Archive | May, 2011

A french weekday in London.

30 May

This week I embarked on my little trip up to London.

I only had 2 days, and I had a lot to do, places to visit, and dear friends I wanted to see.

I had a quick lunch with a friend who just moved up to London. A little salad bar in Victoria was the setting for our catch up. Chatter about his new job, home, friends, business ideas etc. We managed to cover a lot of ground in that short hour. The salad was also good, especially as I hadn’t eaten all day.

Then on to Soho to meet some people I haven’t seen in almost a year. It was so good to see them. You start chatting and it doesn’t feel like a year has passed. More chatter about ‘whats going on in Soho’, family, music, new business ventures, bubble tea…once again, there’s never enough time.

Off to Covent Garden to meet my grandma for macarons and tea at Bougie Macaron and Tea.

We were greeted by the waitress who gave us a seat next to the window, lovely. The first thing that hit me when we first walked in were the decadent colours. The walls were painted in a metallic gold, and with the dark wood this could have been too dark, but they have a lovely big window which floods the place with light that dances off the painted walls.

They had a good menu, not just serving macarons, in fact, not just serving patisseries. With salads and light bites on the menu this is the perfect cafe for long lunch time catch up’s.

Their macarons mirrored Bougie’s metallic walls, each one was dusted with edible lustre. I did marvel at how the jeweled colours suited Bougie down to the ground.

We decided we would share 4 macarons between the 2 of us. It took us a little while to choose, but in the end we went for pistachio, raspberry, rose and salted caramel on recommendation. I had a lavender tea and grandma had an orange blossom.

The tea came in all sorts of unusual teapots, the aroma subtle but distinctive.

The flavour of the macarons was lovely, my favourite was the rose macaron.

Grandma and a rose macaron

Hello!

But the texture was not good. They were quite crisp, and the pistachio was so hard I couldn’t even cut it in half which was a shame.

In general I would visit Bougie again, maybe have a spot of lunch and a pot of tea, but I don’t think I would have their macarons.

 

The next day was a bit of a blur. It rained so hard all day. But we whizzed around London in the haze.

First to the Pierre Herme counter in Selfridges. It was beautiful, unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to take a photo, but I sneaked this one in from afar.

I chose a Milk Chocolate and Passion Fruit macaron. Even though I only had the one macaron they still packaged it beautifully.

The colour was so vibrant and enchanting. Almost saying “Eat Me, I will change you’re life”.

And boy, did it!

As I bit through this beautiful morsel the shell softly crumpled into the centre exposing the moist yet structured almond interior. The ganache was UNBELIEVABLE! It was sweet and sour all at the same time. This experience was something else.

I finally popped to Laudree in Harrods, I didn’t have long as I had to catch my coach, but I quickly flew in. I hadn’t realised but they have a full-blown cafe there. It was gorgeous, extravagant. Once again I couldn’t get a photo, but I really recommend a visit.

I chose Laudree’s Cherry macaron.

The first thing that hit me was the scent. Cherry orchards in mid summer. Sweet and full-bodied, rich and light. Also the colour was fabulous.

Once again the centre was moist, the thin shell was deadly delicate. The flavour was sublime.

I ate this one on the coach on the way home, and when I took my 1st bite I couldn’t help but let out a long ‘mmmmm…’ The people sat near to me were looking over with curiosity as I enjoyed this moment, their eyes transfixed on this bright pink little piece of heaven.

It was different from the Pierre Herme macaron. In structure this macaron practically melted in my mouth, and the moister centre meant that it almost completely gave way to itself on my 1st nibble, but O-MY. Have you ever tasted flavours like this before, I can guarantee you no.

All in all it would be very hard to compare the two. Both unique, which seems complex when it comes down to it. They are just macarons, both almond, sugar and egg whites, both equally as good as one another, but somehow different.

I now know where I strive to be on my macaron journey, so even if I manage to capture 50% of a Pierre Herme or Laudree macaron in my own creations I will be thrilled to pieces.

The desperation to buy Pierre Herme’s book Macaron, and Sucre by Laudree is now at an all time high.

Until then, back to the kitchen!

