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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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It’s my Birthday! My blog Birthday that is! The Afternoon Tease is 2!

2 years ago today, I tentatively posted my first photo of the towering cupcake creation that I made for my friends wedding and had a little bitch about Sophie Dahl (I still stand by my opinion that she’s sickeningly perfect! ;). When I started out on my blogging adventure I would never have imagined that 172 posts later I’d still be going strong, baking like a demon and blethering on about it with a passion!

I still get quite scared when I think about people reading what I write, which is silly really as I post it on the world wide web for all to see. I’m not a natural writer, I’m just dedicated to cake and to sharing the love! Thank you to all who have visited, read my inane cake related ramblings and tried out the recipes that I’ve shared!

I’m always pondering my next baking adventure so have no fear…I don’t think I’ll ever run out of something to write about…

Watch this space…

Jo

x

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30/03/2012 · 7:55 am

I made this quadruple layer blueberry cheesecake gateau birthday cake for my friend Hannah and took it to her party in a bar near Tower Bridge. On looking out the window at the amazing view over the river and City Hall…I realised that I’d subconsciously recreated the iconic building in my slightly ramshackle cake construction 🙂 Well that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

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08/05/2011 · 11:35 am

The taste of victory!

At long last Saturday 2nd October, the day I’d been eagerly awaiting since February when I started organising my birthday party, finally dawned and brought with it the most awful weather and rain of monsoon-like proportions. This most inauspicious of days saw my friends battling the elements clutching cake tins, tupperware and highly inventive home styled cake carrying devices from far and wide on public transport to take part in…

I don’t do anything by halves and with the help of my glamorous, graphic design assistant, Hannah we were all set with posters stating the rules and even official voting slips!…

You may recall that the original rules stated all entries had to be at the venue by 8pm but I started receiving panic stricken calls and texts begging for an extension due to inclement weather. So the deadline went out the window and a steady stream of entries arrived…better late than never I say…

Entry number 1 was my friend Marky’s Lemon and Sour Cream Cake (A Godfrey Family Recipe), which was essentially a shed load of sugar, some flour, 6 eggs, rind of one lemon and some sour cream, mixed up and baked slowly for 1.5 hrs. A simple, classic but perfectly formed creation I’m sure you’ll agree…

Entrant number 2 was Zannah with her star spangled hummingbird cake with vanilla bean icing…

Number 3 was from Han, graphics whizz…chocolate chip cupcakes with an espresso baileys cream cheese topping and there sure was a definite Baileys kick going on! And…she had a double tier cupcake carrier…this lady means business!…

Number 4, from Jennie and Mark, arrived looking like a clingfilm wrapped space ship but when unveiled was in fact a gorgeous sticky toffee banoffee cake, consisting of a banana sponge with a caramel banana whipped cream and mascarpone filling, topped with more caramel whipped cream and mascarpone and finished off with chocolate sprinkles and special happy birthday icing…

And entrant number 5 was my housemate Patti with her trademark coca cola chocolate cake…it’s so wrong that it’s right!…

Number 6, baked by my oldest friend Clare, was a plum, hazelnut and chocolate creation…

Cam baked entry 7, a gorgeously classy looking lemon afternoon tea cake, with lemon icing (my photo does it no justice at all sorry Cam!)…

Number 8 was a batch of Jellyberryfish cupcakes made by Dr Tan…

I thought they definitely deserved a close up…

Next up was Georgie’s entry…in her own words ‘hummingbird stuffed marshmallow cupcakes with vanilla and minimarsh glittery goodness… Fit for a birthday princess!’, which actually had a whole marshmallow hidden in the middle mmm…

Entry number 10 defied the laws of gravity and was iced in situ by Span. It was a delectable maple syrup and pecan nut floating autumn birthday cake…

Lianna had baked some perfect Hummingbird strawberry cheescake cupcakes…

and her housemate Laura had made pineapple and coconut cupcakes…

In all of the excitement, I’m very ashamed to admit that I don’t have a photo of entry number 13, the handiwork of my friend Simon! But I can describe it as the naughtiest looking chocolate cake known to man!…

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So, 13 entries in and voting on appearance commenced…after everyone had had a chance to take a look and cast their votes me and my mum took to the floor and judged them for ourselves. Then came the moment that everyone had been waiting for and salivating over…the taste test…

I was in heaven…13 cakes and I HAD to taste them all! I was cursing the limitations of my posh frock but at the same time blessing he invention of control pants!

I never thought it would so hard to judge a cake competiton but the standard was so high! The effort that had been put into the competition blew me off my feet and the decision was definitely a toughy! We counted up the voting slips, then me and my mum (baking oracle and cake appreciator extraordinaire) chose the winners from those that had received the most public votes.

I have great pleasure in announcing that the winner in the appearance category of the 1st Official Afternoon Tease’s Birthday Cake Bake Off was…

Hannah with her uber professional looking chocolate chip cupcakes with an espresso baileys cream cheese topping…

and the winner in the taste category of the 1st Official Afternoon Tease’s Birthday Cake Bake Off was…Simon with his ‘Ultimate Chocolate Cake’!

As a consolation for not having any photographic evidence of Simon’s immensely naughty creation, I have managed to prise the recipe from him for you here. I highly recommend giving it a try just make sure you have an elasticated waistband 😉

Thank you to all entrants, voters, friends and family…you’re amazing!…I had the best party and 13 whole birthday cakes…that surely must be a world record?!

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Birthday baking

I am now the very proud owner of a gorgeous, sexy, empire red, shiny new KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer. I have been dying to get my hands on this little beauty for a while so when I finally unwrapped it on my birthday it was only a matter of minutes before I’d donned my apron and was whipping up a batch of raspberry cheesecake brownies from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. I chose this particular recipe, not only because it looks amazing but because it has 3 layers, for which the recipe tells you to use a ‘freestanding electric mixer’ woop!

But don’t despair…you can still make it by using a handheld mixer or even good old fashioned elbow grease!

I’ve written out the recipe below if you fancy giving it a go…how can you resist when faced with brownie porn like this??…

Raspberry cheesecake brownie – 

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees and prepare a 33 x 23 x 5cm baking tray by lining it with baking parchment.

brownie layer – 

200g dark chocolate roughly chopped

200g unsalted butter

250g icing sugar

3 eggs

110g plain flour

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until smooth. Mix the butter and sugar (in my case I used the paddle attachment and my spanky new KitchenAid…sorry to brag!) until well incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well before adding the flour. The turn up the speed on your mixer and beat away until the mixture is smooth. Finally pour in the melted chocolate , give it a final mix and pour into the baking tray. Smooth this layer with a palette knife and put aside for the time being.

cheesecake layer – 

400g cream cheese

150g icing sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

Mix the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract together slowly until smooth and thick. Add one egg at a time. The mixture should be smooth and creamy, at which point you can increase the speed of mixing to make it light and fluffy but be careful not to overmix as it will split. Spoon the cheesecake mixture on top of the brownie layer, smooth it out and put in the oven for 30-40 minutes until the cheesecake layer is firm and golden around the edges. Leave to cool completely and then cover and put in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight if possible.

cream topping – 

300ml whipping cream

100g icing sugar

150g raspberries plus extra to decorate

Whisk up the cream, sugar and raspberries until firm but not stiff. 

Remove the brownie from the tin, spread the raspberry cream mixture on  and decorate with the extra raspberries.

Then put the kettle on, make a cuppa, sit back, relax and savour….

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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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