Tag Archives: cake

Christmas at Afternoon Tease (and our festive opening hours)…

Christmas has well and truly arrived at Afternoon Tease!

Our decorations are up…

We’ve made our Christmas cakes, which involved the biggest and heaviest bowl of cake mix I’ve ever encountered…

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Please excuse the messiness…it was quite an ordeal man handling that amount of cake mix into the tins 🙂 …

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We’re feeding them with a variety of liquors…two are fed on Sailor Jerry’s spiced rum, two on Brandy and two of them are teetotal and fed only on Earl grey tea.

We made our own marzipan, much to the delight of my Mother, who is a serious addict!

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and got down to decorating them…

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This year we’ve even made our own mincemeat, which we’re using in these gorgeous little mincemeat Bakewell puddings…

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and my Mum has been sharing her Polish paper star making skills…

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Although we love this time of year and all of the festive baking and goodwill it entails, the Afternoon Tease Team also need a little break to be with our families and to eat and drink ourselves silly!

So, below are our Christmas and New Year opening times for you to see when we’ll be here for you, as a little respite from your Christmas/sale shopping or a little haven of tranquility if you just need to get out of the house…come and say hi over the festive season!

Christmas / New Year opening times…

Monday 22 Dec- 8am – 6pm
Tuesday 23 Dec – 8am – 6pm
Wednesday 24 Dec – CLOSED
Thursday 25 Dec – CLOSED
Friday 26 Dec – CLOSED
Saturday 27 Dec – CLOSED
Sunday 28 Dec – 10am – 5pm

Monday 29 Dec –  9am – 5pm
Tuesday 30 Dec – 9am – 5pm
Wednesday 31 Dec – 9am – 5pm
Thursday 1 Jan – CLOSED
Friday 2 January – 9am – 5pm
Saturday 3 January – 9am – 5pm
Sunday 4 January – 10am – 5pm

Now, last but not least…if you’re looking for a gift idea for that coffee/cake fiend in your life…look no further! We do treat vouchers

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There are 2 options for you to choose from…

The drink and cake Treat Voucher at £5.50, perfect as a stocking filler or secret Santa!…it entitles the lucky recipient to a hot drink and slice of cake of their choice.

Or you can purchase a Treat Voucher to the value of £5, £10, £15 or £20, which can be used as currency in the cafe for anything the recipient desires 🙂

We aren’t able to give change for the Treat Vouchers but if you/the recipient would like to spend more than the value of the voucher, the balance can be paid in cash.

To buy treat vouchers just pop into the cafe and talk to one of the team!

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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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2 weeks in and just drawing breath…

Wow, well, where to start?…it’s been 2 whole weeks since we opened the doors of Afternoon Tease! It’s passed like a whirlwind and I’d like to start by thanking each and every one of you who have supported me by coming in and for the lovely messages that you have sent…all have been very much appreciated and me and the team have been feeling the love!

It feels strange to actually have the time to sit still and write this blog and to be honest, I’m sure there are cakes to be baked at this precise moment but I really wanted to take the time to give you an update on the blog…I posted the last one abruptly on the day before we opened and then went silent!

For those of you who haven’t managed to make it in for a visit yet, here are a few pictures to fill in the blanks…

Neon

My beautiful neon sign…I got my logo, designed by Mr Penfold, transformed into Neon by Outline Displays.

Opening day...

I took this photo just before opening the doors for the very first time on Friday 25th October 🙂

We fired up Francesco (our beloved coffee machine) and awaited out 1st customers.

We fired up Francesco (our beloved coffee machine) and awaited out 1st customers.

Those first couple of days were so crazy…adrenalin mixed with nerves and total sleep deprivation made for a real emotional rollercoaster and it took a while for the realisation to hit that the cafe I was working in was actually mine! 🙂 The learning curve has been a ridiculously steep one and I’m very much in need of some good sleep and a day off feels like the stuff of fairytales but gradually over the last couple of weeks me and the team have been getting into our stride.

