Tag Archives: entertaining

Crab Chili Risotto

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Whether in a relationship or single, I always find one of the nicest ways to enjoy Valentine’s Day is to celebrate at home over a lovely meal. Even though  I’m currently single, I’m really looking forward to cooking this Crab Chili Risotto with a friend on Saturday. Risotto is always a favourite dish of mine to make, and this version with crab makes it perfect for a special evening. It’s also a great meal to cook with someone else, as the process of gently stirring the rice in the pan is much more enjoyable when you can chat to someone else and sip some wine together.

I’ve adapted this recipe from one in Nigella Lawson’s Nigellissima; one of the alterations I’ve made is I’ve included samphire (a sea vegetable similar to asparagus) which I love and feel goes especially well with crab, but of course you could leave this out if you wish.

 Crab Chili Risotto (Serves 2)

Ingredients:

1 litre light chicken stock (made up to half strength)
1/4 teaspoon saffron strands
2 x 15ml olive oil
4 spring onions, finely sliced
1 fresh red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 glove garlic crushed
200g risotto rice
75ml dry white wine
100g brown crabmeat
100g white crabmeat
zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon, plus 1/2 lemon to serve
salt and pepper to taste
good handful of samphire
2 handfuls of rocket (plus a little extra for garnish)

1/ Make up the stock, adding the strands of saffron, and put in a saucepan over a low heat to keep hot.

2/ Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based pan with a lid, and when warm add the spring onion, chili and garlic. Cook over a low heat for a minute or so (take care not to let the garlic burn).

3/ Turn the heat up and add the rice, stirring it into the chili and onions.

4/ Add the white wine and let this bubble up and be absorbed into the rice. Now add a ladleful of the hot, tinted stock and cook, stirring all the while, until it too is absorbed.

5/ Turn the heat down and add a ladleful of stock at a time, stirring (whilst sipping on wine and chatting) until each ladleful at a time is absorbed by the rice. Don’t rush this part – it will probably take about 20 minutes.

6/ Take the pan off the heat, add the crabmeat and the lemon zest and juice and stir, then taste for seasoning. Now, stir in the samphire and rocket leaves, put the lid on and, with the pan still off the heat, let it stand for a few minutes until the leaves have wilted.

7/ Divide the risotto into 2 bowls, garnish with a few more rocket leaves and a quarter of lemon each (squeeze this over just before eating), pour yourselves some wine (I like something pink and sparkly with this) and enjoy!

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I’ll be sharing a recipe for my ideal Valentine dessert in couple of days too, so do check back for that! I’m curious to know – what are your plans for Valentine’s Day this year? Are you a fan of going out, or do you too prefer to stay in and keep it casual? Whatever the case, I hope you all have a lovely day!

Tips for Being a Good Guest

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After doing a post on how to be a good hostess last week, I thought it only fair to follow it up with another on how to be an ideal guest. Here are my top tips:

-Say thank you. I think this is probably my most important ‘rule,’ but it can be shocking how often the simple act of saying thank you is neglected. It’s always an elegant gesture to express your enjoyment and gratitude after a party or meal, whether by text, email or card.

-Don’t be too early or late. If you want to avoid being on someone’s ‘no longer invited’ list, then pay attention to the time on your invite. Arriving too early will inconvenience your host, who no doubt will be in the final throws of pulling everything together (and won’t particularly welcome interruption). Although parties are generally more flexible, turning up more than 15-30 minutes late to a dinner party (or a cocktail party with a strict time-frame, e.g. 6-8pm)  can only result in forced smiles of welcome from your host, as they wonder how on earth to salvage an over-cooked meal.

-Respect the fact that you’re in someone else’s house, not your own. I have in the past had experiences where guests have not appreciated the fact that I live in rented accommodation and have to abide by terms of my contract. Save your host any stress by always respecting their decisions.

-Always bring something. Whether it’s a bunch of flowers, a bottle of wine, or a homemade treat (always a favourite of mine to bring, as well as receive!), never turn up empty handed. I love the idea of sending flowers to arrive about an hour in advance of a party: that way your host isn’t forced to start hunting out vases in-between greeting guests and getting food on the table.

