Dominique Ansel Bakery – Home of the Novelty Baked Treats

I recently visited the famous Dominique Ansel bakery in London with a friend, which is famous for the Cronut, as well as a lot of other baked delicacies.  We got a little over-excited and ordered a bunch of treats, all of which we had fun tasting – the cookie shot (a cup made of cookie filled with milk), the peanut-butter creamy cake, the Frozen S’more (a marshmallow-ice cream combination), mini Madeleines fresh and hot from the oven and a yummy hot chocolate with a marshmallow flower which opened up from the heat of the drink.

As I’m sure you can imagine, we were stuffed after all of this, and had to walk around the streets to burn it off a little, but it was worth it! If you’re around the area, I’d recommend this place to sit and try (although it can get very busy so there may be some waiting time!), and it’s not super-cheap (although not overly-expensive either) – sometime to try at least once!

The Cake & Bake Show London 2016

I’m a big fan of crafts and creativity, whether it’s clever decor, home DIY or yummy masterpieces of baking, chocolatiers and beautiful treats (and especially these things because it means I get to eat them).

My sister, niece and I recently went to the Cake and Bake Show last weekend, which was huge fun for us as we all love seeing different ideas and creative pieces, and of course we all love stuffing our faces with cake. We knew it would be a good show when we were greeted with this huge BFG sculpture at the entrance – who doesn’t love Roald Dahl, fantasy and cake mixed together?

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We saw a huge range of cakes, cupcakes, biscuits cakepops, meringues and many more, plus lots of professional baking and cooking tools, which was serious inspiration heaven, whether you’re a baker or not.

Below are some of the professional cakes we saw, as well as many of the ones on display we loved – it’s amazing how many ideas there were.

(Be warned, my sister and I took hundreds of pictures, I’ve tried to cut down how many I’ve posted below but there were just too many we loved and which I didn’t to keep out!)

Professional cakes
This was a display of professional companies advertising their services and showcasing their cake and biscuit skills. I loved that some of these were set up like wedding dessert tables, where the treats all match each other and have a theme. Serious luxury here!

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Exhibitor cakes
These were cakes and cupcakes on display by vendors selling tools for baking, so a lot of these were on display to show how the tools could be used to make something beautiful. Again, I had a lot of favourites with these as I never realised how many ways of decorating and creating baked goods there were, but I did love the beautiful pieces and colours. I guess my most favourite is the first picture below – the Alice in Wonderland theme cake, which really appealed to my love of all things Wonderland!

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Competition cakes
There was a long line to see this, but we just had to line up to see these. The theme for the cakes in the competition was ‘Myths, Legends and Fantasy’, which I just loved because it’s always been one of my favourite themes in just about everything (film, books, games…!)
It was amazing to see how this was interpreted, with a range of myths and stories from across culture (not to mention media, like the Neverending Story!).

I was going to only post a few of these, but then opted to show all of the entries because I thought each baker had something beautiful in each piece – I wouldn’t know which one to choose as the winner!

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A Chunky Chicken and Potatoes Curry Recipe

I thought I’d post a quick chicken and potato curry recipe that we made yesterday, which I thought would be quick and easy to throw together! I’m looking to be more creating with recipes this Ramadan, so will post any new dishes I make!

Cook Thangs

Ingredients:

  • Chicken (we used half a kilo)
  • 4-5 potatoes
  • 3-4 tomatoes
  • 1/4 spoon of chilli powder (use more or less according to your preferences)
  • 1/2 spoon of salt (use more or less according to your preferences)
  • A pinch of saffron
  • Pinch of garam masala
  • Pinch of black pepper (optional)
  • 3 cardamoms seeds
  • 3-4 green chillies
  • 1 tsp of mashed garlic paste
  • 1 tsp of mashed ginger paste

Method:

  • Warm some oil in a pan
  • Chop the onions (it’s up to you how big/chunky you prefer them) and cook in the pan until golden brown
  • Once they are brown remove from the pan and drain. leave the oil in the pan
  • Roast all of the spices together with the garlic and ginger paste and the cardamom seeds in the remaining oil for about 10-15 mins
  • Peel and chop the potatoes, wash the chicken pieces and chop the green chilli – we trimmed the chillies at the end and left them as whole pieces
  • Chop the tomatoes – again you can keep these chunky or blend these like we did. We also put the onions in with the tomatoes for a smoother sauce, but you can leave them chunky if you want a thicker sauce
  • Add the chicken pieces to the spices and cook in the sauce until half-cooked
  • Add the green chillies to the pan
  • Once the chicken is half-cooked, add the tomatoes and onions mix back to the pan
  • Add the chopped potatoes to the pan
  • Cook in the sauce for a little while
  • Add water to the pan and cook for a few minutes
  • Put the lid on the pan and let the steam cook the potatoes
  • Once the potatoes begin to go soft (about 15-20 minutes later) the dish is ready
  • Serve with rice or with naan/pitta/chappatis and enjoy.

Afternoon Tea at the Sky Bar

It’s been a while since I’ve had a proper afternoon tea, so when my friends suggested a tea at lunchtime in the middle of work today, I didn’t resist for a moment. We’re lucky enough to work locally to Westfield Stratford in east London, which has a variety of restaurants and shops for us to indulge in every now and then (not everyday otherwise we’d all be bankrupt!)

So off we skiddled along to Sky Bar, which I never knew existed until I walked in, a beautiful balcony restaurant overlooking the random skyscrapers, train stations and restaurants of east London while having a lovely tea. The best part about this is that there was a 50% off deal going on as well, so it was cheap and guilt-less indulgence too!

