Hewwo there long lost bloggees! (Is that even a word?!) Anyhoo, it’s been like ten days or more since we spoke and I don’t know about you – I’m getting withdrawals! So here I am with a “Jo Bakes” post for y’all which serves as proof that whilst I might not be posting everyday, I certainly am cooking (and eating!) still and fighting with my camera to get a half way decent set of piccies to show off my home made goodies…
So here we go – this is what I got up to last Sunday. It was the first day off with my hubster for something like 3 weeks and boy, I was not going to waste a single second of it. I woke up early-ish with a big fat smile on my face – just like the early days when Hungry Hubby was just Lovely Blokie and every minute together was nothing but sunshine smiles and heart racing happiness. Not that we don’t still have that but having to spend hours doing chores and paying bills can be somewhat of a passion fire extinguisher at times and we can’t *just* spend ALL our time in Land of the Loved Up! But this day was all about us.
I was awoken to the fresh morning air carrying even more freshly brewed coffee from one of the neighbours wafting through our open bedroom window. It was going to be a good day. We decided in bed that there was nothing for it but to go out for breakfast whilst the weather was on our side so off we toddled to the local Toby Carvery where we had fab service and a helpful waitress who gave us a two for one voucher she had left over. See – there ARE genuinely nice folk left out there! When we’d had our fill of extremely good quality sausages and to-die-for crunchy crisp hash browns and freshly brewed coffee, we took a walk down Lark Lane – a wee foodie treasure trove of restaurants and cake shops and delis, framed by beautiful Victorian townhouses and the lushly green Sefton Park. It was a lovely, happy, smiley trip.
When we came home, to my surprise, Hungry Hubby was happy to not have lunch (*shock horror*!) but to wait a couple of hours and let me make our own Afternoon Tea. I did not need to wait for permission twice! I cracked open my cook books, threw on my favourite pinny and got baking!
First on the agenda was what once was a cake I eyed with utter suspicion but now declare unconditional love for – Nigella’s (or rather Flora’s) Courgette Cake from How To Be a Domestic Goddess”. It was my bestest best friend Moo who made me this cake for my birthday a couple of years ago and boy, have I not looked back since! Now, being me I have to fiddle but I only fiddle a wee bit – I use chopped dates instead of the sultanas suggested by Nigella (Moo told me this was her preferred method and I have not returned to the original since I tried it myself) plus I use a different frosting as I was never entirely happy with Nigella’s one – too runny for my liking. So I used this one – equal quantities of cream cheese and melted white chocolate. And boy, I SWEAR – I will never use another cream cheese frosting again – it is sublime and thick and pipeable – what more does a girl want from her CCF?!
I love this cake so much and I know Moo does too – she must have made 100 of them easy by now lol! I like to gently crush my pistachios in my mortar and pestle to top the cake with but if I could get my hands on those ludicrously jade green ones Nigella has in her Forever Summer TV series, I would so use them.
Of course, Afternoon Tea would not be so without a selection of cakes so of course, I had to carry on baking as this one cooled. And what is the ultimate cake for such an occasion? Why the Humble Scone of course! Now, I am a resolute follower of Rachel Allen when it comes to scones – her buttermilk version is to die for and my go to recipe but I had been watching 4 Ingredients during the week and so wanted to try their lemonade scones as a bit of an experiment if nothing else! So I stirred together self raising flour, Sprite and double cream then cut into squares and bake for 20 minutes and tada – instant scone-tastic pleasure! All the taste and aroma of a freshly baked traditional scone recipe in a fraction of the time and with now of the stress. I mean, scones can be tough as shoe leather if one isn’t as light as the Sugar Plum Fairy when mixing but these were of the “stir, pat out, cut and bake” nature so pretty much idiot proof (hoorah!)
And to finish, and because you can take the girl out of her cupcake pinny but you can’t take the love of a cupcake from the gal’s heart – a batch of vanilla cupcakes (recipe to be debuted at a later date) filled with vanilla strawberry jam and topped with vanilla bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream. O.M.G. Where has this frosting been all my life?! It is more light, more fluffy, yet totally and indulgently and intoxicatingly creamy than you could possibly imagine until you try it for yourself. Yes – it is that good! Thank you lovely Jen for showing me the way to true Frosting Enlightenment!
So now we have our “raw ingredients” for a sweet lil Afternoon Tea for Two, all we need is steaming hot tea, a vintage inspired cake stand from a dear friend (thank you Teresa, you sweetie pie) and of course – cupcake themed paper napkins!
So, two hungry loved up (if reluctantly grown up) folk munched their way through this mountain of baby cakes, washed down with tea from china mugs and cuddled the rest of the night away, happy that their tums were full of sweet yumminess and they could begin their working week with these memories if not a leftover slice or slab or scone or two to remind them of this very lovely day