Sunday, 25 August 2013

Afternoon tea at the Celtic Manor Resort

A few weeks ago it was afternoon tea again for me, this time at the Cetlic Manor, a 5* Resort in Newport, Wales. A lovely friend said that the afternoon tea here at the resort is great, so I thought i'll take my cousin along for a belated birthday treat. 

The resort afternoon tea is served at The Olive Tree & Garden Room. As we entered, we were welcomed by friendly polite staff who sat us down to our table to a window seat. The room was beautiful and bright and it put a extra big smile on my face that day as the sun decided to make an appearance so we manage to enjoyed the beautiful sunny view outside towards the golf course. 




With our drinks, we got to choose from a few selection of fresh teas or freshly brewed coffee. Food came on a three tier stand, everything looked very appetising and it is quite a lot of food for afternoon tea but I always skip lunch if i'm having afternoon tea and because our table was booked for 2.30pm I was particularly hungry by this time and I knew I wouldn't have a problem demolishing the whole lot, especially when it comes to bread and cake!


So we started off with the bottom tier with the sandwiches. There was a wide range of sandwiches, i've not had afternoon tea with so many varieties before. We had seven pieces each, which includes, egg mayonnaise, chicken coriander and lime, cucumber and mint creme fraiche, honey roast ham with cherry tomatoe and apple chutney, mini bagel with smoked salmon and lemon and chive cream cheese. Sandwiches were all fresh, fillings were just right, not too much or too less. My favourites was the honey roast ham with apple chutney and the mini bagel, the salmon was lovely and fresh and tasted beautiful with the cream cheese.


Moving onto the second tier, mango and passion fruit chocolate pot and lemon meringue 

 
The chocolate pot was a little too sweet with the syrup on top but I always love the flavour combination of mango and passion fruit together, a little different as i've not had a dessert like this before. I don't eat lemon meringues that often as I do find the lemon filling too sweet with a meringue, although the tart was very sweet but it was also very light and fluffy too.

Third tier, cakes, my favourite!

All cakes were all lovely and soft, the buttercream with the velvet chocolate cupcake was so smooth and silky. The raspberry joconde, a cute little cake with a raspberry mousse filling and a praline buttercream pyramid which was a little sweet but the sponge was lovely and light. When we were close to finishing all our cakes the waitress came over and asked if we were ready for ours scones but we said if we could wait for a moment, as we needed time to rest before eating anymore food.

For me, afternoon tea is all about the scones, I am quite fussy when it come to scones, and I would have prefer if they were served at the start rather than at the end. The scones were warm when they arrived, I thought the outside was slightly over baked but the inside was lovely and light served with Roddas clotted cream and strawberry preserve.

Overall another lovely afternoon experience. Food was delicious, service was good and the atmosphere was relaxing with the beautiful surroundings.

I highly recommend the resort afternoon tea, with a unbeatable price of just £32 for two persons its worth a visit for a elegant and luxury treat! I'm looking forward to going back to try the Newbridge Cream Tea and the Christmas Afternoon Tea.

For more info on the Celtic Manor Afternoon Teas, click HERE 

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Recipes by John Whaite

I'm sure many of you are just as excited as I am! Yes The Great British Bake Off  is back on our screens on 20th August!

Since the show last year, I have been a little addicted to John Whaite's recipes, my favourite and well deserved bake off winner! John won over the audience with his down to earth personality, his passion and his amazing talent for baking. I think it was the second episode when John won star baker on bread week that I thought what a great baker John truly is! I started following him on twitter and when he tweeted a recipe for his wholemeal loaf, I really wanted to try out the recipe. I've only tried bread making once and it turned out in such a disaster that I never attempted it again but after bread week on the bake off, I was inspired by John and the show to give it another go. So when I attempted the recipe and seeing my dough double in size I was clapping with joy! I was thinking, I must be doing it right this time! (The first time I tried making Chinese bread rolls, they actually turned out like rocks!)

Yes! My first successful homemade bread! The loaf turned out beautiful, lovely and light. Bread making didn't seem that scary after all following this easy and simple recipe. Recipe can be found HERE 


Second recipe I tried from Johns blog, Lemon Drizzle Loaf. A very moist, zesty and fluffy loaf. Recipe HERE 
From here on I always trust Johns recipes as I know they will turn out great, they do just get better and better each time!

