Cakes for Haiti

Friday 26th March was a national cake sale fund raising day, known as Cakes for Haiti, set up by Janet Mohapi-Banks to raise money to help the disaster relief initiative for the people of Haiti.  Janet asked if I could organise a cake sale at my work and along with some very talented bakers (9 in total!) we cooked up a feast for our colleagues to raise money for Cakes for Haiti (you can make a donation here)and two additional charities.  I think the most cakes anyone ate in one day was 7 and I managed 6 although luckily I went to the gym afterwards to burn off my sugar high!

A big thank you to all the bakers  for their cake delights – we had some really impressive cakes on sale including mini banoffee pies (combo of these two recipes but mainly this one), Hummingbird bakery red velvet cupcakes (you can buy the recipe book here), strawberry and buttermilk scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, rice crispie squares, chocolastic cookies, chocolate and pistachio slices, Nigella carrot cake cupcakes (made by me and I’ll be reviewing the recipe soon), plus chocolate cornflake crispie cakes with Lindt and mini eggs and last but not least Nigella chocolate coca cola cake!

In the afternoon, we received some surprise savoury and sweet snacks from a colleague’s wife called gateaux piment (literally chilli cake) which is a Mauritian savoury snack with chick peas and chilli. And finally Ladoo – Indian sweet balls with raisins and coconut. These were incredibly popular as an afternoon snack. What a fantastic and varied selection!

Everyone had so much fun talking over which cake they would eat next and swapping notes on each cake.  It was really interesting to see which cakes were popular. Sometimes I really do think simple is the best way forward. Dark chocolate crispie cakes with Lindt and mini eggsThe old favourites like chocolate cornflake crispie cakes went down really well – the trick is to use very good quality dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa solids.  The prize for being the most conscientious and talented baker has to go to my colleague and co-organiser of the cake sale – Victoria Marnoch – who not only made the mini banoffee pies and choc and pistachio slices but also made a full blown banoffee pie comissioned by one of our colleagues for a dinner party! She must have been baking for hours! The red velvet cupcakes (a signature recipe of the Hummingbird Bakery) were another favourite and some colleagues who insisted they didn’t eat cake succumbed when they clapped eyes upon the mini banoffee pies. I thought they worked really well because they were small so you could easily eat one without being too over faced after a main course.

Nigella carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese icingWe haven’t counted all the money just yet, but an estimate is over £120. This will be split between Cakes for Haiti and two other charities – Well Child and Twenty First Century Legacy Youth for my colleagues who are running the London Marathon this year.

Thanks to everyone for their baking, cake consuming and donations! Cake for humanity is a wonderful thing.  Let’s hope our money will contribute positively towards re-building Haiti.

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Afternoon tea review – Wallace Restaurant at the Wallace Collection

Night time at the Wallace Restaurant in the Wallace CollectionOn Saturday, I visited the light and airy Wallace Restaurant at the Wallace Collection for afternoon tea. It’s a clever space which has a glass roof flooding the area with sunlight. At night time, the space transitions well and with the addition of soft lighting and tea lights on the tables, it made for a very pleasant atmosphere.  Indoor-outdoor garden is what springs to mind.

So atmosphere wise, the Wallace Restaurant is an unusual space which is rather refreshing in central London. 

We all opted for the English afternoon tea which is priced at £17.50. This is much more reasonable than the traditional hotel afternoon teas in London. We also had a glass of champagne which you can add on for £7.50.

Now on to the cake, what you’ve all been waiting for. 

Sandwiches and cake at the Wallace RestaurantWe were given a squidgy rhubarb crumble square, a lemony swiss roll and a tiny slice of treacle tart with a hint of marmalade.  Although the cakes didn’t blow me away, my friends and I decided the rhubarb crumble square was the best of the lot.

 The scone was better than all of them though – with Peyton and Byrne raspberry jam (I always think raspberry jam wins hands down over strawberry) and clotted cream.  After eating our scone, one more appeared from the waiter and my friends and I all eyed it up. We politely cut it in to four and dug into more raspberry jam. The sandwiches for me were a bit of a disappointment – a little dry like they’d been hanging about and my plate seemed to be missing the crab sarnie. I’ve always been a bit put off by crab, but this was my one chance to give it a shot. 

Afternoon tea at the Wallace RestaurantUnfortunately for my group, we had a 45 minute delay being seated at our table on Saturday, despite having reserved a table two weeks ago. I’d like to think this was a one-off and that other people have experienced better service.  I have given my feedback to the restaurant and am awaiting a call back from one of their managers on the service. 

Overall, the scone and jam was very good and the atmosphere and lighting was relaxing. However the service was a bit of a let down on Saturday.  So for the afternoon tea, I’m going to give this an average rating.  If you’ve had other experiences at the Wallace Restaurant do get in touch – I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Jamie Oliver – Nan’s lemon drizzle cake review

lemon and poppy seed lemon cakeWhat could be better? Returning from a great holiday to find your flatmate’s boyfriend in the kitchen rustling up his first ever cake creation. Boys take note – this is how you achieve brownie points. Start storing them up now before the World Cup commences!

Neil (who happens to be an amazing underwater photographer) tried out Jamie Oliver’s Nan’s lemon drizzle cake, but added a few of his own twists.

He skipped the lemon icing and just opted for the lemon syrup with a dusting of icing sugar and some sprinkled lemon zest which I thought worked well. He also cooked it in a ring tin which made for an interesting shape. I enjoyed the cake and went back for a second helping much to Neil’s delight! I liked the poppy seeds for a bit of texture and it was lovely and lemony. This must surely be one of the more healthy cakes out there and with all that lemon juice, you’re well on your way to it counting towards one of your 5 fruit n veg a day.

A resounding success I’d say.

The quest for raspberry palmiers

Having returned from a fabulous ski trip in France, I decided I needed to wean myself off French food very slowly. Today I popped into Coin de Paris, a little French cafe in Richmond, London, opposite Waterstones book store.

Whilst in France, I sampled the most delicious food, most of which was savoury – fondue, tarteflette, and a galette with goats cheese, salad and a fried egg on top (actually that was in Switzerland).  Sweet tooth wise, I frequented the local bakery pretty much every day and my favourite new discovery are palmiers with raspberry jam.

They were to die for with morning coffee. I have to find somewhere in London which makes them!

Although not greeted with the friendliest of welcomes at Coin de Paris (perhaps the language barrier) my mocha was very good and I had a decent croque monsieur. A little bit of salad on the side with the croque monsieurs and paninis would not go a miss. I did have to ask for the table to be wiped though and we moved the dirty crockery from the table before us. Upstairs has a pleasant seating area and on a sunny afternoon like today, the room feels airy and light.

For dessert, I walked up the hill to Caffe Paola – an Italian cafe. I chose a pecan tart but was tempted by the lemon tart and various other white chocolate gooey squares. Although I promised myself I would only eat half and save the other half for after dinner, I found myself devouring the whole thing in a matter of minutes. I will have to go back to try the lunch.

For now I will have to resort to my boring cereal for breakfast, lest I put on any more pastry pounds from eating croissants every day, but I am now on the quest for raspberry palmiers! If anyone knows where they sell good ones, please let me know! I doubt I could make any which would match the ones I ate in France.

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