Mint Brasserie and Tea Room

Hello! Remember me?

I have been unforgivably sloppy on the blogging front and for that I can only apologise. To make up for it, I am armed with excuses but more importantly, new recipes and cake havens for you lovely lot to indulge in.

Firstly, I wanted to kick off 2018 with a bit more productivity in all areas of my life. That’s why I have been busying myself with bits and bobs over the last month or so.

Including a last minute getaway which I’ll get on to in a moment.

Guernsey Coast

First things first though, cue way overdue New Year’s resolutions that no one really cares about…

Promise I will keep it short and sweet.

I have joined a gym (!) I know can you believe it?! Well it wasn’t intentional but baking cakes and eating cakes doesn’t really promote a healthy lifestyle. (Who’d of thought it ey) so to restore the balance a little, I thought I should make a more conscious effort to keep fit.

I have also started reading again too. I used to be an absolute book nerd pre-university. However, if there is one thing that is going to make you scared of picking up a book again, it’s reading approx. 3 million books a week on an English Literature course. So after a short hiatus, I finally conquered the fear and I’m back to being a geeky little bookworm.

And last but certainly not least, my final resolution was to be a bit more organised with my blog and make sure I am keeping up with regular posting. Although outwardly it may seem I have failed miserably if January is anything to go by, I have actually been busy upping my Instagram game and preparing some fresh new content to share with you all.

Starting with the little mini break I took last week.

After some gin-filled birthday celebrations, my boyfriend and I decided to head off for a few days to visit some family over in Guernsey.

Guernsey is a beautiful little island just off the French coast, often overlooked in favour of its larger sister island, Jersey. But with so much history and coastal charm, I can definitely see why the rich and famous choose to set up camp here.

Most of our time was spent walking on the beach, chilling out and catching up – which was just what we needed. And after another long but beautiful coastal walk, I couldn’t be happier to sit down in a quaint little tea room and tuck into some cake (after all, we had earned it). Introducing the charming Mint Brasserie and Tea Room.

Mint Tearoom Guernsey

First of all, let me tell you the best thing about having someone to eat cake with. If you are as indecisive as me when it comes to choosing a slice, you can order two pieces with no judgement and share them both, therefore lessening the risk of making the wrong choice.

In this case, we had a double whammy of cake heaven. I am a big fan of the Victoria Sponge Cake, they say you should never mess with a classic and this is a prime example. Mint delivered the lightest Victoria sponge I have ever tasted, it literally melted in your mouth. The sponge was perfectly balanced with a generous helping of whipped cream and finished off perfectly with the sweetest squidge of strawberry jam. It may be simple but my oh my, that combination is all kinds of satisfying.

 

Can I go anywhere without having something involving chocolate? The answer is no, I cannot. So my follow up cake was a chocolate peanut butter cake (your mouth is watering isn’t it) well mine certainly did when I spotted it in the counter. This chocolate cake was sandwiched together with thick and crunchy peanut buttercream, finished off with a sticky chocolate ganache. It was so indulgent and each bite was made even better with the chance of getting a random nugget of chocolatey nuttiness nestled between the crumbs.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

What I loved about this place was that it didn’t try to be something it is not – no instagrammable fanciness just for the sake of it, just good old fashioned cake, baked to perfection. They even have all the old school recipe books on the table for you to look through as you sit with your coffee (naturally, I banked a few of these bad boy recipes to inspire some future bakes of my own).

Traditional Cake Recipes

Thank you for a traditional tea room experience Mint, Guernsey is lucky to have you. I quickly found out there isn’t much in the way of good coffee and cake hangouts on this island so I was so happy to discover this hidden gem. If anyone has any suggestions on where I should visit next please comment below and give me another excuse to eat cake (not that I need it).

In the meantime, check out my latest cupcake recipes and let me know if you give any a go, I would love to see how you get on!

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Carrot and Walnut Cupcakes

Carrot cake isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I must admit, when cake is on the agenda I don’t usually think of choosing the one with vegetables stuffed inside. However, I have made my way through many-a-carrot-cake (for research purposes obviously) and have perfected my own carrot and walnut cupcake that is all kinds of satisfying. Inspired by Paul Hollywood’s ultimate carrot cake recipe, I have tweaked a few of the ingredients and measures to suit my own tastes, and hopefully yours too.

Although the actual baking process is fairly simple, the prep work does take a lot of time and patience. But trust me, when you pull those cupcakes out of the oven and get a whiff of all those spices working in perfect harmony, all the pain, shredding and tears will be well and truly worth it.

