Posts tagged cake
The Percy Pig brand gets bigger and bigger all the time. Not only are M&S stores full of Percy Pig Easter Eggs (I’m really hoping for one on Sunday!), but you can get desserts, yoghurts, fairy cake mixes (which I reviewed previously), and now a rather stunning looking celebration cake.
Celebration cakes are normally reserved for, well, celebrations. But I decided we deserved cake, for no reason other than that I couldn’t resist. Twitter had mixed feelings – some have tried it and love it, others have tried it and found it less than satisfactory. So I naturally had to buy one just to see what it was like.
It is a pig-shaped madeira sponge cake with butter cream and raspberry jam with pink Percy Pig flavoured icing.
I went in one day and found just one Percy Pig cake on the shelf that was a bit squished. I could have asked customer service for a discount on the much-less-than-perfect cake but I decided to wait til the following day in the hope they’d had another delivery. There were a couple this time and I could resists no more, £10 later I was opening the box at home and trying to stop LincsGeek from cutting it before I managed to get a photograph (always a problem when I’m planning on writing about food!).
Our cake was still not quite right. As you can see the cake had slipped inside the icing and so the pig shape wasn’t smooth on one side. I have no problem with this at all; this cake costs a tenner and is made by a machine – if you want something totally spectacular and completely perfect then you go to a professional baker and sugar craft expert (Charm City Cakes if you’re reading this I’ve got a long list of cake ideas you could make for me!). I thought I’d mention it, though.
The cake itself is an evenly baked white sponge cake with a (very) thin layer of jam and butter cream inside. It is a fairly hard sponge – not a nice light Victoria sponge – that will last a good few days before it goes stale.
The covering is pink icing which is flavoured just like the foam part of a Percy Pig sweet. It’s very good, I was very impressed with the flavour. There is quite a lot of the icing and it is very sweet, so watch out for that sickly feeling if you eat the nose or feet in addition to your slice! I did wonder why there were no actual Percy Pig Sweets on the cake when I originally saw it, but you really don’t need them as well as the icing!
The box says this cake will serve 20 people. Twenty!! I’m not going to admit how many portions we got out of this cake, I feel terrible as it is admitting that LincsGeek and I ate the whole thing between us over the course of just a few days!
I really enjoyed this cake. It is a fun and cute celebration cake which certainly made me smile when looking at it and eating it. My love of Percy Pigs gets stronger!
At the end of last week my sister and I had a rather civilised afternoon taking high tea at Stoke Rochford Hall near Grantham in Lincolnshire. The Hall, which is an old manor house close to where Sir Isaac Newton did his teacher training, is a beautiful traditional building in an expanse of gardens both formal and informal. I was given the opportunity to review the Afternoon Tea for Two experience by Asda Gifts.
The Hall and the setting were lovely. It was a proper old manor house with lots of history but having been renovated very recently following a fire in 2005 everything was clean and in good repair – no worn out carpet, peeling paint or wobbly bannisters. As good children of an ex-history teacher my sister and I sat and read the little booklet telling us all about the place before we ate – we found it interesting that the fire place was not sold along with the house in 1970s – the black and white marble fireplace in the Oak Room is still owned by the family. It was actually a very nice place for a walk, we did wander around a little but it was so cold and started to snow (and we were being chased by a chicken!) so we headed inside to wait for our booked time.
We found the staff really friendly. We checked in at reception and were collected by our waitress for the afternoon straight away (we were 15 minutes early) who took us to the Oak Room and our table. We were the only ones in there – it was very quiet, it could have done with some classical music in the background or something to break the silence. It was a really lovely location, the chairs were comfortable, and there was plenty of space at our table. The fire was lit which made the large room feel cosy. Our waitress brought us tea straight away (there was a simple choice of tea or coffee) and we sat and chatted whilst enjoying the views across the park through the massive windows.
