30 Apr 2011

The Royal Wedding

How amazing was the Royal Wedding? I've been excited for this historic event since the engagement was announced, counting down the weeks until the day was finally upon us and I got to gaze upon the spectacular beauty that was Kate Middleton's (or should I say Princess Catherine) dress.  The bodice is very similar to my wedding dress but luckily the skirt I picked is worlds apart.  We might both share the regal name of Catherine Elizabeth but sharing wedding dresses is a whole different game!

For the day itself I loaded up the car with delicious treats and headed to my mums where the whole house was decorated in bunting, flags and royal wedding memorabilia.  Perfect!

 

I finally had my first cup of tea from the souvenir mug I received with my Royal Afternoon Tea at Harvey Nichols.  



Victoria Sponge Cake, of course!
Malteser Squares
Mothers Cheese and Tomato Pie.

Selection of veggie sandwiches.

Homemade Mini Cheddars

The edible Royal Couple.

The groaning table or treats!






What a perfect occasion to break out my most prized possession.  The stunning Edwardian set of pearls my dear father gifted to me on my 21st Birthday.  Any excuse to wear pearls!

If you'd like to see individual blog posts on any of the treats in the post leave me a comment and I'll get right on it ;)







18 Apr 2011

Afternoon Tea: Townhouse Hotel

Along with about 80% of the general public, my email inbox is updated daily with money saving ideas from Groupon.  More often than not these vouchers are nothing to get excited about, £9 for £22 worth of food from your local Indian takeaway and so forth.  A few weeks ago one of these mails caught my eye, Afternoon Tea for two in a local hotel for just £7.  Well, there was no way I was letting such a huge bargain pass me by so I snapped it up in an instant.  


The hotel in question was The Townhouse Hotel located in the centre of Gosforth.  A beautifully converted townhouse boasting a very impressive, home style menu.  Part of me wishes I wasn't there for afternoon tea and was simply sampling their mouth watering array of dishes.










The afternoon tea at the Townhouse Hotel was more of a contempory take on the quintissential English tradition.  A wholemeal scone along with a slice of your chosen cake rather than dainty bite sized patisserie. And to be honest, it was quite a refreshing change.  The sandwiches were small and perfectly formed nestled along side a crisp salad and pile of crisps, in my eyes there is no larger pleasure in life than a grated cheese sandwich topped with munched up crisps. A childhood favorite!

My only gripes were that the portion of jam and clotted cream we were provided with was barely enough for one scone, never mind two and the scone and cake was more of a wintery treat, heavy with cinnamon and spices. 

I shall certainly be returning to sample some of their delicious looking meals from the contantly updated main menu, and I urge you to join me.


THE TOWNHOUSE HOTEL, 
1 WEST AVENUE, 
GOSFORTH, 
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE 
NE3 4ES

14 Apr 2011

Two Tiered Cake

A few weeks ago we got our first order for a two tiered cake. I read the comment on our facebook page a few times, going over the logistics of two inexperienced with fondant girls making this a success.  After my seventh re read I finally decided to hell with it, lets give this a shot!  If we remain in our comfort zones how are we ever to grow as bakers.  Unfortunately, when taking the order I didn't factor in the fact it was ordered for the same weekend as our biggest fair of the year.  Cue a slightly bald Katie with a fierce twitch in her eye. 

In usual Pet Lamb style we split the jobs so we weren't too burdened with the task. Kay baked the two layer cakes and delivered them to my house for decoration.  Thank god for ready rolled fondant icing is all I can say!


I followed the instructions for decoration in Baking Made Easy by Lorraine Pascale and it turned out to be quite a simple task.  Sure there's plenty of room for improvement but for a first attempt I'm pretty proud of what we accomplished.  Especially considering our kitchens are currently coated in cupcake batter and buttercream.

6 Apr 2011

Afternoon Tea: Harvey Nichols

I've recently realised I've become rather reliant on Newcastle, always thinking we have everything I need five minutes from my house.  I was reluctant to travel to different cities simply for the purpose of shopping, often falling back on the same excuses, "We have everything in Newcastle and what we don't have I can get online." But after the millionth amble through the same old shops, seeing the same old faces going about their same old business I grew tired.  I jumped out of bed on our one and only day off together, bright and early much to Kris' dismay, and announced we were getting dressed, filling the car up and going to Leeds for the day.  It had nothing to do with the fact I noticed they were doing a Royal Wedding Afternoon Tea all throughout the month of April. How dare you suggest such a thing.......












The cake selection was utterly delectable becoming a close second to the selection offered at The Ritz.  But lets face it, afternoon tea at the Ritz is the afternoon tea against which all other afternoon teas should be measured!

In the same breath, I have to admit the sandwiches were very disappointing.  They consisted of cream cheese and cucumber, smoked salmon and ham and tomato.  The bread was soggy, tomatoes were a little on the furry side and the cucumber (which I know is traditionally British) left a lot to be desired.  Also, the menu stated a selection of preserves were to be offered with the solitary scone, sadly I was presented with a single pot of strawberry jam, if you ask me, raspberry would not have gone a miss here.

1 Apr 2011

Cherry Coke Cupcakes


 I've been itching to make Nigella Lawsons Coca Cola Cupcakes for quite some time now, so when I saw Confessions of a Cookbook Queen had blogged some stunning Cherry Coke Cupcakes I just had to give them a try!  Although I didn't use the recipes featured on that blog I decided to use her cakes as my decorating inspiration.


These cupcakes are simply amazing! The coke flavour really comes through in the sponge, the cherry frosting is just to die for and the less I say about the cola glaze the better (I was reduced to eating it with a spoon, enough said).


If you don't already own this book I would highly recommend picking it up. It really is Nigellas best work and it's probably one of my most used cookbooks! I mean, it's Nigella, would she ever steer us wrong?

Cherry Coke Cupcakes
(Adapted from How to be a Domestic Goddess)

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:
200g (7oz) plain flour - sieved
*250g (8.8oz) golden caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
125ml buttermilk (or 30g/1oz yogurt mixed with 100ml/3.3 Fluid oz of semi-skimmed milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
125g (4.4oz) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
175ml (6 fluid oz) Coca-Cola

Frosting:
125g unsalted butter
500g icing sugar
50ml milk (more if needed)
1 small slug of syrup from a jar of morello cherries

Glaze:
225g (8oz) icing sugar (confectioners sugar)
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons of Coca-Cola
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (essence) 

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Beat the egg, buttermilk and vanilla in in a measuring jug. In a heavy-based saucepan, melt the butter, cocoa and Coca-cola, heating it gently. Pour into the dry ingredients, stir well with a wooden spoon, and then add the liquid ingredients from the jug, beating until it is well blended.

Pour into a muffin tin that has been greased or lined with papers and bake for 15 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

For the frosting put the  unsalted butter into an electric mixer and begin to mix on a low speed.  Add the icing sugar by the spoonful, adding milk if the frosting becomes too dry.  Pour in a little of the cherry syrup and tint the frosting a pale pink. Leave to mix for 5 minutes until light and fluffy.

For the glaze sieve the icing sugar and set aside. In a heavy-based saucepan, combine the butter, Coca-Cola and cocoa and stir over a low heat until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat, add the vanilla, and spoon in the sieved icing sugar, beating as you do, until you’ve got a good, spreadable, but still runny, icing. Pour over the frosted cupcakes and allow to dribble do the sides a little.  Top with a gummy cola bottle and a cherry.