Blåbär is one of my favourite little spots I’ve found in Putney. Hidden away down a pretty unassuming (read: quite grimy) road off the High Street, it’s somewhere that I could spend a good couple of hours in despite it’s teeny-tiny size.
It’s both a small cafe and a boutique, and I’m not lying when I say I could buy literally everything they stock. From gorgeous candles to the softest blankets, stylish light fittings to cushions that are just so me, there’s always something new to add to my wishlist.
And of course, it helps that their menu is on point too. So far I’ve only popped in (possibly far too often) for a drink and a sweet treat, but it’s still made it’s way up to the top of my list in Putney. Their hot chocolate is quite simply one of the best I’ve ever had. It’s not thick and super-chocolatey (because this gal isn’t a huge fan of hot chocolate like that!), it’s light, frothy, milky and rich without being overwelming. But it’s the cinnamon buns that *really* bring me to this place. Termed “possibly the best in Putney,” they’re certainly the best I’ve tried – and that includes my homemade ones! Soft without being doughy, sticky but not sickly, and intensely spiced. The only other thing I can say is that you should really get yourselves to Putney and try one!
Now I’ve just got to head back and try their brunch menu. The vegan pancake stack sounds all kinds of delicious…
I mentioned a while ago that one of my resolutions for 2017 was to try each month’s Cronut flavour. I know, I’m pretty pleased with that resolution too! Most of the time I tend to just pick up a Cronut or two (because I can’t imagine I’d have a very happy fiance if I didn’t share the experience) to takeaway, but when Mummy B visited a while back I decided it was high time for a cake marathon.
There were a few items on the menu at Dom A’s patisserie that I knew didn’t travel well and that I’d wanted to try since first visiting a while back, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity. Camera in tow and an empty stomach, we rolled up ready for sugar overload.
First up, it’s not the cheapest of places. Two drinks and 3 sweet treats was quite a hard hit to my card (considering nothing lasted long!). Secondly, expect to queue. Every visit I’ve queued, from a rather nice 5 minutes to over half an hour. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure why as there are plenty of staff around – I have a sneaky suspicion it’s to stop the seating area being overloaded with an influx of people and a lack of tables. Either way, once you’ve eventually chosen your treats (another advantage of the long queue!) there isn’t usually a wait for a table too.
Drinks wise, we went for a hot chocolate (me) and English breakfast tea (for Mummy B). I missed a trick with the hot chocolate and just ordered the ‘ordinary’ one, so didn’t get the excitement of the ‘Blossoming Marshmallows’ – as always I’m using this as an excuse to go back. That said, my hot chocolate was delicious – smooth, rich, and chocolatey without being thick and cloying. It was nicely unsweetened too, giving a caffeine-like hit.
And now it’s time for the important bit, the food.
Obviously there was the Cronut. Because I’m a bad blogger, we actually visited wayyyy back in January when the flavour of the month was Lemon Verbana. It was just the right balance of zingy and sweet, with a good enough lemon kick to make you suck in your cheeks. As with all of Dom A’s Cronuts, the pastry was both moist and flaky, buttery but not overly rich. Both me and W have tried other patisseries’ versions, and I have to say nowhere else has managed to get the balance of indulgence and lightness just right.
Next up was the Frozen Smore, something I’d been looking forward to since Jordan posted about it agessss ago. This is quite possibly the most difficult thing I’ve ever tried to eat (and impossibly to do in a lady-like manner, especially when sharing!), but it is worth the effort. Perfectly toasted marshmallow, golden and with no char in sight. Creamy ice-cream. A touch of chocolate from the wafer crisp. This was the perfect marriage of temperatures and textures and it tasted amazing. Surprisingly not over-sweet either…
And finally. Last but not least. Our favourite of the bunch, and a recipe exclusive to London (I believe). The Liquid Caramel & Peanut Butter Mousse Cake could possibly be one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. First off, it’s so pretttyyyy. Just look at it! The finish was so shiny I could almost see my reflection in it. It’s even attractive on the inside, with a perfectly symmetrical finish that wholly appealed to my mathematical and slightly OCD nature. It’s sweet but not sickly. The mouse isn’t at all rich, but airy and light. The peanut butter flavour comes through, as does the caramel, and again there’s the slightest hint of chocolate. I could have eaten several of these – and I probably would have done had we not snagged the last one.
