7 QUICK TIPS ON BAKING CAKES…

  1. When baking shortbread cookies, substitute half of your plain flour with cornflour. It gives them a really nice taste.
  2. Before icing a cake, sprinkle the top with some flour, this will stop the icing from running down over the edges of the cake.
  3. To make sure the essence you use adds flavour to the whole cake, mix it into the egg before adding the egg to the mixture.
  4. Don’t crowd the oven with Baking tins. The pans should never touch each other or the sides of the oven or be placed over or under each other on the racks.
  5. Grease pans using a piece of paper towel, rub a small amount of shortening, butter or margarine evenly over the bottom and on sides of pans if directed. A small amount of pan spray may be used and spread over the pan, also using the paper towel technique.
  6. Prevent sharp edges on muffins, bar cookies by greasing the muffin cups or pans only on the bottom and halfway up the sides so the batter is higher than the grease line. This is one time you might not want to use a pan spray.
  7. To test for doneness in cakes, quick breads and bar cookies, use a toothpick inserted in the center. The toothpick should come out clean and dry or have only a few crumbs clinging to it.

For more great tips on baking check out my book on Amazon.

A Little Book On Tea, Cake and Chocolate: TEA pairings, TEA and chocolate, TEA and its health benefits plus over 100 tips on BAKING cakes.

7 OF THE BEST WAYS TO STORE YOUR TEA…

  1. It’s best to transfer both loose tea and tea bags from a cardboard or paper packet or tub into an air-tight container.
  2. Tins and caddies with tight-fitting lids are good as they can keep out smells and humidity which can affect the tea.
  3. Storing the jars in a dark cupboard will mean the tea will keep well.
  4. You should never keep it in the fridge as there is always the chance that water will get into the packet.
  5. You should always be careful with flavoured teas, as the added flavourings can be very powerful and easily taint other teas nearby.
  6. For loose tea, it is essential that you check that the spoon or scoop that you use is completely dry.
  7. If there is even a drop of moisture on the spoon, the humidity introduced to the interior of the packet or caddy will have an effect on the quality of flavour.

A GREAT GIFT FOR CHRISTMAS – YOUR OWN TEA PLANT TO GROW YOUR OWN TEA…

Grow Your Own Tea Plant

Not On The High Street have a great Grow Your Own Tea plant Kit for £17.95 which would make a great Christmas gift for any tea lover.

These amazing kits have all you need to grow your own tea plant at home. Harvest and dry the leaves for the ultimate in homegrown tea.

Whether a keen gardener or someone who enjoys herbal tea, there’s nothing more satisfying than growing your own chamomile flowers and drinking some tea you’ve brewed at home.

Our Grow your own tea kit has been specifically designed to the highest quality.

A greenhouse, conservatory or even a sunny window are all adequate to grow this amazing plant.

Inside the Tea Plant Kit are two large terracotta-coloured small plant pots (one 9cm tall, the other 6cm tall), one saucer (9cm in diameter), two professional grow pelles, two plant pot trays, two wooden label sticks and your tea plant seeds. An instruction sheet is also included on how to grow and take care of your new arrival. Their seeds have a shelf life of 12-18 months.

We are not talking about herbal teas either, but real tea: Camellia sinensis. You don’t need a large garden to grow your own tea, a planter on a balcony would work just fine.

‘You could try growing Camellia sinensis in a greenhouse, or in a pot that you can bring indoors during cold winters.

The Camellia sinensis plant is a small shrub about 1-2 meters in height, though it will grow taller if you don’t prune it. In the fall, your tea shrub will flower with small white blossoms that have a delightful scent. These plants are often grown as ornamentals. For planting, Camellia sinensis likes well-drained and sandy soil that is on the acidic side. If you are going to grow your tea in a container, add some sphagnum moss to the potting mix. You’ll need some patience, too. Your plant should be around 3 years old before you start harvesting leaves.

A great site with all the details on growing your own tea is ‘Guide to Growing Tea’, and you might be able to get seeds at your local nursery or try online at Amazon.

From that plant, you could make black, green or oolong tea. Fascinating stuff and for all us tea lovers, its another thing we can try growing in the garden.

 

THE VERY BRITISH FISH AND CHIPS…

 

Did you know that according to Wikepedia fish and chips first appeared in the 1860’s and by 1910 there were more than 25,000 fish and chip shops across the UK, and by the 1930’s there were over 35,000. The National Federation of Fish Friers say that there are now 8,500 fish and chip shops across the UK.

Historic UK site says that the potato is though to have been brought into England from the New World of the 17th century by Sir Walter Raleigh although it is believed that it was the French who invented the fried potato chip.

In 1839 Charles Dickens referred to a ‘fried fish warehouse‘ in his novel, ‘Oliver Twist‘. The first fish and chip shop is believed to have been in Mossely, Lancashire in the North of England. It was sold from a wooden hut in the market and then later transferred to a permanent shop which had an inscription on its window which said ‘ this is the first fish and chip shop in the world’.

Towards the latter part of the 19th century and well into the next century, the fish and chip trade expanded satisfying the needs of the growing industrial population of the UK. Then the steam trawler brought fish from all over the North Atlantic, Iceland and Greenland and the steam railways meant the fish was distributed easily around the country.

Apparently in 1931 fish and chips became so essential in the British diet that one shop in Bradford had to employ a doorman to control the queue at busy times. Even the Territorial Army enjoyed it with special catering tents erected at training camps in order to give them fish and chips before battle.

The National Federation of Fish Friers said that in 1999, the British consumed nearly 300 million servings of fish and chips which equates to six servings to every man, woman and child in the country. The British Fish and Chips is by far the nation’s favourite take-away.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF BREAD…

Bread comes in so many different types, from bagels, ciabatta, tortillas, potato, garlic, you name it you will find one out there.

 Bread is a low-fat staple food for many people and a good source of carbohydrates.

 They are made with different flours including white, wholemeal or wholegrain.

 Whole grains are grain foods in which all parts of the train are intact and retained during any processing.

 According to wikipedia ‘ Bread is a staple food prepared by cooking a dough of flour and water and often additional ingredients’.

 The Real Bread Campaign has absolutely everything you need to know about bread and more. The Real Bread Campaign are fighting for better bread in Britain. The national network brings together everyone who care about the state of bread in Britain.

 It has an online guide dedicated to helping you discover places to buy ‘Real Bread‘ and bread making courses and lessons on loaf.

 For me, ‘real bread‘ taste very different from processed breads and loaves and something I can never say ‘no’ to if it’s a freshly made one in a Restaurant.

 

 

THE VINTAGE TEA COSY BACK IN FASHION WITH A BANG…

 

The first documented tea cosy in Britain was in 1867 and it was probably the Duchess of Bedford, who by establishing the activity of afternoon tea in 1840, increased the popularity of tea cosy.

They then flourished during the late 19th Century and were also starting to be used in North America during the same period.

It is defined in Wikipedia as ‘a cover for a teapot, traditionally made of cloth or wool, which is used to insulate the tea, keeping it warm while it brews’.

Cloth tea cosies often have padded inserts which can be washed separately and many are hand knitted looking just like a woollen hat with a bobble on the top.

A company called Start Knitting have the patterns, which are free, of most of the images I have put on here. For a more traditional tea cosy you could either copy the pattern from Castoncastoff Blog.

Of course they don’t have to be knitted you can buy tea cosies made from fabric like this tweed fabric one from Folksy at £28