The food arrived a few minutes later – a plate of sandwiches and a cake stand with scones, fruit tarts and cakes. The sandwiches were four each of crab, cucumber, and beef and horseradish on different types of medium sliced bread. They were cut into triangles, with the crusts on – this was a rustic easy going afternoon rather than silver service, which suited the surroundings and the price. They were all very nice; the crab was definitely our favourite, closely followed by the beef.
Next we moved on to the three tier cake stand. The fruit scones were slightly warm – we think they were home made but a little hard so probably frozen and defrosted in the oven. They were served with plenty of jam and clotted cream and were definitely a highlight of the afternoon tea.
The fruit tart, brownie and fruit cake were definitely full portions – again, rustic rather than dainty. Actually they were probably a bit too large; there was no way we could eat it all, it was like having three puddings! The tart was nice – a cream filling with fresh fruit on top, the brownie was totally chocolatey, and the fruit cake was moist and full of flavour. There was butter available on the table for the scones and fruit cake should we have wanted it.
We had four cups of tea each, although we could have easily drunk another couple each should we have been offered more. I’d say it was simply a case of the tea pot being far too small – only two cups of tea out of each pot meant we relied on our waitress to refill the pot each time we had a cup. It either needed a bigger pot, or we needed a pot of water alongside. It was actually a bit odd the waitress didn’t come back into the room after bringing the food and refilling the teapot for what was the last time – she didn’t come back to ask if the food was fine or check if we needed more drink. We even left unnoticed. The fact we weren’t bothered meant we could sit and chat to our heart’s content, but I couldn’t help thinking we were left to our own devices a little too much. I expect had there been other customers we’d have seen more of her and would have had our pot refilled more often. Or maybe four cups of tea was our limit!
Despite the fact we could have drunk a lot more tea we both really enjoyed our afternoon of civilised dining at Stoke Rochford Hall. We had our fill (more than our fill) of lovely sandwiches and cakes, and having grown up holidaying in Cornwall I am rather fond of a scone with jam and clotted cream. It was a really lovely afternoon chatting, eating and watching the world go by, and I am very happy to have ticked another thing off my Things To Do list.
We’d definitely do this again as paying customers, either at Stoke Rochford Hall or somewhere else; it would have cost us £35 for the Tea for Two voucher from Asda Gifts which allows you to choose from over 80 locations across the country.
Last week a new cafe opened in Lincoln. A friend and I went to check it out at the end of the week and I think it’s fair to say we both fell in love with the place.
Rock+Paper+Scissors is a “crafterie”, that is, a cafe, a place to do crafts, and a shop. Run by Elizabeth and Michelle, who have both moved back to Lincoln (they were both at Uni in Lincoln) after a little time away, it is a little shop on Guildhall Street, offering something quite different to any of the other cafes and tea shops dotted about. A place to socialise and try your hand at various arts and crafts, as well as somewhere to buy locally sourced gifts from cushions to prints and jewellery to tea towels.
Laura and I sat and chatted with Lizzie and Michelle for ages. They told us what life has been like since Uni, that they both went off to try their hands at all sorts, but that they were called back to Lincoln because they loved the place. They wanted to bring something different to Lincoln, something artsy, something vintage, something social. The idea seems to have come from wanting to create something where they could both spend time with interesting people, something hands on where they could interact with their customers as well as teach and learn at the same time.
They served us loose leaf Darjeeling Earl Grey tea in a massive teapot and little mismatched bone china tea cups and saucers. We had a slice of gooey lemon cake, home made of course. It was divine. What a wonderful way to spend a lunch break.
It’s so cute. Browsing through the wares on sale I found so many things I could easily have bought. Local artists and crafters are able to use the shop to sell their hand made items, it’s going to be a great place to find gifts for friends and family. I particularly liked the cushions by Mary James of Bille Bug, and as we left I found a print I think I’ll actually go back and buy when I get a minute.
