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Baked Jam Doughnuts

Next week I’m running a week-long Cookery School for 6-11 year olds and for the last week I’ve been busy finalising arrangements and testing recipes. Each day is themed and one of the days is America. We couldn’t do an American themed day without making doughnuts and the fact I have a slight fear of frying, especially around children, this had to be a baked recipe. You can buy doughnut tins but part of my business ethos is about making cookery accessible for all. Having to buy a special tin doesn’t make it accessible. Read the rest of this entry

The Cream Tea Diaries

I’ve mentioned Grandma before, she’s a bit of a legend. One of her favourite things in life is cream cakes and she’s also the Queen of all things scone. It’s her recipe I use for scones and that I teach all of my pupils because it always works perfectly. For the last few weekends we’ve been taking her out to places for Cream Tea. For those who are not aware of this British tradition Cream Tea is essentially a pot of tea served alongside a place of fresh scones, jam and cream. A lighter version of an Afternoon Tea.

Grandma lives in South Derbyshire so at the moment the places we’re trying are within this area. Another thing to consider is that she is in a wheelchair that is proving to be interesting when we’ve taken her out for meals in the past. Accessibility of a place was not something I had really appreciated until recently.

Calke Abbey Restaurant

Calke Abbey is a National Trust property to the south of Derby with an interesting history. The Kitchen Gardens are well worth a visit and the paths up to the garden made it accessible for Grandma…though Hubs did regret refusing a lift in the adapted golf buggy when he began to push her up the gravel tracked incline. National Trust members can park at Calke Abbey for free, if you are not members it costs : adult £1.60, child 50p, family £4.20. As we regularly go to this NT property the membership soon pays for itself.

Service: 7/10 You order and receive your Cream Tea at the till. It was a very busy Sunday afternoon when we visited and some tables took a while to be cleared but we didn’t have to queue at the till long and finding a seat in the courtyard took no time at all.

Surroundings: 8/10 Calke Abbey restaurant is within the old restored courtyard which was busy with both dog walkers and visitors. When the weather is less than desirable there is also seating inside.

Quality of tea: 7/10 Run of the mill Breakfast Tea that wasn’t anything special but wasn’t awful. It was served hot with enough milk, sugar.

Quality of scone: 9/10 Each Cream Tea is served with two giant scones. One plain and one sultana scone. They are made in the Calke Abbey Restaurant kitchen and it was clear that our scones had not long come out of the oven. Perfect texture with a good taste. No scrimping on the sultanas.

Quality of jam & cream: 8/10 Small jar of good quality strawberry jam. If I was to be fussy you could do with a tiny bit more jam as you have two monster scones. The cream is Lubcloud’s Extra Thick cream. Divine stuff and the closest you get to clotted cream around these parts. Has the texture of silky butter. Amazing stuff!

Price: £4.99 for two scones and pot of tea for 1.

score: 39/50

Scaddows Farm Shop, Cafe & PYO

A local farm that is well known for its PYO. A few years ago they built a farmshop and cafe. They used to have quite an extensive menu, but now is more the kind of place for stop for tea and cake.

Service: 7/10 You order at the till then they deliver to your table. Service was quick and efficient and all the tables were clean and tidy.

Surroundings: 6/10 A newly constructed ‘barn conversion’. Downstairs the room is quite quiet and small, but there is seating upstairs and if the weather is good there is quite a few picnic style tables outside which are also suitable for wheelchairs. If sitting outside you have views over the strawberry fields and the 4 counties of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire.

Quality of tea: 8/10 They served a really good tea served at a good temperature. Wasn’t Breakfast Tea, maybe Darjeeling but can’t be sure. What ever the tea was it was superb. The teas were served with speculaas and although these are not traditional Cream Tea fayre I do like them and they remind me of holidays. I’m easily pleased!

Quality of scone: 5/10 Nice, but in my eyes not a scone. These seemed to be more like sweet bread with the odd speckles of sultana.

Quality of jam & cream: 6/10 Served with lots of strawberry jam and yet again my favourite Lubcloud extra thick cream (you can buy this cream in the shop here)

Price: £2.85 for 1 scone, jam, cream and pot of tea for 1

score: 32/50

If you can think of where we can visit with Grandma to test out their Cream Teas leave a comment below or email me at

Cherry Bakewell Fairy Cakes

It is a well know fact that on of my favourite bakes is the humble Bakewell Tart. The sweet almond sponge partnered with the rich raspberry jam is one of my favourite sweet flavour combinations. Of course this elegant tart has been transformed into the more commonly known Cherry Bakewell format thanks to Mr Kipling. There is a place for the delicious Bakewell Tart but just sometimes life calls for the one essential thing a Cherry Bakewell has; a garish red Glace cherry. It’s the rule.

In the past I have reincarnated the Cherry Bakewell in biscuit form and while baking Fairy Cakes for a School Fete last week I decided to make them in Fairy Cake format. Dainty little bites of jammy, almondy goodness. Of course a healthier alternative due to lack of pastry. Who am I kidding.

I will admit these never made it to the school fete and were used to fuel not only me but Hubs & Father-in-Law who have been working on a big DIY project. For the school I made a batch of chocolate cakes dusted with edible glitter (essential School Cake Stall ingredient)  and vanilla cakes with bright pink icing. It is the basic version of this recipe that I’m currently teaching in my cookery classes and out of the 300 cakes we’ve baked so far each and every cake has worked perfectly.

Cherry Bakewell Fairy Cakes
Makes 12

100g self-raising flour

100g caster sugar

100g butter

2 eggs

1 tsp almond extract

4 tbsp raspberry jam

100g icing sugar

2 tbsp boiling water

6 glace cherries, cut in half

1) Preheat oven to 180°c and line a bun tin with fairy cake liners.

2) In a bowl beat together the butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy then one at a time stir in the eggs. Don’t worry if it begins to look curdled. Mix in the almond extract.

3) Carefully fold in the flour until the ingredients are well combined.

4) Put a dessert spoon of the mixture in each case. Place a 1tsp of the jam on top of the cake batter then top with a further tsp of cake batter. The jam sinks during cooking and by the time they come out of the oven the jam will be sitting nicely at the bottom of the cake.

5) Bake for 15-20 min until risen and golden. Allow to cool before icing.

6) In a bowl mix together the icing sugar and water until you have a smooth icing paste. Smooth the icing over the cakes and top with half a glace cherry. Ideally let the icing set before eating…but you know how it is.

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