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Saturday’s beer and cake afternoon tea

This Saturday is the last afternoon tea of 2012 at Cafe Nouveau at Home. As well as the usual afternoon tea of sandwiches and scones, we’ll also be matching four cakes with four different beers. And due to a last minute cancellation we have two places available. To find out more visit the booking link.

Details of next year’s afternoon tea events will be coming soon so if you can’t make December’s event, perhaps I’ll see in 2013!

Finally thank you for supporting my afternoon tea events; and my food, cake and wine exploits!

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End of an era

It’s a sad day when you find out that your favourite shop closes.

Today as I walked past Cook and Bakeware I noticed that the redecoration sign had changed and after a quick search I found the Examiner article from last week that confirmed they had go e into liquidation.

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Cook and Bakeware, or Strawberry Fair as it was previously known, has played a big part in my life since I moved to Huddersfield in 2004. We used them for our wedding list, friends and family have received their christening, birthday, wedding and Christmas gifts from there and colleagues from my last two jobs have bought my leaving gifts from there. I would often just wander in when I had a spare few minutes and I would rarely leave empty handed.

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Nevertheless I’m not overly surprised that they have closed. They seemed to have lost their way a bit recently, feedback about customer service hasn’t always been positive and I think they could have promoted themselves better. I still think Huddersfield needs an independent shop like Cook and Bakeware and I hope that there are enough customers like me that would make it economically viable. Let’s hope that a solution is found soon.

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Last month I found a great challenge called Classic French by Blue Kitchen Bakes. This is the first time I’d come across it. With twitter it’s all about being in the right place at the right time. There are so many great things happen but if you blink you can miss them.

September’s Classic French challenge was choux pastry which I managed to achieve within the month but didn’t get around to posting until now so couldn’t officially enter. And having looked at the entries, there’s some stiff competition.

I used the official choux recipe and decided to fill mine with raspberry cream, top them with white chocolate and serve them on a circle of nougatine. I could probably do with improving the presentation but my husband did give me top marks for taste.

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This month’s challenge is Tarte Tatin – one of my favourite desserts but one I’ve never attempted. Best get practising!

Apples, cider and calvados

My theme for this month’s afternoon tea is apples so I’ve been trying out some different recipes to serve. Today I thought I’d have a go at apple scones.

I’ve made apple scones before but I wanted to try baking them with cider. I wasn’t sure whether it would work but I thought the bubbles in the cider would help with the rise but I didn’t want to substitute all the milk and I had to be careful not to make them too wet.

My solution was to use sour cream instead of milk and then use the cider to give the right consistency.

My husband then came up with the idea of making calvados cream to go with them and randomly I found a jar of apple pie jam in the cupboard.

All in all I think the experiment worked. Let’s hope next week’s afternoon guests agree.

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Making real bread

For those of you who follow me on twitter or have come to one of my secret afternoon teas, you’ll know that I spend a lot of time baking. But I tend to do more sweet baking – cakes and patisserie – and don’t really ever make bread. It’s probably a weakness in my baking reportoire (as Mary and Paul would say!) So when Carole from Love Bread in Calderdale tweeted me about the next bread workshop I didn’t have to think twice.

LoveBread is a not-for-profit social enteprise, set up in January this year that aims to provide real bread for the local community of Brighouse, Rastrick and Calderdale. They bake with schools and community groups to promote the benefits of real bread.

And what a great day it’s been. There were six of us altogether and two very passionate bread experts showing us how to master three different loaves and how to use one to make a focaccia. In Carole’s words ‘you can’t fail with bread … there’s always a solution.’ I think today showed me that bread isn’t time-consuming and there’s nothing to be afraid of.

The sponge made by Carole earlier which gives a depth of flavour and texture

Making the olive oil bread

Olive oil bread ready for the oven

Turning some of the olive oil bread into focaccia

Lunch!

Seeded brown on the rise!

The seeded browns

Making honey and spelt bread

The end results

So if anyone wants to give real bread a try I would definitely recommend LoveBread. The workshop lasts approximately four hours and you make three different types of bread, you get lunch and refreshments which includes delicious homemade cake and you go home with bags of bread as well as all the recipes including the sponge starter. What a great way to spend a Sunday and all for only £20!

Clandestine Cake Club comes to Huddersfield

This Friday will see the first ever Clandestine Cake Club event take place in Huddersfield. We’re taking inspiration from the Huddersfield Food and Drink Festival, which starts on Thursday, for this ‘Festival of Cake’.

Visit the Huddersfield Clandestine Cake Club page for full details and if you fancy an evening of cake on Friday why not book a place. But hurry there are only a few spots left!

Happy Baking!

Cake and wine anyone

Two of my favourite things in life are cake (I bake most days) and wine (I drink it most days) but it’s not so usual to put them both together. The customary combinations are cake and a cuppa, and wine and cheese. However, I think some of the best combinations are sweet cake with fruity wine!

Sunday was my cake and wine matching afternoon where as well as the sandwiches, savoury tarts and scones, guests get to taste four cakes with four different wines. This is the second time that I have done this kind of afternoon tea event and I think it’s one of my favourite themes. Last year we found matches for lemon cake, sticky toffee cupcakes, carrot cake and brownies (see the wine matching page for the wines that worked) so my first task was deciding which cakes to chose this time.

Having done a patisserie course at Betty’s recently (more about that in another post), I decided to use my new skills and make a gateau opera (almond sponge with chocolate and coffee filling.) A sample was immediately dispatched to Rob Hoult from Hoults Wine in Huddersfield for him to examine, investigate, sample and find the winning combination.

I also wanted to make some cakes that people would eat frequently or could quickly bake so I chose vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream and strawberry cake with strawberry jam and buttercream. Due to the high sugar content these weren’t quite so easy to find matches for – Rob and I tried quite a few different combinations! The last cake (and one my Grandma made quite a lot) was an apple and cinnamon crumble cake.

So what worked? Well I think they all did. The hardest pairing was the vanilla cupcake but I think Rob excelled himself and found a perfect match. Here’s what we had:

Strawberry cake: Cono Sur Pinot Noir Sparkling Rosé—Chile

Vanilla cupcakes and vanilla buttercream: Niento Senetiner Torrontes—Argentina (2010)

Apple and Cinnamon crumble cake: Sables and Galets Gewurztraminer—Austria (2009)

Gateau Opera: Bremerton Selkirk Shiraz—Australia (2009)

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Oh yes I also made salted caramel macarons but being so sweet we ended up having a lovely Austrian sweet wine with them!

I’d like to give a huge thanks to Rob Hoult for all his time, his palate and of course the wine. His wine knowledge made sure that all the pairings worked.

And I have a few other cakes that I want to find pairings for so watch this space ….