-Watch how much you drink. At the end of a party, it’s bad enough being left with all the dishes to do, let alone having to clean up anyone’s sick / prop up someone who’s passed out on the couch / dodge embarrassing and unwelcome drunken advances or hint heavily at the advisability of calling a cab….

-Make sure to mingle. Your host will definitely appreciate a guest who doesn’t slink into a corner, or only talk to a few select friends. Introduce yourself to people you haven’t met and turn on the charm!

-Remember to RSVP. Whether you can make it or not, it’s polite to inform your friend.

I’d love to know – what do you think it takes to be a good guest?

Make Ahead Christmas Canapés

christmassnacks{Classic Sausage Rolls}

At this time of year, having some easy, make-ahead recipes for cocktail party canapés, or as snacks on standby for when people drop round, is essential to my peace of mind. It’s a great feeling to have the freezer filled up with treats I can whip out at a moment’s notice. Although it’s always fun to try out new recipes, I also always rely on a few classic staples. Last weekend, I made a batch of my favourite sausage rolls and parmesan shortbreads and stuck them in the freezer, ready to bring out to take along to Christmas parties, or for guests who drop by, and also to enjoy on Christmas Day itself. These recipes are an absolute doddle to make, but are guaranteed crowd pleasers so I hope you enjoy them too!

I only ever eat sausage rolls at Christmas time, much as I love them, so I look forward to my first one every year (more so even than mince pies!). This is my favourite recipe, which I’ve adapted from a Delia Smith classic my Mum used to make:

Sausage Rolls

1 roll of store bought puff pastry
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon of milk
500g good quality pork sausage meat
1 medium onion, grated
1 teaspoon sage

Pre-heat the oven to 220°C.

Mix the sausage meat, onion and sage together thoroughly in a mixing bowl (I find it’s easiest to do this with my hands, if a little messy!). On a floured surface, lay out the store bought pastry and roll it out to form an oblong (as thin as you can). Cut the pastry oblong into three strips, then divide the sausage meat mixture into three as well. Make three long rolls, the same length as the pastry from the sausage meat.

Place one roll of sausage meat onto one strip of pastry. Brush the beaten egg mixture along one edge, then fold the pastry over and seal it as carefully as possible. Lift the whole thing up and turn it, so that when you put it down the sealed edge is underneath. Press lightly, then cut into individual rolls about 2 inches long. Snip three v-shapes in the top of each roll using scissors, and brush with the beaten egg. Then repeat all this with the other portions of pastry and meat.

Place all the rolls on a baking sheet and bake high in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Store the cooled sausage rolls in a tin, and warm them slightly in foil before serving. Alternatively, before baking, you can freeze the sausage rolls, cooking them through when needed later. You can also freeze the rolls after baking: simply let them thaw and heat them through in the oven as needed.

christmassnacks3{Parmesan shortbreads}

These parmesan shortbreads are mouthwateringly good and dangerously moreish! I love bringing them as a gift alongside a bottle of wine to a friend’s party. I follow Nigella’s recipe for them; the only alteration I make is to scatter fennel seeds over some of the shortbreads just before baking them. I love the slight crunch and additional flavour it gives to the biscuits, but this step is entirely optional, and the shortbreads are equally delicious plain. It’s a good idea to make a double batch of this recipe and store some of the pastry rolls in the freezer before baking, so they’re ready to cook quickly as you need them.

Do you have any favourite, quick and easy canapés that are perfect for Christmas?

Hostess Tips for the Party Season

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With party season well and truly upon us, I thought it would be fun to pull together a few hostess tips to help your Christmas gatherings be as merry as possible. I’ve hosted quite a few parties down the years, and these are some of the best tips and tricks I’ve learnt along the way:

-Never run out of food or alcohol. Always overestimate – guests tend to go through more canapes and cocktails than you might suspect, and there’s nothing worse than enjoying a party that’s in full swing, only to discover you’re completely out of beverages.

