Monthly Archives: March 2013

  • Tate and Lyle Taste Experience launch - The Cake Hotel

    You have no idea just how excited I was to receive an invitation to Tate and Lyle's launch of The Cake Hotel, an edible house made with their new Taste Experience range of sugars.  Oh my goodness, this was definitely a 'clear the diary' day.

    So last week I arrived in Soho outside this lovely Victorian House eager to see what it was all about.  Wow, just wow, each room was dedicate to one of their new sugars.  Now, I've always been a fan of Tate and Lyle and if any one reading this has been on any of my courses or has my APP, Cupcakes, Muffins and Afternoon Tea you'll know I rave on about sugar made from sugar cane being massively superior to the stuff made with sugar beet which shouldn't even be allowed into the same category of food substances.

    Those clever people at Tate and Lyle have created a new sugar crystal size with enables more flavour to be carried per grain, improve baking performance by creating more air bubbles for improved 'creaming' (again a point I harp on about incessantly) and increasing the ability to hold moisture and preventing our lovely cakes and scones from drying out quickly.

    Each sugar has distinct tasting notes to help identify the best use, these have been created by the fabulous Lorna Wing who's also come up with some amazing recipes.

    I could keep going on about sugar all day, but I really should talk about the fun stuff, the edible hotel.  This was put together by 14 cake artists taking more than 2,000 hours to bake and 900 hours to decorate and using more than 600 kilos of Taste Experience sugar - it's cake, of course it's a sugar overload, der! Let me take you an journey through the rooms....starting with a balustrade of macaroons

    Golden Syrup Sugars Golden Syrup Sugars

    British Inspired Golden Syrup sugar room

    Gorgeous bowls of sugar roses and peonys, sugar teaspoons, a doughnut croque en bouche, brandy snap bowls and the amazing logo of Tate and Lyle's Golden Syrup the lion and bees in a cake, deliciously syrupy.



    Guyanese Inspired Demerara sugar room

    I've got to say that this was my favourite, a life sized sea turtle cake on a bed of sugar sand with duck eggs that had been blown and filled with cake mix so when you broke them there was cake inside, absolutely lifelike, just beautiful.

    Caribbean Room Treasure Chest Caribbean Room Treasure Chest

    Caribbean inspired LIght Muscovado sugar room

    My son loved photos of this, Pirate's of the Caribbean in cake, this treasure chest was beautiful, gleaming and glittering in gold and silver complete with gingerbread swords and dubloons, the chest itself is cake and totally edible.



    Barbados inspired Dark Muscovado sugar room


    The shells are all cakes, so realistic that I wanted to touch them to make sure but was too worried that I'd break them, so delicate and pretty.  The rich rum soaked fruit cake was to die for.






    Mediterranean Inspired Light Brown Soft sugar room


    It was a hard choice between this room and the turtle for my favourite and the meringue rug blew me away, made from 1,080 rainbow coloured meringue shells with cake cushions on the bed, a bath

    full of toffee popcorn, toast hearts with homemade jam, chocolate cake truffle bath bombs, edible book,


    ooooh just amazing.  OK I know I'm going on a bit about this being pretty good, but it was.






    Mayan Inspired Golden Caster sugar room

    In the deepest darkest depths of the basement, it actually felt like going into a Mayan pyramid and in the centre of the dark room, lit with a single light ...... a Mayan pyramid made of fudge with a Miss Cakehead lifelike edible heart and chocolate skull alongside, loving the hearts.


    Easter Island South Pacific inspired Golden Granulated sugar room


    Eating the brains of a giant Easter Island statue was a little weird but the chocolate cake was moist and yummy if a little decadent but then, it's cake, it should be.




