Mad Hatter Tea Party...2012

Saturday, July 28, 2012

In previous years the Hatter has visited various members of the household. However Mr Lemon Drizzle remains un-hattered. Could this be his year? And if so how will he react to a wonderland of whimsy? (With his normal good humour?), we can only hope.

There was a faint drone of the children running and shouting in the garden, and the 'Mama' hiding in their bedroom, stealing a few minutes to play Bejewled on his iPod. "Ha" he thought "she will never beat my score!" So, he took a few minutes to stretch out on the couch with the weekend papers. He skimmed the guide and then opened the Review section but his eyes were closing and he couldn't keep them open, and to be honest, he didn't want to try. Soon he had assumed his customary Saturday position, and tried to catch forty winks.

But no sooner had he nodded off again than he heard a whisper in hie ear, 'Carpe diem...carpe diem'. He flicked his ear but it wouldn't stop.

"Do you mind, I am trying to get some sleep!"
"Come, it's party time!"
He opened his eyes and saw a strange man in front of him.
"Garr" he jumped!
"Come with!"
He wasn't the kind of man to take orders, and he didn't like strange men in the house and he certainly didn't like parties. So he just closed his eyes and attempted to ignore it all. But try and resist as he might, his eyes strained to open, and, when he gave in, he found himself in a strange room, filled with flowers.
"Welcome" said the Hatter, "to our florabunda party."
"Florabunda! Seriously? In case it has slipped your notice, I'm a man, I'm a manly man, I don't do flowers. I eat salt and vinegar chip sticks and drink beer!"
Quick as a flash the little man jumped forward and started tickling him. "I think we have to cheer the grumbly bear up"
"Get off me," he slapped the Hatter's hand away, " I don't need cheering up, I just want to be left sleep"
"Have some cake" was the only reply and a flower shaped cookie was thrust into his hand. 

"It's OK, but what are the bits in it?"
"In a cake, that's not right? And this?" he asked pointing to a stack of unrecognizable goodies.


"They aren't macaroons. Even I know they should be shiny and crisp on the outside with a 'foot'. These are flat, dull, and holey."

"Yes, well, our chef blames the oven, she says it is impossible to make a macaroon in it...anyway moving swiftly on, what about a meringue, with cream and raspberry?"
"The devil's fruit!"

Chocolate cake?"
"With edible flowers? I don't think so"

"Parma violets, fondant roses?"
"I'm picking up a theme!"

"I know, a cake pop"
"Don't get me's a cake...on a doesn't make it more fun. You can guarantee that after one bite it will crack and I will lose most of the cake on to the floor! It really is the most ridiculous cake-based idea, barring cake-in-a-jar, or even worse, a cake push pop. They are all just designed to make it harder to eat cake!"

The Hatter sighed, but continued to parade an seemingly endless supply of cakes, biscuits, ice cream and even jellies in front of the angry man. This was a most unusual teas party, normally his guests succumbed quickly, and willingly, to his mixture of whimsy and charm. Had he lost his touch?

On and on they went, until the Daddy could take it no more.
"Stop! Enough! I will eat something. Do you have any lemon drizzle cake?"
"Aha, yes, we have an excellent lemon drizzle cupcake."
"Well I would much prefer a good hearty slab of cake, but I suppose this will have to do."
He took a bit of the tiny tasted absolutely delicious but then his teeth crunched down on to something hard and unyielding.
"What on earth is this? How irritating! A cherry, a cherry hiding in a lemon drizzle cake with the stone left in, have you no thought for tradition or the health of my teeth?"

The Hatter snapped his fingers. "Right, that's it! You have no appreciation of  whimsy or exceedingly good cake.!
"You're absolutely right, but I never claimed to, I just wanted a lie down. I think you may possibly have the wrong man, I don't care at all for whimsy."
"Right then, only one thing for it. Help me out Dormouse."
A small mouse crept up behind the man and knocked him on the head with a teapot.
He woke with a start, still on the couch, but now a small, insistent child was jumping up and down on him.
"Daddy, daddy wake up, wake up!"
"No, leave me alone, I was having a lovely dream, about the best cake ever!"
His wife passed by the door and rolled her eyes (she had been reading a certain book!). "I hope it was one of mine" She said jealously.
"Yes dear." He replied, and closed his eyes while a small child pummeled his chest, and in the distance a funny wee man laughed and laughed.

