Just a quick post to let you all know that Friday is a pretty big day for my little blog as it’s goodbye to ‘Homemade by Fleur’ as you know it and hello to a snazzy new look and self hosted blog! Behind the scenes my brother (who’s pretty clever when it comes to things like this) and I have been working hard. There have been quite a few late nights, but it’s been great fun and I am so excited to show it to you.
I wanted to mention a couple of things that will change as a result of moving across to the new blog.
Firstly, there will be a new web address for my blog. A redirect from the old site will be in place so you will get taken straight to it if you go to the old address but it might be worth making a note of the new address on Friday and using that as much as possible if you can.
Secondly, all my WordPress blog subscribers (ie if you have your own wordpress blog and have subscribed to my blog) will need to re-subscribe on my new blog. It’s a bore I know, and I’m really sorry about having to ask you to do it. It’s just one of those annoying technical hiccups that cant be avoided. Look out for the subscribe box in the top right hand corner of the new blog. It only takes a minute to re-subscribe, and is very quick and painless I promise. I hate the thought of losing any of you through the moving process so would love you hook up with the new blog too if you can.
The good news is that all my email subscribers (ie if you don’t have a wordpress blog) will be moved across and automatically subscribed to my new blog. Phew!
I stayed up until 3am last Sunday morning. GASP!!! For anyone who knows me, this is quite an achievement. I usually get to about 10.30pm on an evening out and start yawning, then by 11pm I’ve firmly got my going home hat on, and that’s it, the night over. But on Saturday I was having such a great time that I forgot about the fact that my children would be waking up in 6 hours…5 hours…4 hours and was happy to keep going. I bet you are all wondering what I was up to. Well, hubby and I, along with 3 other couples have been taking part in our own ‘Come Dine With Me’ dinner parties. Last week we went to CDWM No: 3…and it was brilliant! The theme was ‘The Oscars’ and I just LOVED getting dressed up. Our hosts had even laid out the red carpet for our arrival, and placed a champagne saucer of pink bubbly in our hands as we walked in. I felt famous, just for a split second.
We were actually first to host a couple of months back and decided to have a Mexican themed night. I had no idea that there would be such a market for Mexican style partyware, but I was amazed at the choice. I think my favorite purchase was the inflatable cactus. The only down side being, it has no further use at all! I mean where does one store an inflatable cactus? It looked fab in our dinning room on the night though. The second CDWM had an Olympic theme which had us all dressed up in red, white or blue and taking part in various party games. Such a great night.
These evenings have been really successful so we have agreed that after the last one next month, we are all going out for a meal together over the summer and then we will be starting CDWM season 2 in the autumn. So I’ve got my thinking cap on already for themes, food and entertainment to make our next one even better than our last one.
I want to create my own dessert next time round, (for extra wow factor) so it’s with thanks to the Alphabake challenge hosted by Caroline Makes and Baking Addict and the We Should Cocoa challenge hosted this month by Laura from How to Cook Good Food and organsied by Chocolette that I have come up with a Toblerone style dessert. It contains the required almonds and chocolate for We should Cocoa, and the ‘H’ ingredient is honey for Alphabake.
I have to say that this was a complete experiment right up to the point of the finishing touches. I had imagined in my head that I would cover the cake with a ganache that would make it look more like a triangle of Toblerone, but I ended up with a chocolate sauce so went with that and I think it worked really well. The final dessert had a gorgeous stickiness to it a bit like a sticky toffee pudding, and served with the ice cream, I was in heaven.
Toblerone Inspired Dinner Party Dessert
What you need:
- 125g butter
- 125g caster sugar
- 1 tbsp honey
- 115g self raising flour
- 25g cocoa
- 1 tbsp milk
- 25g toasted flaked almonds (and a few extra for decoration)
- 70g chopped nougat
- 75g milk chocolate
- 100ml double cream
- Medium sized traybake tin (mine was 27cm x 21cm) greased with the bottom lined
- Serves 8 (based on a few people having a second helping)
What to do
- Pre heat the oven to 180c/350f/gas 4.
