Xmas Afternoon Tea – 11 December 2016

Christmas is certainly one of my favourite times of the year and putting on a festive themed afternoon tea is always great fun.  Items on the menu this year featured interpretations of some of the more traditional items one might find on offer.  Look for them in the macaron and millefeuille.  Other seasonal flavours are dotted about in the savouries and other sweet items.   Enjoy.

Sandwiches

  • Egg ‘n cress
  • Mature cheddar with pear & walnut chutney
  • Beef & horseradish

Finger sandwiches

Savouries

Savoury choux filled with mushroom & port – the choux were baked with a savoury craquelin topping to add texture and flavour to the creamy port & mushroom filling

Smoked salmon blinis – served with crème fraiche and garnished with dill.

Savouries table setting

The sweet stuff

Eggnog millefeuille – the crème pâtissière here takes on all the eggnog flavours.

Christmas cake macaron – the macaron shell was flavoured with a light dusting of mixed spice and then filled with a ganache containing Xmas Cake that I’d puréed in brandy.  It really did work at treat.

Eggnog millefeuille

Bramley apple bavarois & hazelnut sablé – bramley apples being in season this brought something lighter and more delicate to the table.

Apple bavarois on hazelnut sablé

Chocolate, orange & tiramisu cheesecake – chocolate and orange are such a classic combination and not out of place on any Christmas table.

Chocolate, orange & tiramisu cream cheesecake

Mince pie – unadulterated and no disguise!

Mini mince pies

Buttermilk scones with jam & clotted cream

Scones

 

 

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Afternoon Tea 9 October 2016

2016 was an extremely busy year and as you can tell by the date of when this afternoon tea took place, I’m very behind posting this blog. Nevertheless, I remember it well! Autumn was a significant influence in what to include on the menu along with wanting to continue practicing new skills. This required stretching my capabilities significantly, particularly for the pâtisserie items, to attain the quality and intricacy of product I wanted.  My guests were a combination of first timers and ‘repeat offenders’ and were an extremely genial and happy bunch. So, better late than never, here is the menu.

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Sandwiches

Beetroot hummus – the beetroot is not of the pickled kind but simply baked in its skin in a foil parcel. It’s then peeled and whizzed together with toasted walnuts, plenty of lemon juice, tahini & secret seasoning. It’s delicious and a fantastic colour to have in the centre of a sandwich.

Goat’s cheese & preserved figs – these figs, a South African delicacy, are sweet and marry up to goat’s cheese very well. I like to use a combination of soft and rind goat’s cheese; the soft acting as the butter layer on the bread.

Ham, egg & sundried tomatoes – while I am a lover of tomatoes, when sliced fresh  in sandwiches they can be a disastrously soggy affair. Therefore the sundried option offers a flavoursome and ‘safe’ alternative here.

Finger sandwiches

Finger sandwiches

 

Savouries

Steak & ale pie – small pies with crisp, shortcrust pastry (homemade no less!) encasing tender, ‘slow’ shin of beef braised in a local Yorkshire ale. And an absolute requirement, served warm!

Slow beef pies

Slow beef pies

Cheese & wholegrain mustard muffin – a punchy, mature cheddar provides the backdrop to these very light, morsels bursting with flavour.  Wholegrain mustard provides a little crunch and hint of ‘heat’.

Cheese & mustard mini muffins

Cheese & mustard mini muffins

 

Cakes & scones

Buttermilk scones with jam & clotted cream – served warm with clotted cream and homemade jam.

Chocolate, hazelnut & ginger entremets – delectable domes of chocolate mousse with elements of ginger crème brulée and hazelnut.