These Blueberry and White Chocolate Bagels are the ones John made on the bake off. I've not made bagels before but the contestants on the bake off looked like they were having so much fun and after making my first successful loaf I was a little bit more confident playing with dough this time. I loved the recipe, these turned out great! Sweet, chewy and yummy! Recipe HERE 

 
Johns Gateau Saint-Honore a la passion is one of the most advanced recipes that i've tried. So much works goes into this famous French patisserie and its a real test of skill and I certainly didn't have it! Its the first time I made choux and rough puff pastry. The choux pastry was quite straight forward to make but the puff pastry I found very difficult! After wasting two blocks of butter, I still failed miserably and i've never been brave enough to attempt puff pastry till this day. This would have been a lovely dessert if I didn't mess up my puff pastry but the flavours was beautiful, the choux was lovely filled with chantilly cream and the caramel but I wished I did a better job with the presentation. What's special about this recipe is that it has a lovely passionfruit curd filling, absolutely gorgeous. Recipe HERE


Johns Arabian Night Tart is one of my favourites bakes from last years bake off! A rich and buttery pastry case filled with pistachio frangipane, creme patissiere and decorated with exotic fruits.

I was so please how this turned out as I don't make tarts that often. The pastry turned out lovely, not too thick or too thin, crisp with no soggy bottom, soft pistachio frangipane and a lovely smooth creme patissiere. A perfect, stunning recipe! A recipe I highly recommend. Recipe can be found HERE 

Soon after John was crowned the winner of The Great British Bake Off, he started to write his first baking book but he still continued posting recipes on his blog and this time I decided to make my first ever Christmas cake using his recipe. As I didn't want to use alcohol, I asked John what juice he would recommend and he suggested pomegranate juice would be nice. I was really looking forward to making this cake as i've not made a Xmas cake before, while the cake was in the oven my house smelt absolutely beautiful! Recipe HERE 


My first Christmas Cake


Johns chocolate chiffon recipe has got to be my all time favourite cake! I've lost count how many times i've made it now. A very light and chocolatey sponge and it's even better with his salted caramel icing, indulgent experience! Trust me, I can eat a lot of this cake! Recipe HERE


Finally in April 2013, John released his first book JOHN WHAITE BAKES, Recipes for everyday and every mood. I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book and I knew I wouldn't be disappointed! The book have a wide variety of recipes and for people of all skill levels. There are many delicious savoury recipes in the the book that I would like to try including, a caramelized onion and rosemary fougasse, pizza puttanesca but I do have a very sweet tooth and everytime I pick up the book I can't help but make something sweet again! Here are a few of the recipes i've tried so far from the book.

Here are some apricot and white chocolate flapjacks, a white chocolate and raspberry melting cake, rose madeleines and spiced apple and cranberry muffins. What I love about the book is that it includes many quick, easy and mouth-watering recipes, a lot of ingredients you will already have in your cupboard and also many fancy recipes for dinner parties or those special occasions. 


These salted peanut and chocolate florentines are absolutely addictive! I used sultanas instead of apricot as I didn't have any apricot in the house but they still were very good. Perfect for my sweet tooth, sweet, chewy and chocolatey.

These Rose Lychee Meringue Hearts are so adorable! I was so looking forward to making these as i've never made meringues before and I was so pleased that they turned out lovely! The meringues were light and airy, crisp on the outside and soft in the inside just like a meringue should be and with the lychee topping its just perfect.


Definitely one of my favourite recipes from the book so far! Deliciously sweet, pretty and such a chic dessert. John has definitely created the most indulgent and delicious recipes for everyday and every mood...

A must try recipe, heaven on a plate! 

Hope you like my attempts of Johns recipes, do try them out as they are all beautiful recipes. You can order Johns book HERE John is already writing his second book and i'm really looking forward to when it comes out as he's been studying at Le Cordon Bleu for a pastry diploma to become a patissier and i'm sure there will be some great recipes and hoping some baking techniques too. I'm so happy that he is doing so well after the Great British Bake Off and i'm sure he's going to continue to do great in the future.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Strawberry Oreo Cheesecake

When I saw these in Hong Kong, I just thought what would these taste like in my oreo cheesecake recipe? There was only one way to find out, to get some and bring them back to UK and test it out.

Since they were strawberry oreos, I was thinking about mixing some strawberries into the cheesecake but then I thought i'll put them around the outside to make it look a bit different instead.

Pretty happy how it turned out.

With some piped cream and half a oreo on top, looks quite simple but I love it! Although you can't the strawberry oreos here in the UK, you can make it with the original ones taste just as good! My recipe HERE

Lovely!

