Tag Archive: Cake

May 22 2014

Afternoon Tea: The Park Lane Hotel – Wedding Dresses

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I love Art Deco architecture and fashion, so when The Park Lane Hotel in London got in touch to ask me to review their exciting new collaboration with the V&A for their Wedding Dresses exhibition I couldn’t say no, especially when I heard it was a special afternoon tea inspired by wedding fashion.

Created by The Park Lane Hotel’s Pastry Chef, Sarah Hartnett, the Wedding Dresses Afternoon Tea is a real treat that starts with ‘Tuxedo’ strawberries, which look as gorgeous as they taste, and a glass of Moët & Chandon Champagne to get you into the wedding spirit, while sitting comfortably in the Palm Court lounge of the hotel, I think I could have sat on that sofa all-day long.

Unlike other afternoon tea’s where everything is displayed together, the savouries, the scones and the cakes, I really loved how the Palm Court’s waiting staff take you on a journey through the courses, much like a wedding breakfast I suppose, only revealing the next course once you have finished with the last.

Normally I instantly gushed about the sweeter side of an afternoon tea, maybe it is because that is what catches my attention from the get-go, but with it being served as courses I really think that the savouries was one of my favourite bits. As I am not a huge meat eater the hotel kindly did me a veggie plate, with the impressive looking and delicious cucumber vichyssoise with cucumber pearls, the cream cheese and chive sandwiches, the egg rolls and the best was the warm asparagus brioche. I really can’t fault anything from this course, everything tasted great and was presented superbly.

Next up was the romantic side of the wedding-themed afternoon tea, with warm, heart-shaped plain and apple and raisin scones, which were just so adorable and one of the best scones I have tasted, and I do love a scone! What made these, other than the Instagramable shape, had to be the preserves they came with, not content with just clotted cream and jam there was also lemon curd, such a delicious addition.

By this point I was feeling pretty full, well that was until I saw the ‘Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed and Something Blue’ cakes – with the ‘old’ vintage dress inspired vanilla and pear bavarois, the ‘new’ golden wedding ring of creamed passion fruit chiboust with orange shortbread, my favourite lemon and pistachio polenta Wedding Cake decorated with a ‘borrowed’ brooch, and finally, the ‘blue’ blueberry almond mousse with chocolate cream to represent a very fashion-forward groom in a blue suit.

Each cake was exquisitely crafted, I loved all the details, and the taste was very unique and flavourful, a perfect ending to a fabulous relaxed afternoon tea, well that would be if the hotel didn’t send you off with a ‘Top Hat’ wedding favour cake filled with coffee and white chocolate fudge as a memento of the day, continuing the wedding theme right through.

If you enjoy a themed afternoon tea, or like me a very excited bride-to-be I think you will really enjoy this special menu, I also think it makes a day of it when paired with the exhibition. If however you are after more traditional touches then I think you would probably much prefer the hotel’s regular offering, as the Art Deco Palm Court is a gorgeous place to enjoy afternoon tea in London.

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The Wedding Dresses Afternoon Tea at The Park Lane Hotel will be served until June 30, 2014, 3pm-6pm on weekdays and 2pm-6pm at weekends in The Palm Court and costs £45 per person or £53 per person including a ticket to the exhibition. Bookings must be made in advance. For more information visit www.palmcourtlondon.co.uk/wedding-dresses. To book, call The Palm Court on 0207 290 7328 or email palmcourt.parklane@sheraton.com
**I was a guest of The Park Lane Hotel – but as always my opinion is honest – if I didn’t enjoy it I wouldn’t have featured it**

May 05 2014

Met Gala Buzz: Barbie Cakes Styled In Charles James

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I love all the Met Gala excitement, I wish that one day I might witness it for myself, but for now I have to enjoy the wonders of Vogue and their special features. Not only have they teamed up with the cutest five-year old to showcase past great Met Gala dresses on their Instagram, you have to look they have been so cute, but they also asked cake makers to style cakes modelled after dresses by Charles James, who is being honoured this year at the Met, with the help of my favourite doll, Barbie.