    The credit for the work goes to the following amazing cake artists:

    Miss Cakehead as curator, Sarah Hardy Cakes, Cake for Breakfast, Sarah King, Miss Insomnia Tulip, Nevie Pie Cakes, Cakeadoodledoo, Carina's cupcakes, Conjurer's Kitchen, All Mine Patisserie, Rosalind Miller, Dan P Carter, Juliet Sears, Two Little Cats Bakery and of course, Lorna Wing, James Whiteley at Tate and Lyle and the team at Mischief PR







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  • Chicken Mole

    This is my version of Chicken Mole, adapted from a lovely one in BBC Good Food's magazine, I've changed it and made it a little easier but just as good. I've made this for 6 people plus leftovers which are great served with jacket potatoes, tortilla wraps or warmed pittas with salad for lunch or an easy supper the next day.
  • Gather and Hunt - Foodie Heaven in Marlow

    I love Marlow, a lovely town by the River Thames with a good choice of restaurants and cafes and for special treats a glass of champagne down by the river at The Compleat Angler.  The one downside about Marlow is the lack of a decent butchers, fishmongers and nice smelly foodie shops (OK well there is Waitrose and that's lovely but it doesn't really count as you can be in and out with no idea of which town you're in).

    What I mean is the kind of foodie shop that you're drawn to because it 'looks interesting' and then HAVE to enter because the smells that are emanating from the door are so tantalising that you NEED to find out what's inside.  Your eyes tempt your

    Gather and Hunt in Marlownose guides you and then, suddenly you are off the street and into an enchanted wonderland of food.  Welcome to Gather and Hunt.

    Martina Hunt is the passion behind this delicious shop that fits in so well into Marlow that it's difficult to believe that it hasn't been there forever.  Almost too good to be true, like Marlow can't believe that Gather and Hunt has recently arrived and doesn't want to admit that it's not been there for years.  It's the kind of foodie shop that makes such strong memories in childhood that you have to revisit when you grow up.  For us grown ups it's an excuse to have an impromptu dinner party, just because the selection of goodies is so divine I challenge you to leave empty handed.  If you really can't decide then they will put together a hamper, one of their specialities, either off the shelf or bespoke.

    One of the best touches (apart from the food) is the fabulous customer service from Martina and her staff, always on hand to make sure food shopping is fun, suggesting favourite products and gently coaxing customer's tastes to match new delicacies and products that they may like.  Products are sourced locally where possible; Milk comes from Lacey's Farm in Lane End, meat comes from Town Farm in Bisham, Brustressed-562x600ce from The Black Pig in Hambleden Valley makes the sausages.  Martina and her team know the stories and the people behind all the products and it's all interwoven with delicious tastings  and events too.

    Mojito marmalade, Trotter's Hot Pepper Jelly (the chap who makes this is only 25 years old and is from Scotland, OK he's not local but he'd just left uni, couldn't get a job and his parents returned from Italy with this wonderful condiment that they couldn't source in Scotland.  He found a recipe, fiddled with it and made it himself, then launched it as a business) it is amazing in chocolate cake, giant rye bread the size of wagon wheels, real ones, not the tiny marshmallow ones that have shrunk since I was a kid, fabulous chocolates, oooh I love this shop.  A combination of food, stories and a knack of putting the fun back into food shopping.  Abandon supermarkets, we need more Gather and Hunt's, this is how food shopping should be.

    Gather and Hunt, 63 High Street, Marlow     01628 482267

    [email protected]   @gatherhunt


  • Horsemeat Saga your meat locally and make your own burgers

    Homemade burgers take 5 minutes - chop 1 onion, mix with 500g minced beef, lamb, pork, venison or horse if that is your preference, add 1 egg, season with salt and pepper and mix together. For a finer textured burger whizz the mixture in a food processor, shape into balls, flatten to the desired thickness, cook under a hot grill, barbecue or on a hot griddle until completely cooked through. Serve with homemade chips, caramelised onions, sliced mozzarella and some posh ketchup, ta da.

    Want some help.....check out the video, Homemade Beefburgers

    The key to a great burger is to buy excellent meat, it should be 20% fat otherwise the burger will fall apart, so get to know your butcher, find out where they source their meat from, our local butcher in Princes Risborough, K&B Family Butchers, source as much as possible within 7 miles of the shop, it's expensive but good meat always has been and always is. If you want cheap meat then don't moan about what animal it came from, it's not rocket science. Cheap chicken nuggets don't use chunks of free range or organic chicken breast, if it's mush then it's going to be the parts of the chicken you wouldn't want to talk about let alone eat, again, if you want cheap don't moan about what you're eating when you find out, keep your head buried in the sand and hope you don't find out by accident. End of rant.Homemade beef burger and chips

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