The social side of the shop comes from the crafting sessions and other activities they run. Laura and I were there on Valentines day when they were offering a free session to create a valentines message for your loved one while you sat and drank tea. There are also crochet and knitting sessions planned, as well as a clothes swap. And we are told there are lots more planned – sugar craft, paper crafts and other such delights.
In fact Rock+Paper+Scissors has inspired me to finally get my sketchbook out after what must be years and years of neglect. There is a creative person inside me somewhere, I will find her again!
If you’re around and about Lincoln definitely make Rock+Paper+Scissors one of the stops on your list. A gorgeous little place.
Percy pig sweets are awesome. They are possibly the best jelly sweets available at the moment. The original bright pink ones are the best – I’m not convinced by the tails or noses or yellow ones but I never complain if offered one.
Marks and Spencer have launched a range of Percy Pig themed goodies over the last few months, and I’ve managed to resist them all. That was until I spotted a Percy Pig fairy cake making kit. I’d popped into the food bit of my local M&S for some baking powder, and spotted the pink branded packaging of this kit. Glancing at the box I saw that not only do you get Percy Pig sweets to decorate your cakes, but the butter cream is also Percy Pig flavour. So I made the inevitable purchase.
I like a good cupcake kit. They provide a really simple way to make just a few cakes – six in this case – that will almost certainly look and taste good. Inside the box was the cake mix, icing mix, a packet of Percy Pig sweets (don’t tell anyone but there were more than the six needed to decorate the cakes!), and five pink fairy cake cases. Yes, just five. Ah. That’s ok, not the end of the world, I had some white ones in the cupboard. A bit of a counting error there but never mind.
The cake batter is made by adding milk. Simples. The butter cream just needs butter and a careful mixer (does anyone ever manage to make butter cream without getting the icing sugar everywhere?!). Easy peasy. Honestly, for any non bakers out there, cupcake kits are the answer. No reason why us adults can’t partake in a bit of bakery cheatery every now and again.
So there they are. And that Percy Pig flavoured butter cream is fantastic. And that’s a good job as there was as much butter cream as cake. Maybe a little too much? Nah!! I wish I had a piping bag to make them look prettier (I just spooned the stuff on top). Yes, childish, but oh so good.
I found the Percy pig kit with the baking stuff in my local M&S. I might have to get another kit in – just in case I have a cupcake baking craving without the time to do it properly.
It’s the end of week two of my Jenny Craig experiment and I am half happy to report that I’ve had a 1lb loss. Not brilliant. But a loss.
Halloween means there is massive temptation to eat sweets in the office as well as at home. I’ve not had as many as I would have done if I wasn’t on Jenny Craig (I do love sweets), but I shouldn’t have had any at all. It’s so hard not to have one of your favourite things, that’s deprivation, which just makes me miserable. So I had a few things here and there, and enjoyed them very much. Oops. I also went out for two meals, and had deserts both times, and haven’t done anywhere near as much exercise as I should have. I also gave into a slice of chocolate cake for a friend’s birthday on Wednesday too. So not great. Sorry!
Following my last post about this diet programme Jenny Craig got in touch about that lasagne. I will spare you a repeat of that photo but you can see it here. Like me, they thought it looked horrible and were keen to investigate what happened – the fact it was a sealed packet worried them too. So they’ve traced the batch number from their records and are looking into it for me; it is likely there was a teeny pin prick that broke the seal, which I wouldn’t have noticed but would have made the meal go mouldy. They also sent me a replacement lasagne to try, which I had that very evening (I ignored the recommendation not to mess the menus around) and enjoyed. Thanks Jenny Craig, I’m impressed with your customer service.
So here goes the third week of four and I really need to make this one count. I’ve been and stocked up on fresh vegetables and fruit again and have sorted out my meals so I know what I’ll be eating when. My diary is clear except lunch with some colleagues on Wednesday (fish finger sandwiches are ok, yes?), and so I hope for good things when it comes to my weigh in next Monday morning.