Chocolate, hazelnut & ginger entremets

Chocolate, hazelnut & ginger entremets

 

Green tea & jasmine delice – these teas are delicate flavours and can be difficult to achieve enough taste without over doing it and ending up with a bitter tea taste.  Tea can ‘stew’ if left too long in hot liquid and while the recipe instructed a warm infusion I chose the cold infusion option soaking the tea in the cream overnight.  It’s a safer way of avoiding any bitterness in the flavours. I was happy with the results I must say. For the overall effect of the finish, it was important that the layers of the two tea mousses were even and the final decoration delicate and refined.

Jasmine & green tea delice

Jasmine & green tea delice

Carrot cake – this cake never fails to please and speaks for itself in my humble opinion. I have lovingly developed and refined this recipe of mine over the years.  I think the carrot ribbons, for something so easy to make, create a great finish for the cake.

Carrot cake

Carrot cake

 

Tea pots

Tea pots

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Afternoon Tea Sunday 28 August 2016

There’s a lot being said about ‘staycations’ these days; choosing to stay home rather than holiday further afield.  A bank holiday weekend might be one of those occasions to take to the road and get away with the extra day on offer.  As it turned out, a certain six people decided to stay close to home and treated themselves to one of my afternoon teas on this August bank holiday weekend.

Beside incorporating seasonal ingredients such as courgettes and mackerel, I designed the menu around implementing some of the techniques and recipes I’ve learnt over the past few months from Mark Tilling.  He has been an inspiring teacher and great encouragement to me on my pâtisserie and chocolate learning journey for which I am very grateful.  The entremets, macarons and chocolate flower decoration on the cake below are evidence of putting my learnings into practice!

I hope you will enjoy the menu as much as I did in putting it altogether.

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Table setting

Tea pots

Sandwiches

Smoked mackerel paté – plenty of lemon juice, fresh dill, crème fraiche and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper make up this delicious paté.

Egg ‘n cress –the key to making this a good sandwich is to use only the freshest, free range eggs, a very good mayonnaise followed by confident seasoning and a healthy helping of cress.

Cucumber & herbed cream cheese – cucumber all on its own can be a bit disappointing despite its fresh, crispy texture.  I like to ‘butter’ the bread with a cream cheese mixed with a variety of fresh herbs that happen to be available in my little herb patch such as parsley, mint and a little tarragon.

Finger sandwiches

Savouries

Stuffed pesto potatoes – these are so easy to make yet so delicious.  An added bonus is they can be prepared ahead and simply warmed in the oven just before serving.  I used broccoli to decorate the tops along with a basil leaf because of the vibrant green the both provided.  The broccoli I simply steamed and then cut off the stalks and pulsed the remaining florets in a food processor to create a sort of couscous effect and then just sprinkled it on the top after they were baked and were ready to be served.

Pesto potatoes

Cheese sablés – these are delightful.  Crisp and light.  The secret is to ensure you use a really strong flavoured hard cheese.  I also add a little mustard for a little pepperiness.  The poppy seeds on the outside add a nice effect and add some nuttiness to the overall flavour.

Cheese sables

Pudding

Buttermilk scones – these are always a crowd pleaser.  Served fresh from the oven, they have a slight crunch on the outside and are exceptionally light in the centre.  Clotted cream and homemade jam complete the experience.

Scones

Raspberry and mascarpone entremets – it wouldn’t be a summer without raspberries.  For those that are interested, an entremet is a mousse type cake or dessert with multiple layers consisting of complimentary flavours and textures.  The layers in these entremets include almond sponge, mascarpone and vanilla mousse and a raspberry cream.

Raspberry & mascarpone entremets

Chocolate and hazelnut macarons – traditionally macarons are made with ground almonds but I’ve used ground hazelnuts for these.  The filling is a chocolate ganache flavoured with toasted hazelnut.

Chocolate & hazelnut macarons

Courgette and lime cake – this cake doesn’t taste of courgette before anyone turns their nose up. The courgettes act the same as carrots do in a carrot cake by providing moistness to the cake in addition to an attractive green fleck in the sponge.  The presentation of the cake was finished off with a cream cheese frosting and a chocolate flower and petals.

