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.


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!


Crisps & Olives


Spiced Carrot & Lentil Soup

Home-made Bread


 Creamy Pesto Chicken with Roasted Vine Tomatoes

Roasted New Potatoes

Green Beans


White Chocolate & Cranberry Cheesecake
Strawberry Daiquiri Cupcakes


Wine & Cocktails