-Consider your guest list carefully. Think about the guests you’re inviting and try to make sure your party will have an engaging mix of people. For more intimate parties, it’s especially important to ensure that your friends already know each other, or are likely to get on well. A guest list can be a little like a minefield to negotiate! If you have situations where two people no longer get on, but are both still your friends and would be hurt not to be invited, then I’d suggest throwing as large a party as possible, in the hope they’d find it easy to avoid each other in the crowd.

-Draw up a game plan. I always like to do as little as possible on the day of a party, so I can spend time getting myself ready and feel relaxed and calm once guests start to arrive. I make as much food as possible the day before (or even a few weeks ahead for things that freeze well), leaving very little to do on the actual day. I often decorate the day before too, as well as setting out the china and glassware I’m likely to use.  It’s extremely off putting to be greeted at the door by a wild-eyed, exhausted, flour-smudged hostess who gallops off to the kitchen as soon as you’ve walked through the door. As the host, it’s your responsibility to set the mood of your party, so remember to smile lots and have a fun time yourself.

-Act like nothing matters. Even if guests turn up hours early, just as you’ve stepped out of the shower (this has happened to me), or break your favourite vase that your great-grandmother once owned, try to remain calm and laugh it off. One of my favourite responses to wine being spilt everywhere is: ‘well, now it’s really a party!’ Whatever happens, just keep smiling and remember, if someone really gets on your nerves, you don’t have to invite them next time!

-Don’t forget the playlist. Putting together a great playlist is something else I always like to do in advance, and I always miss it if I’ve run out of time or forget to do it. I believe music is really important in setting the mood of a party, so think carefully about the kind of playlist you want to create. If you’re hosting a themed event (e.g. Halloween / Hollywood Glam / Christmas), it’s fun to choose appropriate songs.

-Always take the time to greet your guests properly. Nothing is more awkward for a guest then to leave them standing at the cloakroom, whilst you drift away and force them to make their own introductions and search out a drink.

-Plan food that is easy for your guests to eat. I once went to a cocktail party that had lots of delicious food, but of the kind that really required a knife and fork to eat. Aside from no cutlery, there were also no plates (only napkins), so for the most part the guests were forced to gaze longingly at the enticing array in front of them whilst nibbling at a few grapes. When you’re serving buffet style food or canapes, remember to make eating as easy as possible for your friends, especially if they’re expected to juggle a wine glass in one hand too. Generally bite-sized morsels, small sandwiches and skewers are sure winners.

What are your top tips for hosting a party? Do you generally find entertaining an enjoyable or stressful experience?

Spiced Apple Cider Recipe

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After my visit to Petersham Nurseries, where I ordered some delicious spiced apple juice from the cafe, I was inspired to make my own (somewhat boozier) version. This Spiced Apple Cider recipe makes a delicious, warming winter cocktail and is perfect for serving as a Thanksgiving aperitif, or for any other festive party.

Spiced Apple Cider

2 Litres sweetened apple cider or apple juice
24 whole cardamon pods
8 whole cloves
3 cinnamon sticks (plus extra for garnishing)
1 vanilla bean, spilt in half with a knife
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons quatre épices
2 tablespoons (or to taste) calvados (optional)

Combine cider, quatre épices, nutmeg, cardamon, cloves, and cinnamon sticks in a large pot. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Bring spiced cider just to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook just below a simmer until flavours meld, about 1 hour.

Strain cider through a sieve into another pot or heatproof punch bowl; discard solids in sieve. Add calvados to taste, if using. Ladle hot spiced cider into cups and garnish with a cinnamon stick. 

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Warming a big pot of this on the stove makes the whole house smell amazing. I recommend making some to enjoy as you write Christmas cards and start decorating. You’ll be feeling suitably festive in no time!

Hen Do Afternoon Tea Party

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My lovely friend Izzie is getting married very shortly, and as one of her bridesmaids, I was involved in arranging her hen do over the weekend. As well as cocktails and karaoke (two of her favourite things), I thought it would be fun if the day involved afternoon tea (and more cocktails). We started the hen do off, then, at my place with the bride-to-be and her bridesmaids, before meeting all her other friends in London for the evening’s plans.

