Showing posts with label Baking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Baking. Show all posts
There is no denying that this time of the year is definitely one for over indulging. Whether you're surrounded by mince pies at every turn or are haunted by the ghost of Christmas puddings past, the festive season is synonymous with lots of lovely sweet treats. Having said that, with lots of  food on offer, it can prove to be a bit of a testing time for your willpower and your waistband alike. Personally, I'm always on the lookout for some lovely alternatives to whisk up in the kitchen, and if the last couple of days have left you crying out for an alternative to brandy soaked everything, then I've got the perfect alternative: a Winter Fruit Pavlova.

I don't know about you, but around the festive season I tend to find that I (rather guiltily!) shun my daily fresh staples in favour of some more indulgent, opulent treats. Ferrero Rocher for breakfast? Well, it's Christmas after all! However, after a little while I find myself longing for a break from the chocolate- so when Fruitdrop challenged me to rustle up a recipe using some ingredients from one of their staple fruit boxes, I jumped at the opportunity. After musing long and hard about what to make, I settled on an old favourite, but adding something of a seasonal twist...

Winter Fruit Pavlova

3 egg whites, 175g caster sugar, 3 pears, 2 apples, 3 plums, cinnamon, 3 star anise, mixed spice,
3 tablespoons of light brown sugar, juice and rind of one orange, 2 sharon fruit,  pulped and strained,
250 ml double cream and water for poaching

1) Begin by making the meringue base for your pavlova. Set the oven to 140 degrees fan before carefully separating your egg whites from the yolks. 
2) Whisk the egg whites for approximately thirty seconds, until they are quite foamy in appearance. 
3) Slowly sprinkle the sugar over the egg whites little by little. Make sure to briefly whisk the mixture after each addition of sugar. Keep going until all of the sugar is incorporated and the meringue mixture is stiff- you should be able to hold the bowl over your head without any drips!

4) Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and carefully spoon the meringue out. I tend to shape the mixture into a rough circle, but make sure to leave plenty of space around the edges of the tray to allow for any spreading during the cooking process.
5) Carefully pop your meringue into the oven, and bake for about an hour. I tend to find that my meringue looks fairly cooked after about 40 minutes or so, so I turn the oven down by about ten degrees at this point just to stop it from burning. 
6) Whilst the meringue is cooking, start preparing the fruit. Wash the pears, plums and apples and ensure that the apples and pears are thoroughly peeled in preparation for poaching. Fill a large pan of water and allow to simmer gently at a low heat.
7) As the water warms up, add the orange juice and rind, sugar, star anise, cinnamon and mixed spice individually- I tend to add a tablespoon or two of each spice, but obviously depending on your palette feel free to add as much or as little as you like! Stir everything together after each addition to make sure it's fully dissolved.
8) Once the water has reached a low boil, pop in the peeled apples and pears, stirring through gently. Almost allow the water to come to a complete boil before removing the mixture from the heat- at this point the fruit should be soft, but still hold its shape and not be too pulpy. Leave to sit and cool before carefully removing the fruit from the liquid.

9) When your meringue is completely cooked, leave to cool inside the oven as you turn it off- this helps to make sure it doesn't sink or crack too much when you come to assemble the final dish.
10) My Fruitdrop delivery included some sharon fruit, which I pulped down and sieved to make a sweet sauce to drizzle over the pavlova. If you want to do something similar, simply peel the fruit flesh away from the skin, mash up gently in a bowl using a fork and strain into a jug to remove any leftover pulp. Then pop into the fridge until you're ready to add your finishing touches.
11) Once the meringue is completely cooled, remove from the oven, carefully peeling away from the greaseproof paper. Begin to assemble your pavlova by placing it on a serving dish or your choice, before whipping the cream and carefully spreading on top of the meringue.
12) Next up, carefully slice the fruit, making sure that the poached apples and pairs have been drained. Whilst the poached fruit is quite soft and easy to chop through, the plums can be a little bit on the tricky side, so well worth using a sharp knife here- taking care to avoid any cuts!
13) Arrange your sliced fruit on top of the pavlova and decorate as you like.
14) Serve and enjoy!