Carrot and Walnut Cupcakes

The main changes I have made to Hollywood’s recipe is switching pecans for walnuts, (initially it was because they’re a bloody nightmare to find in the supermarket) but now I just think the taste works better. I have also added lots more spices because you can never have too many and mixed spice is pretty much the greatest thing ever.

INGREDIENTS:

For the carrot cake cupcake

  • 155ml sunflower oil
  • 230g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1½ tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp mixed spice
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 230g light brown muscovado sugar
  • 100g walnuts, chopped into quarters
  • 260g carrots, finely grated
  • 3 medium eggs, beaten

For the icing

  • 50g margarine, softened (I use Stork)
  • 200g cream cheese (I use Philadelphia)
  • 150g icing sugar, plus extra to dust

METHOD:

1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas Mark 4. Line your 12-hole muffin tin with cupcake cases. Using a sifter, put the flour, baking powder and spices into a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar, chopped walnuts and finely grated carrots. Stir until the mixture is combined. Add in the beaten eggs and sunflower oil and then continue to mix well.

2. Spoon the mixture evenly into each cupcake case and bake for around 35 mins (it will differ with every oven and how much mixture you have placed in each case so check to see if a knife comes out clean, if it doesn’t, they may need an extra 5 mins). Transfer to a cooling rack and leave to cool completely before icing.

3. For the cream cheese icing, beat the butter in a large bowl with a hand mixer until it has softened up. Add the cream cheese and beat again until it is well mixed. Sift over the icing sugar gradually and then beat until smooth.

4. Place the cream cheese icing into a piping bag and once your cupcakes have totally cooled, ice them any way you like. (I always opt for a large star nozzle for piping), sprinkle a few leftover chopped walnuts and voila!

I hope you love them as much as I do!

Bloomfield Square

Otley is fast becoming one of my favourite places to stop off and enjoy a coffee (and of course, a piece of cake). A quaint little market town, the stylish eateries and coffee pit stops are often overlooked in favour of its old school pubs and traditional chippies.

But there has been a noticeable shift in the last couple of years.

Otley is putting itself on the coffee shaped map and taking inspiration from the more cosmopolitan cities that surround the town.

Introducing… Bloomfield Square

With a name like that, you might expect this café to be nestled in a sophisticated corner of Covent Garden. However this quirky coffee shop is situated in the heart of Otley, giving Yorkshire folk somewhere a little different to escape to.

Bloomfield Square Otley

Mixing traditional and vintage with a cool country vibe, you feel right at home as soon as you walk through the door. Downstairs has a cosy feel with lots of intimate table set-ups and a roaring fire (just perfect for winter).

Venture upstairs though, and you’re treated to rustic wooden beams, whitewashed brickwork and a mix of comfy cushion-filled corners to park your bum.

Bloomfield Square

 

Whilst ordering our drinks, we became majorly distracted by the counter filled with mouth watering brownies and opted for a honeycomb brownie and a cheeky white chocolate and raspberry number.

We retreated back to our cosy corner upstairs, waiting for our sweet treats to arrive, all the while ‘gramming the s*** out of this beautiful little hideaway.

But let’s get down to the exciting stuff… the brownies.

The honeycomb brownie was delicious.  Dense (but in all the right ways) chocolatey, sticky and really indulgent, finished off perfectly with a honeycomb crunch topping. If I had to say anything it would have been to incorporate more honeycomb within the brownie itself but that’s only if I’m being very picky. It has inspired me to try out a honeycomb brownie recipe myself as I haven’t yet combined those two things and as I am in love with both, it seems a no-brainer really.

Bloomfield Square Brownies

The white chocolate and raspberry brownie is not a typical brownie flavour that I opt for as I often find the taste to be quite bitter. However, this particular brownie caught my eye and I just couldn’t resist. Again, the brownie had a lovely fudgey consistency, with just a hint of raspberry running through it – enough to taste it but not too overpowering. Just lovely.

If you want somewhere to put your feet up after a long walk on the chevin, or just a quiet escape from a busy day – Bloomfield Square offers a nostalgic retreat that has echoes of those Sunday visits to your grandparents when you were a child, cosy and comforting all at the same time. I promise you’ll definitely leave this place with a smile on your face.

Oreo Cookie Cupcakes

Yes yes I know oreo cupcakes are nothing new, in fact I think that’s the recipe that almost always pops up when I am trawling website after website looking for some cakey inspiration.

However, after a recent trip down to London that involved a visit to Crumbs and Doilies, I was inspired to try my hand at some of Cupcake Jemma’s cookie and cream cupcakes that literally made my mouth water as I watched the video.

Oreo Cupcakes3

I am not going to sugar coat this recipe because in baking world – stuff doesn’t always go to plan. My first batch of cakes turned out like s***.