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How incredible do these cakes look, all of Barbie’s dresses are edible, I think my favourite has to be the classic red draped ballgown, not only is this very Charles James but so Barbie as well and the detailing in the drapes by Melissa Torres from Cake Hero is divine. I have to be honest if I lived in New York I would really want them to make my next birthday cake!!!

Another favourite has to be the Flour Shop’s Amirah Kassem’s masterpiece that features ice cream, wafer paper, white chocolate and painted in an edible metallic blue to finish the incredible off-the-shoulder ballgown. Also check out Michelle Doll-Olson from Michelle Doll Cakes who mimic Charles James’s emerald green silk satin gown from 1954 using fondant with a chocolate truffle filling and edible pearl paint – I really want a piece of that!!!

Now I love baking and I can pipe a little buttercream frosting – but these beauties are a whole other league and I adore them – but are they too pretty to eat? Nar, cake is cake right!!!

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[Pics: via Vogue.com]

Feb 06 2014

Fashionista Barbie Bakes: Simple Blueberry Muffins

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Since I started my healthy kick, cutting out sugar, chocolate and generally everything I love, I have found it hard to find anything to bake that doesn’t stray me too much from the new healthy me. But as I find baking a stress reliever and I love cake I just couldn’t stay away so I have been trying to figure out what is the healthiest cake option and I came up with Blueberry muffins – well they can’t be that bad as they are filled with yummy fruit.

OK, so I am not sure they are that healthy, just healthier than say double chocolate chip muffins, and they have to count as one of your five a day – right??? Well that is what I am telling myself with these delicious beauties that are so easy to make. Plus, if like me you are obsessed with juicing and smoothies you will probably already have lots of blueberries to get baking these for a little afternoon snack.

I promise these are so simple to make, around 10 minutes prep work, then all you have to do is sit back and let them bake for around 30 minutes – if it helps you could use the time wisely and do a mini-workout.

Are you a fan of blueberry muffins?

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Ingredients:

375g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
200g golden caster sugar
125ml vegetable oil
1 egg
125ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
300g blueberries – I prefer fresh but frozen works as well
Granulated sugar, for sprinkling

Instructions:

Pre-heat oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4, and line the muffin tine with 12 paper cases.

Place the flour, baking powder and sugar in a bowl – gently mix. Then place the oil, egg, milk and vanilla in a separate bowl and whisk to combine.

Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined – then add the blueberries and mix.

Spoon mixture evenly into the muffin cases. Sprinkle the tops with sugar and bake for 30–35 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.

Remove from muffin tin and cool on a wire rack.

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Nov 19 2013

Afternoon Tea: Aqua Shard – High Tea

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My love of afternoon tea goes further than my love of cakes or tea, of course that is important, but it is also about the experience that I love the most. Whether it is a fancy hotel, an adorable theme, or in the case of Aqua Shard breath-taking views of the London skyline.

A couple of weeks ago before it turned dark at 3pm, I enjoyed my first visit to The Shard‘s restaurant Aqua Shard up on the 31st floor to join my friend Alex, who is a little obsessed with the place, for a contemporary take on the traditional afternoon tea.

Seated with a panoramic view of Tower Bridge, St Paul’s and the Tower of London, it was already worth it before the food was presented – I have to be honest I was in awe at how spectacular London looked from 31 floors up.

The afternoon tea itself was delicious, from the sculpted Shard cake, which looked too good to eat, to the soft-centred chocolate truffle, to the tiny but exquisite lemon meringue pie and my favourite the fruit salad millefeuille.

The sweet treats were the best bit of the afternoon tea for me, on par with the selection of teas that they offer from the Rare Tea Company, it was hard to choose which one to go for but I decided to try the Royal Air Force tea, a calming tea specially blended for the RAF combining Darjeeling and Malawi teas and it was divine.

It was the sandwiches and scones that yet the afternoon tea down a little, with no vegetarian option I had to opt just for the egg curried mayonnaise, which was nice but with no variety it was a little too overpowering. The scones, vanilla and raisin and orange blossom, were a little tasteless to be honest, and the jam and clotted cream was just too runny.