I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures from the fish counter at Selfridges, they are currently supporting Project Ocean which is a fantastic cause.


Advertisements

My 1st phone post

24 May

I’m on the move. Sat on the bus on the way to a business meeting. I’m excited actually. I always feel really motivated after one, and get loads done. Then I am off to get me some Jack Sparrow!

I’m also off on my trip to London tomorrow. It’s a business trip you know…ok only a little business, mostly research.
I must go check out the local bakery scene in London. See what’s new, buy a few bits (must test) and take some pictures. I can’t wait! I’ll probably spend a good potion of time in Covent Garden, I want to go to Boogie Macaron and Tea. Then Selfridges for some food shopping. There are ingredients in some of the big department stores in London that you don’t get down here in the south, so that will take a good few hours.
I doubt I’ll even have time (or money) to set foot in a clothes shop, but honestly, I’d rather be looking at cakes all day!

I will look forward to posting some pictures on Friday. But you might get a few cheeky uploads off the old mobile phone!
Have a great few days xx

Big Mac-arons

19 May

Ballpark Snacks  is the theme for this month Mac Tweets Mac Attack Challenge. This is the 1st Mac Tweets challenge I have ever entered and I am rather excited.

I’ve never been to any sort of ball game before. Not in person anyway. So when this challenge came up I was umm-ing and ahh-ing over what to do. I had a few ideas, but non I could relate to my own experience.

Then I remember The World Cup last year. We spent most of that summer BBQ-ing in our little courtyard, summer sun beating down on our faces, friends drinking cold beer and always a World Cup game on the television. It then it came to me. Burger Macarons. We ate a lot of burgers that summer.

But what flavours? I had some vanilla sugar, so I went with simple vanilla shells. I wanted the centre to look like a burger, so chocolate ganache seemed only good and right. There was something missing though. They didn’t quite look the part. Hmmm.

Cheese! Not just any cheese though. It has to be that horrid plastic cheese that only comes into its own when slapped on a good burger.

But I’m not about to put cheese in a macaron, eww.

Peanut butter played the part very well. Plus peanuts are a Ballpark Snack right? And they go so well with chocolate. I used crunchy peanut butter as I can’t abide the smooth stuff, too sweet, plus a little crunch is nice. Honestly I didn’t quite know I was going to add the peanut butter when I started, but that is kinda how I cook. A bit of this, a bit of that…

I also was trying something else new today. I usually bake macarons using the Italian method of pouring sugar syrup into the egg white, but I’ve been wanting to try the French method of just adding sugar to the white instead. Today was the day. To my surprise and complete delight they worked. I was sitting next to my oven just waiting to see those little feet, and honestly when they popped up I did a little dance in my kitchen. Very pleased!

So there we have it.

Grab you’re Big Mac-aron and enjoy the game!

French Macarons

Almond flour

150g almonds finely ground.

150g icing sugar.

2 egg whites aged.

Meringue

2 egg whites aged.

150g granulated vanilla sugar.

Filling

100g chocolate broken into pieces.

100ml double cream.

Macaron Method

Sift icing sugar and almonds into a bowl, add egg white and mix to a paste. Put to one side.

Put the second batch of egg white in a very clean bowl and start whisking on a low-speed with an electric mixer.

Once the egg whites start looking like thick bubble bath, add the sugar, little by little, while still beating.

When you have added all the sugar, whisk for a little longer until the egg whites hold soft, glossy peaks.

Add a third of the egg whites to the almond paste and beat to knock some of the air out. Fold in the rest of the egg whites. The whole process should take no more the 20-30 folds. It should flow like thick magma.

Scoop the macaron batter into a piping bag ( I use disposable ones as they are really easy to use) fitted with a half-inch nozzle.

Pip little half-inch rounds onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment and give them a good few wraps on the counter. Leave to dry for around 30 minuets, or until you can touch the surface without it sticking to your finger.

Pre-heat you’re oven to around 150c. Put the macarons into the oven for around 15 minuets, but keep a watchful eye on them. You’ll know they are ready when you place you’re finger on top and move it from side to side, the macaron shouldn’t wobble.

