Thursday, 30 October 2014

Afternoon Tea Delight - The Great Denby Cake Off

Denby Pottery are running a competition to find their favourite Afternoon Tea recipe. 

Stem&Ginger and I have collaborated to create a delicious seasonal chocolate gingerbread cake. It is rich, moist, and delicately flavoured with ginger and cinnamon. The cocoa and chocolate chunks give it that extra opulent bite! Comfort cake at its best.

Perfect for a cold damp autumn day with a cuppa and a friend.

Chocolate Gingerbread Cake with Cinnamon and Honey Frosting

Stem and Ginger
Chocolate Gingerbread Cake

Serves 8-10
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Decoration: 20 mins


120 g unsalted butter
150 g dark muscovado sugar
2 eggs
240 ml buttermilk
100 g molasses
270 g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
60 g cocoa
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
Large pinch of nutmeg
½ tsp salt
4 tbsp crystalized ginger, chopped
180 g chocolate, roughly chopped, plus extra for decoration

For the Frosting:

200g mascarpone cheese
50 g unsalted butter
120 g icing sugar
1 tbsp runny organic honey
¼ tsp cinnamon


Heat the oven to 180 C, and lightly grease 2 round 8-inch tins.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and dark muscovado sugar together until light and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs, followed by the buttermilk and molasses. The mixture may look a little curdled.

Sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cocoa powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt, and mix until you have a smooth batter. 

Fold in the crystalized ginger and chocolate, taking care not to over-mix.

Divide the mixture evenly into two tins. Bake for 35-40 mins, until a skewer comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack.

Once cooled, slice off the dome-shaped tops for an even cake, or if you prefer, leave it whole. (You could use the excess to make chocolate gingerbread cake pops!)

Making the frosting by creaming the cheese and butter together for about five minutes until soft and fluffy. Add in the honey and cinnamon and then sift in the icing sugar. Check the taste until you are happy with the sweetness and consistency, adding more icing sugar if needed. Beat until smooth.

Spread some of the frosting over the bottom cake, the stack the second layer on top.
Coat the entire cake with the frosting, as thick as you wish, and sprinkle some chocolate on top.

Chocolate Gingerbread Cake
Afternoon Tea

Food Styling by Annie Hall (that's me!)
Photography by Karen Wall at Stem&Ginger

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Imli Street, Contemporary Indian Restaurant - Restaurant Review

(Update: Imli Street is now Tamarind)
 The best part of Indian food, for me, is the starters. I could eat them all evening. And sometimes do! Curry, I love, of course, but would be perfectly happy to just eat my way through the starter menu in any Indian restaurant. Which is why I was drawn to Imli Street, a few minutes walk up Wardour Street in Soho. Previously known for it's tapas-style Indian dishes, it has now become a contemporary, cool and classy restaurant, serving 'railway cuisine', a take on Indian street food, served to passengers travelling by train across India.

The décor was modern and sleek, the bar at the front offering cocktails and drinks should you wish to wait there for your friends, and the atmosphere was humming with tourists and Londoners alike. The staff were friendly and most accommodating, particularly when we couldn't decide which of the many dishes  on the tempting menu to choose from.

We (eventually) chose two appetisers: Malachi Amritsari, which is Tilapia (a sort of white fish) fillets in a seasoned gram flour batter with ajwain - an anti-flatulence spice! It worked, I'm sure. The fillets were tender and the batter crispy and just the right amount of spicy. The minty sauce accompaniment was delicious. Shikampuri Kebab, a ground chicken tawa-kabab with spices & fresh herbs. At first we thought this was the fish dish, it was a little dry and crumbly, hard to distinguish the flavours, but mixed with the sauce, it worked well. 

Shikampuri Kebab and Malachi Amritsari 

 Next we shared one tandoor dish, Tandoori Jhinga, a marinated prawn dish, served with more of that lovely mint sauce; a main, Lamb RoganJosh, just to be able to compare to our 'usual', and it did so most favourably; a Tadka dal, a spiced yellow lentil dish; a Pulao rice; and a Peshawari Naan. Portions in typical Indian restaurants tend to be huge - I can never understand how one person can eat so much rice, but everything was perfect. We pretty much licked the plates clean and were left satisfied and not over-stuffed. The only downside was not having anything to take home for Himself! 

Tandoori Jhinga, Lamb RoganJosh, and Tadka Dal

Dessert was Chocolate Pataki, a nutty chocolate brownie, served on a sizzling hot skillet, doused in chocolate sauce by our waiter. Novel, and yes, delicious (and more-ish!). All washed down with the very delectable Trebbiano white wine.

I look forward to returning to Imli Street soon (every two weeks, we promised each other!) and trying more from the menu. And perhaps a cocktail or two...