- Put butter in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until pale and creamy. Add sugar and beat until fully incorporated. Mixture should have a light and fluffy texture
- Gradually add eggs and honey beating after each addition. Sift in flour and cocoa and add milk then fold in with a large metal spoon
- Once the flour and cocoa is almost folded in add the nougat and almonds and gently mix in
- Pour mixture into the traybake tin, and gently smooth down. Pop in the oven for about 20 mins until a knife comes out clean
- Remove cake from the tin and cool on a rack
- Once cool, cut the cake into 6 even squares. Then cut each square diagonally to make 2 triangles. Find a rectangular shaped plate or tray and line up the triangles as in the pictures
- To make the chocolate sauce, melt the chocolate and cream together in a bowl over simmering water. Mix with a spoon to incorporate and drizzle over the cakes
- Use the reserved almonds to decorate the sides of each triangle and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream
I just love the picture above. Whilst I adore baking, I am also a massive fan of fresh green vegetables and every time I look at this picture my mouth waters. If I concentrate for long enough I can even taste those gorgeous peas and fresh mint. Maybe the reason for this is because it was only last week when I was tasting these ingredients at a Jubilee cooking masterclass organised by Tesco Real Food. I casually dropped that in there, but I can’t tell you how excited I was to be invited. Not only did the evening sound like my perfect night out, but they picked me because they liked the look of my blog, and that is a massive compliment. Think my smile says it all…
So last Wednesday I spent all day getting everything sorted for the babysitter to come at 5.30pm. My day was meticulously planned and during the final hour when I had the most to do my youngest daughter managed to smash a glass with squash in it all over the kitchen and whilst I was clearing that up my 18 month old was scribbling black felt pen on my cream living room curtains. It all got a bit stressful but I managed to catch my train with one minute to spare and thoroughly enjoyed the ride into the big smoke. It did not take me too long to leave my day behind and I got off the train feeling a bit more like Fleur rather than stressed Mummy.
Tesco Real Food is a free foodie magazine that you can pick up at your local Tesco store, and to celebrate the Jubilee they have published a special edition with a selection of Jubilee street party recipes. At the masterclass myself and 4 other bloggers got to cook 5 of the featured recipes. Here’s who did what:
- Chicken tikka drummers (Kerry who writes Multiple Mummy)
- Coronation coleslaw (Tara who writes Hanwell Nest)
- Red, white and blue trifle (Claire who writes Crumbs)
- English breakfast quiche (Michelle who writes Utterly Scrumptious)
- Three pea and wensleydale salad (me :-))
All recipes can be found via this online edition of the Real Food magazine
After a introductory chat with Rosalind Rathouse the founder of The Cookery School where the event was being hosted, we set to work under her watchful eye. This was actually my second visit to The Cookery School having been there the first time to take part in the Katie Fforde Recipe for Love bake off, and I was not disappointed. Rosalind was a fountain of knowledge and casually worked alongside everyone making sure that all 5 dishes were being made in the correct way at the right time. She even showed us how to make fresh custard, a fatless sponge and shortcrust pastry. All of which take literally take 5 mins to make. Rosalind also impressed me by staying cool as a cucumber when I informed her that I was vegetarian. She came up with ways in which a vegetarian version of all the recipes could be made without any hesitation at all.
One of the highlights for me was bringing all our dishes together on the table and tucking in with a glass of wine to wash it all down with. It was a great selection of food. My favorite being the salad, (of course). It was so easy to make and I would never have thought to use so many types of pea in one salad. We actually ended up blanching the little peas just to give a slightly different flavour and texture to the salad which I think was an improvement on the recipe. I liked it so much that I ended up going back to the bowl for another helping more than once! The quiche was also delicious. It had tomato sauce spread on the bottom of the pastry before the egg mixture went in and I though this was a super idea. You could really taste the tomatoes which was a great flavour combination with the egg and mushrooms. Then there was the trifle. Our version had the homemade custard and with all the fresh fruit too, it was simply divine.
I have to say I was very impressed with whole evening and the food especially. When the invite came entitled ‘Jubilee Street Party Cooking Masterclass’ I was expecting a sausage roll to feature somewhere, but not one in sight…thank goodness. I also loved meeting the other bloggers. So refreshing to talk face to face and get to know each other that way.
One final thing to mention is that Tesco Real Food would love people to upload any of their Jubilee street party food to the community section of their website. Anyone who does upload a recipe will go in a draw to win prizes including the weekend cookery course for two at the Ashburton Cookery School, so I thought it was definitely worth mentioning. I shall be uploading my elderflower and white chocolate victoria sponge recipe as soon as I get this blog post published.
With thanks to the lovely Sarah from Cedar, Tesco Real Food and The Cookery School.