We are open from 8am until 7pm, Tuesday to Friday, serving breakfast…

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Featuring crumpets from Chris at Dovecote Bakery and my Mums homemade jam and marmalade…

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and a lunch menu, which changes regularly. Here is an example modelled by Miss Igs herself…

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I’ve been getting the menu board written and posted on Facebook and Twitter by mid morning…

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So follow us to be kept updated and come and get your lunch fix from 12pm 🙂

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We are also open on Saturday’s from 9am-5pm and Sunday 10am-4pm serving brunch on both days until 3pm. As many of you will know, as I’m always banging on about it, brunch is my favourite meal of the day. This was the menu we served up this weekend…

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Featuring my very favourite dish of pan con tomate with Serrano ham…

Pan con tomate w/ Serrano ham

The very talented Tom Milton, came and took a few pics at the cafe in the first week, capturing it in all of it’s brand new spangly glory…here are a couple of my faves…

Tom Milton Photography (TMPY)

Tom Milton Photography (TMPY)

Tom Milton Photography (TMPY)

Tom Milton Photography (TMPY)

Tom Milton Photography (TMPY)

Tom Milton Photography (TMPY)

I’ve been loving having free reign over 2 ovens and have been trying out some brand new cakes…

Pear and marzipan cake

Pear and marzipan cake

Plum cake w/ cheesecake ripple

Plum cake w/ cheesecake ripple

aswell as the good old classics including my chocolate Guinness cake w/cream cheese icing and creating the cake filled counter of my dreams…

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I have a few very special mentions to finish this post on…firstly, a huge heartfelt thankyou goes to my my Mum & Dad, without whom, Afternoon Tease would not exist! I am ridiculously in debt to them for all of the hard work, help, love and support they have given me throughout!…

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My siblings were also roped in and pulled out all the stops to get the cafe finished…

My Sister building the counter

My Sister building the counter

Beautiful tiling by my brother, Tom

Beautiful tiling by my brother, Tom

and also a big thankyou to Ivana (Miss Igs), my 2nd in command, friend and general sounding board :)…

Miss Igs

and to my awesome team…Robbie, Ashley, Charley and Martha!

Over and out for now but I look forward to seeing some more of you in the cafe in the coming weeks!

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Opening times for Friday 25th and weekend brunch at Afternoon Tease…

I can’t believe it’s only 2 days to go until we open Afternoon Tease!

We’re working like Trojans to make it happen! Today, I will be rolling up my sleeves and cleaning it from top to bottom, ready for a full day of unpacking tomorrow to turn it into a fully functioning (we hope) cafe for Friday morning!

Afternoon Tease - work in progress

On Friday we will be serving a reduced menu of drinks and cakes only from 8am until 7pm.

On Saturday we will be open 9am-5pm for brunch and again on Sunday 10am-4pm.

We will launch our full breakfast and lunch menus on Tuesday 29th October, when you can expect delicious sourdough toast, crumpets, porridge to help get the day off to a good start and a changing selection of sandwiches available for lunch and cake…of course!

I’m really excited to open the doors and greet our first customers but please bear with us to begin with until we get up to speed, we’re a brand new team, in a brand new cafe and although our service will definitely be with a smile, it may be a bit slower until we learn where everything is 🙂

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Skimming a ceiling…’just like icing a cake upside down’?

I thought it was about time for another Afternoon Tease progress update! I’m afraid we’re still at the messy construction stage so if you’re expecting pictures of something that resembles a cafe you’ll be sorely disappointed :).

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However uninspiring this shot may appear, I can confirm that there’s been a lot of work going on behind the scenes. The most exciting development for me has been the skimming of the nasty artexed ceiling!

Here’s a before shot of the artex in all of it’s textured glory (bleurgh)…

Ceiling before

and here it is once it had been tackled by my lovely plasterers! They didn’t look too amused when I commented that I thought skimming looked pretty easy…like icing a cake upside down! I was joking of course, there’s no way I could’ve got it that smooth!

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Ceiling after

Internal walls have gone up to make my new kitchen…

Internal walls go up

Internal wall to the kitchen

and the ducting is in for my extraction system (a tad boring perhaps but I said I’d keep you posted :))…

Ducting goes in

More ducting

But now for something a bit more interesting. The other weekend, I rolled up my sleeves, donned a mask and set about sanding a patch of floor so that I could do a trial of what I’ve got in mind for the cafe flooring.

Power tool madness

Masking it out

When I do the real thing, my lines will be straighter and my masking more acurate but all in all I was very happy with the end result!…

Floor trial complete

No project would be complete without a trip or 2 to IKEA. So, along with willing assistant (Miss Igs) I headed off to the big blue and yellow treasure trove! We were feeling quite adventurous with how much we thought we could buy and fit into my car so we loaded up 3 trolleys worth of goodies…

Huge Ikea shop

However, we realised that perhaps we’d been a tad over-optimistic as we neared my little Ford Fiesta in the car park…

Before

But, we are very determined young ladies and (bar the 2 chairs that I had to return but we won’t talk about them) we got it all in and even managed some pic n mix for the journey home!