Perfect slice :)

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Cakes and desserts in Hong Kong

Mmm a post just on cakes and desserts! I don't go back to Hong Kong that often but when I do decide to go, it's normally because family are going and I go back with them. As much as I look forward to spending precious time with family, i'm also super excited to having my favourite cakes, chinese desserts and chinese buns/bread.

Its not until I uploaded the photos while doing this post that I realise how much cake and desserts I consumed in two weeks! As some of you may know, I am a little obsessed when it come to cake and since I was only in Hong Kong for two weeks, of course i'm going to eat as much as I can...... Okay please don't judge :)

If you follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you will notice that a lot of my bakes are inspired by Hong Kong bakeries.

 The perfect looking swiss rolls! So many different flavours.


I love the fusion cakes at the front! When you can't decide what cake to have, you can mix and match and choose three different flavours. 

 My favourite, chinese egg custard tarts. These are so delicous especially when there still warm! You can get them with either a sweet pastry but the flaky pastry is the best!


Who can resist the smell freshly baked bread? I certainly can't! Everytime I walk pass this bakery, I just can't resist and I would have to go in and buy one or two buns. I'm in here almost everyday and sometimes I would prefer not to have dinner and have a few buns instead followed by cake...

Here are some of the cakes I bought from the bakeries. Chocolate swissroll, vanilla mix fruits swiss roll, mango & coconut mousse cake, strawberry mousse cake and coffee mousse cake. Was really disappointed with these except the mango & coconut mousse cake. I really liked the two flavours together when I tried this and I knew straight away that I really wanted to have a go making this when I get back to UK! You can see how they turned out HERE

  
From the top left, a strawberry chiffon cake. The cake is super soft and fluffy just like cotton wool, so light. 
Top right-A chestnut cream cake and tiramisu, both very light but not much flavour.
Bottom left- Cakes from Italian Tomato, the banana caramel tart was beautitul, not too sweet or heavy. The chestnut cream cake was nice but too much chestnut, I found the cake a bit too filling.
Bottom right-plain layer cake, soft, moist and buttery.

I always wanted to try a red bean, green tea cake as I have a recipe in one of my baking books but I know nobody would like it, so never bother trying out the recipe. So I was quite looking forward to trying this one but oh my gosh! This is one of the worst cakes I have ever eaten. The green tea sponge was really hard and dry, the cream was flavourless and the red beans were under cooked. The macaron, well to be honest I wouldn't class it as a macaron! I never waste cake but this must have been the first!


PATISSIERES AT CAFFE HABITU

This is another lovely cafe which serve good coffee and lovely patisseries. I went for a rose latte and a matcha cake, particularly like the middle layer of chocolate with the creamy mousse layer. It was a shame I didn't have time to go back and try some of the other patisseries. 


PATISSERIES FROM AGNES B
These are the six flavours I tried. You can read more about agnes b. patisseries and chocolates HERE


AFTERNOON TEA AT THE INTERCONTINETAL HOTEL
You can read more about this lovely afternoon tea at the InterContinetal Hotel HERE 


DESSERTS FROM HONEYMOON DESSERTS.
This is another favourite place I like to visit often when I go to Hong Kong. I love the chinese desserts here, so refreshing! Here are the six I had during my stay. 
1.Mix fruit tofu pudding with mango juice. 2.Mango & tofu dessert. 3.Mango with vanilla ice-cream and mango juice. 4.Tofu and sago dessert. 5.Chinese jelly with sago with vanilla & green tea ice-cream. 6.Almond tea with egg whites. 
These are all lovely! I actually don't have a favourite, I really want one now :(

It's almost that I go back to Hong Kong just to eat cake and desserts.... Well.... that is one of the main reasons haha!!! but hopefully I can go back sometime next year :)



Friday, 2 August 2013

Mango & Coconut Mousse Cake

Made these mango and coconut mousse cakes not so long when I came back from Hong Kong this year.

Its the first time I made these and its all because I tried this lovely one (photo above) from a bakery while in Hong Kong. The sponge and mango mousse tasted very similar to my mango mousse cakes that I always make at home. I make cake all the time but I must say I not very good when it comes to flavours, so when I tried this, I immediately loved the mango and coconut combination and I knew that I had to try and make something similar when I get back to UK!

At first I wanted to decorate the top of the cakes with mangos but I thought it wouldn't look that good as mangos are very hard to cut up! As some of you know I like my cakes to look pretty so I decided to pipe cream rose on top of each slice. 

I must say, I was very happy how these turned out. The cakes were very light and because there mousse cakes, it feels less guilty that you've eaten a few slices :)