Archives for posts with tag: Tooting

Lambs are in the fields, and daffodils on the streets on Tooting. Spring is here.  Along with the showers, sunshine and flowers of March comes Mother’s day, closely followed by Easter (to be discussed separately).

Two tea-related recipes coincided over the week before Mother’s day, although as usual there is some delay in writing about them. The first was camomile and vanilla gluten-free cupcakes, and the second some teapot shaped cakes for mum and the M.I.L. I do love tea, and teapots, and tea cups, and afternoon tea, and most tea-related activities.

Whilst on a weekend in Essex visiting friends, we went to an antiques market and I came across a musical teapot. Made in 1950s Japan, this fairly ordinary looking teapot has a clockwork mechanism underneath it that means it plays a tune every time the teapot is lifted. You have to wind it up occasionally, and I had to buy it immediately. This may have been the start of the revival in us drinking tea from the pot.

Teapot and cakes

Is it tea cupcakes? Or teacup cakes? I’m not too sure of the correct terminology, but either ways these cakes really do taste of vanilla and camomile, and are lovely served with a pot of camomile tea, or in our case, Sri Lankan Ceylon tea.

I made the cakes in silicone teacups, using Ruby Tandoh’s camomile cake recipe for the Guardian here, however substituted gluten-free flour as I had my aunt and uncle, Moy and Keith, coming over one sunny Sunday afternoon. The camomile buttercream icing set them off perfectly and was not too sweet.

The cakes were rather dry; I blame the gluten-free flour, which tends to suck moisture out of most cakes. I would try them again with ground almonds instead. However if you did want to use gluten-free flour you could just increase the quantity of tea and butter liquids, I’d say by 30%.

Camomile cakes

Following from the antiques fair success of my musical teapot, and the (relative) flavour success of camomile and vanilla, I had been thinking about teapots and tea and cakes, and thinking about teapot cakes. It took me several days of the journey to and from work to conceptualise what I wanted to make, but eventually I managed to spend Tuesday night the week before colouring fondant icing and making handles and spouts, and flowers and hearts. I wanted them to firm up before I put them on to cakes, so they needed a few days to dry out.

Thursday night was planned for making cakes, but after a long day at work one drink with a colleague turned in to several more and Friday night was a bit of a rush to get the two cakes made.  I did manage it though, and used a giant cupcake mould in addition to two Pyrex bowls to get two slightly different globe-shaped cakes. I used a basic chocolate sponge recipe and cream cheese frosting to sandwich the two halves together. I had to carve some stray bits of cake off to smooth out the shape of the cakes.

I covered one cake in fondant icing that I had rolled out thinly, and added an extra bit on top to make the lid. I used some runny white icing to stick on my flowers and hearts. Because I had to transport the cakes to Bristol I didn’t put the handle and spout on to the cake until we got there. I didn’t fancy our chances of getting it down the M4 intact!

Teapot flowers

The handles and spouts crumbled when I tried to assemble the teapot cakes on the Friday night, however I think this is because I didn’t put cocktail sticks in to them as supports until the icing had already firmed up several days later. If I was going to make them again, I would definitely make sure I do this on the day I shape the fondant. Luckily I used Fimo as a backup and it only took a few minutes to cook it once I quickly shaped some pieces. I would suggest using Fimo even though it is not edible, as it is a lot sturdier.

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I didn’t take any pictures of the assembly process, however did do a Google search on “teapot cakes” and got some ideas from sites such as this one here

I used cream cheese frosting with lilac food colouring for my second teapot cake, and decorated it with flowers, lid, handle and spout in a similar fashion. I really enjoyed making the cakes and although they were not 100% perfect, they were lovingly made and I’m sure I could do a neater job of icing them next time.

M.I.L. teapot

It was great to make a mother’s day pressie that was enjoyed by all the family, including myself, and the cakes did not last long at all! I’d say they provide 6-8 medium-sized slices of cake so it isn’t really a sufficiently large volume of cake for a big celebration, instead better suited for family times.

Happy springtime!

Flowers

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Since we are still in the Christmas spirit time of year, I reckon it’s not too late to write a little about some of the festive feats that I attempted in the build up to Christmas day. I can also introduce you to George, the latest addition to our family and the finest tortoise in all of Tooting, South London!

George

More cards

Taking inspiration from a couple of my favourite chefs I made some “edible Christmas cards” for friends and family. I love to give and receive home-made gifts and these are all straight forward to make. Positive feedback all round, and the biscuits and chocs looked pretty when packaged up in some Orla Kiely gift boxes.

Edible Christmas card Boxes

I needed recipes for biscuits that wouldn’t go stale within a day or two. Requiring a recipe for guaranteed success, I used Delia Smith’s shortbread recipe (http://www.deliaonline.com/how-to-cook/baking/all-about-shortbread.html) which I then spiced up with orange zest, dried cranberries and drizzled with white chocolate. See the heart and teapot shaped biscuits below.

Platter

Frances Quinn’s amazing Christmas creation for the Telegraph, which featured owls, pinecones, stars, and was simply beautiful. I used her gingerbread leaf recipe to create a much simpler, Christmas tree-shaped biscuit. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/10526360/Bake-Off-Frances-Quinns-12-Days-of-Christmas-recipes.html

Christmas tree

The little round cups are Millionaire’s Shortbread (https://lydiatoson.com/2013/12/08/millionaires-shortbread-for-mum/), making them in little cases makes them easier to pack up and prevents crumbly bottoms.

Packing up

The Carnation website also has a fail-proof coconut ice recipe (http://www.carnation.co.uk/Recipes/70/Coconut-Ice). I like to use the coarsely grated desiccated coconut (who knew it came in three grain sizes!?) from the Sri Lankan mini market around the corner from our flat. You have to leave the coconut ice to set for at least a few hours after assembly, so this is one to make in advance. I made mini bounty bars by double dipping the coconut ice pieces in good quality dark chocolate, melted over a bain-marie.

In addition to foodie bits, I crafted together some non-edible Christmas cards for those I wanted to correspond with via Royal Mail. I happened to lose my list of “cards to be sent”, resulting in some friends and family receiving no cards whilst others received two. Oops! I will send out New Year’s cards once I have worked out who received what!

Tree cards  cards Tree card

Each little envelope on this card contained a message on a tiny piece of paper, or some glitter and Christmas sparkle.

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Running out of time to make a card for everyone, I found these Tooting salutations at the Broadway market.

Tooting cards

I made a gingerbread house to take round to my lovely friend Lucy’s house over the festive season, which was good fun although some structural improvisation was required to get the roof to fit.

Gingerbread house

I also missed the opportunity to photograph George the tortoise with any edible treats, however I did lend my Christmas present to my friends at www.moorechampagne.com as they launched their online media campaign the week before Christmas. Check them out for unique and distinctive grand cru grower champagnes, perfect for celebrations and enjoyment at any time of year.

Moore Champagne

I think that’s probably all for now, although my next blog may well feature some Moore Champagne in the form of celebratory New Year cakes, and possibly George too.

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