Courgette & lime cake with chocolate flower

 

So hopefully all that was worth ‘staying home’ for.  If there were any major traffic jams on the way home, the goodie bags would have provided any sustenance required …

Goodie bags

 

 

 

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As You Like It – Saltaire Clandestine Cake Club

With 2016 being the 400 year anniversary of Will Shakespeare’s passing and with all manner of commemorations taking place around the country, we thought we’d pay our own little tribute to the Bard with a ‘cake knees up’ of our own.

It wasn’t necessary to find a link, tenuous or otherwise, to the 16th Century as any cake ‘as you like it’ would do.  I was concerned mine would be a ‘comedy of errors’ as it was a concoction of using leftovers in the fridge and was more concept than recipe.  Whilst another, true to form, threw caution to the wind and dismissed the recipe’s ‘measure for measure’ recommended quantities but “all’s well that ends well” as the final outcome was delish.

Our hosts for the evening were the fabulous folks at Hollins Hall in Baildon.  We were blessed with a very sunny midsummer (night’s dream) evening too and were able to enjoy the lovely views overlooking the valley below.  Thank you.  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

With ‘much ado about nothing’ more here are our cakes:

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Hollins Hill, Baildon, Shipley Bradford England BD17 7QW United Kingdom

http://www.marriott.co.uk/hotels/travel/lbags-hollins-hall-marriott-hotel-and-country-club/

 

To find out more about the Saltaire Clandestine Cake Club, go to:  http://clandestinecakeclub.co.uk/

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Rhubarb fruit mousse

This recipe uses rhubarb (Yorkshire rhubarb to be exact) as the base fruit flavour but you can replace this in equal quantity with any other soft fruit you prefer, e.g. raspberries, strawberries, etc, and follow the same method of preparation.  There are two parts to the recipe:  making a fruit purée  and then making the mousse which incorporates the fruit purée.  If you need to get ahead, the fruit purée can be prepared a couple of days beforehand if required.  The purée freezes well too so any leftover can be frozen and kept for use on another occasion.

I used this mousse recipe to make a Rhubarb mousse Swiss Roll:

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I have also used this rhubarb purée as a basis for making rhubarb curd (I can see another recipe posting may be required!) used to layer up these mini rhubarb curd gateau:

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First make the fruit purée:

Rhubarb purée

Makes approxinately 600g

500g rhubarb (cleaned weight)

50ml water

50g caster sugar

10ml lemon juice

 

Wash the rhubarb and chop into small, equal sized chunks (this is to ensure the rhubarb cooks down in the same time.  The size of the chunks doesn’t really matter, but bear in mind that the thicker the stems, the longer they will take to soften and cook.  As a rough guide, about 5 cm in length would be about right). If you are using other fruit such as strawberries or raspberries  then the need to chop them up may not be required.  Some strawberries can be big so you might need to halve the fruit, for example. Raspberries wouldn’t need any chopping but could be used as they are.

Set aside.

Put the water and sugar in a saucepan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved.

Put the chopped rhubarb into the saucepan.

Turn up the heat and bring to the boil giving the rhubarb a stir every so often to prevent it sticking to the bottom of the pan and to ensure a coating of the liquid.

Once up to the boil, reduce the heat and cook on a low simmer with the lid on until it has cooked through – approximately 15-20 mins (this will depend on the thickness & tenderness of the rhubarb stems).

Remove from the heat and allow to cool without the lid for 5 mins.  Add the lemon juice.

Once cooled, pour all the contents of the saucepan into a food processor and whizz to a purée.

Pass the puree through a fine sieve.

Leave to cool then keep in the fridge in an air tight container.

 

Now make the mousse:

Rhubarb Mousse

Makes  approximately 450g

11g leaf gelatine

500ml whipping cream

350g rhubarb purée

80g caster sugar

 

Soak the gelatine in a bowl of cold water for 5 mins.

