoon tea’s can be supplied in a lovely reusable picnic bag that can be taken away to a location of choice (preferably somewhere cosy & dry) or if the the sun has got his hat on, can be enjoyed in one of Cambridge’s gorgeous green spaces. You can find everything you’ll ever need to know about booking etc on the ‘Let’s Go Punting’ website…or just give them a bell, they’re a lovely bunch 🙂

All this talk of afternoon tea got me craving scones so, I decided to revisit my good old Be-Ro cheese scone recipe. It’s one that I’ve been using for years and was originally recommended to me by my Mum.

As a slight cheese related aside…whilst wandering the aisles of Asda buying my scone ingredients I stumbled upon a selection of cheeses by none other than Alex James (The previously hot one from Blur). Now please excuse me, if I’m about to sound unbelievably snobby, but I was pretty shocked that not only had Mr James sold out to a major supermarket but also that he’d chosen Asda. Don’t get me wrong, I frequent Asda on a regular basis as a cost effective place to buy the copious amounts of baking goods that I need and even spent a summer (back in the day) as an Asda checkout girl, but…tomato ketchup and salad cream flavoured cheeses Alex! really!? Having done a bit of googling on the subject I found that I’m not the only one who thinks that Mr James may have sold out, Xanthe Clay is pretty vocal about it here along with blogger Fiona Beckett aka The Cheeselover. However, as the saying goes ‘Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it’ so I picked up the most innocuous looking variety…’Alex’s Best Ever Cheddar’…

It was actually ok, not amazing, but a good, strong cheddar, which made it suitable for my cheese scone recipe.

To make 8 small cheese scone you need…

175g self-raising flour

freshly ground salt & pepper (the recipe recommends a pinch but you can use your own taste and judgement on this one)

1/2 tsp mustard powder

25g butter

75g cheese, grated

1 egg

2 tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Mix the flour, salt, pepper and mustard powder together in a bowl.

Rub in the butter until there are no big lumps of it left and the mixture has the texture of breadcrumbs.

Stir in the grated cheese, saving a little for later to sprinkle on top of your scones.

Add most of the beaten egg and milk until you’ve made a soft dough. Add  little at a time until you’re happy with the texture, if it gets too sticky add a sprinkling of flour. There should be just enough of the egg mixture left for glazing your scones just before they go into the oven.

Once you’re happy with the consistency, tip the dough out onto a surface and roll it out until it’s about 3/4 inch thick. Using a circular pastry cutter, press down firmly to cut out your scones. Try not to twist the cutter as this has a detrimental effect on the way your scones rise…just one firm push is all it should take.

Place each scone on the baking tray, brush with the egg mixture and sprinkle with grated cheese…

then pop them in the oven for 10-15 minutes until they’re golden brown and delicious!…

Serve warm with a generous amount of salted butter…

and a nice cuppa…

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The Dolly Parton of cupcakes

These are the Dolly Parton of cupcakes, artificially coloured, unashamedly vulgar and absolutely irresistible. (Xanthe Clay, Telegraph, 23 May 2008)

A while back, my work colleague, Dawn, asked me to make her some cakes to share with our whole department in celebration of her 50th birthday. I’m sure it’s obvious how much I love baking, but I love it even more when there’s a special occasion involved. I’ve been gagging to test out the red velvet cupcake recipe in the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook for ages and as the red velvet cake originates from the USA (where Dawn hails from) I thought this was the perfect opportunity. I also, only yesterday, had my first taste of an original Hummingbird red velvet cake and not just any old red velvet cake, this one measured a whopping 13 x 18 inches and had been lovingly ordered, personalised and transported from London to the middle of rural Huntingdonshire for my friend Marks 30th birthday! Once I’d tasted it I realised there was definitely no going back…

The recipe calls for 20ml of Dr Oetker red food colouring but I couldn’t get hold of any so I used concentrated food colouring gel, bought from Lakeland and it seems to have worked just as well…

I wasn’t having much luck today and discovered that my local supermarket doesn’t stock buttermilk either so I decided to substitute it with creme fraiche.

I made 4 batches of cupcakes, 46 cupcakes in total, one of which had to be tested by my resident guinea pig…Sal, my housemate, who actually went so far as to say that he thought they were the best cupcakes I’d made…ever! Praise indeed!

They truly are the Dolly Parton of the cupcake world and I love them! I just hope Dawn does too. That’s if I can get them to work in one piece…it’s going to be no mean feat single-handedly transporting 45 cupcakes through London on public transport…eek!


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A magnificent golden tower of a cake

Last Saturday during my weekly perusal of the Guardian magazine I discovered a whole section entitled ‘50 top cooks top recipes’ it didn’t disappoint…there were so many great sounding recipes that I plan to work my way through. But with my brothers 21st birthday looming I was specifically on the look out for a new and exciting cake recipe…the article didn’t let me down and I found Dan Lepard’s saffron clotted cream cake recipe. I’d never heard of Dan Lepard before but having had a quick swizz of his website and blog I will definitely be trying out a few more of his recipes. He describes this cake as ‘A magnificent tower of light saffron buttercake, rich with clotted cream, layered with lemon curd and topped with clotted cream frosting and more swirls of lemon. The perfect summer party cake’ I didn’t need any more convincing and I was also totally intrigued with the concept of baking with saffron and clotted cream…both firsts for me!

It was a really really hot day, which had a bit of a bad effect on my icing, together with the fact that I got a bit over excited when estimating 2-3 tbsp of water straight from the kettle oops! It tasted great but it sure didn’t look like Dan’s.

I also got a a bit creative with the lemon swirls and edible gold glitter…it was my brothers 21st birthday cake after all!

The cake turned out perfectly moist and although not everyone could taste the saffron, I personally think it added beautifully fragrant undertones to the light but rich sponge which was then cut through by the tangy layers of lemon curd.

Next time I make this cake I’d like to use my own lemon curd and I personally think if you’re using shop bought that you need more than one jar and…don’t add too much boiling water to your icing 🙂

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