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I always love beautiful decor when visiting a new restaurant, and this place fit tickled my imagination nicely – a huge ceiling with cool wooden floors and metal decoration, beautiful lanterns and quirky paintings at the entrance.

Onto the good stuff, the food – I think the picture below sums up how pretty this tea was. I wasn’t expecting a lot for what we paid, and was pleasantly surprised by how nicely put together everything was. Teapots with fresh roses, jugs of tea and milk, plates of scones, jams, sandwiches and tea, lemonade water (for people like me who aren’t tea drinkers!) and beautifully made desserts.

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We loved how well presented each plate of food was – between three of us we couldn’t finish this three-tier of sandwiches and cakes, and we had great fun swapping different flavoured macarons and cupcakes (by swapping, ‘sampling’ each other’s cakes!). My husband always says having afternoon tea is a bit of a girly thing, and that there are never enough sandwiches for his liking – personally I think afternoon tea is for everyone but I did love how girly and vintage-themed the flowers and crockery were. I also loved that there was a good mix of food for everyone, lemon cake, brownies, rich cupcakes, macarons, scones and three different fillings of sandwiches.

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I also love how full the table looked by the time all of the food arrive – I never like paying a lot of money for an afternoon tea experience which makes you feel as if you didn’t really get much. Half of the tea can sometimes be the visual experience and the beautiful decor to match beautiful food, which in this case certainly worked well together. My favourite thing was a little cute case with a single macaron with an ‘eat me’ label on it! Sadly enough I wasn’t allowed to take the little case home (I did eat the macaron inside though, it was an almond-flavoured one), but it did give me ideas for future tea parties…!

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All in all this was a lovely afternoon (even if we did have to go back to work after a long lunch!) and a perfect way to end the working week, and begin the bank holiday weekend!

The Mad Hatter’s Tea at Valentines Mansion

I recently posted about some upcoming events happening in London as part of Find your London Festival, so made sure I  kept an eye out for local events that I could attend. This weekend saw the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party at Valentines Mansion and Garden, which was a really fun even put together for the kids to enjoy (and the adults!).

I’m a huge fan of Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party (you can see the pictures from my own tea party for evidence!) and I always love seeing different takes on the idea of a quirky tea party. I love the idea of doing a tea party in the park, and what better time than spring?

My sisters and I took along my nieces and nephews to enjoy the fun, and were able to walk around inside the mansions and have a look at the historical site inside. The Tea Party was organised next to the mansion in the gardens  which had plenty of games, activities and equipment for the children, which we all managed to make good use of – I also loved the fact that there were plenty of people in costume!

One of the highlights of the Tea Party was the entrance of the Queen of Hearts, who told us we were very lucky to see her and that everything was “Marvellous!”, following with a parade with the White Rabbit and the Card Men, complete with pink flamingos!

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My favourite thing was probably this oversized Mad Hatter’s Top Hat, which we all took turns to sit on (and which didn’t collapse surprisingly), which was laid out for us to look at next to a giant plate of (foam) biscuits and some giant playing cards scattered around, as well as some very misleading direction signs!

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There were plenty of games which my younger nieces ran off to enjoy, which I thought were a great idea for kids to do in a park – I especially liked the fact that there was a croquet set!

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I also loved the random small touches laid out – oversized teacups, several top hats, a few Alices wandering around and plenty of flowers, cards and Chesire Cats, which really made the whole thing feel much more fun.

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The Mad Hatter’s Party was a fun day out (including the bit where the Queen made all of the children hold hands to make ‘hoop’s while the smaller children were hedgehogs who ran through them, croquet-style!) and it’s great to see something like this organised for free somewhere local. I’ll be keeping an eye out for more things like this for the Easter Holidays which make a great distraction and let us enjoy the local park.

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Pretty Treats at Primrose Bakery

Primrose Bakery is a little tea-and-cake shop I found hidden away near Covent Garden yesterday while wandering around the cobbled streets after lunch (and making my husband step into makeup shops with me to buy new lipsticks). I love luxurious, sumptuious afternoon teas but every now and then I prefer something quirky, sweet and prettily put together with odds and ends for a boho, funky look.

I’ve been trying to moderate how much chocolate I eat these days, so we stuck to a single (very chocolatey) cupcake with some coke (for me) and a latter (for him). I loved all the little touches, like the fresh flowers on the table.

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I love finding places like this because you can see from a glance how much character it has, and also how much work has gone into it to make it memorable and beautiful. It’s also great to see everything is freshly-made and that there are books, posters, aprons and cupcakes everywhere to create a great atmosphere.

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There was a little corner hidden away in the room for those who wanted some privacy (to stuff down their cupcakes) which I thought was really cute too, not to mention the random clothes-line!

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A quick mention of the treats too – there were plenty of different flavours of cupcakes and brownies, including a ‘Flavour of the Month’ (this month is lemon meringue, last month was cheesecake!), all waiting to be lusted over by customers.

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Its worth stepping in if you’re walking past this place, it’s slightly hidden away but it’s in a great location, just a stroll down from the busy shops in Coven Garden – worth sitting in to relax after tiring yourself out shopping!

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Weekend Pretty…Books and Pudding

Seriously, what can be cosier than this on a cold, grey weekend? I was meant to go to a hijab awareness exhibition today, which looked pretty fun because there would be plenty of fellow bloggers in attendance, not to mention lots of food, cake and henna stalls to try out – but I ended up succumbing to laziness and good books, and stayed home with this.

I think I made the right decision.

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