Meanwhile, weigh out the rhubarb purée into two separate quantities:  150g and 200g.

Whip the cream to ribbon stage, i.e. before soft peak! You want it soft but with a little bit of volume.

Put 150g of the fruit purée into a saucepan and add the sugar.  Heat gently, stirring a little, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the purée mixture is hot but not boiling (boiling liquid destroys the setting quality of gelatine).  Remove from the heat.

Squeeze the excess water from the soak gelatine and add to the pan (again, the purée mixture needs to be hot but not boiling).  Stir until the gelatine has dissolved.

Strain through a sieve into a mixing bowl.

Add the remaining 200g of fruit purée.

Pour in the whipped cream and fold together until combined.

Use immediately.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Going Local – Saltaire Clandestine Cake Club

For our theme this time we’re ‘Going Local’.  This could encompass anything from local ingredients (whether home grown or sourced from a local supplier) or a recipe reflecting traditions or cuisine local to your area.

Our hosts for the evening were the lovely people at Hollins Hall Hotel. We had a perfect corner in the hotel all to ourselves. I am incredibly grateful to them for allowing us to descend upon them again. We were looked after extremely well and made to feel very welcome.

Our gathering was as ever a most jovial and thoroughly enjoyable occasion. The interpretation of the theme included home grown parsnips, local Yorkshire rapeseed oil, Yorkshire rhubarb and a ‘triple chocolate’ stout from a very local Saltaire Brewery.

Without further ado, here are our cakes:

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A final thanks to Hollins Hall who helped make the evening so enjoyable.

 

Hollins Hill, Baildon, Shipley Bradford England BD17 7QW United Kingdom
http://www.marriott.co.uk/hotels/travel/lbags-hollins-hall-marriott-hotel-and-country-club/

 

To find out more about the Saltaire Clandestine Cake Club, go to:  http://clandestinecakeclub.co.uk/

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Cooking The Books – Saltaire Clandestine Cake Club

The baking theme for this month was an encouragement to shake off the dust of those cookery books seldom used or to put to use what might have appeared under our Christmas trees.   There weren’t many of us for our gathering but it was none the less great fun with lots of chit chat.

Our hosts for the evening were the lovely people at YoYo in Shipley.  We were made to feel very welcome and they couldn’t have done enough for us.  So a big thank you to them.

I couldn’t resist taking along two offerings both from my favourite cookery book, Pâtisserie.  The first one, a redcurrant, black cherry & fromage frais entremet was very challenging as it had several component parts and all had to be put together in various stages.  I was relieved as it seemed to turn out alright in the end but moreover it got the thumbs up from our little gathering which meant the world to me (thanks guys!).  The other was more straightforward, a chestnut & rum cake; the only criticism is I think it needed more rum (hic)!

The other cakes we had: a deliciously most fruit cake; and an apple & cinnamon cake with a delightful crunchy nut brittle topping (from a Mary Berry book if I remember correctly?).

So here are the cakes …

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Once again a big thank you to our hosts at YoYo.

YoYo Bar & Restaurant

Rosse St., Shipley, BD18 3SW

http://www.eatatyoyos.com/

 

Find out more about the Clandestine Cake Club:   http://clandestinecakeclub.co.uk/

 

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Afternoon Tea 10 January 2016

There could be no better way to start the year off than with an afternoon tea.  A private booking no less where ‘the fat man in a red suit’ had adorned the relevant Christmas trees with gifts of an afternoon tea at Chez Shamwari.  It had all been secretly planned with the benefactor and the date set well in advance too.