Have you tried any alternative winter baking this Christmas? And do you like the idea of Fruitdrop?

*This post has been put together in collaboration with Fruitdrop. As always, my opinions and impressions are 100% honest- much like my undying love of dessert! 

(Image credit: Sarah Farrell, please do not reproduce without permission.)

27.12.2014- Adventures in Baking: Winter Fruit Pavlova

If you're a regular reader of these pages, you'll know that things started way back in 2009, the bits and pieces which I post about have evolved as time has progressed and I've grown up. However, posts about my adventures in baking have proven to be something of a regular fixture around these parts- and I'm relieved to say that since my first foray into making cupcakes back in the day, my skills in the kitchen have improved quite considerably. Whilst cupcakes are still a firm favourite in my baking repertoire, I've picked up some new recipes which have proved just as enjoyable to experiment with in the kitchen- including macarons and lots of festive bakes which have become real perennial favourites. However, for a fair few months or so now, I've been working on my biggest baking challenge to date- a wedding cake!!!

When my lovely college friend Katy told me she was getting married, it seemed like making her wedding cake would be the perfect present. We settled on something quite simple rather early on- a vintage inspired Victoria Sponge cake with tiered layers. Not only was this something which we were sure would be a guaranteed crowd pleaser, it was also a bake which would be easy to whip up in a comparatively short space of time- and which would be pretty hassle free to transport to Cambridge, where the ceremony was taking place. Whilst this was definitely one of my scariest (and biggest!) baking challenges to date, it was one which I enjoyed- so I thought it made sense to share the recipe and some top tips in case you're thinking of doing something similar, whether for a wedding or for another celebration. 

First thing is first- the recipe. I stuck to a Mary Berry classic as it is so straightforward and had worked really well when I practiced it. Obviously depending on how many separate layers you want to have, then the quantities are subject to change- I've listed the total ingredients I used for this three tier version in brackets: 

225g soft unsalted butter (675g total) , 225g caster sugar (675g total) , 225g self raising flour (675g total), 2 teaspoons baking powder (6 total) , 4 large eggs (12 total)

For the filling 
Apricot jam, buttercream and icing sugar to decorate.

1) Set the oven to 180°C/fan 170°C/gas mark 4.
2) Prepare the tins by cutting out greaseproof paper circles, and placing inside each greased tin. Make sure to grease the sides of each tin well to avoid sticking.
3) Place the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and eggs into a large mixing bowl, and beat using an electric mixer on slow speed. Mix until smooth and the mixture falls easily away from the whisk. (I made each layered sponge individually as it was so much easier to make sure the ingredients were well mixed. And I didn't have a bowl big enough to fit in everything all at once!)
4) Pour the mixture equally into each of the baking tins, ensuring that the surfaces are level for an even bake.
5) Bake for 20-30 minutes, until each sponge is golden brown and risen. It's a good idea to check the sponges about halfway through the baking process, just to make sure they are getting an even distribution of heat, moving around the oven if necessary.
6) Once cooked, carefully remove from the oven and cool in the baking tins. Once cool enough to handle with ease, remove from the tins and allow to cool on a rack.
7) Whilst the sponges are cooling down, begin to prepare the ingredients for the filling. Measure out the jam, and mix gently to smooth.
8) Next, prepare the buttercream. This can be quite a messy process, but is much easier if you fully soften the butter in a large mixing bowl to start. Then gradually sift in the icing sugar, mixing together with the butter as you go and adding a little drop of water if needed. In terms of quantities, I usually tend to this recipe as a guide, substituting the vanilla extract for water.
9) Once the sponges are completely cold, turn the bottom layer of each tier upside down and place onto a plate. Spread generously with jam and buttercream before placing the other layer on top (the right way up).
10) Repeat with each sponge, and then begin to build the tiered structure.
11) Sprinkle with icing sugar and decorate as you choose.
12) Serve and enjoy!