They were so sad and deflated as I took them out of the oven and just didn’t look all that appetising. I must admit, I have had this problem before in a recipe that involved malt powder. I’m not sure if it is coincidence, bad luck or my novice baking skills but I am beginning to learn that overcomplicating the recipe sometimes does more harm than good.

It also doesn’t help that I don’t have a mixer (it’s on my wish list) but yeah, at the moment, I am still mixing everything by hand. Maybe I’m just not reaching that cloud like consistency that a quality mixer can make but who knows – sometimes it just doesn’t work out and that’s baking for you.

Oreo Chocolate Cupcakes

So I stripped this recipe back down to a simple chocolate cake recipe and had another go. I chose to stick with Cupcake Jemma’s oreo buttercream, which is creamy and crunchy all at the same time. Whack half an oreo biscuit on top to make it ‘grammable and there you have it, oreo cookie cupcakes.

INGREDIENTS:

For the chocolate cupcakes

  • 110g caster sugar
  • 110g self-raising flour
  • 1tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 110g margarine (I use stork)
  • 1 tbsp whole milk
  • 2 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the oreo buttercream

  • 200g margarine
  • 450g icing sugar
  • 2tbsp whole milk
  • Six oreo biscuits, crushed to a crumb like consistency
  • Half an oreo biscuit to decorate

METHOD:

1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas Mark 4. Line your 12-hole muffin tin with cupcake cases. Sieve the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and caster sugar into a large mixing bowl. Add the margarine and combine using either a mixer (with the paddle attachment) or a good old fashioned wooden spoon.

2. Whisk the eggs whole milk and vanilla extract in a separate bowl/mug and add it to your mixture gradually, continuing to mix well until there are no more lumps. Be careful not to over mix.

3. Spoon the mixture evenly into your 12 cases and bake for 20-25 mins. Once they’re ready to come out of the oven, transfer to a cooling rack and leave to cool completely before adding the oreo buttercream.

4. Whilst the chocolate cupcakes are in the oven, you can make the buttercream. Beat the margarine in a large bowl to soften it and add half the icing sugar, continuing to beat until smooth. Add in the remaining icing sugar and milk and beat until it is creamy.

5. Once the cakes have cooled and your buttercream is ready to pipe, it’s time to decorate. I use a disposable piping bag with a large round nozzle tip. Pipe the buttercream onto the cakes and finish with an oreo biscuit. I bang my oreos straight in the middle but you can be as artistic as you like.

Hope you enjoy!

Crumbs and Doilies

I have fangirled over Crumbs and Doilies for well over a year now and when I’m not drooling over their Instagram account, I’m watching Cupcake Jemma’s YouTube channel, falling in love with all the delicious cupcakes that are being created in front of my eyes.

So on a recent trip to London, it was the first on my list of places to go and visit. Situated in the super cool and super vibey district of Soho, Crumbs and Doilies is nestled inside Kingly Court on a quaint cobbled street.

As I stepped inside the shop I was confronted with cupcake overload. The most beautiful counter of cupcakes with every flavour, size and topping you could dream of. And of course I was first in the queue, don’t you just hate that – you start panicking about what to order and choose something without proper contemplation, the mounting pressure forcing you to opt for the safe option.

Crumbs and Doilies Soho

Well the safe option for me is chocolate, always chocolate. So I chose the Ferrero Rocher cupcake, mainly because I had made some the week before and I wanted to experience how the professionals do it.

I also had the added pressure of choosing one for my sister who was waiting outside and asked me to “choose something that looked good” bloody difficult when I was faced with the cupcake counter of dreams. After making another impulse decision and going for a classic Custard Cream number, I ordered a couple of takeaway coffees and joined her on the bench outside.

The shop itself does have a few spots to perch and devour your cake but at that point it was pretty busy. Although it was October, it felt like summer down in London when the sun was shining so we grabbed a seat outside ready to stuff our faces and people watch.

I had really high expectations for this cupcake after it had been shown off a number of times on their Instagram account. And my oh my, it didn’t disappoint. I’m not just saying this, it was literally the best cupcake I have ever eaten.

The chocolate, nutty infused cake was so moist (sorry like most people, I hate that word too but its the only way to describe it accurately) and full of flavour. The buttercream was the lightest, most fluffiest buttercream I have ever tasted and it had a really subtle nutty flavour to it too – kind of like eating a Ferrero Rocher but without the crunch. And then the crunch of the chocolate ganache and sprinkling of chopped hazelnuts was the perfect balance to all that creaminess. All in all, it was perfection.