Overall I enjoyed the Aqua Shard high tea, which is being billed as the highest in London, the view and the cakes made the trip totally worth it. I would have liked the staff to have been more attentive though, I had to ask more than once for hot water for my tea, they didn’t go through what the sandwiches, cakes and scones were when it was presented, and they didn’t seem knowledgeable about the tea choice. I am being super picky, but that is the sort of service that I expect with afternoon tea – luckily the view and setting won me over!!!

If you like to eat with a view then you have to check out Aqua Shard, the restaurant also does breakfast, lunch, dinner and has a great cocktail menu – also try and go when it is still light as then you can see the view before and after dark it really does look amazing.

High Tea at Aqua Shard is served daily between 3.00 – 5.00pm and costs from £29.50.
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**I was a guest of Aqua Shard – but as always my opinion is honest – if I didn’t enjoy it I wouldn’t have featured it**

Jul 04 2013

Afternoon Tea: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at One Aldwych

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I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have fond memories of reading Roald Dahl’s classic, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, so when I found out that London hotel, One Aldwych were putting on a scrumdiddlyumptious afternoon tea to celebrate the opening of the musical on the West End I just had to try it out.

I am a huge fan of themed afternoon teas when they are done well, which generally means that the hotel or restaurant has to take the concept to the max and pair it with great food, One Aldwych’s head chef Dominic Teague has done just that and created a memorable experience that tastes incredible.

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When I sat down to afternoon tea in the throne-like chairs, surrounded by magnificent artwork and Wimbledon-inspired floral displays, I wasn’t sure what to expect, I had only ever previous enjoyed cocktails during London Fashion Week, but I knew as soon as I saw the wonderfully illustrated menus that it was going to be fun.

Each menu is dedicated to a different family from Charlie and his granddad Joe to the Salt family with the spoilt brat Veruca, who actually looks adorable dressed like a ballerina on the menu. It is touches like this that is seen throughout the afternoon tea, which really has taken the concept of capturing the imagination and ran with it.Afternoon tea One aldwych 9 Afternoon Tea: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at One Aldwych %tagAfternoontea One aldwych 14 Afternoon Tea: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at One Aldwych %tag

The adventure started with Cocktail Charlie, which came out smoking dry ice and bubbling away in a carafe looking something more like an experiment than a drink. The cocktail itself was strong, which is hardly surprising considering it contains a mix of Dalmore Whisky, Cherry Marnier, chocolate bitters and Champagne. I am not much of a whiskey drinker but even I couldn’t help get excited about this drink.

Next up was the savoury platter, featuring the most delicious selection of vegetarian treats from a yummy tomato tart to mini leak and Stilton quiches, and a great choice of sandwiches including the traditional cucumber and chive crème fraiche on wholemeal bread, cheese paired with the most incredible chutney, and egg mayonnaise.

Normally the savoury plate is my least favourite, I am all about the desserts, but this was more than substantial and each piece was prepared perfectly and tasted amazing, I was actually a little stuffed before the Willy Wonka-style sweet treats came out.

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The real Charlie and the Chocolate Factory magic really shines through in the sweets, from pear drop and rhubarb and custard flavoured candy floss to blueberry brioche, vanilla cheesecake and mango filled golden egg, and one of my favourite desserts Eton Mess, which was all nicely washed down with chocolate caramel milk slurped out of a retro style bottle.

Everything from start to finish really was perfection on the taste buds and thought out. It wasn’t too sweet and sickly, even with all the chocolate and candy floss, it still had elements of the traditional tea with the magnificent scones, which were rounded off perfectly with the apple and meadowsweet compote, and the commitment to the theme makes this one of the most original afternoon teas I have enjoyed.

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If like me, one of your favourite childhood books was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory then you will love seeing it brought to life in this themed afternoon tea, and I am sure it is especially wonderful to get you in the mood if you are off to see the musical show.

The Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-inspired Afternoon Tea runs until December 31 in One Aldwych’s Lobby Bar, priced £29.50 per person or £38 with a Charlie cocktail or a glass of Lallier Grand Réserve Champagne.

One Aldwych, London, WC2B 4BZ 

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