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Unfortunately for my bank balance, we’ve been back several times since. My goal to try each month’s Cronut is the main driver, although sadly February’s offering was a tad disappointing. Raspberry & Orange Blossom sounded like a great combo, but unfortunately I found it all a little over-sweet and one dimensional. March’s Rhubarb on the other hand…a dream! I’m excited for the rest of the year’s flavours… #bestresolutionever
Have you been to Dominique Ansel’s bakery? Have you tried a Cronut yet?
This is banana bread like you’ve never had before. Banana bread on steroids. Banana bread so deliciously sticky and gooey it nearly has to be eaten with a spoon, so much so it’s definitely more cake than bread.
It’s also one of my favourite bakes of all time.
Inspired by this GoodFood recipe, it’s sweet, squidgy (love that word!) and crunchy all at once, it’s extremely easy and pretty quick to make. The only difficulty and time-consuming bit is chopping the toffees – and if you use fudge instead it’s a whole lot easier. I found the best way to chop actual toffees was to warm a knife over a pan of boiling water (I was doing mashed potato for dinner at the same time!), then chop under a tea-towel to stop toffee shattering everywhere. Then everything pretty much goes into one bowl, gets a quick mix, thrown into a loaf tin, scattered with nuts and toffee and baked. The result is a pretty good looking cake, even when your toffee does sink right to the bottom.
200g mashed ripe banana (around 2 bananas – I tend to buy bananas in bulk, ripen excessively then slice and freeze)
100g/4oz toffee yogurt (I use MullerLight – just under a full pot, so the chef gets the leftovers!)
100g light brown sugar
1&½ tsp baking powder
75g pecan nuts
150g chewy toffees
Roughly chop the pecans and toffees, then set aside. Mix together the bananas, eggs, butter, toffee yogurt and sugar, until well combined. Fold the flour and baking powder into the mixture, then fold in around three-quarters of the pecan nuts.
Spoon the mixture into a 900g loaf tin (greased and lined), before sprinkling on the remaining nuts and all of the toffees. Bake for around an hour at 150C until loaf risen and no longer soggy in the middle (just a skewer to test!). Cool in the tin- trust me, molten toffee is not a good thing to get on your fingers! Slice up when fully cool – and just blast in the microwave for a few seconds to warm up if serving with ice-cream.
I find this cake perfect for so many occasions. Stick in some candles and you’ve got one of my favourite birthday cakes. Slice up and it makes a sell-out charity bake. It’s delicious served warm with ice-cream, and I’ve had it (with and without yoghurt) for breakfast too – it’s “banana bread” after all!
Another backdated Bake Along, this time from bread week. Now, I make a lot of bread. In fact I’m determined by the end of the year to eat as little bought bread as possible (my weakness = M&S Baguettes). Between us me and W make a damn good white loaf, decent bagels, wholemeal rolls and even pitta breads. We’re also currently attempting sourdough which is an interesting and ever-so frustrating process.
What we’d never tried before, however, was a sweet loaf. Inspired by Rav’s creation on GBBO (I was a little disappointed by him, I was expecting some inventive vegan recipes but apparently not!) this sweet loaf is gentle spiced, rich with chocolate and textured from hazelnuts. As it’s a two-strand braid it doesn’t require any complex plaiting skills (neither of us was up to that!), and a lot of time is spent waiting for it to prove, making it perfect for lazy Sundays – bread making is perfect for those days where you snuggle up with a film.
