Tag Archives: Cake

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Lemon drizzle cake is a family favourite, usually I make a loaf cake soaked with lemon icing but on this occasion I made a layer cake filled with a delicious lemon cream curd.

lemon cake drizzle

To make this cake you will need:

200g of caster sugar

200g of unsalted butter

The zezt of 2 lemons

3 beaten eggs

200g self raising flour

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a 20cm springform cake tin

Beat the sugar, butter and lemon zest in a mixing bowl until pale and fluffy, using an electric whisk.

Gradually add the eggs, whisking until the egg is incorporated into the mixture. Carefully fold in the flour.

Pour the cake mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes.

To make the filling you will need:

115g icing sugar

40g Butter

4 tablespoons lemon curd

Place the icing sugar and butter into a bowl and mix well until smooth, add the lemon curd and mix well. Split the cake horizontally in half. Spread the base cake half with the mixture and top with the second half of the cake.

To make the topping you will need:

55g icing sugar

lemon juice

Add enough lemon juice to the icing sugar to make a thick icing.  Drizzle over the top of the cake and allow to set.

lemon drizzle cake

 



Shou Shou Leamington Spa

Shou Shou has only recently opened in Leamington Spa so we decided to go on Saturday to have a little look and hopefully sample something delicious.  We didn’t actually know what sort of edible treat to expect as we had only seen a couple of interior pictures on facebook so we entered with open minds, when I first saw pictures of the interior of Shou Shou I originally thought it was  sister branch of another of Leamington Spas vintage style coffee shops and was pleasantly surprised to find out it was a new venture.

shou shou

 

From the outside Shou Shou looks very pretty and chic, the sort of place you would visit for afternoon tea surprisingly this didn’t put Mr Gourmand off as he’s quite in touch with his feminine side!

plate decoration

 

I love the vintage plate decoration adorning the wall, it seems really popular with coffee shops at the moment to have vintage crockery and I’m certainly not complaining as I love it.  There are a lot of pastel colours used in Shou Shou which really do add to the chic feel I assume they are trying to portray, the lilac painted chair was a winner for me.

menu

 

The menu is quite simple but contains something for all tastes, there is a good selection of breakfast items, cold sandwiches, paninis, salads and of course Afternoon tea, we were too late for breakfast and too early for lunch so decided to sample a cake instead.

cakes

 

The cakes on display all looked delicious and I was torn between the Frangipan or Zucchini and Lime cake, Mr Gourmand was saving himself for lunch so suggested I pick a cake we could both try. Don’t you hate it when this happens? I knew that half of my cake would be eaten so if I’d been clever I should have picked something he didn’t like just to prove a point!

zucchini and lime cake

 

We both went for an Americano and I selected the Zucchini and Lime cake which was delicious and tasted home made, the cake was moist but didn’t fall apart when you put your fork in it.  There was a layer of lime curd sandwiching the cake together and buttercream icing topped off the cake.  Mr Gourmand originally turned up his nose when he found out the cake contained a vegetable but quickly realised you couldn’t taste it and the cake was too delicious to even care about the ingredients.  The owner of Shou Shou asked how we were enjoying the cake so I took my chance to ask if they were made in house which is always a big bonus for me, they are actually handmade but by a lady who supplies to the coffee shop which is great as I love small business supporting other small businesses.

You can find Shou Shou Cafe at 135 Regent Street, Leamington Spa



Bandstand Tea Room – Leamington Spa

Myself and Mr Gourmand recently got caught out by a freak thunderstorm close to the Pump Room gardens in Leamington Spa and decided to jump into the first coffee shop we good which was the Bandstand Tea Room. As you can tell from the photographs, The Bandstand Tea Room, named after the band stand across the road, is a quaint little place with decorative wallpaper and delicate ornamental features fitting for a fine tea room in York or Edinburgh.

interior

There was a great selection of teas all housed in pretty silver jars, I particularly liked the shabby chic cabinet that housed them.

cakes

There wasn’t huge variety of cakes, but the ones on offer were home made, nicely presented and looked delicious.

chocolate cake

I went for the Chocolate Cake as recommended by the waitress which was an incredibly indulgent, rich, chocolaty delight, that truth be told I struggled to finish – at this point Mr Gourmand jumped in to finish what I plainly couldn’t! The ratio of buttercream to cake was good, this is something that some places get so wrong but on this occasion it was perfect.

latte

Mr Gourmand went for a Latte to wash down the chocolate cake he stole from me and his own cake.  Next to the latte you can just see a glimpse of the Victoria Sponge Mr Gourmand ordered. He does order some odd cakes, but I think he chose wisely this time as it was beautifully light and delicious! although it looks like the cake was filled with just a bit too much buttercream it was actually a perfect amount and very light and airy.

arthur coffee

Look at Baby Gourmand’s face, even he was glad to get out of the cold rain!

