Well, what do you know? No sooner had I posted my article about the top 5 food and drink trends for 2018, it was announced that a London bakery was picked to make the wedding cake of the year. Meghan Markle and Henry Wales on the day they exchange vows, will be cutting their wedding cake flavoured with lemon and wait for it … elderflowers!
Yes, as I predicted, floral flavours are set to be one of the major food and drink trends this year.
I may have to wander to Hackney and sample the baked delights Violet Bakery has to offer. Well, someone has to make sure the cake is perfect for the Royal Wedding.
Megs and Harry, you can both thank me later. I’m still waiting for my invite, btw!
On Monday, I was feeling in a celebratory mood due to my website finally becoming a dot.com – yeah I know, about time too! So I baked a cake. The lavender in my gardens is doing extraordinarily well this year, and it would be a shame just to let the flower heads just fade away.
My previous lavender creations are Lavender Sugar Cookies and the joyous Blueberry and Lavender Cheesecake. I make large batches of lavender sugar, which I store for winter baking and as gifts for friends and family. This time I wanted to try the floral notes from this herb with a more robust berry. I also wanted to add a citrus note, hence the Lemon Lavender Cake, with Crushed Blackberries . I added icing, because this is a celebration cake after all. Enjoy!
Lemon Lavender Lemon Cake, with Crushed Blackberries
250g butter, margarine or substitute
250g lavender sugar (click to read my recipe here)
3 large eggs
zest of 1 whole lemon
splash of milk, no more than 5 tbsp
300g self raising flour
For the cake:
Preheat the oven to Gas mark 3.
Butter and line a small, round baking tin.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
In a separate bowl, briefly beat one egg until the yolk and white are combined. Add slowly to the butter sugar mix, and beat together until the mixture egg has been fully incorporated. Repeat for the remaining 2 eggs.
Pour in a splash of milk and stir well. You only need enough to make a smooth batter that isn’t too think to stir.
Add the lemon zest and then sift in 100g of the flour into the butter, sugar and egg mix. Gently fold the flour into the mix. Fold in another 100g and then the final 100g of flour, until all the flour is fully incorporated into the mix.
Pour the cake batter into the prepared baking tin. Level off the top.
Place the cake tin on the middle shelf of the oven, and bake for 45-55 mins.
When baked, remove the cake from the oven. and allow too cool in the tin for 10 mins. After that time, remove the cake from the tin and rest on a wire rack to cool completely.
For the icing
250g icing sugar
2-3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
fresh lavender flowers for decoration (optional)
Place the icing sugar into a medium sized bowl. Add the juice and stir until the icing is think, but pourable. Adjust the sugar or juice measurements accordingly if needs be.
Cover the cooled cake with the icing. If using, decorate with fresh lavender stems. Remember to allow the cake to cool completely before covering with icing.
For the crushed blackberries
1 punnet fresh blackberries, washed and dried
2-3 tsp fresh lemon juice
icing sugar to taste
Add the blackberries to a medium sided bowl. Cover with the lemon juice and sugar.
Gently mix the ingredients together, gently crushing the berries as you go.
Decant into a serving bowl and serve with the cake.
I fancied baking today, and spied a couple oranges in the fridge and a very tired looking coconut in the pantry which needed to be used quickly. However, I would recommend you use desiccated coconut instead, if you have a very sweet tooth, or wish to avoid hand grating a coconut.
Whole orange and fresh coconut cake
2 oranges, 1 to be used whole, 1 for decoration
200g butter, softened
3 extra large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup vanilla caster sugar
1/2 cup freshly grated or desiccated coconut, plus extra for decoration
1 1/4 cups self raising flour
1/4 cup icing sugar, for decoration (optional)
Preheat oven to Gas Mark 4 (180°C/160°C fan assisted).
Grease and line with baking parchment a 22cm diameter round baking tin.
Wash the oranges and pat them dry with kitchen paper. Set aside one of the oranges. Roughly chop the other orange, and then using a food processor, puree the orange until smooth. Set aside.
In a food mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Slowly add the beaten eggs, followed by the orange puree.
By hand fold in the coconut and flour to form a fairly loose batter.
Pour the batter into the cake tin, and level off the top to help even baking.
Place the tin on the middle shelf of the oven, and bake for 50 minutes. Check the cake is cooked with a skewer pushed into the centre. If it comes out clean then the cake is finished. If not, bake for a further 10 minutes and test again. You may need to cover the top of the cake with some foil to prevent burning.
Remove the cake from the oven and leave in the tin for 5 minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
Zest long, thin strips from the 2nd orange. Juice the orange, ensuring any seeds are removed.
Sift the icing sugar into a small, clean dry bowl. Stir in just enough orange juice to make a smooth icing and then drizzle over the cake. Sprinkle the extra coconut and the orange zest on top. Allow to set and serve with a hot beverage, preferably a nice cup of tea!
During a recent visit to Borough Market I came across a stack of Bergamot lemons. I knew that these lemons are a key ingredient in Earl and Lady Grey teas, but I had never seen them in the flesh, as it were. So I thought I buy a couple to see what all the fuss was about. I left with my purse £3 lighter, thinking that these lemons had better be the bee’s knees at that price.
Bergamot Lemon and Poppy Seed Loaf
225g butter or Stork margarine, softened
225g vanilla golden caster sugar
3 extra large free range eggs
225g self raising flour
2 tbsp milk or milk alternative
zest and juice of one bergamot lemon
2 tsps poppy seeds
Preheat the oven to 180c, 160c Fan or Gas mark 4
Butter and line a large loaf tin with baking paper or parchment.