Take them out and off the baking tray strate away, carefully peel them off the baking sheet and leave to cool.

Ganache Method

Put the chocolate in a heat proof bowl.

Heat the cream until almost boiling and pour over chocolate. Mix and leave to cool on the counter.

Once cooled completely, pip a small amount onto a macaron shell and attach another. Place you’re macarons in the fridge for 24 hours. This helps moisten them a little. Remove from fridge 20 minuets before eating.

Enjoy!!!!

Best of: Online

15 May

I think I’ve just spent the last 2 hours internet browsing. You see I have just had a wedding order come in, which is toe curling excitement for me. So research, research, research. Which is honestly so much fun.

Along with the excitement of doing a wedding, I also have my first wedding fair in September, at The Lighthouse in Poole. So I am in the throws of designing my spring 2012 cake collection. Which means lots of drawing, decorating, mood boards, drawing, decorating….you see how it goes. There is so much inspiration on the internet, but also through the fashion industry, so my eye is kept closely on many a fashion blog. One of my favourites at the moment is The Glamourai . She has such a unique style to her blogging with great tutorials and lovely pictures, but not just that, she also has her own collection of jewelry, Kelly Framel Jewelry . She makes one of a kind pieces, so you really do get you’re own unique piece of beautie. Well worth looking at, as there is some really exciting stuff coming out of the USA right now.

Here are some of the things I love that our american cousins have produced as of late. I want to celebrate that, so here’s to you USA!

Credits:
Top. 3 tier Peony cake on Style Me Pretty, photography by Jessica Claire.

Clockwise from top.
2. DIY Love Banner by Heirloom Paperie.

3. Rock Candy Cake picture found at Style Me Pretty.

4. Alice in Wonderland Mini Heart Confetti $2 from So They Say on etsy.

5.Verdigris candy earrings$85 from Kelly Framel .

New ways to follow me.

13 May

Hello lovelies.
This is just a very quick post letting you know you can now follow me at Bloglovin’
Follow my blog with bloglovin
Twitter @TheLilacBakery
And soon Facebook.

Have a happy day 🙂
x

A bit of this, a bit of that.

12 May

I’m not sure about you. But I find it almost impossible to work while listening to music. It distracts me. I get lost in the beat, so much so that the other day I found myself typing along to the rhythm of The Sea, by Morcheeba, which I think may be a skill in itself, but not very productive.

And until about 2 minutes ago I thought I had a few stable albums I could listen to without getting to lost, but I’ve proved myself wrong because I spent 5 valuable minutes singing along to

Zero 7’s Destiny. Lucky for me most of that album is instrumental, so it really is my only safe bet if I want to listen to music.

Plinking away

This time last year I was writing music you see. Plinking away on a keyboard for hours upon hours upon………….I grew up with a musician as a daddy, playing me Bob Dylan and Steely Dan at any given moment and teaching me about cross rhythm at the age of 2. So now I don’t just listen to music, I analyze it, pull it to pieces and put it together again, a frustrating game between me and my mind.

I haven’t played music in about a year, but tonight I am embarking on that and doing a little bit of sing songing with The Boy (honest to god, he makes drum playing look easy) and a good friend of ours, Ben, (a seriously good blues guitar player) this evening. So that could be interesting.

Well this was a bit of a mind spill wasn’t it?

I am going to London in a few weeks. Going to eat lots of baked goods and great food. If you can suggest anywhere to try out I would be thrilled!

Keep it real…

Aimee xx

Giveaway! Who loves free stuff?

9 May

I DO!

I love free stuff…

So what’s with all the giving? Well, I wanted to thank you guys for reading and supporting me really. I am rather grateful.

Today’s giveaway is a box of Cake Pops. You’re own design!

How to Enter Well done to Chloe. And her Twin Pops.

1. Leave me a comment telling me you’re cake pop idea.

2. Leave you’re comment with a way for me to contact you if you win. (email, blog link)

3. The winner will be picked at random and announced on Tuesday 17th May.

4. I’m sorry, but if you are reading from outside the UK don’t enter this giveaway. Or you might receive rather stale cake pops 😦 Next time thought!

Good Luck!