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Although I’m not personally at the cafe every day, I have a busy team who are and one morning this week as I was biking towards number 13 at 8am to let my plasterers in, I was really excited to see that (what will be) my outside seating area was bathed in lovely autumnal sunshine. All of the thoughts of paperwork, to do lists and worry flew out of my mind and were replaced by pure excitement! I can’t wait to see my customers sitting here, drinking a coffee and soaking up the rays…

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Not long now!

In the meantime, however, if you would like to get a slice of the action…come and say hello this Saturday (21st September) when I will be selling my cakey wares at the Castle Hill Open Day. I’ll be in the Kettle’s Yard courtyard from 11am-5pm and have got some treats in store for you including gooey chocolate brownies, caramelised fig friands, raspberry and white chocolate blondies, salted caramel millionaires shortbread and lemon drizzle cake. There will also be a selection of my cakes for sale in the Museum of Cambridge tearoom if you fancy taking the weight off your feet.

I hope to see you there!

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The return of Sweeteasy and a boozy rum soaked fruitcake recipe…

Recently, I hosted my third Sweeteasy…I really love plotting and planning my menus and even though actually making the 3 cocktail inspired cakes and the 3 cake inspired cocktails for 30 people is pretty hard work it’s the kind of hard work I love and when the evening finally rolls around, I get my glad rags on and I begin welcoming my guests it is so worth it!

Here’s the menu that awaited my guests…

Sweeteasy #3 menu

To make the gooseberry and elderflower fool martini I used gooseberries from my parents garden and locally foraged elderflower to make a puree, to which I added gin and some sugar syrup to take the edge off.

From this…

Gooseberry and elderflower

To this…

Gooseberry and elderflower fool martini

These were followed closely by my ‘bramble’ friands, a light almond sponge made with egg whites and blackberries topped with a blackberry and gin glaze…

@daisyduked photo - Bramble friands with blackberry and gin glaze

Next up was a honey bourbon milk punch made with, as you may surmise, Jim Beam honey bourbon, milk, cream, vanilla, sugar and a grating of nutmeg…

@daisyduked photo - Honey bourbon milk punch

Served alongside a very special experiment…stout brownies! But these weren’t made using just any old stout, I used Moonshine Brewery‘s ‘Hot Numbers Stout’ the result of a very exciting collaboration made with coffee roasted in the Hot Numbers Roastery

Stout brownie

At this point, I mixed things up a bit and went off piste on the menu order, serving up the limoncello tiramisu. I made a big batch of homemade limoncello and used some to make a zabaglione, which I stirred into thick, creamy mascarpone along with beaten egg whites to make it floaty light! This was accompanied by homemade ladyfinger biscuits…

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and a miniature bottle of chilled limoncello…

Limoncello tiramisu with homemade ladyfinger biscuits and limoncello

Last but not least, guests were served my fruitcake infused rum daquiri…

@suziemakes rum daquiri photo

I made it by pouring Havana Club Anejo 3 Anos rum over a mixture of sultanas, raisins, almonds, sliced orange, a vanilla pod and a couple of cinnamon sticks and leaving it to infuse for a few days…simple but oh so effective…

Rum

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Once the rum was strained and ready, I used it to make a traditional daquiri by adding fresh lemon juice and a dash of sugar syrup. I had a good chinwag with my guests as the evening came to a close and the fruitcake rum daquiri came out on top as the favourite cocktail of the night although the gooseberry and elderflower fool martini was a close contender and some people just couldn’t decide, which I saw as a good sign! 🙂

If you’re interested in hearing about Sweeteasy and my other events you can sign up to receive Afternoon Tease news here. I’d like to thank my guests Deepa (@lazygiraffe), Daisy (@daisyduked) and Suzie (@suziemakes) for allowing me to use their lovely photographs of the evening. You can also read Deepa’s take on Sweeteasy here.

But hang on, I’m not finished yet…

after straining the rum for the daquiri I was left with an awful lot of juicy rum laden fruit. I really didn’t want to see it go to waste and for a while had been thinking that I needed a good fruitcake in my repertoire, so I got researching and flicking through my old cookbooks and decided to use Mary Berry’s boiled fruitcake as a base…if I’m honest the fact that it was called a ‘Quick boiled fruitcake’ and only needed to be cooked for under 2 hours as opposed to 4 and also the fact that it contained condensed milk…one of my favourite sweet-toothed ingredients swung it for me!

