Afternoon tea with a twist

This Christmas, the majority of mine and Tom’s presents were food related (which is no problem at all!). We got a wok, salad servers, bread sticks, an Italian food parcel, serving dishes, cupcake cases, oils, jams and chutneys, plus far too many cookbooks to count. My favourite one was a gift from Tom’s aunty, the Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days recipe book. I am in love with this book – it’s stunning and makes you want to try your hand at all of the recipes.

    

This weekend I decided to turn my hand to their Earl Grey cupcakes. I was hoping I would find the same thing as my enjoyment of coffee, in that, I don’t like to drink coffee, but I love its smell and I love coffee cake. I don’t like to drink Earl Grey either but I was intrigued to see how the flavour would taste in cupcake form.

The begamot orange flavour turned out to be quite subtle and gave the sponge and icing a delicate floral flavour which I found really tasty. Having these cakes as part of an afternoon tea would be great as they incorporate the two key elements of such a meal – refreshing fragrant tea and delicious iced cakes.

    

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The perfect white loaf

Someone once asked me, “if you could only have one of the following, which would you choose? Bread, pasta or rice?”

Now, I mean come on, what kind of a question is that to ask a person?! I eventually, somehow, came to a decision: bread. It has to be bread, every time.

Despite the deliciousness of pesto pasta, and the tastiness of a chicken korma with rice, for me, bread will always win-out. Bread or toast is always the thing to settle my tummy if I’m feeling ill; it’s great as an after-work, pre-dinner, snack; it’s the perfect partner for soup, pate, boiled eggs, baked beans; and, well, where would lunchtime be without the noble sandwich?

As I hadn’t baked anything since my Victoria sponge I thought I’d turn my hand back to bread-making, something I have found a slightly up-and-down process so far. The key thing I have found that seems to alter how well my bread turns out is the amount of time I spend kneading the dough. With that in mind I spent longer than usual and it seems to have worked – my dough rose well and had a smooth texture.

I used a different technique when baking the bread this time (mainly because I fully read the recipe) – when I put the dough in the oven I added a cup of water to a pre-heated tray which gave a burst of steam and helps with the bake. Halfway through I rotated the bread to give it an even colouring and this is the beautiful outcome (though I say so myself):        

Nothing smells so good as freshly baked bread, especially when you have the satisfaction of knowing you’ve made it yourself – and this is why I will always choose bread over rice or pasta!

Dinner chez Jess

Greetings fellow bloggers, and a Happy Valentine’s Day to you. Firstly, here are a few pretty photos of flowers to go along with the romantic theme of today . . .

      

. . . now that I’ve got that out of the way, I shall turn my attention to today’s mini, super-speedy, blog post!

In a few weeks’ time, my teeny tiny flat will be host to 8 friends for a delicious evening of dinner and drinks. I have decided to share my chosen menu with you, as it took me some time to decide upon*, and, well, if I had thought to search for blog posts on menu ideas it may have helped me come to a decision sooner!

Keep visiting back to thelittleblogofbaking for an update on how the dinner turns out, and some snaps of the meal!

*when you have 8 different people’s tastes to fit into one menu, it can take quite a while – I’m hoping I’ve succeeded . . . only time will tell!

Nibbles:

Crisps & Olives

 Starter: 

Spiced Carrot & Lentil Soup
with

Home-made Bread

 Main:

 Creamy Pesto Chicken with Roasted Vine Tomatoes

Roasted New Potatoes

Green Beans

 Dessert: 

White Chocolate & Cranberry Cheesecake
Strawberry Daiquiri Cupcakes

 Drinks: 

Wine & Cocktails