The Cuppa Chronicles - 3
I have to admit, that the location of my cuppa is more important than the quality of the beverage - shocking I know! A ‘brew with a view’ makes me so happy - and of course, the better the view, the better the cuppa experience.
This beverage - a rather delicious hot chocolate - was enjoyed whilst taking in my favourite view of all - Sennen Cove in Cornwall. I’ve been visiting Sennen for over 30 years, and it is truly one of the most beautiful beaches in the UK. There used to be a little beach cafe here, years ago, where you could get a strong cuppa and an eccles cake - which has been replaced by a rather lovely restaurant/cafe overlooking the beach with a glass balcony, giving you uninterrupted views of the sea. I could sit here for hours, as the sun sets and the surfers become silhouettes in the waves - it is where I am content and at peace with the world. A flake and marshmallow covered hot chocolate just adds to the enjoyment.
Made my first mince pies of the season this week - going to try them out at the shop, see if my customers like them as much as we do!
Over the years I have perfected the kind of mince pies that I like to eat - and I eat plenty!! Its a simple recipe, but always works well, and I always get lots of complimentary ‘mmmms’ - they are 100% better than any shop bought ones, and they cost a fraction to make and really are sooo easy to make.
The pastry starts off with the basic ‘half fat to flour’ proportion - so for 8oz plain flour, I will rub in 2oz lard and 2oz butter, so I get a bread crumb consistency - add a tablespoon of caster sugar, and bind together with an egg ( if too dry add a splash of cold water too).
I roll out the pastry in 2 halves as its easier to handle, quite thin then you will have enough for 24 mince pies - re rolling the off cuts - finally cutting out star shapes for the lids ( its easier,uses less pastry and looks prettier than a full lid).
I use a mid-range mincemeat as I find they tend to be fruitier and softer than premium mincemeats - and I personally don’t like nuts, or peel in my mincemeat. The star shaped lids just need to be lightly placed on top of the filled pies, and pressed into place.
Bake in a fairly hot oven, for around 10 mins - turning if necessary. I keep a close eye on mine, so that they do not over bake and look too dark. When slightly cooled, transfer to a cooling rack, then dredge with icing sugar before serving.
I also made some mini mince pies for tasting - the 8oz recipe made 72 of these!! I have a set of cute little cutters, so I did stars and hearts for these, and was really happy with how they turned out.
The Cuppa Chronicles - 2
I always break up long journeys, driving up and down the M5 on my way to and from Cornwall - at the classy establishments we call Service Stations. For me, despite their exorbitant prices and dubious menus, they’ve always been a symbol of holidays and good times. In recent years though, the coffee shops have started to make their appearance, and now I can actually have a half decent coffee and snack there - which always gives me a totally disproportional amount of pleasure ( I’m VERY easily pleased!). On many of these occasions it would just be me and my daughter, as I took her back to/home from University in Falmouth - a round trip of about 650 miles ( I know - an average afternoon drive for you road trippers in the US!) - so now they have even more happy associations.
My Service Station of choice is always Gordano near Bristol - as near to half way as possible, and where they have a Starbucks, as well as a Krispy Kreme Doughnut stand ( for later on - probably half way down the A30). Last time I was there was during the summer on our way to Cornwall for our holiday - it was very hot, and very busy. We sat on a grassy bank overlooking the car park, and watched the hyper children, yappy dogs, bemused grandparents, plugged-in teenagers and frazzled parents as they uncurled themselves out of their packed up cars - most entertaining!
The Cuppa Chronicles -1
I love nothing more than a cream tea - especially if its in my favourite place Cornwall! I feel I am quite an expert (having eaten quite a few in my lifetime) and some things HAVE to be just right.
Two FRESH HOME MADE SCONES are the bedrock for a classic cream tea - not 1 scone, not a shop bought scone, and not a day old scone. For me it HAS to be Raspberry Jam - and plenty of it! In a little bowl ( NOT a plastic-peel-back-thingy) though I am quite fond of the mini jars of jam that Tiptree make! Of course, the artery clogging, calorie laden CLOTTED CREAM is the ingredient that makes a cream tea sublime - and again - LOTS of it. I am a jam first girl - as you can see - and I always eat my scones as separate halves, that way it lasts longer. A really good cup of tea is the perfect accompaniment - NOT coffee or a soft drink - TEA ( as in ‘cream TEA’).
Now this may seem an unholy amount of cake/cream/calories to eat in one go, but believe me, when it is properly made, that is no problem for me! I’ll usually have it as a meal replacement - and not eat very much for a long time afterwards, but it is soooo worth it.
This particular cream tea was at a little cafe just off Penzance promenade, in an old stone building called the Barbican. Its not particularly trendy inside, lots of wood and stone, quite dark but so cosy when you’ve blown in from the gusty sea front. No Kath Kidston here ( thank goodness!) - very friendly service - and very reasonable prices! I first went in here while on holiday with my parents when I was about 13 ( about 40 years ago!) and it has hardly changed. When my daughter was in Uni down in Cornwall, we always had a cream tea here together - so it has become a bit of a ritual!
So, once in a while, treat yourself to a proper cream tea :)
Made Carrot Cake for the first time - a simple but super moist recipe, with thick cream cheese frosting. Tried it on the market stall and it sold out within an hour! Looks like its going to be a favourite with my customers - its already one of mine!
Coconut & Jam Tarts
Made some of these little beauties for the shop and they went down a storm! I’ve been making a tray bake version for the Farmers Market, and they’ve been very popular, but I thought that making them as little tarts would make them easier to handle.
Its an original Good Housekeeping recipe ( from my VERY well used book) - no fancy ingredients, but I often find that these simple old fashioned recipes are the best. I made them in cupcake tins instead of ‘patty’ tins so that they would be bigger, and increased the filling ingredients by a third so they would be nice and full! As you can see, some of them nearly overflowed!
I just love this Halloween treacle tin! I always use this treacle in my Gingerbread - gives it a lovely rich, sticky consistency. When I was little I used to have a sneaky dip when my mum wasn’t looking - the smell always reminds me of baking days at home.
An exciting development for The Suburban Kitchen - a local greengrocers which has recently been taken over, are selling my cakes every week now. So I’m busy baking weekly - and they seem to be going down really well! Its still mainly traditional favourites - rock buns, flapjacks, gingerbread and welsh cakes. I’ll post some of the most popular recipes on here over the next few weeks, so you can try them for yourself!