It was a very moist and light (in colour) cake and with so much of my 3 day rum soaked fruit in, it really packed a punch!

Rum soaked boiled fruitcake

To make it you need…

397 g tin condensed milk

150 g butter

800 g of dried fruit (Mary suggests 225g raisins, 225g sultanas, 175g currants and 175g chopped glace cherries, however feel free to mix it up and be adventurous with your selection of dried fruit. My addition of figs gave a lovely texture to the cake. Soaking the fruit in booze is optional but I highly recommend it!)

225 g self raising flour

2 tsp ground mixed spice

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 130 degrees (150 if not a fan oven) and grease and line a deep 8 inch cake tin.

Simply put the fruit, condensed milk and butter in a large saucepan…

Rum soaked fruit ready to boil

and place over a low heat until the butter has melted. Make sure you stir it well and don’t let it stick to the bottom. Simmer it gently for 5 minutes and then take it off the heat to cool for 10 minutes, stirring it every now and again…

Rum soaked fruit boiled and ready for action

Put the flour and spices into a large bowl, make a well in the centre and add the eggs along with the cooled gloopy fruit mixture and stir together until well combined but try not to overmix it. Pour it into the prepared tin and level the top…

Rum soaked fruit cake ready to go in the oven...

Now pop it in the oven for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours. It’s ready when it’s light golden brown on top and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. If you’re not quite happy that it’s ready, just put it back in for 5 minutes at a time and repeat the skewer test until you’re satisfied that it’s cooked to perfection :).

Rum soaked fruit cake fresh out of the oven...

Leave it to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning it out to cool completely on a wire rack.

The chunkiness of my fruit made it a joy to eat but made it a little tricky to slice neatly…

The first slice...

I’ve never been a huge fruit cake fan, but this one has converted me. It also keeps beautifully, so if you haven’t wolfed it down in a couple of days, not to worry…just keep it in a well sealed container and it’ll be fine for a week (or so).

Teatime!

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Yoghurt, lime and pistachio cake with rosewater and lime drizzle…

My love of festivals (of the music variety) has been well documented on this blog as has my tradition of festival baking (here, here and here). I managed to get the first of this year’s festivals under my belt pretty early on when I headed to Meadowlands in East Sussex at the end of May. It wasn’t just the festival we were going for, it was also my friend Georgie’s ‘Hen Don’t’. As you may have surmised from the name, she’d stressed to her Bridesmaids that she didn’t want a traditional hen do, which was totally fine with me. The thought of having to walk around in sparkly feather boas and sashes (and the rest…) fills me with dread. It kind of goes against my festival morals but we had decided to ‘glamp’, which involved turning up at the car park, having our bags carried for us, being housed in a lovely bell tent with jute flooring and sleeping on an air bed clad in lovely soft duvets and bedding…but I’m not going to lie to you…it was amazing!

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I’m getting a bit waylaid here…back to cake!

A few of us were asked to bring some baked goods with us so that we could have a little afternoon tea on Saturday afternoon. I’d had a bit of a busy week in the run up to the festival but I try to grab every opportunity I can to test some of the recipes that I find in cook books, rip out of magazines, find online and take photos of. I’m continually hoarding these recipe snippets in a ‘must try’ pile, and here was my chance to give a couple a go. I went for a yoghurt, lime and pistachio cake with rosewater and lime drizzle (if you’ve had enough of my wittering you can just scroll to the bottom of the post for the recipe)…

Yoghurt, lime and pistachio cake 2

and a white chocolate, almond and blueberry blondie…

White chocolate, almond and blueberry blondie

Please forgive me for the rubbish standard of the photos…I’m using the excuse that all I had to cut the cakes with was a blunt butter knife and…I was in the middle of a field! 🙂

Along with some delicious Malteaser fridge cake and squidgy brownies we had a pretty good spread…

Festival afternoon tea

Festival afternoon tea

It went some way to lining our stomachs and powering our dancing later on that evening!

After getting home and recovering from the weekend of festival excess it wasn’t long before I made the yoghurt, lime and pistachio cake again. This time I managed to take a much better photo…

Yoghurt, lime & pistachio cake

It’s a pretty unassuming looking cake but the fragrant flavours all work really well together and the drizzle, together with the inclusion of ground almonds makes it exceptionally moist. It benefits from being wrapped up and kept in the fridge for a day or two, which is handy if you need to make it in advance as long as you can refrain from pilfering a slice in the middle of the night Nigella stylee!

