Summery Trifle – Nectarine & Lemon

At the weekend I made a trifle adapted from a recipe in Martha Stewart Living magazine. To be honest, I was a little disappointed with the finished result, due to the texture rather than the flavour, which I thought was delicious… Maybe I used the wrong type of sponge (Martha suggested store-bought pound cake – the nearest I could find (not having time to make a sponge myself that day) was Madeira cake) as the finished product was rather stodgy. I also wondered if I left the trifle in the fridge for too long – maybe it shouldn’t have been fridge cold when it was served. To make this dessert, nectarines (or peaches or plums) are roasted in the oven with sugar until they are slightly caramelised. You then make a lemon mousse using whipped double cream and lemon curd.  It is assembled in a similar way to the usual trifle and topped off with some lemon zest. I picked some borage flowers from the garden as I thought this added a pretty touch. In my huge Pampered Chef trifle bowl it looked good, but it didn’t live up to my expectations on the night! However, I will definitely try it again and will follow Martha’s method to the letter rather than making my own adaptations, which didn’t work out for me this time!

Apologies for the light on this photo – taken in haste as usual!

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Great Tea Shop in Winchester

On Sunday we visited Winchester to have a look at the Farmers’ Market (huge and very good!) and spotted this fabulous shop stocked with every tea you could imagine: http://www.charteas.com/. They offer a mail order service and there is definitely something to suit every taste. I liked the idea of the local blends, for example Winchester Evening tea which is a tea blended with rosebuds. It smelt wonderful. We bought Spearmint Tea (really refreshing and good for getting rid of a bloated feeling!) and China Jasmine Tea, which we’ve yet to try…

I’ve also noticed that they do a Lavender Tea using lavender from Hampshire lavender fields blended with Char Keemun.

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Afternoon Tea in Sunday Times Style Magazine

On Sunday 18th July there was an excellent feature in the Sunday Times ‘Style’ supplement about the gentle pleasures of taking afternoon tea – all the benefits of hosting a get together at that time of day, the excuse to dress up and eat wonderful cakes – our thoughts exactly! My idea was to paste the link here so that you could read the interesting article and see the photos but of course the Times and Sunday Times Online are now by subscription only! If you happen to be a subscriber take a look as it is well worth a read.

They gave a recipe for ‘Earl Grey Surprise’ – basically iced Earl Grey tea with gin! I’m sure that would make the party go with a swing. There was also a Jasmine Tea recipe involving Champagne or Prosecco, which also sounds rather appealing.

One of the people interviewed for the article said how comforting the nostalgia of afternoon tea is. I couldn’t agree more and in these times of austerity and uncertainty afternoon tea is a really cost-effective way of entertaining without compromising on luxury.

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Home-Made Jam

I love making jams and chutneys and have recently made batches of both raspberry and blackcurrant jam. (Those who requested blackcurrant, perhaps you’d like to help me prepare the fruit next time I make some!!) I picked the raspberries just down the road at Country Market near Bordon, brought them straight home and made the jam, which is a very satisfying thing to do. I’ve found that my sugar thermometer has “changed my life” as I so dramatically said to my husband earlier today! It really does take away the uncertainty about setting point and when fruit and sugar costs as much as it does at the moment that has to be a good thing…

Here is the raspberry bubbling away on the hob, complete with thermometer. I love the colour…

Here are the jams potted up and topped with pretty covers (tied up with my lovely coloured Nutscene string). You may notice that a lovely teapot has crept into the photograph. It is an Avoca buttons teapot and is an early wedding anniversary present from my husband – to say I was thrilled to bits with it is an understatement. Can’t wait to use it now…

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Lavender Streusel Cake

I found this recipe in Country Living magazine, in the ‘Bring Back Teatime’ edition. It looked delicious and very attractive and of course I couldn’t resist the lavender connection! I made this for my Mum’s birthday as a nice summery alternative with no buttery icing in the hot weather…

This is the streusel topping before baking. It smelt wonderful…  It is made from chopped nuts, brown sugar, butter, a small amount of flour and lavender blossoms.

The finished product… I think I should have put all of the streusel topping in the centre to give more of a dip and to let the buttery mixture sink further into the middle of the cake. However, it tasted lovely as it was so not to worry!

I love the effect here when the buttery topping has made its way down into the sponge cake. It was also lovely to decorate the cake with fresh lavender from my Farnham garden.

This was the first time I had tried a streusel cake recipe and I found it very successful. I think it is good to have a cake on the tea table that looks a bit unusual. This recipe (and variations on the theme) may well find themselves on the afternoon tea menu!

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PYO Pavlova

I made this dessert using raspberries I picked at Country Market near Bordon. I went out early on Thursday morning before it got too hot (it actually rained briefly – bliss!) and I have plenty more fruit to make some jam, which will be the first batch of the year. I love making jams and chutneys and am lucky to have been given a proper jam kettle, which I am sure will make my life much easier… I’ll let you know how it goes.

Unfortunately this pavlova disappears slightly on my white cake stand – I obviously need to add a coloured stand to my collection!

This is Nigella Lawson’s pavlova recipe and it turned out very well. Really dry and crisp on the outside but very gooey in the centre. I think maybe I have perfected small meringues too and am wondering whether they could feature in a Lavender Sugar afternoon tea at some point. They would be wonderful for a summer tea party in the garden, with plenty of fresh fruit and lashings of soft, whipped cream.

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Curious Chocolate Cake

This is ‘Curious Chocolate Cake’, a recipe I picked up on a visit to the wonderful Bailey’s Home and Garden at Ross-on-Wye last weekend.  It is a really gooey and rich cake and has no flour – it uses ground almonds instead which helps keep it beautifully moist. As it was such a very hot day I didn’t ice the top with my usual chocolate fudge icing, but just placed a few swirls of buttercream on it instead. It is possibly more of a dessert cake – I think it would go beautifully with fresh raspberries or in winter some caramelised oranges…

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