Afternoon tea review: Dean Street Town House Hotel

Afternoon tea at Dean Street Townhouse Hotel by Naomi Longworth

Yesterday I went for afternoon tea at the Dean Street Town House Hotel for my friend’s birthday. It’s a great location for a winter afternoon tea as the low lighting and cosy furnishings are perfect for hiding away on a cold winter’s day. They were incredibly busy and we had to wait for our reserved table so we were offered a free glass of champagne at the bar which cheered us up. We were then seated at a big table by the window on low green armchairs and comfy cushions. We did have to wait quite a while before our order was taken and the afternoon tea came a lot later than our teas and coffees. However, the food was very good – the sandwiches were very fresh and tasty – egg and cucumber which was subtle and delicious, ham and mustard – again very tasty and the mustard wasn’t too overpowering and smoked salmon and cream cheese. As you can see, we gobbled the sandwiches down before I remembered to take a photo! We opted for one afternoon tea between the two of us which costs £16.75. Depending on how hungry you are, this is about the right size but you probably need to order another set of sandwiches as you only get three sarnies each time.

We then started on the plate of fancies – a cake with thin layers of choc sponge and choc coating – it tasted divine, a lemon macaron which was zingy and had the right amount of crunch and chew and then a fairy cake with cream piped on top which was average and not as adventurous. Finally, we tucked into scones which were very fresh and slightly warm, followed by homemade strawberry and raspberry jam and clotted cream. It tasted delicious and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’d recommend the afternoon tea but the service was slow so bear that in mind.

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Edwardian Garden Party – afternoon tea treats

I have finally got back to the blogging after a little reprieve during the holidays but rest assured I have been baking and have lots to update you on! I have also been watching the Great British Bake Off and it has inspired me to do more baking. I thought the tarte au citron from Mary Berry would be a great recipe to try soon.

Back in June I was invited to an Edwardian Garden Party. It was great fun and full of delicious afternoon tea goodies. I managed to get a few snaps of the raspberry and champagne jelly and these little lemon and mini cupcake treats on vintage crockery! This year Lili Vanilli has been researching the Edwardian High Tea so you can see her photo story if you’re feeling inspired!

Mary Berry easy lemon cheesecake recipe review

lemon cheesecake by cake takes the biscuit blog

On Sunday I wanted to make a dessert for some friends coming round. After a BBQ with lots of meat, I thought something light and refreshing would go well. I started sifting through my recipe books and found that there were plenty of cheesecake recipes out there but a lot of them were a bit faffy especially if you had to bake one. In the end I plumped for the easy lemon cheesecake recipe from Mary Berry’s Ultimate Cake Book because it was super easy. I was impressed about how quickly it could be made.

It says to use a 9 inch flan dish, but as I didn’t have one, I used an 8 inch cake tin which was loose bottomed. The first thing to do is mix the 10 crushed digestive biscuits, 2 oz of melted butter and 1 oz demerara sugar together for the biscuit base. I found that the base did go a bit soggy when eating it so I now want to experiment with baking the base for a short amount of time before adding the filling.

For the cheesecake filling, you mix together 150ml of single cream, 1 tin of condensed milk, almost a pack of soft cheese (175g) and zest of 3 lemons. I used light condensed milk and light soft cheese so this was a bit healthier. Then you add the juice of 3 lemons – I actually put the juice through a sieve to make sure the filling was really smooth. It’s also really important to use a whisk to get rid of any lumps when you add the soft cheese. The lemon juice almost instantly thickens the mixture as long as you keep whisking. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and leave for four hours to set. Just before serving I added strawberries round the edge. If you’re more organised than me then you can make it the night before, which is actually a good plan if you’re preparing for a dinner party. I would definitely make this again because it was faff free. If you want more info on Mary Berry and her other books you can read about her here.

Hummingbird Bakery lemon cupcake recipe review

Lemon cupcakes with lemon frostingLast week for the Cupcake Break cake swapping party, I made lemon cupcakes from the Hummingbird Bakery recipe book. I did tweak the recipe for a number of practical reasons and so I thought I’d share my experiences.  First up the recipe says to use 2 tablespoons of grazed lemon zest. In my experience, that’s a hell of a lot of lemon zest! After grating 3 lemons, I decided that had to be enough! It wasn’t two tablespoons worth but when I tasted the mixture it tasted very lemony indeed.  Next up, I thought it a bit odd to have a lemon cupcake recipe without any lemon juice in it. Not to mention it being a bit wasteful having lemons with no zest and no use for the juice. So instead of using whole milk in the recipe I replaced half of the quantity with lemon juice.  For the frosting, the first common sense thing to note is that if you put icing sugar and butter in a bowl and mix with an electric mixer, regardless of speed, the icing sugar will go everywhere! For this reason I added some of the liquid at the same time as mixing the butter and icing sugar to avoid this.  Again, instead of using whole milk, I replaced this with lemon juice. I find that the recipe makes 9 cupcakes so I do a double quantity of the recipe.  Also I find that you only need to do one quantity of frosting (250g of icing sugar) to ice 18 cupcakes. I didn’t put any lemon zest in the frosting as this would be total overkill.  Lemon juice did the trick nicely instead.

To summarize the tweaks I made (taking into account the double quantities):

Sponge

  • zezt of 3 lemons
  • 120ml lemon juice
  • 120ml semi skimmed milk

Frosting

  • 25ml lemon juice rather than milk
  • No lemon zest

The verdict? I had quite a few taste testers at the cake swapping party and there were lots of yums and ooos.  I take this to be positive feedback. I also made a batch of these for my flatmate’s birthday last weekend and my cake connoisseurs thought the sponge was very moist and the icing lovely and lemony. Here’s to a successful tweaked recipe! Let me know how you get on trying the recipe out! Oh and what’s on the cake blog next week? A review of the new afternoon tea at the Wallace Restaurant – will it stack up? You’ll have to wait to find out…

The cake swapping party

Cupcake Break tea partyLast week I was invited by my friend to a cake swapping party to raise money for charity. What a great idea I thought! The party was all part of the Cupcake Break which is an initiative cooked up by the Ovarian Cancer Action charity.  The idea is that we all love cupcakes and cake, so why not raise money whilst we eat cake! It struck me that this cake swapping party was the modern twist on the coffee morning. When I arrived, I was met with a mind boggling display of beautiful cakes and I quickly stuffed in my £5 to the charity pot. My contribution to the table was a batch of Hummingbird Bakery lemon cupcakes (I had tweaked the recipe – more on this later). In return, I sampled at least five different cakes including two firsts: my first ever whoopie pie and my first ever macaroon – yum! I also tucked into chocolate millionaire’s shortbread, some homemade fudge and a delicious chocolate brownie (Nigella). I hasten to add that the cake party was instead of lunch! We all had a fantastic afternoon munching on cakes, exchanging recipe ideas and general gossiping whilst stuffing in more cake.It was a great afternoon and I would encourage more people to host their own cake swapping party and help Ovarian Cancer Action with their great fundraising initiative. Sign up here to get involved!

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.

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