A slice

I found the recipe in Rachel Allen’s ‘Bake‘ book and made a couple of tweaks.

To make it you’ll need…

225g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 pinch salt

75g ground almonds

100g caster sugar

2 eggs

1 generous tbsp or 50g runny honey

250ml natural yogurt

150ml sunflower oil

Grated zest of 1 lime

100g pistachios, roughly chopped

For the syrup

150ml water

100g caster sugar

Juice of 1 lime

1-2 tsp rose water (this depends on your taste and the strength of your rosewater. I use Star Kay White Rose Extract, which you can find in Lakeland. It really packs a punch and you’ll only need a small amount i.e. 1-2tsp. Whereas this Natural Essence of Rosewater from The English Provender is a lot weaker so you may want to add more.)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and grease and line a 20cm cake tin with greaseproof paper.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl and stir in the ground almonds and caster sugar.

Mix the eggs, honey, yogurt, sunflower oil and lime zest together in another bowl.

Make a well in the middle of your dry ingredients and slowly pour in the wet ingredients. Use a whisk to bring them together until they’re just combined. Finally stir in the chopped pistachios before pouring the mixture into the tin you prepared earlier.

Pop it in the oven for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

You need to leave the cake to cool in the tin for about 20 minutes, which gives you plenty of time to make your lime and rosewater syrup for drizzling.

Simply boil the water and sugar in a small saucepan for about 5 minutes until it has reduced by half. Then add the lime juice and leave to boil for another 2 minutes. Take it off the heat and leave it to cool before adding your rosewater. Take heed of my notes above regarding the strength of your rosewater…add a little, then have a slurp, if you want it stronger then add a little more to suit your own taste. If you’re too heavy handed with the rosewater at this stage your cake might end up tasting like a bar of soap…be warned!

Use a skewer to make holes all over the top of the warm cake. Spoon over the syrup making sure every bit of it sees some of the syrupy action.

I finished the cake off by scattering a few more pistachios on top and dusting it with icing sugar just before serving.

We ate it on its own but I think it’d be delicious with a dollop of natural yoghurt or creme fraiche on the side (festival optional).

Enjoy!

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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

Going going...

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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Rhubarb and custard cake…

Rhubarb season has been very fruitful for me this year (apologies for such early pun usage). I’m lucky enough to know a lot of people who have been growing their own and I even discovered a little crop of my very own in the garden! I often make a delicious sticky rhubarb and ginger cake, which is a complete winner but I stumbled across this recipe on the BBC Good Food website for a rhubarb and custard cake and couldn’t resist having a go, with a couple of Afternoon Tease twists. Now is no time for modesty, I am happy to report that it turned out to be the most delicious cake, and fickle as I am, has overtaken all others as my current favourite! Behold my rhubarb and custard cake made with locally grown rhubarb and homemade custard…

Rhubarb and custard cake

Now, I can tell, you’re going to scroll down, see the length of the recipe and decide it’s far too much hard work, panic not! There are basically 3 main sections to prepare…rhubarb, custard and cake but they are all pretty simple and I guarantee you, it’s totally worth it. Although this may not be the quickest bake, it’s a great cake for a lazy afternoon’s baking! So without further ado…

For the rhubarb you need…

400g rhubarb

50g caster sugar

For the custard you need…

1 vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla extract

275ml double cream

3 egg yolks

1 tsp cornflour

25g caster sugar

For the cake you need…

250g butter, softened,

150g custard (either use my recipe for homemade custard or if you’d rather, you can use a shop bought variety such as Ambrosia)

250g self-raising flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

250g caster sugar

icing sugar , for dusting

So, to start, you need to prepare the rhubarb element of the cake by heating the oven to 180 degrees (fan). Rinse the rhubarb and cut it into finger sized pieces. Lay them in a shallow oven proof dish. It needs to be big enough for the rhubarb to lie out in one single layer or you will have an issue with some pieces cooking faster than others (mine was a little small in hindsight, I learnt the hard way). Sprinkle over the 50g caster sugar and shake the dish until all of the rhubarb is coated…

Rhubarb ready for roasting

Cover with foil and pop in the oven to roast. After 15 minutes remove the dish from the oven, have a peek and a little shake and pop it back in for another 5 minutes. You’re aiming for the rhubarb to be tender (but not a mushy pulp) and the juices to be syrupy. If it’s not quite there yet, just put it back in the oven and check every 5 minutes until you’re happy that the rhubarb is cooked. Then set it aside to cool.