P.S. Behind the scenes I’ve been working really hard with my lovely brother Liam as we are creating a new look ‘Homemade by Fleur’ blog. I’m taking the plunge and moving to self hosted and I’m getting myself a little redesign in the process. Look out for the big reveal in a couple of weeks!
I can’t quite believe that my 3rd Bake Club has been and gone already. I’ve had such fun organising them and meeting lots of new people who have a passion for baking just like me. We always end up chattering away and losing track of the time.
This month the theme was ‘Queen’s Jubilee’, which is rather helpful of course as this links in very nicely with the Jubilee Competition that I am running on my blog at the moment. So I’m hoping that a round up of all the cakes might help to give you a little bit of inspiration to get baking. After all a bank holiday is the perfect time to get into the kitchen with the additional day off. As usual my guests completely exceeded my expectations with their creations. All fabulous and suitably regal. So if you are ready, lets indulge.
First up was Christina’s fruit decorated chocolate fudge cake. Christina tells me that she got the recipe from this months Good Housekeeping. She halved the quantities because it said the cake would serve 40!!! As you can see it was still pretty sizable, but a much more manageable. It was chocoholics dream with the rich chocolate sponge and white chocolate buttercream and it tasted amazing.
Then came Abi’s orange flavoured crown cake with fresh fruit, white chocolate and raspberry coulis. Abi explained that she had combined a number of recipes to make the various parts to this cake. The orange taste was incredible. You could really taste fresh orange with every bite. I love the idea of using sponge fingers around the cake too.
Then Vicky brought a Almond and rhubarb loaf cake made with rhubarb from her own garden. Now you can’t get more British than that! The flavours were gorgeous. I could really taste the almond and cinnamon that had been added.
Lastly, there was my white chocolate and elderflower victoria sponge cake. I used a Nigella victoria sponge cake recipe, (which can be found on pg 26 of her cookbook, How to Eat) and added 2 tbsp of elderflower cordial to the cake batter and 3 tbsp of cordial to the fresh cream that I whipped up to fill and top the cake with. I also drizzled melted white chocolate on the cream in the middle of the cake and again in the top. Don’t hold back with the white chocolate, just go for it. The little white chocolate crowns were an idea I got from talented Sew White. You can see a little video on how to make them here. They were great fun to do and I was very pleased with the final cake.
As June is the perfect time to hunt for fresh elderflower you could always make your own cordial. I will be doing this for sure. Karen from Lavender and Loveage has a great recipe over on her blog.
Next Bake Club and New Ideas
I’m feeling more experienced now having run 3 Bake Clubs and it’s been great getting a feel for what people want and how they run. I’ve had a few ideas which I hope will make my Bake Club even better than before. Let me know what you think.
- Running a charity Bake Club twice a year, starting next month. On the 13th June the theme is ‘bake it pink‘ and all entrance fees will be going to a Breast Cancer Care. My very good friend Anna will be coming along to support the evening. Anna found out late 2010 that she had breast cancer and endured an incredibly hard year battling the disease. Her strength and courage has been an ongoing inspiration to me and I tell her on a regular basis that I think she is amazing. She has even signed up to do the London Marathon next year! There will be some time allocated to allow Anna to share her experience and talk about breast cancer awareness on the night.
- Organising a number of talks/presentations for the next few Bake Clubs, as I really think there is room for everyone to learn more from each other and from any special guests that I might get in. I’m not talking anything that will take away too much time, just 20 mins focusing on a particular baking related subject. For example at either the July or August Bake Club one guest has already offered to share her macaroon tips.
- Investigating avenues to donate any left over cake to a local old people’s home if guests do not wish to take all the cake home with them.
How to book for the June charity Bake Club:
Here are all the details you need, but essentially all you need to do is drop me a line at: email@example.com
Bake Club dates for your diary:
- 18th July 2012
- 29th Aug 2012
Both based in Sevenoaks
Finally, the great thing about my white chocolate and elderflower victoria sponge cake is that I can also enter it into two blog challenges this month. Tea Time Treats hosted by Karen from Lavender and Lovage and Kate from What Kate Baked has gone all floral this month so the elderflower in my cake certainly counts there. Also, the Forever Nigella blog challenge created by Maison Cupcake and hosted this month by Nelly’s Cupcakes has a Jubilee theme. So thank you to Nigella for the fantastic and extremely easy sponge recipe which made a fab base to my cake and qualified me to enter Forever Nigella this month.