May 14th, 2013 | | 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…
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)
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.
May 3rd, 2013 | | permalink
Crabtree & Evelyn will revisit the classic British herb garden for a new generation this spring, temporarily transforming Covent Garden’s iconic Piazza into a tranquil urban oasis to celebrate the 2013 Chelsea Fringe Festival.
Designed by garden designer and rising star Emma Coleman, ‘The Avant Garden’, a signature project for the Chelsea Fringe, will blossom on Covent Garden’s West Piazza from 14th May to 9th June and marks over 15 years of the Crabtree & Evelyn Gardeners Collection and their 40 years of pioneering botanical formulations. The Gardeners Collection will be celebrated through the choice of planting, inspired by the fragrance notes of the range including: rosemary, thyme and sage.
Commenting on the project Jacqui Gale, from Crabtree & Evelyn said: “We are delighted to be part of this exciting project and to be working with the Chelsea Fringe. Emma’s design brings alive the ideals and history of our brand, highlighting the natural ingredients of our products. It is a fantastic way to celebrate over 15 years of our Gardeners Collection.”
For the duration of the installation, you can pop down to Covent Garden to enjoy some special treats courtesy of Crabtree & Evelyn.
Hand Therapy Time: Get a complimentary Crabtree & Evelyn hand treatment, FREE sample or voucher. Every Mon – Sun 12pm -4pm
Afternoon Tea: Treat yourself to a complimentary Crabtree & Evelyn afternoon teatime treat. Every Mon – Fri 4:30pm – 6:30 pm
Meet some of the events partners, including members from The Herb Society, Waterwise, Carbon Gold and GrowUp Gardening and pick up water conservation and gardening tips.
The full event lisiting will be coming soon!
Sponsor: Crabtree & Evelyn
Garden Designer: Emma Coleman
Project Director: Anna Paganelli, GrowUp Gardening
Contractor: Hendzel + Hunt
Sub Contractor: Physical Pixels
The Herb Society, www.herbsociety.org.uk
Carbon Gold, www.carbongold.com
Hendzel + Hunt, www.hendzelandhunt.com
Physical Pixels, www.physicalpixels.com
April 29th, 2013 | | permalink
Spring has well and truly sprung, and with it comes Crabtree & Evelyn’s new Somerset Meadow collection. Inspired by the glorious green meadows of the West Country, the fresh fragrance sings with notes of ivy, fern and water lily.
The whimsical scent of wild meadows might take you back to rambles in the English countryside, but if you’re keen for a real life earthy adventure in Somerset, here’s our travel guide…
Glamp it up
Luxurious 5 star hotels are all well and good, but if you really want to experience Somerset, go glamping. Decked out with a four-poster bed, rugs, lamps and a wood-burner, The Yarlington Yurt is an eccentric home from home, and is. There’s also a connecting pod with single beds, so it’s perfect for family stays. Set in the stunning grounds of Yarlington House, there’s plenty to explore – and if you’re lucky, the Count and Countess Charles de Salis might let you take a dip in their swimming pool!
For further info see: www.canopyandstars.co.uk
Visit a witch
Somerset is a place rich in folklore, myths and legends, so a daytrip to the 50,000-year-old Wookey Hole Caves in Wells is a must. Legend has it that in the Dark Ages a witch lived in the caves, and her spirit is thought to watch over them to this day. Just beware of the cave spiders and bats!
Wells is the smallest city in England, and it’s a lovely place to browse around the local shops. Take time to visit to Wells Cathedral – the interior was used as a filming location for the Harry Potter films, and the surrounding mote gives it a fairytale feel.
Get farm shop fever
Embrace the Somerset countryside while enjoying a cuppa and a slice of homemade cake at Yeo Valley Organic Garden Tea Room at Holt Farm. There’s a gravel garden with a stream and pond, a grass garden, as well as two large meadows. Look out for 7ft ‘Buff Beauty’ roses, and marvel at the organic veg garden, which produces strawberries, courgettes, lettuce and garlic. You’ll be dazzled by the views across the nearby Blagdon Lake, which is also well worth checking out.
Conquer Glastonbury Tor
A trip to Somerset wouldn’t be complete without climbing to the top of the legendary Glastonbury Tor, which is in the middle of the Summerland Meadows, and houses St Michael’s Church. During the Iron Age the Tor was an island, surrounded by water, and the coffins of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere were allegedly discovered there in 1191.
On a clear day the views of the Somerset levels are breathtaking, and you can pass the time by counting the tiny dots of sheep in the fields below. It’s definitely worth bringing a picnic – and don’t forget your walking boots!
Where’s your favourite place to visit in Somerset? Tell us in the comments box below or on our Facebook page.