167-169 Wardour Street
020 3589 1689
Meal for two including wine: ~£85

Imli Street on Urbanspoon Square Meal

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Profile 66 - From Bean to Bar

I do love a cheeky last minute invite. Especially when there is chocolate involved. Fabric sent me along to the launch of Valrhona's newly developed chocolate by Regent Street's Café Royal Executive Pastry Chef Andrew Blas. Profile 66 has, you've guessed it, 66% cocoa content. But it's not just about the cocoa content. He has spent a year working on perfecting it, along with the lovely ladies from Valrhona (Eurostarred over especially for the event). These chocolate bars have been tirelessly researched to take you on a taste journey, 'from Bean to Bar' with floral notes, nuttiness, and a hint of spicy citrus, through to a lingering silky cocoa finish. Just like a fine wine, cacao beans have flavours that can be influenced by a multiple of variables and Andy is only too delighted that his chocolate of perfection will now be used in all chocolate patisseries, petits fours and drinks thoughout Hotel Café Royal, especially for National Chocolate Week.

I spent a most enjoyable evening sampling chocolate cocktails, champagne (the best drink to have when eating chocolate), chocolate-infused canapés and sweet treats, whilst admiring displays of products all with Profile 66 chocolate integrated into, as well as the beautifully sculpted chocolate covered (and actually wearable) hats, by milliner Alexandra Harper.

Gold Whisper - Clear Vodka with a cocoa liqueur and white chocolate 'Aero' with gold leaf 
Raspberry coated truffle chocolate pops
I don't know what these were, but they were sumptuous.
Profile 66-infused Macarons
And a glass of Veuve for me.

Hotel Café Royal will be serving three specially designed chocolate cocktails for National Chocolate Week  13-19 October 2014,as well as a cocoa-centric menu to eat in or takeaway.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Mini Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

 Himself's birthday. Himself doesn't like cake. I don't think I even made one for him last year. But I can't let an excuse to bake like a birthday go by without making something. These mini lemon meringue cupcakes were perfect. Bite-sized (apart from the two big uns made from the leftover batter when the mini muffin cases ran out) so that he only needed have one mouthful to keep me happy, yet zingy, soft, and none of that dreaded buttercream in sight. The recipe for the cupcakes and meringue is here, I followed it more or less to the letter, baking for about 15 minutes. And using Delia's indispensable conversion tables! The lemon ganache (I made this first) was piped in using a large nozzle, just pressing it gently into the centre of each and squeezing, and the meringue was piped on top using a large flower nozzle, with one clean swoop. He actually ate quite a few. Maybe it was the fizz talking...
And a blow torch might have been a great finishing touch!
lemon meringue
Mini Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

With some leftover ganache, I made these babies.
Lemon Ganache-filled chocolates

Friday, 3 October 2014

Roman Tapas and Grill, Islington - Restaurant Review

 Away from the hustle and bustle of Upper Street, this little gem of an eatery is well worth the 10 minute walk from Highbury and Islington station. The name is initially confusing, but we realise it is named for its location, which is a leafy residential area, close to Barnsbury and Caledonian Road. Early on a Thursday evening, this eclectic yet elegant Spanish place was all ours, with a few regular locals filing in later on.

An excellent menu offered a whole range of tapas, some familiar and some not so. There is also a grill menu which we completely ignored, being enraptured by the choice of tapas, as well as some specials. The waiter was happy for us to order in stages (we had to wait for one member of our group - late as usual!). Perhaps he was very happy, as he was enjoying a glass of wine while he worked. Quite right too, as it was a rather delectable white Rioja.

We worked our way through the tapas menu, my favourites being the padron peppers and the chorizo in red wine. Importantly, my vegetarian friend was well catered for. It was all excellent, and deceptively filling too. We finished with a cappuccino ice cream - quite a hit if you haven't had caffeine for a while!
I will definitely be returning to sample some more of the menu here, without a doubt. A real find for a London foodie.

padron peppers
Padrón Peppers - pimentos asados

Chorizo al Vino - spicy sausage with a red wine glaze
Queso Frito - deep fried manchego with a red onion chutney
patatas bravas
Patatas Bravas - fried potatoes with spicy tomato and alioli
Champinones gratinados - garlic mushrooms baked with garlic butter
Calamares - crispy calamari with spicy alioli and dipping sauce
Croquetas - with cheese and spinach
Empanadillas - homemade pastry parcels with beef
Gambas al ajillo - prawns baked in garlic
Banoffee Pie
Cappuccino Ice Cream

1A Roman Way
N7 8XG
020 7609 8034

Opening Hours:
Thu 6-10.30pm
Fri/Sat 6-11pm
Sun 11am-7pm

Roman Tapas & Grill on Urbanspoon Square Meal