Top Tips
- Leave yourself plenty of time. There's nothing worse than rushing through a bake, and this is a challenge which requires optimum levels of baking zen. 
- Make sure you use good quality ingredients- you really can tell the difference when it comes to cooking the sponges.
- Invest in some good tins- I used the Silverwood Sandwich Pans and they really stood up to the task. 
- Do your maths- if you're making several tiers, it's worth sitting down with a pencil and paper and crunching some numbers- particularly in terms of the different diameters which you will be working with. 
- I stuck to the basic recipe for a standard sized sponge, which became the middle layer. I then made the smallest (top) layer, but as the pans were smaller I had some excess mixture, which I then used to bulk out the largest (bottom) layer.
- Get plenty of inspiration- check out my Baking board on Pinterest for a look at some of my research!
- Think about logistics- if you're transporting the cake to a venue, it's an idea to suss out how it's going to get there. I did the final assembly and decoration at the Reception to make sure it looked perfect on the day. 
- Make sure each sponge is stone cold before you attempt to move things- they are pretty fragile. Also it's well worth popping each individual layer in the fridge to help things set properly. 
- If you're decorating with fresh flowers, give them a good wash and dry beforehand!

Have you ever taken on a baking challenge like this?

(Image credit: Sarah Farrell, please do not reproduce without permission.)

17.09.2014- Adventures in Baking: Naked Victoria Sponge Wedding Cake

As most of you are well aware, I'm something of a self confessed cake addict. I love baking almost as much as I love eating cake, and a little later on in the year I'll be taking on a corker of a culinary challenge when I make my friend's wedding cake! Whilst ideas for the finished product are still being refined (thank heaven for Pintrest!), I think we're opting for a traditional Victoria Sponge as the mainstay so have been brushing up on my baking quite a lot recently. The Victoria Sponge is a real kitchen classic, and it's one of my all time favourites too- so seemed like the perfect bake to share with you. This recipe comes from the baking goddess that is Mary Berry- and I've made a few alterations along the way too- replacing the traditional jam and cream sandwich filling with jam and buttercream to make it much longer lasting (practicality first!): 

225g soft unsalted butter, 225g caster sugar, 225g self raising flour, sifted, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 4 large eggs

For the filling 
Approximately 4 tablespoons of strawberry jam, 140g softened butter, 280 g icing sugar, a few splashes of water

1) Set the oven to 180°C/fan 170°C/gas mark 4.
2) Prepare the baking tins by cutting two greaseproof paper circles, and placing inside each greased tin. Don't be afraid to be generous with the butter here- believe me, it makes it much easier when it comes to serving!
3) Add the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and eggs into a large mixing bowl, then begin to beat using an electric mixer on slow speed. Mix until smooth and lump free.
4) Pour the mixture equally into each of the baking tins, ensuring that the surfaces are level for an even bake.
5) Pop the tins in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, until each sponge is golden brown and risen. It's a good idea to check the sponges about halfway through the baking process, just to make sure they are getting an even distribution of heat, moving around the oven if necessary.
6) Once cooked, carefully remove from the oven and cool in the baking tins for a few minutes before cooling completely on a wire rack.
7) Whilst the sponges are cooling down, begin to prepare the ingredients for the filling. Measure out the jam, and mix gently to smooth.
8) Next, prepare the buttercream. This can be quite a messy process, but is much easier if you fully soften the butter in a large mixing bowl to start. Then gradually sift in the icing sugar, mixing together with the butter as you go and adding a little drop of water if needed.
9) Once the sponges are completely cold, turn the bottom layer upside down and place onto a plate. Spread generously with jam and buttercream before placing the other layer on top (the right way up).
10) Sprinkle with icing sugar to decorate and serve.