In a food processor or mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until the mixture if light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one by one. I tend to beat the eggs separately before add to the butter sugar mix as this ensures that the egg white and yolk are fully combined.
Add the milk, seeds, zest and juice and stir until well incorporated.
Sift in the flour and fold into the batter.
Pour the batter into the loaf tin, making sure that it even.
Place the tin on the middle shelf of the oven. Bake for about 40 – 50 mins. Check the loaf at 40 mins with a skewer, if it comes out clean the loaf is done. If not, then bake for another 5-10 mins.
Allow to cool in the loaf tin for 1o minutes, then turn the loaf out onto a rack to continue cooling. Serve with a cup of tea.
Yesterday I posted a review about the Geffrye Museum, mainly concentrating on the gardens, which are a must see. Today, I’m reviewing the cafe.
Like the museum gardens, I was initially rather impressed with the cafe. It has a relaxed, spacious atmosphere, plenty of seating and welcoming to young and old alike.
I ordered a lemon and poppy seed cake and English Breakfast tea. Unfortunately as it was late in the day, the lemon and poppy seed cake had to be substituted for a chocolate cake. How I do so suffer for my art.
Now, here’s the slight grumble I have – the cake wasn’t presented, I feel, as well as it could. It would have been nice if the cake was served standing on it’s bottom, as pictured above, rather than on it’s side. It’s not a big deal, but a little effort in presentation does go a long way.
Also of concern, it was obvious that the cake had not been cut with a clean knife, as evidenced by the crumbs of another cake appearing on the top of my slice. In itself it’s not a big deal, but it does bring questions to my mind about possible cross contamination. I don’t want doubts like that to enter my head, when I’m about to indulge in the task of eating chocolate cake.
The strawberry decoration looked a little stale and didn’t taste all that fresh or flavoursome. The cake was a little dry at the bottom. It had a fairly good chocolate flavour, but nothing to write home about.
There was also a few stains on the outside of the milk jug, which was disappointing to see. But, I have to say, the tea tasted nice and was piping hot, and I was given a generous quantity of milk. So that’s three up on the William Morris Museum Cafe.
However, another more serious faux pas, came to light when I received the bill. The cake turned out to be a Guinness chocolate cake – not that I could taste any Guinness. Fortunately, I’m not an alcoholic, or have allergies to alcohol. I’m sure that any alcohol got up and left the building as soon as the cake was placed in the oven. However, as far as I recall, there was no mention of alcohol as an ingredient, of this standard looking chocolate cake. After the recent conviction of a restauranteur for the manslaughter of a customer, who had an allergic reaction to a takeaway meal, I think it would be wise for the cafe to review the menu and train their staff accordingly.
For the grand total of £6.50 (Tea £2.75, Cake £3.75), price wise it’s not too bad – the price of the cake a little steep, but can’t fault the tea.
The service was good, if a little slow, considering there were not many customers at the time, and I had a lovely view of the gardens. More positives than negatives, but with a few tweeks, this could be a top notch eatery.
Rating 5 out of 10 (a point knocked off for the possible cross contamination of the cake, stained milk jug and not stating that the cake contained Guinness.)
Great for tea lovers, but maybe not for cakes lovers.
Well it’s been a busy time here at Champer’s HQ, so it was nice to take some time out and visit the William Morris Gallery. To make the visit extra special, we though we would treat ourselves to an Afternoon Tea at the on-site Tea Room.
So it was with great disappointment that at 3.50pm, the billed Afternoon Tea, which many fans of this meal know is traditionally served at 4pm, was no longer available. The only viable option left for us, was a pot of tea and a slice of Victoria sponge.
The cake, as Victoria sponges go, was nice – the sponge was moist, with a good flavour. There was a fairly generous layer of buttercream, and a rather less generous layer of raspberry jam. It was nice, but not anything special, and I think a little over priced. The tea on the other hand was a complete let down. Having asked for English Breakfast, I received what I can only describe as a mint flavoured black tea, a rather unusual, but not successful blend.
The tea pot didn’t match the rest of the crockery – not that I usually mind, but when 1 or 2 things go wrong, other otherwise minor issues tend to show up on my radar. A pity, because the meal experience slightly tarnished a lovely trip to the gallery.
We plan to revisit the William Morris Gallery later in the year, as it’s such a wonderful, inspirational venue – a post is to follow soon. However, I’m reluctant to revisit the Tea Room, and will seriously consider taking my own afternoon tea to enjoy in the nearby park.
I enjoyed a rather tasty warm goats cheese salad at the Buenos Aires Café, in Greenwich.
The service was good, timely and very friendly. Sadly my first choice meal was not available, but I did arrive late in the day, so I was lucky to get anything at all. The atmosphere was relaxing, I envied those who had a chance to sit on the über comfy sofas at the front of the café. I would happily sit there for hours with a newspaper and a couple of books.
The cake was a little bit of a let down. The coconut, macadamia and lime slice was a little small in size and slightly dry – but again, it was late in the day, so it may have accounted for the condition. I couldn’t taste the coconut, and the lime icing could have been more zesty.
All in all, a nice meal, tea and cake for £10.35, not bad. I would be happy to revisit to try out the delicious looking bread on offer.