7 TIPS ON USING YOUR OVEN TO BAKE A CAKE…

  1. If you don’t have a skewer or something similar to check your cake try using a piece of dried spaghetti instead.
  2. Before putting your cake mixture into the oven, tap the cake tin on a counter to release any large air bubbles in the mixture.
  3. Never open the oven door in the first half hour of baking as the cold air will interfere with the rising of your cake.
  4. For a moister fruit cake in electric ovens or Aga’s, place a dish of water on the floor of the oven when baking.
  5. ‘Always’ turn Your oven on before you start, to ensure it is the correct temperature.
  6. Avoid opening the oven door to often as this reduces the temperature of your oven and can then cause the cake to sink.
  7. Do not overcrowd your oven, the pans should never touch each other, or be placed over or under each other.
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5 TOP TEA SUBSCRIPTIONS…

Tea Tourist UK – I have their subscription and have written a few reviews on their teas. Their subscription is a bit different as Tea Tourist is not actually a tea supplier but they source exciting teas from specialist tea companies and deliver a tasting selection direct to your door each month –Tea Tourist is your passport to the wonderful world of loose leaf tea. They package them in taster-sized portions which each sample providing enough for 3-4 cups. It’s a rolling monthly subscription, so no contract, and you can cancel anytime.

Bluebird Tea Company – As a VIP member of their tea Tasting Club, you will receive three new loose leaf tea blends every month, through the letterbox without having to lift a finger! Each loose leaf blend will come in a 20g pack, enough to make 10-15 cups of tea. They have three, six or twelve month subscriptions. Their Tea Club members are also the first to receive our limited edition seasonal collections before they get released …. AND they will send you a Perfect Tea Spoon as a welcome gift!

Bruu – the gourmet tea club have a three month, six month or twelve month subscription and you will receive 30 teas every month giving you up to 40 cups. (Less than 25p per cup).

They also have an option to pause or cancel your membership at any time. Gourmet by name, gourmet by nature, they say with all of their teas packed with only the finest quality tea leaves and in many cases blended with fresh organic ingredients. Which means their teas not only taste delicious but are also packed full of natural goodness.

The Tea Taster Club – You will get 4-5 teas to sample every month and guaranteed min value is £25 – but it’s often far more. The quantities of tea will depend on which teas are chosen for you. Your tea box comes with 3 Tasting Cards – so you can enjoy tasting the teas with friends. Each month you will also receive tasting notes and information about the teas.

There is no commitment and you can cancel at anytime.

Cha Tale – they have the most interesting and unusual teas, sourced from independent tea farms around the globe to give you an amazing taste. Each month they will send you a selection of new teas to try, how many depends on your monthly plan. They choose from over 1000 different fine teas, stocking everything from Green Tea to Milky Oolong. They are constantly sourcing new varieties and making their own blends to ensure that each month you get to try something exciting.At 20p per cup we think out tea is incredible value.

 

 

 

 

 

 

NINE TIPS ON USING FLOUR IN BAKING…

  1. Sift your flour and baking powder together 2 – 3 times when making a cake, as it will give your cake a very light and even texture and stop air pockets from forming.
  2. Try to store flour in an airtight container as it keeps better that way.
  3. Flour in baking, a high gluten flour would be used for bread and a low gluten flour for cakes
  4. Use plain flour which has a low protein content for baking cakes, pastries and biscuits and also for thickening sauces.
  5. Always stir flour to loosen before measuring.
  6. Use cocoa instead of flour for dusting a greased tin when making chocolate cake.
  7. Get a rise out of plain flour by adding extra baking powder ( 1 teasp for every 125g flour.
  8. Never substitute coconut flour with any other flours as they are not equivalent.
  9. If a recipe calls for 1 cup of all-purpose flour, try using ¾ cup whole-grain.

THIEVES BREW(BEV’S TEA CO) AND PISTACHIO SCONES…

I have written before that I receive the Tea Tourist tea box’s which come with a surprise selection of loose teas from some of the hottest artisan tea companies each month. They are sent in taster size portions for you to try. In this month’s box I had yet another amazing selection to try from and after sampling the Thieves Brew from Bev’s Tea Company, I decided to try and bake with it as well. I turned out rather tasty to say the least.

THIEVES BREW AND PISTACHIO SCONES…

Makes 14 to 16 scones

Working time: 35 mins
Resting time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Baking time: 20 minutes

1 teaspoon Thieves Brew Tea (By Bev’s Tea) seeped in 100g/3.5oz of boiled water for 3-4 mins
250g sultanas
160g  milk
150g unsalted butter
600g plain flour
30g baking powder
150g caster sugar
160g double cream
75g crushed pistachios
1 egg
Pinch of salt

Method

  1. Seep the tea in the water for 3-4 mins.
  2. Add the sultanas and leave to infuse for two hours.
  3. Place the milk in a pan and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat and leave to cool.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
  5. Rub the butter into the flour. Add the baking powder and sugar. Stir in the cream and milk. Drain the sultanas from the tea infusion and add them and the pistachios to the bowl and stir into the mix until you get a soft dough.
  6. Dust with a little flour and rest the dough for half an hour. Roll it out to 3cm thick and cut out your scones.
  7. Place the scones onto a tray.
  8. Beat the egg in a cup with a pinch of salt and use to glaze the top of the scones.
  9. Bake for 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Leave to cool.

 

WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING TEA…

 

When buying loose-leaf tea, make sure it smells fresh and vibrant. Check the packet labels to check whether you’re buying a blend or single variety. If buying flavoured tea, check whether the flavouring is natural or a ‘nature-identical’ synthetic. For example, Earl Grey tea flavoured with bergamot oil is far superior to Earl Grey tea with bergamot flavouring.

Black teas are graded by their leaf size, from whole leaf, to ‘broken’ and ‘fannings’, down to ‘dust’. The leaf grade will determine the tea’s brewing time: the smallest leaves are used in teabags because they brew very quickly. All grades can produce fine tea, albeit in different styles ranging from light and delicate to full-bodied.

All tea is made from the processed leaves and buds of the evergreen ‘Camellia sinensis’ bush. There are a huge variety of teas, however, generally classified by the size of the leaves and the way in which they’re treated. The flavour will vary according to the conditions in which the tea is grown, the soil and climate, the way the leaves are harvested and the manner in which they’re processed after picking.

A great advantage of loose leaf over bagged tea is your ability to see and smell the product before purchasing it. Generally, it’s better to buy more intact-looking leaves; a lot of crushed bits can indicate rough handling, excessive processing, and/or stale tea. Let your nose gauge the quality: Sniff for freshness and richness.

Tea has a long shelf-life, but both leaf tea and teabags should be stored in an airtight container or canister in a cool, dark place in order to preserve the original flavour for as long as possible.

More details on tea from the BBC Food/Tea