For the tea, I decided to go for a white, red and pink theme with the food and decorations.  I made a raspberry pavlova, red velvet cupcakes, scones with strawberry jam and cream, as well as cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches. I also made some pinky-red ‘true love’ cocktails with a mix of champagne, Grand Marnier and raspberry and cranberry juice. Yum!

I made the meringue and red velvet cupcakes the day before the party, as well as hanging up all the decorations (I bought this Rifle Paper Co alphabet bunting and these paper balls) the night before (a good job too as it took me way longer than I’d expected to decorate – why does this always happen?!). I generally try to get as much prepared as I can in advance  of a party as it allows me to be a lot more relaxed on the day.

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I had never made red velvet cupcakes before, but I was really pleased by how they turned out so I thought I’d share the recipe with you all. I adapted Ina Garten’s recipe to make my cupcakes:

Red Velvet Cupcakes 

For the cupcakes (makes 15):

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk (I didn’t have any buttermilk, so instead I made my own by adding 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to 225ml skimmed milk and letting it stand for 10 minutes.)
1 teaspoon red food colouring paste (I only had paste, but you could use 1 tablespoon liquid red food colouring instead)
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature

For the frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
6 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F (177° C). Line muffin tins with paper liners.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, food colouring, vinegar, and vanilla.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed for 1 minute, until light. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until combined. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients alternately in 3 parts, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, and mix until combined. Stir with a rubber spatula to be sure the batter is mixed.

Scoop the batter into the muffin cups with a 2 1/4-inch ice cream scoop or large spoon. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centres comes out clean. Cool completely in the pans and frost the cupcakes with Red Velvet Frosting. I also added a sprinkling of freeze dried raspberries on top, to give the cupcakes more colour, and I also like the slight tartness of the raspberries against the sweetness of the frosting, but this is entirely optional!

For the frosting:

Place the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and mix on medium speed just until combined. Don’t whip! Add the sugar and mix until smooth.

Enjoy! Do let me know if you try these yourselves – I’d love to hear whether you liked them.

Pumpkin Pie Crumble Recipe

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When I saw this pumpkin pie crumble recipe on Food 52, I knew I had to make it. Pumpkin pie is one of my favourite things. Crumble is also one of my favourite things. Combining the two together is a truly inspired idea. I also feel this recipe represents my love of both American and British baking perfectly: pumpkin pie is an American staple this time of year, whereas fruit crumbles always seem so quintessentially British.

I’ve tweaked the recipe a little as I feel it didn’t have enough sugar (pumpkin isn’t that sweet). This dessert still isn’t hugely sweet, but it is delicious and brilliantly easy to make (especially as I just bunged most ingredients in the food processor). I’m not a huge lover of pastry anyway, so I like the cakey / shortbready base, and the pecan crumble on top adds a lovely crunch. The pie is nice on its own, but I think it would be even better served with some whipped cream to dollop on top (after all, if you’re going to eat dessert, you may as well go all out….).

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Here’s my tweaked version of the recipe:

Pumpkin Pie Crumble

For the Base:

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake (plain) flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4ounces butter, cold
1egg

For the Topping:

1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 ounce butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans

For the Pumpkin Filling:

1 egg
1/4 cup brown sugar
15 ounces canned pumpkin (1 regular sized can)
1/3 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon  salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Method:

First, Preheat oven to 350° F and grease and line a 9″ pan with a removable bottom.

To make crust, combine first 4 ingredients, then cut in 4 ounces of butter until you have split-pea sized chunks (I do this in the food processor – it takes hardly any time at all). Add the egg and combine until dough starts coming together. Dump the dough into the greased, parchment-lined pan and spread it out,  pressing it into the pan evenly. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until it puffs up, then settles down and browns a bit. Remove from the oven and let cool.

While the crust is in the oven, make your crumble topping. Mix the remaining flour, sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl or food processor. Cut in the butter until pea-sized (again, I did this using the food processor). Add the pecans and combine until crumble mixture is starting to clump. Set aside.

