Monday, 5 December 2016

Recipe: The Ultimate Chocolate Christmas Cake

It just wouldn't be Christmas without a festive baking post would it? This year, I've upped my game a created the ultimate chocolate Christmas cake, although last year red bow cupcakes were pretty good! The inspiration behind this post? Well a few weeks ago I attended a Christmas cake masterclass with Dr. Oetker and Juliet Sear as part of their new We Bake community, with is basically a social media/forum for those of us who love to bake, which is basically everyone. Plus they're running a competition with me to win a Dr. Oetker product hamper, which is FULL of amazing stuff so all you need to do is sign up and just post the link to your first We Bake post in the comments below! If you need some inspiration an example of a We Bake post is one like this. I really hope you enter, it's super easy and don't forget to share your post in the comments below, you have until the 3rd January 2017Now time for the moment we've all been waiting for, the ultimate chocolate Christmas cake recipe...

The Ultimate Chocolate Christmas Cake

To make the chocolate cake you'll need:

335g plain flour
525g soft brown sugar
125g cocoa poweder
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3 eggs
185ml vegetable oil or coconut oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
375ml whole milk
2tsp instant espresso coffee
375ml boiling water

For the chocolate ganache covering/filling you'll need:

600g cooks milk chocolate
300ml double cream

For the drip topping you'll need:

150g of any 'cooks' chocolate bar - I used white chocolate

The chocolate cake recipe:
  1. Put the cream in a saucepan and heat gently over a low heat until the cream is bubbling, keep stirring whilst the cream is heating.
  2. Once bubbly and hot remove the cream from the heat and break the milk chocolate into squares. Add the chocolate into the cream and story until melted.
  3. Chill in the fridge for two hours until set and thickened. (If you don't want to make a ganache you can always make a chocolate buttercream!)
  4. Preheat the oven to 175c or gas mark 4. Grease and line 4x7 inch round cake tins.
  5. Put all of the ingredients for the cake except the hot water into a bowl and fold carefully until all of the ingredients are mixed.
  6. Add the the boiling water and with a hand whisk, mix until you have a smooth consistency.
  7. The cake batter will have a very runny consistency. So pour the mixture into a jug and divide evenly between the cake tins.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes or until a cocktail stick comes out clean. Then leave to cool.
  9. Once the cake has cooled use a small amount of the ganache (or buttercream) to stick to the base tier of the cake to the cake board.
  10. Spread the ganache on each layer of the cake using a palette knife and the cake together. Then spread a think amount of ganache on the outside of your cake, starting from the base and working up the cake.
  11. Chill for around 30 mins in the fridge to let it set. Then add another layer around the whole cake.
  12. Melt your chocolate for the drip, you can either do this in a microwave or using a bain-marie. Then leave to cool slightly for around 5 minutes.
  13. Pour the melted chocolate on top of your cake and using a palette knife spread over the top of  the cake and push to the edges so it started to drip down your cake.
  14. Now it's time to decorate. If you're using making chocolate shards like I did add these now! You can decorate with anything you like, chocolate hearts or stars, sweets, sprinkles, berries, edible glitter, macarons, or even biscuits! I used the Dr.Oetker gold shimmer spray on my berries and I thought it added such a festive effect.
  15. Finally, share with friends and family on Christmas day.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Profile: All about Seedlip

Winter means that Christmas is just around the corner and that equals to a lot of xmas parties/drinking, which some of us find a little tricky to keep up with. So I caught up with the founder of Seedlip, Ben, to find out more about the non-alcoholic spirit brand. Something that I thought a lot of you would find interesting as there seems to be a lot of bloggers and blog readers who have picked the option not to drink. Having tried the drinks myself you wouldn't never be able to guess they were alcohol free. What's even better is that no one will ever have to know that you're not really drinking a G&T and there's no hangovers! YAY!

For those who aren't familiar with the brand, would you be able to tell me a bit about you and your story? 
Seedlip didn’t actually begin as a business idea at all! Whilst looking into forgotten herbs and spices to grow at home I came across a book online written in 1651 that documented distilled herbal remedies that were non-alcoholic and out of sheer curiosity bought a little copper still, went to see King George III’s original copy in the British library and began experimenting in my kitchen. It was only when I began to understand that the world was actually at the beginning of a paradigm shift in what we’re drinking that the mission to create the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirit, solve the dilemma of what to drink when you’re not drinking and continue my family’s 300 year legacy of working with the land was born! 

Why did you decide to create a non-alcoholic spirit? 
If you’re not drinking for whatever reason, the options on offer lack any of the ritual, ceremony and sophistication that you find with alcoholic drinks and so creating blends and serves that allow people to feel part of was important. No more fruit juices, fizzy sugary drinks or sweet mocktails! 

