Happy Birthday Mr D

Felicitations on this glorious hot July day, it is my beloved Mr D’s birthday
The cup cake making the other week put me in the mood for a spot more cake decorating, and despite the soaring heat (for the UK at least) I put the oven on and made a cake.  My kitchen is not the biggest, in fact I could not hold a party because it is too crowded if more than one person is in there at a time.. so you can imagine with the cooker belting out I was not in need of a turkish bath that day! 

In case you were wondering if good taste had finally left me altogether, the colour is Mr D’s favourite football team… as much as I love pastels, it was his cake after all and he is not really a pastel shades kind of a guy. Partick Thistle makes his heart leap so it made sense to make a heart shaped cake in Patick thistle colours…. He knew something was up when he spotted the icing in the shopping trolley last week – but his acting skills are improving since he managed to look both surprised and delighted at the somewhat bumpy cake! 

Of course all was revealed when he cut a slice out poured his favourite sweets, (good taste has well and truly abandoned me – liquorish, cake and icing..an interesting combination!). 
One thing about us English is that our weather is so changeable we don our sun hats as soon as the sun breaks through the twenties… beaches are crowded and picnics abound
so we headed to the beach nearby for picnic and what a picnic! 
Mr D made prawn noodles, cherry tomato tarts and a fruit jelly made with raspberries and pink champagne – delicious! 

The view behind us was gorgeous, you can just make out the South Downs

the beach is not as developed so it is easy to find a quiet peaceful spot

the sea is warm! something rare in these shores!

Happy Birthday Mr D
Enjoy your weekend, ttfn..x

Girlie Birthday Party – tea cake and crafting!

I bought this lovely basket last year and when it had finished flowering I put it in the garden, last week I discovered the bulbs had pushed through the snow so I brushed it off and put it on the kitchen window sill where I can enjoy it while I wash the dishes. It is a lovely reminder that spring is not that far away. 
I had a lovely weekend, after the gym on Saturday I just hung about the house enjoying having very little to do, and on Sunday I had my Girlie birthday party at Lulamaes in Arundel. Its ages since I had a Birthday party but this was a very grown up affair, with cream tea, cakes and crafting. There were ten of us in all and everyone went  home with a lovely felted brooch or pendant they had made. The cafe itself is beautiful, so delightfully decorated and the cakes are home made and sublime. Everything was provided for us and all we had to do was sit down, chat and enjoy ourselves. I went home feeling thoroughly spoilt with some beautiful gifts – definitely a birthday to treasure for a long time to come.  

Coffee Break

I have not abandoned my sewing machine, I have been busy stitching away, but I cannot really share what I am up to as I have to send it to be published! However, I can share with you my little coffee cosy which is published in Sewing World this month. I also wrote about our local sewing group called the Blake Belles.
I was inspired by a small box of ribbons!  This makes a good two or three cups so I needed to keep it warm, but coffee cosy sounds so odd! 
The weekend flew by in warm contentment, I spent most of Saturday playing around with fabric as it was too cold to go anywhere, the snow had settled – the roads icy and hard. 
 I made a fruit cake this week, with a few seeds and nuts in the mixture. I have quite a sweet tooth and so I try to have something on hand that meets my needs but isn’t too calorific, but most importantly is good for me. 
Sleet settled in for the afternoon, but I took the dog for a walk in the wintry conditions but really did not stay out that long – the dog kept on stopping and looking up at me every few moments! 
I made some lovely red pepper soup – I really like the intensity of flavour you get from slow roasting peppers – they are so sweet. I am also trying my hand at bread making, with some success. It is very simple to make the hardest thing is having the patience to wait for it to rise. Like us all it is also about staying warm! 

Simply the best

It is all well and good trying new recipes but my success rate has taken a bit of a bashing recently, after all the festivities and rich food, what  I wanted at the weekend was a touch of simplicity, –  I thought I would go back to an old favourite of mine, Victoria Sponge. Named as I am sure you know, after Queen Victoria. 
This is a foolproof recipe – this cake is made from 6 eggs, simply weigh your eggs, add the same weight of sugar, self raising flour, and softened butter, (not straight from the fridge it won’t work!) a good teaspoon of vanilla essence and a teaspoon of baking powder ( for every three eggs – 6 eggs =2 teaspoons). Mix together to form a soft dropping consistency – using two lined round cake tins – place in a moderate oven for around 20 – 30 minutes. You will know it is cooked because it will shrink slightly around the rim, have a golden colour and will not leave any cake mixture on a cocktail stick that you can push through the centre to check. 
It is important to let the cake cool completely before icing. 
Victoria Sanwich relies on the combination of butter and vanilla, so I always use butter and not margarine, however Stork can be a good alternative for the cake, but I always recommend butter for icing. While I am a great fan of the cupcakes, I prefer my victoria sandwich with just a little Raspberry jam, but you can ice yours with buttercream if you wish. 
What I love about this recipe is that it works for me every time, there is nothing more disappointing than using good ingredients and spending time in the kitchen only to have a soggy or disastrous cake, but this really has stood the test of time even my daughter uses the recipe. 
I love to get out my china tea service and really push the boat out, I feel very Duchess of Bedford! (She invented the concept of Afternoon Tea so I am told!) China tea cups really do make the best cup of tea, not to mention a good full bellied pot!