There was one definite feature for this menu as some of these guests were ‘revisitors’ and therefore I knew they were partial to a macaron or two.  It just remained to sort out the rest.  I’m often influenced by what ingredients I may already have available that could do with being used up (I hate wasting food!).  This included blue cheese, lemons, macadamia nuts and macadamia nut butter, homemade puff pastry in the freezer.  And so formed the basis of my menu …

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Sandwiches:

  • Circassian chicken – this is a Turkish dish with a walnut based sauce that marries with poached chicken
  • Mature red Leicester cheese (actually Belton Farm Red Fox) with carrot salad
  • Egg and cress

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Savouries:

  • Baked blue cheesecake, pickled beetroot, hazelnut & honey – this was inspired by a recipe from Yottam Ottolenghi’s Nopi cookbook.  The pickled beetroot and honey cut through the richness of the cheesecake and the toasted hazelnut added a really nice crunchy texture.

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  • Pork, onion, rosemary & pine nut parcels – herewith my homemade puff pastry filled with a simply meatball of the ingredients listed and some fennel seeds.  These turned out to be an absolute favourite around the table.  And what’s more they were so simple to make.

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Sweet stuff:

  • Macarons – apple & cinnamon and lemon.  These little delights are tricky to get right but after much practise, these seem to work for me every time thank goodness.  The shells did contain a little bit of intense powdered flavouring (lemon and apple) and then each centre was filled with a circle of double cream on the outside and a dollop of either lemon curd or apple purée in the middle.

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  • Macadamia biscuits – based on my Mum’s peanut butter biscuit recipe, I used a macadamia nut butter instead of peanut butter.

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  • Black forest gâteau – I had been disappointed with previous versions of this cake that I had made because I had been very conservative with the kirsch.  Not this time!  In fact I was worried I had gone too much the other way.  I can say it was very flavoursome!  The finishing touches were piped chocolate trees and fresh red cherries.

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  • Scones, clotted cream and homemade (plum) jam

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And so another enjoyable afternoon drew to a close and it was time to say goodbye all too soon.  Goody bags again hand out to let the Chez Shamwari experience linger.

Goody bags

 

 

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Christmas Afternoon Tea – Sunday 13 December 2015

Is it just me, or has this been the fastest year on record?  To whizz by that is? Such is the busyness of life I have to diarise my Christmas baking ‘weekend’.  All my festive baking (mincemeat, pudding & cake) takes place at the end of September or beginning of October to allow all the flavours to develop and mature, so at least some of the menu had been taken care of a few months ago.  It just remained to pull it all together with essential seasonal flavours such as turkey & cranberry, chocolate & orange to name but four along with some complimentary sherry at the ready to warm and welcome guests as they arrived.

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I am sure the fat man in the red suit would have been happy to take his fill from this menu had he been in the neighbourhood but I’ll let you be the judge …

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Sandwiches

  • Honey roast ham & plum chutney – honey glazed ham is a classic as this time of year and I simply paired it with my homemade plum chutney.
  • Egg mayonnaise & cress – I’ll let these speak for themselves.
  • Smoked salmon & dill cream cheese – dill and smoked salmon are a marriage made in heaven but I used a substantial amount of fresh dill, finely chopped, to ‘season’ the cream cheese to ensure the flavours came through against the strength of the smoked salmon.

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Savouries

  • Turkey, cranberry & chestnut sausage rolls – your Xmas dinner all rolled into one (no pun intended!) with homemade puff pastry no less.

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  • Cheese sablés – these little numbers definitely pack a punch with a combination of mustard and cayenne pepper and full flavoured parmesan cheese then rolled in sesame & onion seeds.

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Cakes & scones

  • Mince pies – there is always something very special and nostalgic every year with these as the mincemeat and shortcrust pastry recipe has been handed down in my family and I’m proud to maintain the tradition and be custodian of the recipes.  I have heard it said ‘these are the best mince pies ever!’.
  • Xmas cake – I have developed and honed this recipe for some years now and am relatively satisfied with the finished product.  It takes a lot of care and attention to the smallest of detail from start to finish:  from the preparation of the fruit (soaking it for several days), to the preparation of the baking tin (ensuring there is sufficient ‘padding’ to avoid any scorching), to the setting the oven temperature and cooking time (to prevent any drying out), to the brandy ‘feeding’ once baked (to enhance the flavour and maintain the moistness).