And there you have it- a really simple, traditional treat! This is such an easy cake to make as it uses the all in one method- minimal washing up required here too! Whenever I've tried it using other recipes in the past, I've ended up with quite an uneven finish, but couldn't be happier with the results of this attempt- not rushing it is key too!

Are you a fan of the Victoria Sponge?

(Image credit: Sarah Farrell, please do not reproduce without permission.)

01.06.2014- Adventures in Baking: Victoria Sponge

With the new series of The Great British Bake Off just around the corner, it's something of an understatement to say I'm ridiculously excited at the prospect of the return of all things cake shaped to my telly. Baking has become something of a weekend ritual for me of late (there's something about being in icing sugar up to your eyeballs which is quite relaxing, no?), and I've been getting a bit experimental with my repertoire of recipes of late. In an attempt to prove that pastry isn't all about the dreaded 'soggy bottom', a few Saturdays ago I dug out my Bake Off bible and undertook the challenge of mastering the technical monster that is the home-made sweet tart. The results were surprisingly stress free, so I'm sharing the recipe (and the baking love!), with some handy tips thrown in for good measure: 

Chocolate Tart


For the sweet shortcrust pastry

200g plain flour
2 tablespoons icing sugar
125g unsalted butter, cold from the fridge
about 3 tablespoons of very cold tap water

For the filling

100g bar dark chocolate
200ml double cream
2 eggs, at room temperature
icing sugar for dusting


For the pastry:

1) Place your sieve over a large mixing bowl and place the flour and sugar in it, sifting gently into the bowl by tapping the sieve with your hand.
2) Cut the butter into small cubes- the smaller the better. Add to the sifted flour and sugar, coating with flour and gradually begin to cut the butter once in the bowl. 
3) Once the butter has been reduced to small pea size, place both of your (clean!) hands into the bowl and pick up a little of the mixture using your fingers. Begin to rub the mixture between your fingers so that the butter is squashed into the flour- this is called rubbing in.
4) Continue with this for a little while, until all the lumps of butter have gone. 
5) Slowly add the cold water and stir everything together with a knife. As the mixture begins to clump together, you can use your hands to bring it into a ball shape. If you find that you are left with some dry mix at the bottom of the bowl, then add a tiny bit more water to help everything to stick together. 
6) Once you feel your dough has the right texture (not overly wet or dry) and is firm, lightly flatten to a disc shape a couple of centimetres thick and carefully wrap it in clingfilm. Pop in the fridge and leave to chill for about 15 minutes. 
7) Once chilled, remove your pastry from the fridge and place on a lightly floured work surface. Add a little flour to your hands and the rolling pin too. 
8) Carefully unwrap the dough and place in the centre of the work surface. Slowly begin to roll out the pastry- the best motion to use is forward, back, side to side. If you find your pastry sticking to the rolling pin, then add a little more flour. It's best to try and roll out as quickly and carefully as possible before the butter in the pastry gets too warm and the dough becomes even trickier to handle; you're ideally looking for a round base which is quite thin here. 
9) Make sure you have your flan tin or pie dish close to hand. Using the rolling pin, roll the pastry on top of the dish, carefully unfurling so it's just resting over the sides. Making sure your fingers are dry, pop them in a little flour and gradually begin to press the pastry into the corners of the dish, getting rid of any air pockets or wrinkles. Gently press the pastry around the sides too, taking care not to tear it as you do so. If you spot any cracks or holes, quickly repair with any excess pastry.
10) Use a knife to carefully remove any overhanging pastry from the dish- keep just in case you need to make any emergency repairs or want to top your tart as I did. 
11) Take a fork and delicately pierce some holes in the base of the pastry case before chilling again in the fridge for 20 minutes. 
12) Preheat your built in oven to 190 degrees/Gas Mark Five. 
13) Take a square of baking paper and scrunch it up before flattening out again. Once your pastry case is sufficiently chilled, remove from the fridge and carefully place the paper inside so it lines the base and sides. Fill generously with baking beans for blind baking- essential for avoiding a soggy bottom!
14) Place the pastry into the oven and leave for 15 minutes. Once blind baked, use oven gloves to remove from the oven, placing on a heatproof work surface before removing the baking paper and baking beans. Take care as they will be very hot!
15) Pop the empty pastry case back into the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes until the pastry has turned golden and has a dry texture. Remove and leave on a heatproof counter before turning the oven down to 180 degrees/Gas Mark 4. Pop a baking sheet into the oven to warm. 
16) Have a breather over a cup of tea- we're at the halfway mark now!