 Thankyou to Vanessa from A Fanciful Twist for hosting the Mad Hatters Tea Party. You can see hers here.
You can also see previous years parties (with less grumpy participants) here and here. And you can make your own toasted oatmeal ice cream with this recipe.

Thankyou for visiting Amelie's House. We look forward to visiting your parties

Toasted oatmeal ice cream recipe

Friday, July 27, 2012

This is a recipe I used to make as a teenager, it is from an old Marks and Spencer cookbook that I still treasure. It sounds unusual, but it is delicious, and you can fool yourself into believing that it is healthy, as it contains oats! The oats and sugar turn into praline, and give the ice cream a gorgeous nutty, toffee taste. You must really watch the oat/sugar mixture while it is under the grill, as it burns very easily! 
had intended to make use of my ice cream maker, but it had lain idle for so long in the back of a cupboard that the liquid in the freezer bowl had started to leak. So I used the old fashioned 'taking it out of the freezer regularly and beating it' method. You only need to do this three or four times, but just make sure that the ice cream is semi-frozen when you do, or it won't be effective. 
Big kidlet decided to make some chocolate cookies today and I thought they would be perfect to use in an ice cream sandwich...and they were!

You can download a printable recipe here.


Princess castle cake

Thursday, July 26, 2012

This was a remake of one of my very first designs, but the client wanted a five layer rainbow cake inside, hence the height. The little girl was turning 4 so we added the door number as a small nod to her age.


Underwater party invitations

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Although this party isn't happening until September, we had to get the invitations out before the Summer holidays to guarantee any guests. 
An underwater theme was this year's request, so expect mermaids, seaweed and dolphins. (I am trying to persuade the littlest kidlet to let me make a cake that isn't full of Octonauts figures, but it's a losing battle!)
 I have been wanting to make something with these little plastic fish for ages now. I got mine from a Japanese supermarket in London but I'm sure you could find them on the internet somewhere, because you can find everything there...I love it!

You can find the instructions below.

 (I ended up reprinting the actual invitation part and spacing it over three lines to make the scroll smaller.)

Big kidlet insisted on decorating each envelope which took a week!
More on the party in September.

Fresh from the oven

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Flapjack (recipe here) ready for this week's classes.

Book club cake of the month...July

Monday, July 9, 2012

This month, I was the host and gave the members of the book group their three choices. 'American Gods' by Neil Gaiman (I have read this already and think it's brilliant!), Evelyn Waugh's 'The Loved One' and, the one they all plumped for, 'The Snow Child', a first novel by Eowyn Ivey.
This is a really beautiful novel, the author captures the wilderness and stillness of Alska perfectly. And portrays the ache in the hearts of the main protagonists, Jack and Mabel for a child of their own with a tenderness and emotional depth.
One day an ethereal child arrives, seemingly out of nowhere, reminding Mabel of her favourite fairy tale 'The Snow Child', about a girl made of snow who magically comes to life.

              Watch the video below tho get an impression of the feel and mood of the book.

Fortunately, after The Finkler Disaster (see here), everyone really enjoyed this book, we had a good discussion and opinion varied about Faina (the child) from realistic explanations to the magical. There were a few problems about the book that were raised, but they were minor and didn't detract from the rest of the novel, but I would urge you to read it yourself and make your own mind up. 
We gave it an average of 8 1/2 with a few 9s thrown in for good measure.

Mabel bakes pies to earn extra money, and one of the pies she makes is a dried apple pie. I decided to come up with my own version. I bought some ready made puff pastry (because really who has time to make their own?) I stewed two cooking apples with plenty of brown sugar then place them on top of the rolled out pastry. I then arranged dried apple slices on top of the puree and brushed them with some maple syrup. (Now I must admit that the dried apples burnt to a crisp, so once the pie had baked I took off the first lot, added the bits left in the bag and placed it under the grill to brown a little.) No-one knew though and it went down a treat.
The host also provides nibbles, so I thought you may like to see the savouries I provided (no-one ever has tea before book club).