Crumbs and Doilies 5

And it was only when I got home and had a proper look at my pictures that I spotted the Ferrero Rocher cupcakes were actually gluten free. I have tried my fair share of gluten free cakes (one of my dearest friends is a coeliac so I join her whenever we eat cake or when she’s lucky enough to experience a gluten free badboy of my own) and I can honestly they never taste quite the same – they always seem a little dry. However, I would never have realised the cupcake I ordered was gluten free it was so damn tasty, it actually ramped up my love for it a little bit more.

Crumbs and Doilies, I’m still fangirling over your creations and I can’t wait to go back down and try more.

Lotus Biscoff Cupcakes

I first discovered lotus biscuits in a posh coffee shop in Leeds. Now every time I order a latte, I cross my fingers and secretly pray that a little caramel biscuit in its red wrapper is accompanying it.

Lotus biscuits and coffee are a match made in heaveeeen. The sweet caramelised taste of the biscuit is so unique, once you have experienced such a yummy blend of flavours, no other biscuit quite matches up to it. They also feel a bit classier than your standard rich tea, not sure why, they just do.

So I had been wondering for a while how I was going to transfer this unique taste into a cupcake and stumbled across lotus biscoff spread. Genius.

Recommended as a spread for your toast, I had much bigger plans for this beautiful invention, lotus biscoff cupcakes.

I used light brown sugar for the cakes as this brings that all important caramel flavour to the basic cupcake recipe and I added the biscoff spread into the buttercream, and I must admit, it’s my favourite ever buttercream.

I recently baked a batch and took them into the office to celebrate National Cupcake Week and they were all gone by the first round of brews, so I would say they went down pretty well.

Lotus Biscuit Biscoff Cupcakes

INGREDIENTS:

For the cupcakes

  • 150g light brown sugar
  • 150g self raising flour
  • 150g margarine (I use stork)
  • 1 tbsp whole milk
  • 3 large eggs, whisked
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the lotus buttercream

  • 150g margarine
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 200g lotus biscuit spread

METHOD:

1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas Mark 4. Line your 12-hole muffin tin with cupcake cases.

2. Beat the margarine and light brown sugar until well combined. Add the eggs, self raising flour and vanilla extract and mix together until you have a smooth consistency – you can add the milk if the mix isn’t as smooth as you would like.

3. Spoon the mixture evenly into your 12 cases and bake for 20-25 mins. Once they’re ready to come out of the oven, transfer to a cooling rack and leave to cool completely before adding the lotus buttercream.

4. Whilst the cupcakes are in the oven, you can make the buttercream. Beat the margarine in a large bowl to soften it and gradually add the icing sugar, continuing to beat until smooth. Add in the lotus biscuit spread and continue to beat until it is creamy and caramel-ly mmm.

5. Once the cakes have cooled and your buttercream is ready to pipe, it’s time to decorate. I use a disposable piping bag with a large star nozzle tip. Add the buttercream to the cakes and finish with the lotus biscuit. I crush a couple of the biscuits and sprinkle the crumbs over the cakes to make it extra fancy.

Enjoy!

Peggy Porschen Cakes

Vanity Fair claims they are the “best cupcakes in the world” so naturally, I had to pay a visit to Peggy Porschen Cakes on a recent trip down to London.

Located in the upmarket district of Belgravia, Ebury street is lined with elegantly whitewashed townhouses and luxury hotels. And sat unashamedly in the midst of all this surrounding wealth was an inviting pink pop of colour with the most beautiful floral centrepiece framing its doorway.

As we moved in closer, we noticed a swarm of people circulating outside and we were quickly told we would be put on a waiting list and should expect to be seated in around 40 mins. Wow, this place must be good.

Peggy Porschen7

Although it was a long time to wait for a coffee and cake, it gave me chance to take some fancy shots of the building and stalk what everyone was ordering outside.

I was also catching up with a good friend of mine who abandoned Yorkshire in favour of the big city life and I was reliably informed that in London, you should expect to wait an hour for almost anything you want to do. So, with a 40-minute wait, we had got it pretty good.

Peggy Porschen London

It was a surprisingly warm autumnal day so we were happy to be seated outside and after reading the menu cover to cover, I decided on a chocolate heaven cupcake.
Peggy Porschen certainly knows how to make Instagram-worthy cakes that match up to its super pretty exterior and my chocolate heaven cupcake was almost too pretty to eat. Almost.

They had got the buttercream to cake ratio just right and they opted for a simple but elegant topping to make it all about the flavour in the cake. The chocolate cake was really light, fluffy and incredibly moreish however, if I had to say one thing it would be that I’ve had better buttercreams. This chocolate buttercream seemed a little bland and personally, I didn’t think it did the cake justice.