Overall we had nice cake and coffee which is all you can ask for, however it was a little pricey and certainly fell into one of the most expensive coffee shops in Leamington, but for those special occasions when you really fancy the best cake, I would go again. The chocolate cake was a bit special!



Lemon Loaf Cake

Lemon Loaf Cake

 

lemon cake

 

This recipe was scribbled down after watching an episode of Barefoot Contessa, It’s like a lemon drizzle cake but softer if that makes sense?  I think the yoghurt does nothing but good things to this cake.  I love using cups to measure as I’ve mentioned before especially when baking so rather than convert to grams I’ve decided to leave it as it was intended.

1 ½ cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup plain full fat yoghurt
1 cup caster sugar.
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup vegetable oil

For the glaze:
1 cup icing sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Grease an 8 ½ x 4 ¼ x 2 ½-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with grease proof paper.

I throw everything into a mixer until incorporated but if you prefer to do it by hand, Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into one bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yoghurt 1 cup of sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated.

Pour the cake mix into the loaf tin and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the centre of the loaf comes out clean.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Place on a cooling rack over kitchen roll and allow to cool completely.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cake.



Afternoon Tea – Gourmand Style

I recently met up with my friend Carmen for afternoon tea at the Sofitel Hotel in London, I was being polite and didn’t take any pictures of my food which was a hard task for me considering my phone currently houses over 800 pictures (I’ve only had it since December)

Grandma and Mini Gourmand were of course very jealous that I had been out for food without them, Mini Gourmand has never had afternoon tea and Grandma Gourmand usually complains that it doesn’t look very filling for the price – typical!

We had originally planned to just have a sandwich for lunch but the Coffee cake I had purchased from local deli Country Bumpkins inspired me to prepare an afternoon tea.

afternoon_tea

We ate:

Egg and Cress Sandwiches

Prawn and Avocado Sandwiches

Cream Cheese and Chive Sandwiches

Scones with Hedgerow jam and clotted cream

Coffee Cake

Chocolate Éclairs

Chocolate brownies

afternoon_tea_pic

I explained to Grandma Gourmand that the amount of food we had was similar if not less than the amount you would get in a traditional afternoon tea, we left a sandwich each, a slice of cake and an éclair proving that afternoon tea is filling and is worth every penny (especially when cakes are home-made)

I love reading blog posts featuring afternoon tea so if you have one please share your links below!



Wholegrain Goodness Challenge

If you follow me on Instagram you will have noticed that over the past couple of weeks a large number of my photos were based on wholegrain meals this was because I had undertaken a challenge set by Mumsnet and Wholegrain Goodness to raise awareness of the benefits of wholegrains as part of a healthy balanced diet, and to inspire and motivate people to eat them.

As a mother it’s very important to me that Lucie is eating balanced meals at home, she no longer takes a packed lunch as all of her friends eat from the canteen at school meaning that 5 days a week I have no idea what she is consuming (I imagine it is not healthy food).

Trying to get Lucie to eat breakfast is a difficult task as she is always rushing however if I offered her a piece of chocolate cake or a biscuit she would probably snap my hand off!   During my pregnancy I have made a conscious effort to eat breakfast (usually I would skip it).

We always sit down together for our evening meal which except for the odd occasion is always prepared by myself from scratch so I know exactly what we are eating, I know from reading my blog most readers would think I eat out an awful lot but in all honesty I don’t and when I do it is usually on a weekend after 5 days of healthy eating.

Here’s what wholegraingoodness.com say about the challenge:

“Most of us know it’s important to eat at least five portions of fruit and veg every day, but what many of us don’t know is that we should be eating more wholegrain to keep us healthy too. Nutritionists around the world encourage eating at least three servings of wholegrain a day. But despite the nutritional benefits, national surveys show that 95% of UK adults fail to reach three servings a day. In fact, on average, most of us don’t even eat that in a week, and almost a third of us don’t eat any at all. To help us inspire mums to get more nutritious wholegrain into their family’s diet, take part in our wholegrain challenge”

The challenge lasted for two weeks, from Mon 21 Jan to 3 Feb 2013 and  was to include wholegrain in one meal or snack for the family per day for two weeks, using a variety of wholegrain foods available.  My first step was to find out what a wholegrain actually was so I headed to the Wholegrain Goodness website to get some information.

wholegrain

I headed to Tesco with my £10 gift voucher a picked up a variety of wholegrain foods, I already had some wholemeal flour, wholemeal self raising flour, wholegrain crackers, oats and noodles in the cupboard.

