Life, Lather & Luxuries

Rise to the challenge for World Baking Day!

May 14th, 2013 | 1 comment | permalink


Dig out your favourite apron, dust off those scales and raid your store cupboard. World Baking Day is almost here (19 May) and encourages people to step out of their comfort zone, by choosing to bake one of the 100 cakes on the event’s website, which have been submitted by cooks from all over the globe. At no. 1 on the list, Banana Muffins are for the kitchen novices, while the show-stopping Cream Puff Cake at no. 100 is for those very brave bakers.

The Vanilla, Strawberry & Rose Victoria Sponge took my fancy (level 66), but I decided to add my own take on it. Yes, I have baked many sponge cakes in my time. However, I must confess that recently I’ve been suffering from the curse of the dreaded soggy bottom! That’s why I wanted to go back to basics. For ease, I did an all-in-one recipe and my unique twist on the cake involves a blueberry jam filling and drizzle.


I’m proud to say my Blueberry Jam & Drizzle Victoria Sponge was a resounding success (next stop Cream Puff Cake?). Here’s how to make it…

You’ll need…


4 eggs (weighed in their shells)

Soft margarine (same weight as the eggs)

Caster sugar (same weight as the eggs)

Self-raising (same weight as the eggs)

Drizzle and filling

Half a jar of Crabtree & Evelyn Blueberry Preserve

1 tbs margarine

2 tbs Belvoir Blueberry & Blackcurrant Cordial

50g icing sugar

A handful of rose petals (or you could use fresh blueberries)



Make it…


1. Set the oven to Gas Mark 4, 160C (fan oven), 180C or 360F. Grease and line 2 x 8inch sandwich tins.


2. All the cake ingredients need to weigh the same amount. First weigh the eggs in their shells. I used duck eggs fresh from the farm and they weighed 8oz, so I made sure the margarine, sugar and flower weighed 8oz, too. The beauty of using duck eggs is that they have bigger yolks and make for a delicious golden sponge.


3. Make life easy for yourself by doing an all-in-one cake mixture. Crack the first egg in to a small bowl to make sure it’s a good egg, and add it to a food processor, KitchenAid, or a large bowl (you’ll need an electric whisk to beat the ingredients together). Repeat until all four eggs are cracked, then add the margarine, the sugar and sieve in the flour.


4. Mix all the ingredients together until they are pale, light and fluffy as a day old chick!


5. Using a large spoon dollop the cake mixture into the tins so it’s equally distributed. Smooth over with a spatula.


6. Bake the cakes for 20-25 minutes until they are golden and spring back to touch.


7. Leave the cakes to cool in their tins and then press them out onto a wire rack for further cooling.

8. Once the cakes have reached room temperature, put one half on a lovely large plate and spread half a jar of C&E Blueberry Preserve on to it (use more if you’re feeling lavish). Place the other half of the sponge on top.


9. Now for the really fun part, the drizzle! Pop the margarine, icing sugar and cordial into a bowl and whisk until all of the ingredients are combined. Pour onto the center of the cake and let the drizzle work its magic. To make the Victoria sponge look super-pretty and fit for a queen, scatter rose petals on top and dust with icing sugar.


Will you be taking part in World Baking Day? If so, tell us all about your cakey creations in the comments box below or on Crabtree & Evelyn’s Facebook page.



Get sweet on the Tarocco Orange

February 13th, 2013 | Comments Off | permalink


If the Tarocco Orange were in a beauty contest with all the other oranges in the world, it would probably win. Also known as a ‘blood orange’ due to its ruby red flesh, its characteristically sweet and juicy – and contains more vitamin C that its sister varieties. The origin of fruit can be traced to the fertile hilly areas surrounding Mount Etna in Sicily, and in fact ‘Tarocco’ translates as ‘beautiful’ in Sicilian dialect. The orb of citrusy wonder not only looks and tastes delicious; it’s a brilliant beauty ingredient as it’s rich with anti-oxidants, which keep skin soft and toned. If you’ve already tried out our refreshing new Tarocco Orange, Eucalyptus & Sage range, you’ll be aware of the benefits.