This Chocolate & Hazelnut Spiced Loaf is moist with a tender crumb, the crust is soft and sweet from the glaze, and the whole thing is fragrant with cardamon. It certainly made the flat smell good!
1½ tsp yeast
275g white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground green cardamom seeds
50g very soft butter, plus extra for greasing
60g dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
30g chopped hazelnuts
1 egg yolk (we used the white to make a whisky sour cocktail…), to glaze
125g sugar & 110ml water – for the sugar syrup
For the dough, combine the milk, half the sugar and the yeast in a jug. Add the egg and lightly beat to combine. In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, cardamom and the remaining sugar until well combined. Add the milk mixture and combine. Knead in the bowl until you have a smooth dough – we found it to be quite a sticky dough, so cheated and popped it into our Kitchen Aid with dough-hook attachment.
Rub about 10g of the butter onto a clean work surface. Tip the dough out and knead in another 20g butter until well combined and the dough forms a smooth ball. Transfer the dough to a lightly buttered bowl and cover with cling film. Prove in a warm place until doubled in size, whilst you make the glaze. Heat the caster sugar and 112ml/3¾fl oz water in a saucepan. When the sugar has dissolved, set it aside to cool – this is the sugar syrup.
Tip the risen dough out onto the work surface and roll out into a rectangle approximately 26x35cm. Spread the remaining butter on the dough and sprinkle over the chocolate and hazelnuts. Roll it up like a sausage and pinch to seal. Slice the dough lengthways to make two strands, then pinch together at one end and tightly coil together. Transfer to a loaf tin, cover and put in a warm place to prove again until doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 200C.
Whisk the egg yolk with 2 teaspoons water then brush onto the proved loaf. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden-brown – if you tap the bottom of the loaf (out of the tin) it should sound hollow. Leave to cool a little in the tin, then brush the sugar syrup onto the loaf. Remove from the tin and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
We found that this took a lot of work, but it was worth it. I loved it served slightly warm with a cuppa, whilst W really enjoyed it for breakfast. I imagine it would be great toasted and spread with Nutella too! I did think that the cardamon flavour in ours was a little too strong, so I’ve reduced it in the amounts above – next time I’d also be tempted to add a little grated orange zest just to add a bit of sharpness.
Have you been baking recently? Who was your favourite GBBO contestant of 2016?
A bit of a Canterbury institution, I can’t believe it took me four years to get to Tiny Tim’s. So many people have recommended it to me, via word of mouth, here on the blog, at university. It’s almost embarrassing that next month I graduate, and very nearly did so without visiting this charming little tearoom.
Luckily, myself and housemates decided to celebrate end-of-exams with a girly few hours of gossip, tea and sugar. Arriving seemingly before the rush (as soon we were seated, an out-of-door queue for tables formed), we oggled the massive slabs of cake on display, slightly over-awed at the scones the size of our faces. The good one of us ordered soup and a single slice of cake. The other two had already decided on the High Tea. No prizes for guessing that I wasn’t that sensible person…
I’m not too sure whether this is an example of a traditional High Tea (or even if such a thing exists!) but a Tiny Tim’s High Tea is simply an afternoon tea, with the finger sandwiches and savouries being replaced by two buttered crumpets topped with a poached egg.
My experience of afternoon tea has always found the savoury element a bit disappointing, so this option sounds perfect – and indeed I found it far more enjoyable. The crumpets (though I doubted they were homemade) tasted fresh, were grilled to a slight crisp, soaked in butter and topped with a perfectly poached egg. I thought a heavily buttered crumpet couldn’t be topped – runny yolk filling the holes somehow manages to make it even better. A combination I’ve dreamed of ever since.