We are having an informal meeting over the summer in a pub somewhere and reading a book I can't mention, as my Mum will be reading this! (But it involves vampires.)
Previous book club cake of the month;

Wimbledon cake

Sunday, July 8, 2012
A post in which the writer proves her lack of piping skills.

(ps, I know I misspell Murray above but it was too late to change)

It  probably won't surprise you to learn that were many different cakes and sweet treats baked in my house while I was growing up. Syd special, melting moments, the rude Christmas cake, lemon drizzle, my Dad's chocolate cake and ... the Wimbledon cake. This was in the days when Borg, Mcenroe and Nastase were the stars. Traditionally, in honour of the men's final, my Mum would dig out her bumper Marks and Spencers cook book and make a Wimbledon cake. 
I have followed Wimbledon on and off during the past few years, and never felt inspired to make this cake. However, as there is a Brit in the final for the first time in (insert number, probably about 70, can't be bothered to google) many years, the time has come.
Unfortunately my parents haven't been answering their phone, they are either too busy watching Wallender or something else Swedish or are flooded out of their home! So I had to recreate the cake from memory.
It was a light fruit cake, with water icing and, I recall, a vague orange tang. The tennis court is piped onto the green icing and the names of each of the finalist piped on the opposite ends of the cake. Then, with great ceremony, the losing end is cut and eaten first.
Now I did consider covering the cake with fondant, and painting a beautiful court, with portraits of Murray and Federer, but, apart from the lack of time, I really felt I should stick with tradition. Plus, the cake benefits from the slight crunch of the icing rather than the softer fondant.
You can add any fruit you like, I included some freeze dried strawberries I found in my local supermarket to give it that real Wimbledon feel.

Wimbledon Cake

Cake mix
300g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
300g caster sugar
6 large eggs (at room temperature)
300g self-raising flour
250g mixed fruit (I used dried strawberries, apricots, cherries, raisins and sultanas)
Grated rind and juice of an orange
Grated rind of a lemon

350g royal icing
2 teaspoons orange blossom water (or orange juice)
Green food colouring

For the cake:
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C(or 175°C forfan-assisted ovens).
Butter, flour and line a 20cm x 27cm rectangular tin.
In a bowl, beat the butter and sugar together for a few minutes until they become creamed and lighter in colour. Add the eggs one at a time and beat into this mixture (if it curdles add a teaspoon of the flour), then add the grated rind and mixed fruit. Sift the flour into the bowl and fold it into the mixture with a spoon. Fold in the fruit and then add the orange juice into the mixture too.
Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 35 -45 minutes until golden and springy to the touch. Make sure to take the cake out of the tin and leave to cool on a cooling tray.

For the icing:Beat all the icing sugar with the orange blossom and then add water until you get the consistency of double cream. Set aside a small amount of the icing for the piped details. Beat in the food colouring and then pour over the cooled cake. When the icing has hardened slightly pipe the markings of a tennis court and the names of the finalists.

You can get a downloadable version here

I don't hold out much hope of a Murray win, but it is fabulous to have a Brit in the final of anything!
Enjoy the match!

The Games

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Berkhamsted Games, yesterday, were an amazing event and something I'm sure the kidlets will always remember. Especially, as the littlest one walked away with a silver medal, for the standing long jump.
Now, I am about to share some pictures of the day with you, do you think I resisted the urge to tilt shift? Of course not (see immediately below!)

I arrived early to set up my cake, all was fairly peaceful.

Then the ten schools taking part began to arrive, each school had a different coloured t-shirt.

Once all the children were settled the opening ceremony began. They all sang the Olympic song. (I wiped away the tears from my eyes, I'm so soft!)

Then we had a parade of the nations.

Followed by all the local head teachers and the Olympic torch.

There was a very exciting torch lighting ceremony!

(warning imminent tilt shifting!)

The children then were placed in a holding area while the games began.

There was a very exciting tug of war match that almost ended in deadlock!

When all the events were over there was a closing ceremony including a balloon release. (Again with the tears)

A massive thankyou to everyone who helped organize the day. It was a rip roaring success!

(I know, excessive pictures of the balloons, but don't they look magical?)