My next plan was to try and do some meal planning, I had already agreed that I would have porridge for breakfast most mornings and I would bake a loaf of wholemeal bread every couple of days rather than buying shop bought bread for snacks and sandwiches.

Breakfast

porridge

banana porride

For 10 of the 14 days I ate porridge for breakfast, I found it to be very filling, adding different fruits each morning ensured that I didn’t get bored of eating it.  My favourite Porridge was with some chopped banana.  Even when I woke her up earlier than normal I couldn’t get Lucie to eat a bowl before school as she always said she wasn’t hungry.

Making my own wholemeal bread was simple to make by hand and tasted so much better than store bought.  On the days that I didn’t eat porridge for breakfast I had toast made out of my bread.  I managed to get Lucie to have toast on 6 out of the 14 mornings although on 4 occasions she took it into the car to eat rather than eat it in the house.

Snacks

chocolate cakecake

Whilst looking through the cupboards to see what wholegrains I already had, I came across a bag of Allinson wholemeal self raising flour so decided to make a chocolate cake to have as one of our snacks.  After posting my photographs on instagram I had a number of requests for the recipe which I will be posting to my blog in the future.  The cake didn’t rise as much as it would have done if made with a white flour, it was a little dense and only stayed moist for 2 days before cream was required but I was very happy about how this turned out.

Using the same recipe for the cake I made a batch of Chocolate cupcakes which also served as snacks.

flapjack

Flapjacks were the next snack for me to make, I actually made a few different variety of flapjack including plain, raisin and dried apricot.  The three tray bakes of flapjacks made enough to last the full 14 days.

popcorn

Using a non stick pan with lid I successfully managed to make popcorn using no oil, butter or sugar.  Instead of Lucie grabbing a chocolate bar, biscuit or crisps after school she had a small bowl of popcorn as a snack.  I was very surprised at how easy this was to make, it did need to be watched like a hawk in the pan as a couple of seconds too long made the popcorn burn, I found it easier to do small batches at a time.

Lunch

For 11 out of the 14 days I had either wholegrain crackers, wholegrain bread or cous cous with my lunch, a friend joined me on 8 of these days.  Lucie had sandwiches made with wholegrain bread on 4 of these days.

Main Courses

Incorporating a wholegrain into our evening meal was so much easier than I had initialy thought it would be.  Lucie did complain on a couple of occasions that she didn’t like the brown rice however this did not stop her clearing her plate, not one of us could tell the difference between wholegrain pasta and white pasta and my pizza made with wholegrain flour went down just as well as the ones I make using white flour.

pasta

Lucie’s favourite dish was this Whole meal pasta with broccoli, green beans and asparagus with a touch of cream cheese, she loved it so much it was requested on 3 evenings!

chicken curry

We had this Chicken, Sweet potato and chickpea curry with brown rice on two different evenings, I found the brown rice gave the dish a nicer texture and I really liked the nutty flavour.

spag bol

I made Spaghetti bolognese twice using quorn mince and brown spaghetti, this was a big hit in the house so I then made it a third evening using brown pasta baked in the oven with mozzarella cheese.

cous cous

One evening we had homemade spicy fishcakes with giant vegetable cous cous and salad

curry

We had a Chicken and Veg curry with mixed brown rice one evening which was delicious.

pizza

On two occasions I experimented with a wholemeal flour and polenta pizza base which went down very well with the family, I served this with cous cous salad just to add an extra bit of wholemeal into the diet.

After eating wholegrains for 14 days I have decided to switch my white rice and pasta for a wholegrain variety and to incorporate more cous cous into our diets.  I will try to use wholegrain flour whenever possible and will continue to make my own bread and snacks.

Do you eat wholegrains as part of your diet? After reading this do you think you may be persuaded to switch?
I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network, a group of parent bloggers picked by Mumsnet to review products, services, events and brands. I have not been paid for this post though I did receive a £10 supermarket voucher. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity

 



Gourmet Garden Blog Cook Off

I recently received a Gourmet Garden product pack so I could enter the Blog Off / Cook Off competition which challenges the blogging community to show off their culinary skills and create fabulous dishes with Gourmet Garden. Even the most mundane every day recipe can be livened up with herbs and spices. If my dish is good enough I might make it through to the London cook off final in early 2013 for a chance to win a trip to Australia and £3,000 fee to become a 12-month ambassador for Gourmet Garden.