Advised to eat from the bottom up, the next ‘course’ was the scones. I’ll put this out there now, I’m not a huge fan of scones. I find them too often dry, heavy and just a bit boring. Other than my mum’s, I’ve never fully enjoyed a scone – but these were good ones. Still warm from the oven, so much so that the clotted cream (I’m a cream before jam kinda gal!) melted into them. The jam wasn’t too sweet, and actually tasted of strawberry, and the whole thing was light with a crunchy exterior. So good, but saving room for the final tier, I only ate half…
And it was well worth saving the room for – without a doubt my favourite part of an afternoon tea is the pastries. Here we had a cream-filled shortbread (buttery and crisp), a tart seemingly filled with apricot jam topped with a meringue (sticky, fruity, with a perfectly dry meringue), and a brownie (gooey, rich, one of the best examples of a brownies I’ve eaten outside of my own kitchen).
Service was friendly and quick, although I would have liked a refill of the teapot – we only managed to squeeze two cups each out, which I thought was a little mean. The atmosphere was wonderful, with enough background noise to chat whilst still feeling relaxed, and an old chap playing the piano to add to the experience. I’ll definitely be heading back before graduation to sample their epic looking coffee cake – I only wish I’d visited sooner!
Are you a fan of Afternoon Tea? I’d love some London-based recommendations to add to my list!
With everyone doing ‘veganary’ and the usual ‘new year new me’ this recipe perhaps is a little out of place right now. However I’m a very big believer in the 80:20 rule – so a slice of cake is by no means out of the question. In fact, a life without cake is not a life I’d want to lead. Especially when said cake is this one, complete with peanut butter frosting…
Speaking of the frosting, this stuff is divine. Like, squeeze the icing bag straight into my mouth yummy. (I definitely didn’t do that). It’s creamy, sweet with a salty kick, and has just a hint of the cloyiness that peanut butter gives. It’s also super easy to make, no more hassle than a standard buttercream. And it’s just YUM.
The cake is also pretty good. Based on a super simple recipe I shared ages ago (that I won’t link – the pictures are horrific) it’s rich, almost brownie-like, and chocolately without being heavy. The perfect partner for the frosting.
Sharing this cake (which almost knocks my favourite peanut butter cake off top spot!) also coincides with a rather exciting time – the launch of bi-monthly Bake Boxes*. I’ve never been one for subscription boxes, turns out I was super-excited to open this one. For £14.99 per box you get at least £40 worth of bits and bobs; definitely worth it in my opinion. I loved the style of the box, though it’s debatable how much the theme of ‘Spots and Stripes’ was reflected in all the items. Even so I reckon a subscription would be the perfect gift for a keen baker. I’m very tempted to carry on with mine!
Fun fact: this post was meant to be a bundt cake made with the item in the box. This was an epic fail due to the cake sticking dramatically – so bundt cake recipe still to come!
For the frosting: 225g smooth peanut butter, 110g butter, 225g icing sugar, splash of milk
For the cake, the weight of the ingredients depend on the weight of the eggs. Simply weigh the eggs in their shells, then weigh out that amount of flour, butter and sugar. Pop around 75g of the flour back and replace with cocoa powder, and spoon back a tablespoon of sugar.
Start the cake by creaming your butter and sugar together. I always find it easier to beat the butter a little first, and of course doing it by hand means calories burnt = more cake later. Beat in the eggs one by one, before sifting in the flour and cocoa. Thin out with a little milk, then smooth into greased/lined sandwich tins and bake at 170C for 15-20 minutes.
Once the cake is completely cool, make the frosting. Simply beat the peanut butter and butter together until creamy, then gradually add the icing sugar, beating inbetween each addition. Add a splash of milk to make it a spreadable consistency, then use to sandwich the cakes together and smooth over the top.
Or get your fiancé to show off his piping skills…
This is pretty much my perfect cake – easy and quick to make, no fancy ingredients. And there’s no better combination that chocolate and peanut butter! In fact this would make the perfect Valentine’s bake…
Are you a fan of the chocolate-peanut butter combo? Would you be interested in a baking subscription box?