Peggy Porschen3

For me, the cupcake I had ordered didn’t quite live up to Vanity Fair’s bold statement but the Instagram pics I took certainly made up for it. If you want a “cakexperience”, this is definitely one to tick off the list.

Bourbon Biscuit Cupcakes

Do you know why biscuits are my second favourite things aside from cake? Because biscuits are a guilt-free accompaniment to a cuppa. You’re almost judged if you don’t have a biscuit with your tea, well you are in my house anyway.

So here’s my next question…what is the best biscuit out there? For me, it’s a toss-up between those pink wafers you only find in biscuit selection boxes at Christmas or the timeless classics, custard creams and…yes you guessed it bourbon biscuits.

Bourbon biscuits satisfy every biscuit must-have. Chocolatey? Yes. Crunchy? Yes. Chocolate butter-creamy centre? Yes.

Anyway, I knew it wouldn’t take long before I was combining this with another love of mine, chocolate cake. And without further ado, I bring you… bourbon biscuit chocolate cupcakes.

A fairly simple recipe with basic ingredients, these little cakes are hard not to love. And just because your Bourbon biscuit is placed on top of a cupcake doesn’t mean you can’t have it with a cuppa, it’s still the perfect accompaniment and don’t let anyone tell you any different.

Bourbon Biscuit Chocolate Cupcakes

INGREDIENTS:

For the chocolate cupcakes

  • 140g caster sugar
  • 100g plain flour
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 40g margarine (I use stork)
  • 120ml whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the chocolate buttercream

  • 110g margarine
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 1tbsp whole milk
  • Bourbon biscuits to decorate

METHOD:

1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas Mark 4. Line your 12-hole muffin tin with cupcake cases. Using a sifter, put the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and caster sugar into a large mixing bowl. Add the margarine and combine using either a mixer (with the paddle attachment) or a good old fashioned wooden spoon until you are left with a sandy consistency.

2. Whisk the egg, whole milk and vanilla extract in a separate bowl/mug and add it to your mixture gradually, continuing to mix well until there are no more lumps. Be careful not to over mix.

3. Spoon the mixture evenly into your 12 cases and bake for 20-25 mins. Once they’re ready to come out of the oven, transfer to a cooling rack and leave to cool completely before adding the chocolate buttercream.

4. Whilst the chocolate cupcakes are in the oven, you can make the buttercream. Beat the margarine in a large bowl to soften it and add half the icing sugar, continuing to beat until smooth. Add in the remaining icing sugar, cocoa powder and milk and beat until it is creamy.

5. Once the cakes have cooled and your buttercream is ready to pipe, it’s time to decorate. I use a disposable piping bag with a large star nozzle tip. Add the buttercream to the cakes and finish with a bourbon biscuit. I bang my bourbons straight in the middle but you can be as artistic as you like.

Go on, make a brew and enjoy one of these bad boys.

Hessian

You know those places that make you feel a little bit cooler as soon as you step inside? Well Hessian is definitely one of those places. I first visited this hidden gem after a mammoth walk around Roundhay Park. Situated on a busy parade in Oakwood, the bold blue statement cafe certainly knows how to catch your eye.

I initially visited for lunch on a busy Saturday afternoon (and by the way – all of the food is insane and presented so beautifully you have to take a snap of it before you take a bite), and enjoyed it so much I decided to return a few weeks later for coffee and cake.

This time I visited on a sleepy Sunday afternoon after the rush of people had been and gone and was able to take a seat wherever I fancied.

Hessian Cafe Oakwood

So I opted to take a seat under this attractive young stag, right by all the chefs working their magic. Hessian makes no apologies for it’s big bold colours, eclectic mix of prints and wall art to give you a retro but relaxed vibe to wine and dine in.

….But back to the coffee and cake. As we waltzed over to our seat we noticed the drool-inducing cakes up on the counter and it was there I spotted the little number I was going to polish off before I had even taken my first sip of coffee. The cinnamon bun.

Hessian Cafe Oakwood

Drizzled in icing and topped with a sprinkling of walnuts, the cinnamon bun was indulgently dense, sticky, cinnamon-y and full of all the spices that remind you of Christmas. It was the perfect size for a coffee date (who am I kidding – I could have had two) but for once, it didn’t leave me with cake envy. My boyfriend ordered the classic chocolate brownie, which was equally yummy but when you’ve got cinnamon on the mind, it’s only the cinnamon bun that’s going to satisfy that craving. And Hessian’s delicious offering certainly did just that.

Hessian may be small, but it is perfectly formed. With super friendly staff and cakes that have already got me planning my next visit, I definitely recommend trying this place for yourself.