For the custard…

You can use shop bought custard (Ambrosia for example) but I swear by Delia’s custard, which Miss Igs and I christened ‘crack custard’ due to its addictive qualities, after making it for one of our Plate Lickers Supper Clubs 🙂

Photograph by @photolotte for Cambridge Edition

Photograph by @photolotte for Cambridge Edition

If you are splashing out and using a vanilla pod, start by splitting it lengthways down the middle and scraping out the seeds. Then place the pod and the seeds (or vanilla extract) in a small saucepan, with the cream. Heat gently until it’s just below simmering point.

Whilst the cream is heating, you can whisk the egg yolks, cornflour and sugar together in a bowl.

Once your cream is ready, remove the vanilla pod (if using) and gradually add the cream to your egg yolk mixture in a steady stream, whisking constantly. When all of the cream has been added and it’s well mixed, pour the whole lot back into the saucepan and return to the hob over a gentle heat. You need to stir it constantly to make sure none of it gets stuck to the bottom of the pan. You can use a rubber spatula or a whisk at this stage. It will start to thicken gradually, if it begins to look a little lumpy, don’t panic! just get whisking and it will soon become thick and smooth. Delia also advises…

‘If you do overheat it and it looks grainy, don’t worry, just transfer it to a jug or bowl and continue to whisk until it becomes smooth again.’

When you’re happy with the consistency of your custard (it should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon without running straight off), pour it into a bowl and cover the surface with clingfilm so that it doesn’t form a skin. Now try not to eat too much of it before leaving it to cool for later!

The good news is that this recipes makes nearly double the quantity of custard you need for the cake! So once you’ve measured out 150g of your custard…you can do whatever you wish with the leftovers! I recommend grabbing a spoon and eating it straight from the bowl 🙂

Once the rhubarb and custard have cooled, you are ready for the cake making. This may all feel a bit long winded but bear with it…I promise that it’s worth every single second of prep!

So, for the cake…

Grease and line a 20cm (or 23cm) loose-bottomed or springform cake tin and heat the oven to 160 degrees (fan).

Save 3 tbsp of the 150g custard in a separate bowl for later. Put the rest of the custard in a large bowl with the butter, flour, baking powder, eggs, vanilla and sugar and beat until creamy and smooth.

Now for the assembly. Spoon 1/3 of the cake mix into the tin, add 1/3 of the rhubarb, then dot with another 1/3 of the cake mix and spread it out as well as you can. Top with another 1/3 of the rhubarb, then spoon over the remaining cake mix, don’t worry about being too neat about it. Scatter the rest of the rhubarb over the batter, then drip the reserved custard on top…

Rhubarb and custard cake ready for the oven

The original recipe said to bake it for 40 mins until risen and golden, then to cover the tin with foil and bake it for 15-20 mins more. Mine took quite a bit longer than this and after testing it by inserting a skewer into the middle (when it’s ready the skewer will come out clean) I actually cooked it for a further 30 minutes (so 1hour 30mins in total). After the intial hour of cooking, you need to use your judgement…just remember, if the skewer doesn’t come out clean, it isn’t ready, so just pop it back in for  5 minutes or so at a time and then check again. Bear in mind that the cooking time also varies depending on the size of the tin you use…a 20cm tin will need slightly longer than a 23cm tin. However, you can be safe in the knowledge that when it is ready it’s going to look and smell fantastic…

IMG_5681

Leave the cake to cool in the tin and when completely cool, sprinkle liberally with icing sugar and serve…

Rhubarb and custard cake

 

If you can resist polishing it off straight away, this cake keeps well for a couple of days and would be delicious served with leftover custard (if you have any).

