Another weekend and another excuse to cause chaos in the kitchen. This time, inspired by The Great British Bake Off, a BBC Food recipe was adapted to create a dozen gorgeous Black Forest Cup Cakes. Instead of using black cherries in kirsch we used more of our homegrown cherry crop, which had been cooked and frozen, and added some plum liqueur.
Black Forest Cup Cake
- 125g/4.5oz butter, softened
- 175g/6oz caster sugar
- 2 free-range eggs
- 200g/7oz self-raising flour
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 125ml/4fl oz milk
- 100g/3.5oz dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids), melted, plus extra to serve
- 1 x 360g/12.5oz jar black cherries in kirsch
- 1/2 tsp cornflour or arrowroot mixed with a little water to make a smooth paste
- 300ml/10fl oz double cream, lightly whipped
- Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3. Line a 12-hole muffin tray with paper cases.
- Beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until light and creamy. Gradually add the eggs, one at a time, until well combined. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder and mix until well combined. Fold in the milk and melted chocolate.
- Spoon or pile the mixture into the muffin cases and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until well risen and springy to the touch.
- Remove the cakes from the tin and set aside to cool on a cooling rack.
- Drain the cherries in a sieve collecting the kirsch in the bowl below. Pierce the cakes with a skewer and carefully pour about a teaspoon of the kirsch over each cake.
- Heat the kirsch and cornflour paste in a small saucepan until just boiling. Remove the pan from the heat and beat until thickened.
- Using a small knife make a well in the top of each cake by removing a disk of the cake.
- Pipe or spoon a swirl of cream onto the cakes, top with a few cherries and drizzle with the thickened kirsch. Just before serving, grate over some chocolate.
For more BBC recipes go to www.bbc.co.uk/food or visit http://thegreatbritishbakeoff.co.uk
I awoke at the crack of dawn this morning to attend the twice monthly Sunbury Antiques Market at Kempton Park Race Course. I was fortunate that at 6am the sun was shining and with the doors due to open at 6.30am I was eager to get up and out. I made good time and arrived at around 7.30am by which time the car park was full to overflowing.
My main reason for coming was to look out for the many continental stallholders that are reputed to arrive at the market with their own Regional speciality offerings such as French farmhouse furniture, Belgian chandeliers and industrial pieces. It seems that many collectors have stopped visiting the French flea markets in favour of this particular venue and I was curious to see for myself what was on offer. ￼
There was certainly evidence of a French influence amidst the vast collection of antique goods that included furniture, ceramics, kitchenallia, vintage fashion, garden ephemera, clocks, paintings, cameras, toys and books but nothing that especially took my fancy. I had hoped to find some French linen but was disappointed in that respect. ￼
Apparently, the first Sunbury Antiques Market at Kempton Park took place in 1979 and has gradually evolved into the largest and longest running twice-monthly market in the UK and is now recognised as one of Europe’s premier antiques markets. With well over 700 stallholders it is aimed at attracting not only general collectors, but prop buyers, and interior and exterior designers alike. It also attracts a large number of overseas visitors from America and the Far East.
You’ll be pleased to know that although I couldn’t find what I was looking for I didn’t leave empty handed. I was lucky to stumble across a stall selling a selection of F&B Estate Eggshell paint at a reduced price so I am now the proud owner of 750ml of Nancy’s Blushes which I needed to paint a pine blanket box. To plan your visit to Sunbury Antiques Market visit www.sunburyantiques.com
It was another busy weekend. A lovely shopping trip to Ikea on Saturday; a bit of furniture renovation on Sunday; followed by a tidy up of the garden before the weekend came to an end. I had quite a long list of items to buy at Ikea. I only tend to go once a year and head straight for the Marketplace to stock up on everyday essentials such as crockery and linen.
This year, high on my list, was a vase which would be suitable for my home grown dahlias. Before I even reached that section of the store I stumbled across this lovely white china jug in the kitchenware section and decided that it was the perfect height and width for the flowers.
Ikea jug and home grown dahlias
My next port of call was the linen section as I needed to buy a new quilt set for the children’s bedroom. I learnt, to my cost, some years ago that bedding at Ikea is not a standard UK size and therefore a standard quilt case does not do the job. That aside I love the colourful characters and designs of the children’s bedding and was pleased to pick up a set that I know will be adored.
Ikea single size quilt case
Lastly, I picked up some grey linen cushion covers and curtains. It is my intention to use these as a neutral backdrop in my dining room to which I can add and subtract colours as I wish. Currently, I am looking to add some pinky/red hues to the otherwise yellow, grey and white scheme to give it a bit of autumnal warmth. The dahlias are the first step soon to be followed by some colourful scatter cushions and framed photographs.
Ikea curtains and cushion covers
Go to www.ikea.com for more inspiring ideas
Picnic rugs and children’s crafts
I was delighted when I discovered there’s a Tiger on the High Street as I can now pop in there during my lunch break. Selling everything from cleaning pads to colouring books; picture frames to picnic rugs; washing bags to waste paper bins.
A cacophony of colour whacks you over the head when you walk into the store. In my opinion easily a rival to Ikea’s Marketplace but with emphasis an on kitchen and bathroom essentials, decorative home items, and lots and lots of crafts and gifts for kids and adults alike. Certainly a great place to pick up kids’ party gifts and novelty items for the grownups without travelling to an out of town venue.
A cacophony of colour
To find you local shop go to www.tigerstores.co.uk/ .
Tiger started in 1995 in Copenhagen and has since developed from a modest outlet to a recognised chain with 400+ stores across 21 European countries.
On my travels today I was struck by this display of alphabet coat hooks and mugs in M&S. It looks as though whoever was tasked with putting the merchandise together had a lot of fun.
I particularly liked the coat hooks and mugs. I thought they would make wonderful personalised gifts at a cost of £6 each. Go to http://www.marksandspencer.com and search “alphabet” to see full selection.
Alphabet coat hooks
Buffalo Mozzarella With Fig, Pine-Nut & Parsley Salsa
Okay Okay Okay. I know all my recent posts have been about food, but I have spent these glorious summer months making the most of the garden and entertaining whenever possible. I love menu planning and designing a table setting, using seasonal homegrown produce and a sympathetic colour scheme.
I found the recipe for this quick and delicious starter in the May edition of House & Garden and tried it out for the very first time at the weekend. As I was on a tight timescale sourcing the burrata and balsamic pearls was a challenge too far. Even a visit to a local Waitrose did not prove fruitful and I suspect on-line shopping is the only solution in this instance. With this in mind I used the suggested alternatives of buffalo mozzarella and balsamic glaze, both sourced from Sainsburys. I also cheated and bought chopped parsley.
- 75g pine nuts
- 40g bunch of flat-leaf parsley
- 175g soft dried figs
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic pearls, or balsamic glaze
- 3 burrata or buffalo mozzarella
- Place the pine nuts in a frying pan and toast over a low heat for 4-5 minutes until golden brown. Place in a mixing bowl and leave to cool.
- Roughly chop the dried figs and stir in the parsley and pine nuts along with the olive oil and balsamic glaze. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- To serve, place the burrata or mozzarella on a serving plate and scatter over the fig, nut and parsley salsa. Add a few salad leaves and ciabatta bread.
This proved to be a popular and tasty starter that was followed by roast rib of beef and Yorkshire pudding, with roast potatoes, butter roast parsnips, homegrown peas, carrots and runner beans, and gravy. Dessert was a choice of homemade cherry pie served with ice cream, or hot chocolate brownie with fresh strawberries & cream. Yummy!
Totally sated we retired to the summer house where I let my attention turn to the design projects which I have scheduled for the winter months.