While crust is cooling, make pumpkin filling. In a medium bowl, combine pumpkin, sugar, salt, and spices together with a whisk or spatula. Add egg and incorporate. Add milk and stir to a smooth consistency. Pour over cooled crust, and gently sprinkle the crumble evenly over the custard. Bake until set, about 40 minutes. Cool completely before removing from pan. You can remove the dessert from the removable pan bottom carefully, once fully cooled, and more successfully if you’ve lined the pan with parchment.

This recipe would be great for a Halloween dinner party, and I’m tempted to make it again for Thanksgiving. It’s such a brilliant twist on a classic pumpkin pie. Let me know how it goes if you decide to make it too!

Halloween Gift Ideas

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Going to a Halloween party this weekend and not sure what to bring? Fear not! I’ve rounded up a selection of suitably spooky Halloween gifts that will terrify delight your host or hostess.

1.Scorpion vodka to mix up some deadly cocktails. Apparently the scorpion is edible, should you fancy playing the party dare-devil…. 2. A chocolate pumpkin to accompany the usual bottle of wine. 3. Edward Gorey’s books are full of dark humour and creepy illustrations – the perfect gift for your literary friends. 4. This Emma Bridgewater mug is a lovely Halloween treat. 5. It’s always a nice gesture to bring a card, or send one after to say thanks for a great party. 6. These biscuits are sinfully delicious and would be perfect for a Day of the Dead party. 7. Zombie Jello Babes from Rococo to accompany after dinner coffee. 8. Take some Lucifer’s marmalade and a crusty bread loaf or some croissants as a treat for your host’s breakfast the following morning. 9. Some ghoulish spatulas to help your Domestic Goddess friend whip up more pumpkin cupcakes next year.

Have fun!

Halloween Outfit Inspiration

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I’d better admit straight away, I’m not a huge fan of Halloween, and this post will probably be most useful to people who, like me, seek some Halloween outfit inspiration that doesn’t involve having to do something weird with loo roll or spend 2 hours dabbing fake blood all over your face.

I rarely enjoy dressing up, and I’ve generally found it difficult to get particularly excited about Halloween. Thanksgiving, Christmas? Yes. Halloween? Not so much. I don’t like candy, I hate scary movies and I’ve never felt the urge to make myself up to resemble a zombie or dress like Cat Woman. I’ve always felt like The Grinch Who Stole Halloween. Recently, however, I’ve started developing my own traditions that have helped me to enjoy this time of year and embrace my (slightly) darker side.

First of all, I’ve given up on fancy dress.  I don’t even try to come up with costume ideas anymore, and this has taken away a lot of Halloween-related stress. Instead, I choose a basic outfit I’d be comfortable wearing  any day of the year and add one or two distinctive touches as a nod to the occasion. My Zadig et Voltaire skull t-shirt, for instance, is perfect for lending an outfit a slightly spooky edge. For a great evening look, I’ve dressed it up with chunky earrings, faux leather leggings, a tuxedo jacket and high-heeled ankle boots, but you could also just pair it with jeans and black pumps for a cool, casual style. It’s the perfect item for a laid-back Halloween party (or for sitting on the couch with a slice of pumpkin pie, watching my favourite not-at-all-scary-but-has-a-great-Halloween-reference movie, Meet Me in St. Louis).

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I’ve also taken to hosting Día de los Muertos (“Day of the Dead”), rather than “Halloween,” parties, which I take a lot of fun in planning. Mexican food is always a crowd-pleaser, and chili, spicy soups, cornbread muffins, cheesy tortilla chips, etc are easy to make for large numbers. I also get to go mad with the skull theme, with skull cake tins to bake a red velvet skull cake. A Día de los Muertos party also allows people more flexibility in dressing up: simply turn up with a bunch of marigolds, or one of my favourite outfits is a black lace dress paired with an Alexander McQueen style skull scarf. Of course, you can still go the whole hog if you wish.

I’d love to know – are you a fan of Halloween, or does the over-the-top dressing up  fill you with horror alone? What are your tricks to making the most of a holiday you don’t especially enjoy?