Slathering on the silky citrus body lotion has us dreaming of adventuring to stunning Sicily. We’d hike to the top of Mount Etna and then treat ourselves to a mountain of gelato, explore the hillside resort of Taormina (a favourite holiday spot of designers Dolce and Gabbana), and shop in the eclectic markets of Palermo. In the meantime, to satisfy our craving for Sicily, we’ll be regularly applying our new Tarocco Orange, Eucalyptus & Sage hand cream. We’ve also come up with this delicious recipe for Brilliant Blood Orange Curd. Here’s how to make it…


Brilliant Blood Orange Curd recipe


You’ll need…

4 blood oranges

4 eggs, plus 4 yolks (you can use the left over egg whites to make a meringue)

330g caster sugar

160g unsalted butter

Sterilized jars, this recipe makes enough to fill one small Kilner jar and two jam jars.



1) Zest and juice the blood oranges and set aside

2) Whisk the whole eggs, yolks and sugar in a saucepan until smooth

3) Heat the ingredients on a low heat until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is smooth.

4) Cube the butter and add it to the saucepan with the juice and zest and whisk on a low heat until thickened (this may take 10-15mins)

5) Let the mixture cool

6) Carefully transfer it to your sterilized jars and refrigerate



* Spread on toast, crumpets, pancakes or scones.

* Use as a filling for a meringue pie or dollop on to an Eton Mess

* Bake a blood orange curd cake

Simple Savoury Pancake Ideas…

February 8th, 2013 | Comments Off | permalink



Do you overindulge on Shrove Tuesday (12 Feb) and then forget to give pancakes a second thought the rest of the year? If you ask us, those yummy discs of joy should be eaten at least once a week! You don’t have to drizzle them in sugar and syrup all the time, though. Instead, check out these simple savoury pancake ideas to suit all sorts of culinary occasions…


For all the recipes below you’ll need a batch of pancakes. You could either make them yourself – we’d recommend the Perfect Pancake Recipe on BBC Food. Or you could buy ready made pancakes – our favourites are Abra-ca-Debora.


The big breakfast   

Got a big day ahead? You’ll need a big breakfast. Flip up a couple of pancakes, and fill them with scrambled egg, chopped sausage and fried mushrooms with thyme. Non-meat eaters could go for vegetarian sausages or smoked salmon, dill and scrambled egg. If you’ve been overloading on bread at breakfast time, pancakes make a great alternative.


The luscious lunch

Fry up some field mushrooms in a pan with butter, rosemary and garlic and a splash of sherry vinegar.  Now add a teaspoon of Crabtree & Evelyn’s English Mustard with Honey and a good slug of double cream. Pour the filling onto a hot pancake ­– and if you’re feeling super- indulgent, sprinkle on some freshly grated Parmesan. Balance it out by serving it up with a healthy measure of wilted spinach.


The snappy snack

Sometimes you need food – and fast. Grate some cheddar cheese onto a pancake and dollop on some of your favourite chutney. This snack can be enjoyed hot (simply grill it in the oven until the cheese bubbles or microwave for 60 seconds). It makes a change from cheese, chutney and crackers. You could experiment with different cheeses and accompaniments, such as Camembert and cranberry, fried halloumi, grilled aubergine and mint, or blue cheese with figs and honey. Yum!


The clever canapé

Impress dinner party guests by presenting them with smoked salmon and dill pancake swirls. Simply spread cream cheese on your pancake, and add strips of smoked salmon, a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of fresh dill. Roll the pancake up and chop it into slices that can be skewered on to cocktail sticks. It’s worth making a big batch, as they are sure to go down a treat.  They also make for a great addition to any picnic – roll on summer.


The delicious dinner 

Does your dinner repertoire need a shake up? Then try out Abra-ca-Debora’s amazing recipe for Magical Mediterranean Tuna Balls, which are a healthy hearty alternative to Italian meatballs. Of course if you do want recipe ideas for sweet pancakes they have lots of those too – we’re in awe of their Banoffee Pie.


Enjoy Shrove Tuesday and don’t let your pancake-flipping skills slip in the coming months, readers! If you’re after more recipe inspiration take a look at our previous posts on pancakes around the world.