For the filling:
17) Onto the filling! Take your chocolate and break into small pieces. Add the cream to a saucepan and warm over a medium heat on your induction hob. You only want it to simmer gently- as soon as steam and small bubbles start to appear, remove from the heat. 
18) Slowly add the chocolate to the warmed cream. Leave to soften before stirring with a wooden spoon until you have a smooth mixture with no chocolate lumps. 
19) Carefully crack one egg into the measuring jug before separating the second- you only need the yoke from egg no.2. Add the yolk to the whole egg before washing your hands and mixing the eggs with the chocolate and cream thoroughly. 
20) Remove your baking sheet from the oven and pop the pie dish on it. Slowly pour in the filling before returning to the oven for 20 minutes until the filling is no longer shiny on top. Once cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool completely. 
21) Remember the leftover pastry from earlier? You might want to make a topper for your tart like I did with it. You may need to return it to the fridge to make it easier to handle, but once cold you can roll it out again and make some shapes. I chose hearts and created a small stencil using a knife. Once you have a topper you like, place on the baking sheet and pop in the oven until golden brown (a little egg wash might help with this). Remove and leave to cool before placing on your tart. 
22) If you're using a flan tin, then once the tart is cooled carefully remove and serve on a plate. If you used a pie dish like I did then serve from that- after sprinkling lightly with icing sugar. Eat, share and enjoy! 

So there you have it! Although the process has quite a few steps to it, it's actually pretty simple once you get into the swing of things. And the end result is well worth it! 

Have you ever tried making pastry? If so, how did you get on?

*This post has been sponsored by Electrolux 

(Image credit: Sarah Farrell, please do not reproduce without permission.)

18.08.2013- Adventures in Baking- Chocolate Tart

Happy Easter everyone! I hope you're all making the most of the long weekend! If you follow me on Instagram then you'll have seen that over the last few days I've been doing quite a lot of baking, so today seemed like the perfect opportunity to share one of my new favourite recipes with you. Taken from another title from The Great British Bake Off series, this recipe tackles traditionally tricky macarcons and makes them easy. Having attempted to make them a couple of times in the past, I'd become pretty wary of macarons, primarily because all of my previous attempts had turned out to be complete disasters- rapidly making their way from oven to bin and leaving me pretty confused as to where I'd gone wrong. Understandably then, I approached this recipe with some caution, thinking that I'd once again be left with a pile of goo which looked nothing like Ladurée's famous creations- but I was pleasantly surprised (some might even say flabbergasted!) by how well the final products turned out:

Foolproof Macarons

Makes 10 pairs


For the shells

2 large eggs, at room temperatures, with whites and yolks separated
a good pinch of salt
60g caster sugar
65g ground almonds
80g icing sugar
Food colouring of your choice

For the filling

75g good quality white chocolate
75ml whipping cream
10g unsalted butter, at room temperature