Rather than just cook one dish I decided to cook a 3 course meal for my family and let them decide which recipe used the herbs and spices the best and this would be my competition entry.

My first dish was Thai Prawn Salad, this dish used the Thai spices and Coriander provided. (Keep a look out for this recipe appearing on my blog)

Thai Prawn Salad

My second dish and entry to the competition is a Chilli Chicken Pizza, this dish used the Chilli, Garlic and Basil provided.

Chilli chicken Pizza

Chilli

I used 3 Teaspoons of the Gourmet Garden Chilli to marinade my Chicken

Chilli Chicken

The Chicken was marinated for 6 hours before use so it could soak in the flavour and heat from the Chilli.

Basil_Garlic

Two teaspoons of Garlic and One teaspoon of Basil was added to 200g of Tinned Tomato to make the pizza base sauce

Pizza Sauce

Pizza Dough

Ingredients to Make my Pizza Dough:

175g Plain Flour

1 Teaspoon Salt

1 Teaspoon dried yeast

1/2 teaspoon caster sugar

1 tablespoon Olive Oil

Method:

Preheat oven to 220°C and preheat baking sheet.

Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and make a well in the centre of the mixture, add the olive oil and pour in 120 ml of warm water. Mix to a dough using a wooden spoon and finish off by using your hands. Transfer the dough to a flat work surface.

Knead the dough for 3 minutes and until it is springy and elastic. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl and cover it with a damp tea towel. Leave the dough until it looks as though it has doubled in size.

Place the dough on to a work surface that has been sprinkled generously with flour to prevent it from sticking. Knock all the air out of the dough and knead it for a couple of seconds to begin shaping it into a ball. Dust your rolling pin with flour and roll the dough out to a shape that fits your baking tray.

Using a thick oven glove, very carefully lift the baking sheet out of the oven and oil with a pastry brush. Lift the pizza base on to the baking sheet and cover with your topping

Bake the pizza on a high shelf for 10-12 minutes.

I used a light covering of my Tomato sauce, Chilli Chicken, Red Peppers, Mushrooms and Mozzarella Cheese and finished off with a sprinkle of Oregano.

My final dish which came in close second to the Pizza was a Sticky Toffee Pudding cake, this dish used the ginger provided.  (Keep a look out for this recipe appearing on my blog)

Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake



Afternoon Tea at Olive & Bean

Olive & Bean is situated at 17/19 Clayton Street in the heart of Newcastle City centre

After a glowing review of the afternoon tea from a close friend, Mr Gourmand and I decided we had to see what all the fuss was about!  I love afternoon tea, especially when it comes with unlimited tea or coffee.

The afternoon tea at Olive & Bean costs £13.99 between two and comes with a selection of sandwiches, fruit scone, home-made cakes and endless coffee or tea.

Both Mr Gourmand and myself decided to order coffee and were provided with a cafetiere of organic brewed coffee and two china cups and saucers.

The couple next to us had also ordered afternoon tea and we had major food envy when they received theirs, the cupcakes looked delicious, there was a choice of cheese and fruit scone and there didn’t seem to be any ham in sight in the sandwiches which I was pleased about as I don’t eat it.  I had already previously asked to have a different jam to strawberry as I’m allergic.

Our Afternoon tea arrived and I must admit both Mr Gourmand and myself looked at the table next to us who gave a sympathetic smile, – no cupcakes and two fruit scones!

If I’m honest the lack of cupcakes didn’t bother me too much as I like any cake, it would have been nice to have the same though especially as we were sitting right next to a table with two cupcakes.  What did bother me a little bit was the two fruit scones.  I know the menu stated that fruit scones came with the afternoon tea but what I couldn’t understand was why the table next to us had the option of a cheese scone?

I digress, this is not cupcake or scone-gate

I couldn’t wait to get stuck into what we did receive, I had noticed that two of our sandwiches contained ham which wasn’t really a problem as Mr Gourmand likes it.

The cakes we received were actually delicious, we did have to take a couple of them home though as there was too much sugar for just one sitting!  The lemon and poppy seed cake was my favourite by far!