Your drinks are obviously inspired by natural plants and herbs but was there a particular place you drew inspiration from? 
My inspiration came from two places: 1. The 1651 book “The Art of Distillation” that documents distilled non-alcoholic herbal remedies and a wealth of ingredients like the Jamaican all spice berries we use [back then called bayberries] that were discovered by Columbus in 1494 [hence the 94 in Spice 94] II. Memories of time spent on our farm with my grandfather. Our second product Seedlip Garden 108 captures those summers spent with him as a child eating our peas fresh from the pod. Seedlip Garden uses our handpicked peas and hay as well as rosemary, thyme, spearmint and hops. 

The design of the bottle is so pretty, the copper detail on the top is a really nice touch! How did you come up with the bottle design? 
I wanted to find an aesthetic to really celebrate our love of nature, both with the ingredients we use and some of the animals that roam wild on our farm. I found inspiration in two things: I. The beautiful botanical drawings of the 18th century II. The incredible macro photography of Karl Blossfeldt Working with our design agency Pearlfisher we were then able to blend our respect for our individually distilled ingredients with symbolic countryside animals to fully champion both flora and fauna. 

You're clearly a very design led brand, which other companies or products do feel are like-minded? 
I love Aesop, Farrow & Ball, Cereal Magazine, Larsson & Jennings. Their pride, flawless simplicity and attention to detail are hugely inspiring! I like to think we’re like minded! 

What's your favourite mocktail recipe to use with Seedlip? 
Monday to Wednesday after work there is nothing better than a Seedlip Spice or Garden and tonic! It marks the end of the day, simple to make and depending on what’s growing in the garden or sitting in the fridge, I can choose a nice garnish. 

If you were to sum up the brand with just three key flavours what would they be? 
Our first product Seedlip Spice 94 is all about the All Spice Berries so all those warm clove, cinnamon and nutmeg notes. Our second product Seedlip Garden 108 is all about the humble pea. Green and fresh it’s the English countryside personified. Our third product…. Well you’ll just have to wait till next year for that! 

Where can we find Seedlip? 
In the UK SEEDLIP is served in over 35 Michelin * Restaurants like The Fat Duck and some of England’s finest 5* Hotels like The Savoy and world famous bars like Dandelyan. Seedlip is sold in leading luxury stores likes Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason, Harvey Nichols and Daylesford as well as via our website 

What's next for you? 
We want to solve the dilemma of ‘what to drink when you’re not drinkingTM’ on a global scale at a premium level as quickly and brilliantly as possible. We have some exciting and terrifying plans for next year including a Dry January and a garden at Chelsea Flower Show!

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Christmas Afternoon Tea, Sketch London

If you've not heard of Sketch, then you would have definitely seen their pink dining room on Instagram. It's got to be one of the most Instagrammed places in London. My boyfriend and I booked ourselves in to try their Christmas afternoon tea preview about a month or so ago and I've been counting down the days ever since. 

As we walked in we were treated to an entry way that had been transformed into a winter wonderland, I imagine this is what it's like to walk into Narnia. We were greeted by some very festive waiters and concierge before making our way into the pink parlour. From here onward you feel as if you're having your afternoon tea through rose tinted glasses as everything is very pink! If you're into your art then this is a great place to visit, the room is covered with illustrations (and tea sets) from David Shirgley, the uniforms for the staff are designed by the late Richard Nicoll, and India Mahdavi is responsible for creating the pink paradise. 

Once you've finally stopped taking photos and ensuring you've got the perfect Instagram it's time for tea! I loved the wide selection of teas they offered, and there were plenty of caffeine free options too. As well as their normal set afternoon tea menu, they also offer a Vegan menu as quite a lot of their cakes contain beef products in. This was something I wasn't aware of until the day, but it is nice that there options, just bear this in mind fellow veggies as you do miss out on some of their signature treats.

Placed just off Regents Street, it's in the perfect location to get some of your Christmas shopping done, all of those sugary cakes are bound to fill you with plenty of energy. The festive afternoon tea doesn't come cheap at £50pp, but if you're into them then this is one to add to your list.

Sketch Christmas Afternoon Tea
Sketch Christmas Afternoon Tea
Review Sketch London
Afternoon Tea Sketch London
Afternoon Tea Sketch London
Afternoon Tea Sketch London
Afternoon Tea Sketch London
Afternoon Tea Sketch London
Afternoon Tea Sketch London
Afternoon Tea Sketch London
Sketch London toilets