1) Only the egg whites are used in this recipe, so separate from the yolks with care. Put the whites into a large mixing bowl and add the salt, whisking with an electric mixer or handheld whisk on high power until the egg whites are thick and opaque.
2) A spoonful at a time, whisk in the caster sugar. After all of the sugar has been added, the whites should have taken on a meringue-like consistency, standing in stiff peaks and passing the upside down bowl over your head test with ease. If they do not quite have this consistency, whisk for another twenty seconds. If you wish to add food colouring to your mixture then do so here.
3) Gently sift the ground almonds and icing sugar into the egg white mixture.
4) Using a large metal spoon, carefully fold the almonds and icing sugar into the whisked egg whites. Do this extremely carefully, taking care not to lose any of the air which you have whisked in. Continue folding until everything is incorporated.
5) Taking a baking sheet lined with baking paper, draw twenty 5cm circles on to the paper in pencil (I used a biscuit cutter as a stencil), before turning the paper over so that the pencil lines are only just seen and the are facing downwards onto the baking sheet.
6) Take two spoons to transfer the macaron mixture from the bowl onto the baking sheet, keeping inside the circles as much as possible.
7) Once all of the mixture has been used up, lift up the baking sheet and bang it down on the worktop to get rid of any air bubbles.
8) Leave to stand for thirty minutes so the macarons can form a skin, and preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan)/Gas Mark 4.
9) Bake the macarons for fifteen to twenty minutes, until firm.
10) Remove the baking sheet from the oven, lifting the baking paper on to a wire rack. Leave the macarons to cool completely.
11) To make the filling, break up the white chocolate and place into a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a saucepan over a low heat until bubbles appear at the edge and then carefully pour the cream over the chocolate. Leave for two minutes before adding the butter, stirring until melted. Allow the mixture to cool until it becomes thick enough to spread.
12) Once fully cooled, carefully peel the macarons off of the baking paper. Add the filling to one shell from each pair at a time, carefully sandwiching together before serving or storing in a covered container at room temperature.

So, whether you're determined to master macarons or are at a loss for some Easter baking, definitely give this recipe a try- and let me know how you get on!

Do you like making macarons? Have you tried this recipe?

(Image credit: Sarah Farrell, please do not reproduce without permission.)

31.03.2013- Adventures in Baking: Foolproof Macarons

Things have been pretty quiet on the baking front in these parts of late, but that's all set to change as I've got an abundance of kitchen adventures to share with you. This recipe is something which I tried out at start of the year, taken of course from The Great British Bake Off  book, which has become something of a bible for me when it comes to trying out new bakes. These Earl Grey & Lemon Cupcakes are perfect for the spring, and are a dream bake for anyone who is as addicted to tea as I am!

Earl Grey & Lemon Cupcakes

Makes 12

For the cakes:
200ml semi-skimmed milk
2-3 Earl Grey tea bags (depending on how strong you prefer the tea flavour!)
115g softened unsalted butter
225g caster sugar
2 large eggs (at room temperature)
250g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

For the icing:
75g softened unsalted butter
grated zest and juice of 2 large, unwaxed lemons
375g icing sugar, sifted

1x12 hole muffin tray, lined with paper cases
Piping bag and nozzle for icing the cakes

1) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan) or Gas Mark four.
2) Heat the milk in a saucepan until it is steaming hot, taking care that it doesn't boil over.
3) Remove the milk from the heat, then add the tea bags and leave to infuse. I found that the longer you leave the tea bags then the stronger the Earl Grey flavour is, so brew this mixture in much the same way as you make a cup of tea!
4) Once infused, squeeze the tea bags and remove them from the milk.
5) Measure 150ml of the milk mixture and leave to cool to room temperature- this is crucial as if the milk is too hot it will melt the butter in the cake mixture.
6) Take a large mixing bowl and beat the butter with the sugar until the mixutre is creamy. One by one, add the eggs, beating in well as you do so.
7) Add one third of the flour to the mixture and beat well. Also add the baking powder.
8) Add in one third of the tea infused milk and beat well again, repeating until all the flour and milk have been added.
9) Once thoroughly mixed, spoon the mixture into the cup-cake cases, until each case is approximately two thirds full.
10) Bake for about twenty minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of a cake comes out clean.
11) Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tray, before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.
12) To make the icing, zest and juice the lemons before adding five tablespoons of juice to the butter and half of the icing sugar. I tend to experiment a little bit with the ratio of sugar to butter just to make sure that the icing is perfectly fluffy and sets well. You might want to add a little water to make it easier to mix, but take care that the mixture doesn't become too liquid.
13) Add the remaining icing sugar, beating well until the icing is smooth. You might want to have a taste and add a little bit more lemon juice if needed at this stage.
14) Pipe or spread onto the cupcakes and decorate with the lemon zest or decorations of your choice. For my take on this recipe, I piped the icing on using a star nozzle, and painted the inside of my piping bag with a line of yellow food colouring just to create a marbled effect and add a pop of colour to the plate.
15) Serve and enjoy.