And to keep with the Yorkshire tradition, there had to be some Wensleydale cheese to go with it.

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  • Melting chocolate Xmas pudding – chocolate is strongly associated with Xmas and no menu worth its salt would be complete without it.  These delectable delights are effectively a chocolate fondant with a melting centre containing crumbled Xmas pudding.  I have to thank Northcote for the inspiration for this recipe.  Whipped cream was served as an accompaniment.

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  • Hazelnut & orange meringue roulade – a classic meringue roulade with roasted hazelnuts neatly rolled up with an orange cream filling and decorated with chocolate holly leaves to add to the seasonal jollities (in case you might be wondering, I made these using real holly leaves for my stencil).

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  • Buttermilk scones – I didn’t think these needed any ‘seasonal tampering’.  Homemade strawberry jam & clotted cream is all they needed thank you very much.

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It just remains for me to wish all my guests and readers a very happy Xmas and may 2016 be all you hope it to be and more.

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Afternoon Tea – Sunday 29 November 2015

With autumn in full swing and the festive Christmas season knocking on the door, it was to this seasonal ‘palette’ of flavours and treats I turned to for inspiration when designing this menu.  I also had had an extremely busy time with my day job and therefore needed to be canny with what available time I had to prepare.  Despite this, I wanted to maintain the same exacting standards expected at Chez Shamwari thus ensuring a gastronomic delight for my guests.

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The food associated with this time of year is warming and comforting but there still needs to be a balance across the menu to avoid it all being too heavy.  Hopefully this was achieved interspersing freshness and lighter options in each course:  from the cucumber & fresh herbs in the sandwiches to the light, filo pastried, spring rolls to the choux buns.

Here’s the complete menu.  Enjoy …

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Sandwich fillings:

  • Cucumber & herbed cream cheese – cucumber can be a bit of a ‘plain Jane’ if not given the due care and attention it needs. The fresh herbs in the cream cheese (dill, mint & parsley) provided the perfect complement.
  • Pastrami, pickles & Dijon mustard – generous layers of pastrami with cucumber pickles and Dijon mustard to finish it all off.
  • Egg & Cress – nothing but the freshest local farm eggs will ever do for these and a secret combination of seasoning to provide the definitive egg & cress sarnie experience.

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Savouries:

  • Duchess potatoes with parsnip & rosemary – the parsnip and rosemary adding a little twist to these classics.

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  • Moroccan spring rolls – these proved to be a real hit around the table if the comments were anything to go by. A winning combination indeed of mildly spiced lentils, basmati rice, feta & spinach (and a few other secrets), encased in delicate filo pastry.

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Cakes & scones:

  • Choux au craquelin – my inspiration from these is yet again my ‘Pâttiserie’ recipe book. The topping is a simple dough of sugar, flour & butter (with the addition of any colouring & flavouring if so required).  It is rolled out, like pastry, very thinly, cut into tiny discs and, once the choux dough is piped onto the baking tray, the discs are placed on the top of the bun and then baked.  The effect is a delightful crunchy cream puff.  There were three flavours:  chocolate, vanilla & raspberry.

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  • Mulled wine macarons – as today’s afternoon tea was actually on Advent Sunday, marking the commencement of the Christmas season, how could I not make reference to the forthcoming festivities?! Festive spice was added to the macaron shells and they were filled with whipped cream flavoured with mulled wine syrup.

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  • Apple & maple cake – what could represent autumn more than apples? I actually adapted my carrot cake recipe for this by simply replacing the carrot with equal quantities of apples and also not including any walnuts.  It was decorated with a maple syrup cream cheese frosting and spun sugar.

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  • Buttermilk scones – with jam & clotted cream.  Always seems to be last but never least!

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