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.
September 4th, 2012 | | permalink
By guest writer, and author of ‘Man of the World’, Gareth May
You don’t have to nip down to Savile Row for the perfect wet shave. Simply follow these easy steps and use Crabtree & Evelyn’s brand new West Indian Lime Shave Collection inspired by the ingredient-rich West Indies.
Step 1: Cleanse
Always shave after a warm shower. The steam opens pores and leaves your skin free of grease – the perfect prep for a close shave. The zesty Crabtree & Evelyn’s West Indian Lime Body Wash cleanses and deodorizes with a refreshing blend of lime, ginger and vetiver. No time for a shower? Wash your face thoroughly with warm water using one of the Triple Milled West Indian Lime Soaps or hold wet a flannel against your skin for a minute or two.
Step 2: Lather up
When applying your shaving cream you have two choices. Traditional or quick.
Use an Edwin Jagger Pure Badger Brush to aerate the shave cream or soap and raise your hairs away from your skin. The West Indian Lime Shave Soap in a Bowl is formulated with Vitamin E to help condition the skin. Dip the end of the brush into warm water and apply in slow, careful, circular motions to your face.
Alternatively, Crabtree & Evelyn’s West Indian Lime Shave Cream is designed specifically to protect against razor burn and irritation and can easily be applied with the tips of your fingers for a late-for-the-office shave – and the nifty metal key included will get every slither of cream out of the tube. Either way, apply a consistently thin and even layer of cream to your face.
Step 3: Razor at the ready
For a supremely smooth finish shave once with the grain and once against it. However, those with sensitive skin should limit the amount of blade pass-overs. Rinse the blade under warm water after each stroke; always start at the side burn and work your way down; and leave the chin and moustache last as the hairs here are as tough as the latest Bond villain. Finally, splash skin with cold water or hold a flannel soaked in cold water against your face to close pores.
Step 4: Finishing touches
The key to avoiding irritable skin and red blotches of razor burn is good shaving aftercare. West Indian Lime Aftershave Balm contains sweet almond oil and shea butter leaving the skin moisturized and scented with a distinctive spicy fragrance for this very purpose.
To cap off your wet shave splash on West Indian Lime Cologne, which is composed of notes of fresh limes, vetiver, nutmeg, ginger and coriander and blended with deep base notes of woody musk. It’s the perfect fragrance to pat on to those superhero chops and polish off the perfect shave courtesy of Crabtree & Evelyn.
Gareth May’s latest book Man of the World is out now.
You can win the West Indian Lime Range by entering our Facebook Competition (ends 10th September).
May 1st, 2012 | | permalink
Want to turn your trash into cash and have a fun day out? Then get yourself to a local car boot sale this summer.
Search on the website Car Boot Junction or check local press to find a car boot sale near you.
But before you do, take note of these Top 10 trading tips…
1. Clearing out
Be ruthless! If you haven’t used or worn an item in months, or even years, get rid. Make sure your goods are clean and clothes have been washed and aired. Always check purses, bags and pockets in case you’ve left money or personal details in them.
2. Be an early bird
Car boot sales are very popular, and if you’re late you could miss out on a pitch, so arrive early. Plus, this means people are less likely root through your boot before you’ve set things out. Yes, this does happen.
3. Setting up
You’ll need ground sheets and a table – and a hanging rail is handy if you’re selling clothes. It’s also worth taking clear plastic sheeting to cover your stall if it rains. Make sure you have a good supply of plastic bags for your customers and a box of petty cash so you can change notes. People like to know prices, so mark up goods with sticky labels.
4. Make yourself comfortable
Take a flask and a packed lunch with you to save money on buying burgers and builders’ tea while you’re there. You’ll be exposed to the elements, so layer up and remember to take waterproofs and an umbrella, just in case. Most car boot sites have portable loos, so you won’t have to cross your legs!
5. Be open to offers
People love to haggle, so let them. It’s worth reducing items towards the end of the day or doing special offers, like buy one get one free, or reducing everything to £1.
6. Cash in with cakes
Homemade cakes always go down well at car boot sales and are a great way to make extra cash. Make simple cakes that don’t take too much time or money to make.
7. Get the kids to help
Car boot sales are a great place for kids to learn about money. Get them to sort out their old toys, price them up and sell them. Then they can add the cash they’ve made to their pocket money.
8. Watch out for thieves
Unfortunately, car boot sales are a popular thieving ground, so be vigilant. Watch your stall like a hawk and never take your eye off your valuables.
9. Don’t buy more junk!
However alluring other stalls may be, avoid going on a shopping spree as it defeats the object of having a clear-out, and you could waste money. But if you see a bargainous antique, go for it!
10. Ways to get rid of unsold items
Take your unsold goods to a charity shop, jumble sale or recycling bank. If items are in good nick, then try selling them on eBay.
Just think, with all the money you make you could go on a shopping spree at Crabtree & Evelyn!