Outfit Details:

{Zadig et Voltiare t-shirt (similar here or here); Sandro jacket (similar here or here); Lauren by Ralph Lauren leggings; vintage Chanel bag; L.K. Bennett ankle boots; Swarovski earrings (similar here)}

Photography by: Siobhan Watts

Birthday Cake

birthdaycake10I always enjoy throwing some kind of party for my birthday. Last year, I held a Mexican themed one for around 20 people and cooked up huge pots of chilli con carne and chicken and tortilla soup, complete with all the fixin’s and home-baked cornbread muffins, followed by an enormous tres leche cake. This year, I felt like something rather more low key with just a couple of friends. That didn’t mean I didn’t want a fabulous cake though!

Carrot cake is always a favourite of mine, so I decided to bake one as a birthday treat. I had a hard time deciding whether to go with my Mum’s tried and tested recipe, or to branch out and use the Gail’s Bakery recipe (I’ve always loved their carrot cake too and am thrilled the recipe is available in their cookbook!). In the end, I used both recipes as inspiration, but tweaked them to suit my own taste (I prefer cakes without nuts and swapped mandarin for pineapple). I have to say, I was pretty pleased with the result!

Miranda’s Carrot Cake

For the cake:

3 cups plain flour

2 cups golden caster sugar

1 cup shredded coconut

2-1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp quatre epices or mixed spice

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

3 cups grated carrots (about 5-7 carrots depending on their size)

grated orange rind from one orange

3 large eggs

1- 1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 small can (298g) mandarin oranges

Preheat oven to 170° C and butter and line the base with a circle of  baking paper of 2x round 22cm cake tins. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, coconut, bicarbonate of soda, quatre epices, cinnamon and salt. Add carrots, orange rind, eggs and oil and beat with an electric mixer or Kitchen aid mixer at high speed for 2 minutes. Add the mandarin oranges and their juices and beat for another 2 minutes. Pour into the prepared cake tins and cook for about 40-45 minutes or until tester inserted in middle comes out clean. Leave the cakes on a wire rack to cool for 15 mins before turning out. Ideally, then chill them overnight in the fridge, well wrapped in cling-film.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

200g butter, at room temperature

150g icing sugar

500g full fat white soft cheese, at room temperature

1/2 tsp almond essence

It’s important the butter and cream cheese are at room temperature, otherwise the icing will separate and turn grainy, so take them out of the fridge a good few hours before you want to use them. Using an electric mixer, with the beater fitted, beat the butter until virtually all white, fluffy, creamy and shiny (approx. 5 minutes at high speed). Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides and the beater, then add the icing sugar and almond essence and beat for another 3-4 minutes, starting at low speed and increasing to high. Beat the cream cheese with a spoon until it has the same consistency as the butter icing, then mix it in at low speed. It you notice any lumps, stop the mixing and instead use a spatula to finish off the blending. 

To assemble the cake:

Take the cakes out of the fridge and place one on a serving plate. With a palette knife, spread a quarter of the icing onto it, then top with the second cake. Use just enough icing to coat the top and sides of the cake with a very thin layer, capturing all the crumbs that might otherwise spoil your icing (this is called the ‘crumb coat’). Put into the freezer for 5 minutes, or the fridge for 20-30 minutes, until the crumb coat has set. Spread the remaining icing all over the top and sides of the cake in a smooth, even layer. Chill in the fridge until the icing has set  – 30 minutes minimum, a couple of hours is good. When ready, you may decorate it however you wish: perhaps with a scattering of nuts or rose petals on top, or I simply arranged roses around the base of the cake. 

birthdaycake11 birthdaycake16 birthdaycake12 birthdaycake9 birthdaycake13 birthdaycake8 birthdaycake14 birthdaycake3This cake is a little lengthy to prepare, but trust me, it’s worth it! It made the perfect choice for a birthday tea party, and we all tucked in with relish. I had a lovely time opening up and admiring some of my beautiful presents and felt very spoilt! If you decide to make the cake yourself, do let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear what you think of it!