Looking at cakes, baking cakes, decorating cakes... almost as good as tasting cakes.

Since Christmas 2009 I have become quite consumed by cakes, all types of cakes - as my ever growing belly will vouch for. After being asked by my boyfriends Nanny Mary "If Santa could bring you one thing for Christmas, what would it be?" I didn't hesitate to answer... "A kenwood food mixer of course!" Before I could even begin to explain my life long dream of owning my very own Kenwood she had hot-footed it out of the living room. Within a matter of seconds she returned with a whole lot of huffing and puffing... lugging, yep, you guessed it - a Kenwood. Being almost double my age there was nothing this Kenwood couldn't handle. It was love at first site, and I knew her age and wisdom would make me the cake baker I've always dreamed of becoming. "Goodbye" to the early onset of tennis elbow from my cheapo, handheld mixer and "hello" to the singsong whirrs of my k-beater.

Admittedly, I may have underestimated the true skill that is needed to make the perfect cakes- fine tools are all well and good but without a decent recipe, quality ingriedients, determination, patience, time, passion... yep, there is way more to this baking malarky than I first thought.

This blog will follow my many trials and, no doubt, many tribulations, with a little weight gain to boot, as I test out as many cake recipes as I can muster.

And it doesn't end there... I will also chase cakes around the country, even the world, and review and determine what really makes the perfect cake.

Will the 'famous' bakerys and cook books give me my moneys worth and be all they're cracked up to be? The proof is in the pudding, ahem, cake.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

The Tea Rooms, Church Street, Stoke Newington

The Shop- Today my boyfriend and I wanted to try a new tea room, so we checked out Time Out to see what they recommended. Under 'London'e Best Afternoon Tea':
I found this little gem of a tea room, The Tea Rooms. Rated under the 'No frills' section. It had excellent reviews and is conveniently a 20 minute walk from our flat.
The shop is quirky, mismatching and very friendly. With a super bright mint green colour from the outside you simply can't miss it. The inside is decorated with warm hint-of-rose walls, mismatching old wooden furniture, quirky mismatching crockery (with a section of the shop selling old antique crockery) and offers a small quaint garden area. With a simple menu of three options for lunch, we had the pea and mint soup with cheese scones (very tasty). With about seven traditional cakes to choose from, they were simply displayed and reasonably priced. The cakes were homemade and traditional, nothing of the adventurous nature here. 

Carrot Cake - We chose to share the carrot cake, at around £2.80, it was a good size and visually traditional and yummy. I seem to be favouring carrot cakes recently, I love the fact that every carrot cake tastes different, there are so many variations whether it be texture, frosting or flavours. The frosting was sweet and perfectly buttery, topped with chopped nuts. Just the right amount of frosting, so as not to overpower the sponge. The sponge was nutty, with good sized chunks giving it greater depth, as opposed to a straightforward sponge. The sponge was fresh, tasty and bouncy. As always with a carrot cake we couldn't finish the whole piece as they are so rich and sweet. A perfect Sunday afternoon treat.

I highly recommend this tea room, it's effortlessly trendy, excellent value and holds regular knitting club meetings and cake decorating classes (I'm taking a class- I will review). Let me know what you think about it!

Konditor and Cook, Stamford St, Southbank, London

The shop - A bright, simple shop which lets its cakes do the talking. Not as good use of its window displays, compared with some of its other shops. But a more laid back feel with a large shared table in the middle. Coffees are lovely, but the take-away cups are too small and only come in one size. The hot chocolate is amazing! Exceptionally sinful and definitely not needed with a cake, sugar overload! The staff are always very friendly and helpful giving the shop a warm happy feel.

Dorset Apple Cup - Having been recommended this cake by a colleague, who loves it, I was not disappointed. On appearance it looks like a rather plain muffin, certainly not Konditor's prettiest or visually tempting cake but the taste is lovely. A lovely sponge cake, not a heavy stodgy muffin by any means. It has gorgeous sweet tangy apple chunks and a creamy blob of custard on the inside. The sponge is simple and light, and lets the apple and custard take the limelight. This is a perfect afternoon treat with a cuppa. It leaves you feeling satisfied, not too full or overindulged. At £2.85 it's a fair price, if a little pricey for a take away cake, but this is London and the cake is very nice.

Boston Brownie with cranberries - At £1.95 a pop this divine brownie is excellent value. A chunky dark slab of a brownie, just the right size, if a little on the large size (depending on how hungry you are!) This brownie is gorgeously chocolaty, just the right amount of sweetness with a tangy kick thanks to the cranberries. The fruit gives a sharp fruity burst in your mouth, complementing the rich chocolate. The texture is beautifully smooth and moist. It melts in your mouth, and is perfect with a glass of milk to wash it down. In my brownie experience the texture is what can really make or break a brownie and a spongy brownie is a definite no-no. This Boston Brownie is luxurious treat, and the cranberries give it that
grown-up attitude. I hugely recommend.