I’ve already mentioned it a couple of times on here, but I LOVE Brighton. The atmosphere, the unique shops, the vintage-y house bits and the FOOD. In December I had THE most delicious sandwich, but when me and Libby had a girls day out a few weeks ago when went one step further to damaging my diet. Actually, two steps…
Lunch was the Gourmet Burger Kitchen, and my first experience of the chain. I have to say I much prefer Bryon, but it was pretty yummy. The burger was a touch dry, improved with the addition of gooey American cheese and plenty of mustard, and for shoestring fries they were rather moreish. My drink was fab and great value, I highly recommend the elderflower fizz. But burger-wise, Byron blows this place out of the water. And now I’m craving a burger…
Come the end of the afternoon we were starting to crave cake, and stumbled across the cutest little teashop. Catwalk Cakes do amazingly themed wedding cakes, but also tasty afternoon tea-style snacks. They also have a good range of gluten-free and vegan choices too. We shared a huge pot of tea, and ordered a gigantic slice of cake each.
Libby had the rainbow cake – and multicoloured it certainly was! This was probably the best rainbow cake I’ve tried as despite all the colouring it wasn’t heavy or dry. It was extremely sweet though!
I plumped for the Vegan Blueberry Cake, and am desperate to know what they put in their icing – it was so buttery and creamy! The blueberries gave it a lovely tang, they were sharp and fruity, and the whole thing was pleasantly moist. I’m not always a cake person, but if all cakes were like this I’d be converted!
High on sugar we stumbled back to the train station. I might have only lost 2 pounds in weight that week (and many more from my purse in Boots that day…) but it was worth it!
Are you a fan of an afternoon cake? Where’s your favourite spot?
This was just meant to be a Red Velvet cake, but it came out dense, fudge-y and very Brownie like – so it’s a Brownie cake. To be honest it’s not even particularly red (damn cheap food colouring!) so you could leave the ‘red’ part out and just make a delicious brownie cake…
I found this recipe particularly easy to make up – no idea why as I’m usually a bit more cautious with baked goods. At dinner time I can happily throw in this, add a bit of that, and feel confident knowing that it won’t be (too) disgusting. To be honest baking scares me in that it is more of an exact science. But I managed this, it worked well, and whilst I won’t use red food colouring in it again, it makes a damn delicious cake. The frosting was pretty yummy too – fresher than normal buttercream, but still sweet and indulgent. The sugar hearts were my nod to Valentine’s – there’s absolutely no need for them, but even I’m impressed with how pretty my Valentine’s cake looks!
For the icing: 100g very soft butter, 200g cream cheese, 500g icing sugar, and a drop of vanilla extract
Beat the butter until light, then add the sugar and vanilla extract. Keep beating until light and fluffy – I find beating the butter on it’s own first makes this a lot easier. Beat in the eggs a bit at a time.
Mix the food colouring with the yoghurt, and beat this into the cake mixture. Stir the flour in gradually, followed by the cocoa powder.
Pour into two (lined and greased – thanks W!) deep sandwich tins and bake at 175C for about 30 mins, or until a skewer comes out clean.
Whilst the cake is cooling, make the icing. Beat the butter until light, then beat in the cream cheese. It’s really, really, really important to beat the butter first – I didn’t, and hence had little buttery lumps throughout the icing. Gradually beat in the icing sugar, and then the vanilla extract. Keep beating until frosting-like…then use it to sandwich your cooled cakes together, and decorate the top and sides.
Add heart-shaped sprinkles if you wish! Then cut a big slab, make a cuppa, snuggle under a blanket, grab a book and enjoy. And remember, for a post-Valentine’s treat, there’s the Hungry House’s promotion currently running, whereby any takeaway order placed on hungryhouse of £15 or more will bag you a movie or TV show from CinemaNow. Me and W treated ourselves last friday (thanks Hungry House!) to a delicious curry followed by The Sex Tape – a hilarious and light-hearted film.
Disclaimer: I was provided with some baking goods as part of the Baking Mad campaign, which I genuinely used in this recipe. All opinions are my own, as always, and no money exchanged hands.