Rhubarb and custard cake

A slice of rhubarb and custard cake

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A round up of Sweeteasy #2…

Last Friday I hosted my 2nd Sweeteasy at Hot Numbers. Once the doors of the cafe closed for the day I got busy transforming it into a prohibition era style drinking den, where I would be serving a set menu of cake inspired cocktails and cocktail inspired cakes and sweets. At dusk my guests started arriving accompanied by the sound of tinkling ivories courtesy of the very talented Adam, co-host of The First Rule Supper Club

Tinkling the ivories

Sweeteasy 4

Some guests had really got into the 1920’s spirit and  were looking gorgeously glam…

Sweeteasy 5

20's glam

glamorous ladies

My glamorous assistant

I’m so bad at keeping exciting things to myself but I had somehow managed to keep the menu totally secret and really enjoyed watching and listening to my guests reactions to its unveiling…

Sweeteasy Menu

First up was Turkish delight martinis in teacups made with gin, a splash of brandy and homemade rose syrup and served with a square of homemade Turkish delight…

Turkish delight martini

Followed closely by eggnog custard tarts…puff pastry with brandy custard and nutmeg…

Eggnog custard tarts

The next drink was definitely my favourite and something I’d been dreaming up for a while…behold my rhubarb crumble martini…

Rhubarb crumble martini

Rhubarb crumble martini

The seed of the idea for the rhubarb crumble martini was planted by Aoife Maxwell who is the font of all knowledge on booze and who along with her friend Rachel writes the Gastronomic Girls blog. I’d seen her blog about making rhubarb vodka and she very kindly presented me with a sample secreted in a brown paper bag at my first Sweeteasy event :). It was absolutely divine so I decided to make my own, which was surprisingly easy and very rewarding. You can find Aoife’s rhubarb vodka recipe here.

I loved the process and was amazed to watch all of the colour gradually drain out of the rhubarb and transfer itself to the vodka…magic!

 

I knew very early on that what I wanted to do with my rhubarb vodka was to create a rhubarb crumble in liquid form and after much taste testing (it’s a hardship I know) decided on the following recipe…

3 parts homemade rhubarb vodka

1 part amaretto (I used Disaronno)

Simply shake with ice before straining into a glass.

However, what is a crumble without the yummy topping? hence the addition of the piece de resistance…the crumble topping rim! I made a basic crumble topping by blitzing 50g butter with 100g flour in the food processor (this can also be done by rubbing the butter into the flour by hand) before stirring in 50g sugar. I baked it on a tray at 180 degrees until golden brown and left it to cool. To make it stick to the rim of the glass I used a simple sugar syrup, which is sooo easy to make. Simply dissolve 1 cup of sugar in 1/2 cup water over a low heat and leave to cool.

Finally to assemble the rhubarb crumble martini, I poured some sugar syrup onto a shallow dish and tipped some of the crumble topping onto a similar receptacle. Then dipped the rim of the glass in the syrup, allowing any excess to drip off before dipping in in the crumble topping…tadaaa…

Crumble topping rim

Then it was time to pour in the rhubarb vodka and amaretto concoction…

Rhubarb crumble martini

I was so chuffed with the creation of my dream drink…rhubarb crumble in a glass!

It was closely followed by my White Russian 3 milk cake, based on a traditional Mexican Tres Leches cake but with added Kahlua…

White Russian 3 milks cake

White Russian 3 milk cake

The 3rd and final cocktail was a chocolate and spiced rum old fashioned made using 70% dark chocolate liqueur, Sailor Jerrys spiced rum, angostura bitters and a dash of sugar syrup, stirred with a couple of cubes of ice, potent but divine…

Old fashioned

When I was taste testing this beauty I felt that it really needed to be paired with something chocolatey, hence the rum and raisin slice made using rum soaked raisins and 70% dark chocolate and I couldn’t resist throwing in a retro classic, my pina colada coconut ice made using homemade pineapple jam…

Coconut ice and rum and raisin slice

And that, ladies and gentlemen is, as they say, a wrap! The evening sadly had to come to an end but it turns out my guests are people of great taste as I ended up bumping into most of them afterwards in 196 on Mill Road, a very fine local cocktail establishment!

Another thoroughly enjoyable evening, thankyou to all who came, to Adam for being an amazing piano man and to Sarah and Val for letting me use  use some of their photos for this blog and to  Tom and Carri for being my glamorous assistants for the night!

Sweeteasy 2

I’m already plotting the next Sweeteasy, the date is in the diary but in true Afternoon Tease fashion, I’m going to keep you waiting a bit longer before I divulge the details! 🙂 But if you’d like to sign up to my new mailing list you’ll be amongst the first to be in the know.

Sweeteasy 17You can read more about Sweeteasy from the guests perspective in these lovely blogs from Miss Sue Flay of The Secluded Tea Party and from Heidi on The Moving Foodie Blog.

Sweeteasy 8

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