Have you tried this recipe? If so, how did you get on? And what have you been baking lately?

(Image credit: Sarah Farrell, please do not reproduce without permission.)

15.03.2013- Adventures in Baking: Earl Grey & Lemon Cupcakes

I'm sure I'm not the only one to be relieved that January is over! The first month of the year always seems to drag on a little too long, especially as the first post-Christmas payday usually feels so far away. However, now February is here, I'm tentatively tiptoeing towards rediscovering my spring wardrobe, and I'm sure it won't be too long before the lighter evenings are back with us and we can bid winter farewell for another year. Having said that, my January was quite a productive one, filled with lots of lovely goings on to keep the winter blues at bay:

Wishing I had room for all of these beautiful Borough Market blooms/Watching Kooza by Cirque du Soleil at the Royal Albert Hall/Spending a night at the theatre- 1927's work is breathtaking!/Monthly reading/Going for a snowy walk/Baking Earl Grey and Lemon Cupcakes, recipe to follow soon!/Afternoon Tea at Claridge's/Discovering a new baking bible/Snapping up these lovely lights in the Laura Ashley sale. 

All in all, not too shabby a month! I've also had a really productive weekend (with lots of baking involved!) so I'm sure a snippet of my culinary adventures will feature in February's retrospective!

How was your January? And have you got any exciting plans for the next few weeks?

(Image credit: Sarah Farrell, please do not reproduce without permission.)

03.02.2013- My Month In Pictures: January

Enjoying the Jubilee celebrations over the weekend in quintessentially British style for me meant only one thing- enjoying some afternoon tea whilst watching the rainy (but still spectacular) events of Sunday afternoon unfold from the comfort of my sofa. With some help from my two favourite cookery books (namely The Great British Bake Off and The Vintage Tea Party Book), it was an entirely home-baked afternoon, and enjoying the celebrations whilst surrounded by tea and cake (which there is plenty left of!) seemed like the perfect way to mark such a special weekend. Here's a little look at how I got on:

Fresh flowers which I picked from my garden to decorate the table with (the little vase was a £1.50 charity shop bargain!)

Another charity shop purchase in the shape of the teapot, which sat surprisingly well against the vintage china which my mum inherited from her grandmother.

Teacup cupcake, anyone?

My red white and blue meringues (so messy to make, but worth it in the end!)

A cake stand adorned with scones, mini Victoria Sandwiches and some rather patriotic cupcakes.

I surprised even myself with how creative (or should I say carried away!) I got with the cake decoration!

 The full spread!

It was great to take the time to mark the occasion with such a traditional little ritual, although I did feel a little bit guilty sitting with a warm cup of tea whilst everyone on the river was getting soaked to the skin! I also had a really great time baking everything, and trying a few recipes which were a little bit out of my comfort zone. Can't we have a party like this every weekend?

Did you do anything similar to mark the Diamond Jubilee? 

(Image credit: Sarah Farrell, please do not reproduce without permission.)

06.06.2012- Jubilee Afternoon Tea