Have your ever made a Red Velvet cake? Baked anything recently? I’m on the lookout for healthier bakes so send me links!
Trying to make the post of our weekends together is getting a little more difficult for myself and boyfriend. He’s entering a busy period at university, lots of project deadlines, lots of group meetings, and I’m undergoing a relatively large project at work. If we know we’ve got a busy weekend, we’ll agree to go out for just a few hours with no distractions. The time means we focus on each other rather than anything else (an important thing in a long distance relationship!), and generally pack those hours with fun and (usually) yummy food.
Last time I saw him we decided to head into the countryside (along with our good friend Howard) for a little afternoon snack at a local ‘garden centre.’ Beckworth Emporium is so much more than a typical garden centre, with a pretty cool farm shop, lots of gifts, the usual plants, and an impressive eating area. I’m desperate to go for afternoon tea one day, but they look huge. I struggled with the relatively small one I had earlier in the year, so I reckon this would defeat me!
I ordered their Ultimate Hot Chocolate with Cream and Marshmallows, alongside their Chocolate & Salted Caramel cake. It might have been chocolate overload, and I might have been on a sugar high for the next few hours, but I have no regrets. Their hot chocolates is one of the best around. Not too rich, but chocolatey and none of the powdery nonsense in the bottom of the cup. The cake was pretty special too. Moist, rich, with a sweet icing just offset enough by the saltiness of the caramel. A huge and generous slice too, you certainly get your monies worth at Beckworth!
The boys had tea and scones. I’m not really a scone person, but they had no complaints. There was the usual debate over whether to jam them cream, or cream then jam – any advice on this?!
I’m hoping to head back to Beckworth Emporium closer to Christmas – they have an ice rink, with incredibly pricing skating lessons. I’ve always loved ice skating, but have next to no confidence, so I’m thinking of going for a lesson or two in the hope of stopping me from holding onto the side. Ice skating followed by hot chocolate, sounds good to me! Now a cheeky request- I’d love it if you could vote for me in the 2015 UK Blog Awards. I’m lucky enough be in the Food, Young Bloggers (not too sure where this entry is) and Lifestyle categories! And if you vote for me I’ll post out cake… 😉
Where’s your favourite place to go for ‘tea’ and cake?
I love a classic cake. There’s something so comforting about it’s plain flavour, and it’s simplicity to make. No fancy sugarwork, no strenuous beating or mixing. Just a simple mix, a few minutes in the oven, a quick slice and swipe of jam, and it’s ready. These mini Victoria sponges are a cute take on the absolute classic recipe, and they honestly couldn’t be easier. Just be careful to watch the oven like a hawk as they burn slightly easier.
I have a special mini cake tin, but you could easily use a muffin tin. I also skipped away from the traditional jam only, adding whipped cream. I’m the one with a really muscley right arm, and a skinny left one…
250g very soft butter
250g caster sugar (you shouldn’t use granulated here as it makes the sponge speckly with a funny texture)
4 large eggs
250g self raising flour
4 tablespoons of milk
A super simple sponge based on Nigella’s recipe from How to be a Domesticated Goddess; cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, with a spoon of flour in between each. Then fold in the flour, and thin with milk.
Pour into your greased and lined mini cake tins (or cupcake cases) and bake at 170C for 15 minutes. Of course, you could always make a larger cake; just increase the cooking time to around 25 minutes. Cool, then slice in half and fill. Enjoy with a good cup of tea.
Talking of tea. I went to a really stereotypical greasy spoon the other day. You know the type – full English is £4 and comes in two minutes. All lovely, however when I asked for a pot of English Breakfast tea I was taken to a shelf of all very posh herbal teas. When I told the waiter/chef/cleaner man that just standard tea would be great, if they have any, a dusty pot of tetley was produced from a cupboard. Why?! Nothing is wrong with normal tea, it’s not something to hide away!
Anyway, tea rant over! What’s your favourite classic cake?