I was a little disappointed with the scone which was so crumbly I couldn’t even butter it as it just broke apart which was a shame as it just fuelled my hate of fruit scones even more, maybe I’ve just never had a good one?  The clotted cream that was served with the scone was actually rather delicious so I just poured  this all over my scone.

The sandwiches were jam-packed with filling, Mr Gourmand wasn’t too impressed with the amount of sandwiches we had but he’s just greedy!

Next time I go back I will ask for a cheese scone and maybe a cupcake if I’m feeling cheeky!

The afternoon tea is served Sunday to Friday 2pm until 5pm



Graze – Royal Quays

Graze is a fabulous little cafe situated within the Land Rover shop at Royal Quays.  Royal Quays is perfect for bargain hunters and hosts a number of discounted shops such as Clarks, M&S, Thorntons, Gap, Next and many more.  International readers may be more familiar with the DFDS International passenger terminal at North Shields which is a stones throw away from Royal Quays.  If you ever visit the North Shields area I suggest you pay Graze a visit!

The Graze cow is probably the first thing you will notice whilst walking through Royal Quays, both children and adults were seen using the cow as a photography prop, children were feeding the cow grass and babies were being sat on the cows back.

At the time of writing the cow will be fenced into a barrier, unfortunately the sheer amount of traffic going up to the novelty cow has resulted in foot imprints in the grass, sitting your child on top of a fake cow is also not a very good idea people, the cow may be there to look pretty but let’s not be silly, you wouldn’t sit on a real cow so lets respect the graze cow and view from afar!

The lights are probably one of my favourite features, sleek and stylish and also looking like an upside down feeding trough which keeps in with the ‘Graze’ theme.

The Steel counter is something I really love, I’ve seen something similar in an art gallery cafe where the steel had actually been left outside to rush the rusting process and it looked amazing.

I’m sure you will agree that the steel and glass counters work really well together.

The tables are chic and the chairs surprisingly comfortable

Ok enough with the decor let’s get on with the good stuff!

The glass display cabinets are a great idea, I don’t know anyone who would be able to resist something to eat after looking into them!

Graze offers a good selection of Hot and Cold food, cakes and pastries.  Prices are very reasonable and the portion sizes are good.

Both Myself and Mr Gourmand had an americano coffee, surprisingly many places get coffee so wrong, it’s either too strong, not strong enough too hot or not hot enough.  The coffee from Graze was both hot and flavoursome.

The lemon sponge slice was moist and tangy with hidden jam inside making this a delicious treat.  So often sponge cakes are dry and have either too much icing or not enough, the ratio here was perfect.

We decided to share a Chilli Beef Panini, I’m glad we opted to share as this was a monster, filled to the brim with minced beef , mexican beans and cheese, hot and delicious, more than enough for two people.

The Frangipane tart was delicious, I think the picture speaks for itself to be honest, it tasted as good as it looked!

Next time you’re in the North Shields / Royal Quays area I urge you to try Graze!



Cafe 1901 Jesmond

Cafe 1901 is situated in the old church hall on St Georges terrace in Jesmond.  I must admit I wasn’t very pleased when this cafe first opened as the youth club my daughter used to attend was closed down because of the cafe, I guess money is more important than community for the owners of the church? Anyway I digress, that was a few years ago and I’ve visited the cafe a few times with my mother and always been on the fence about the place so I decided to take Mr Gourmand for a coffee.

The cafe has huge high ceilings which are very impressive, I do apologise for the darkness of the photographs, the hall has very low lighting and it’s really difficult to get a good photo.  This kind of place always makes me feel really tired, they could do with some natural light lightbulbs!

There is a large range of drinks, cakes, hot and cold food on offer but if I’m being honest I think it’s rather expensive!

Mr Gourmand ordered a flat white coffee (£2.00) an odd choice for him as the Filter Coffee is usually the coffee of choice for the Gourmands!

I had my usual filter coffee (£2.00) it was nice coffee but nothing special as coffee goes.

I decided to have a slice of coffee and walnut cake (£3.00)  unfortunately the sponge was rather dry, I would have liked to have more buttercream sandwiching the cake together rather than the inch of icing on the top (yes an inch, I measured it).

Mr Gourmand had a cheese scone (£2.20) I can never understand why cafes serve microwaved warm cheese scones, I’d rather have mine cold as the microwave makes a scone taste like cardboard which this one did!

On this occasion I wasn’t impressed with Cafe 1901, there are many better places out there to go for a quick cup of coffee and a cake!