I’d have baked a cake : daffodils and Welsh cakes

hapus Dydd Gŵyl Dewi!

Or, Happy St David’s Day! Pairing daffodils (cennin Pedr) and Welsh cakes (picau ar y maen) for this month’s ‘I’d have baked a cake’ feature is a little cliched I know, but it’s March 1st and I loves them both, I do.

Daffodils and narcissi are a staple of the Florists springtime repertoire and this year, they’ve received some unexpected media attention. Public Health England have urged supermarkets to keep the brassy, little sunshine flowers away from the fruit and vegetable aisle in case customers confuse them for food. But any press is good press, right? Just remember kids, put your daffodils in a vase and your spring onions in a Thai green curry.

I went a long time in my life before eating a Welsh cake, trying one for the first time when a Welsh colleague of mine brought a fresh batch into work one March 1st, and I regret all those years I was bereft of their buttery goodness. Living in England I rarely see these modest, fruity griddle cakes in shops so to satisfy my cravings, I bake them for myself. Traditionally cooked on cast iron griddles called bakestones, Welsh cakes are sometimes given the same name. I don’t have a bakestone and find that a thick bottomed frying pan works just as well.

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I based my recipe on the Great British Chefs Welsh cakes, but added vanilla extract. My dear old Grandad used to be a baker – he was the fastest doughnut maker in the East of England – and he swore by adding vanilla extract into any cake recipe. This recipe makes around 13 cakes.

Ingredients

  • 225g self raising flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 100g (unsalted) butter
  • 50g  golden caster sugar
  • 50g currants
  • 1 medium egg, beaten
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • A little butter for cooking
  • A little golden caster sugar to serve

Method

  1. Sieve the flour and salt into a large bowl. Add the sugar and currants and mix them all together.
  2. Pour the milk and vanilla extract into the beaten egg and stir well.
  3. Add the milk and egg into the flour, sugar and currents and mix until you get a stiff dough.
  4. Roll out the ball of dough onto a lightly floured surface until it is about 5mm thick. Stamp out the individual cakes using a round pastry cutter.
  5. Heat the frying pan over a low – medium heat until it has warmed through thoroughly. Grease the pan using a small amount of butter and add the Welsh cakes.
  6. Cook the cakes for around 4 – 5 minutes on each side until they are golden brown and have risen a little.
  7. Place your daffodils into a tasteful vase. Daffodils last longer in shallow water so don’t overfill your vase and top up the water as and when necessary.
  8. Sprinkle a little golden caster sugar on the finished cakes and serve. Lush.
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Hand-tied bouquet timelapse

Ever wanted to watch a hand-tied bouquet being made in super fast motion?

Orders for Gilliflower’s Mothering Sunday bouquets are coming in thick and fast – like a good buttermilk pancake batter – so I thought it would be the perfect time to share with you all my boss* time-lapse, “How to make a hand-tied bouquet”.

Of course, there are some floristry secrets I’ll take to the grave, but here is my step-by-step method for making a simple hand-tied bouquet.

  1. Select the flowers and foliage you want to use. You’ll need at least 20 stems to make a full, abundant looking bouquet. If you’re making your hand-tied to give to someone as a gift, it’s definitely worth spending the extra money and purchasing your flowers from a florist’s where you’ll know they’ll always be in good condition. If you’re just wanting to make something nice for the home, you’ll probably be able to find good quality blooms in your local supermarket.
  2. Start by choosing your focal flower which will form the centre of the bouquet. Holding the stem in your left hand if you are right-handed (or right if you are left-handed) add some stems of foliage around the focal flower.
  3. Pick another flower and insert it into the bunch at an angle so that the stem is pointing towards you.
  4. Build up the hand-tied by rotating it, inserting stems of flowers and foliage at an angle each time you turn it. As you add the angled stems, you’ll notice that they start to spiral.
  5. Once you’ve added all your materials, bind the bouquet with ribbon or twine at the place where you’ve been holding the stems. This is called the binding point.
  6. Trim the stems so that they are all the same length. And voila! You’re fully primed to walk down the next aisle you see.

Mother's day bouquet

*Boss (bôs) adjective: incredibly awesome. Dude, did you see that bouquet? It’s boss! 

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Mothering Sunday Bouquets

Always be prepared for Mother’s Day. I’m always saying it.

So this year, I started planning my Mothering Sunday gift bouquets super early. In the UK, Mothering Sunday falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent, which in 2015 is the 15th March. Having feasted on the last of my heavenly pancakes, I scampered off to my local floristry supplier for some divine inspiration.

And what characterises Mothering Sunday more than pretty pink and lushious lilac pastels. Full bodied, flagrant and totally unashamed roses are the central focal point of this bouquet accompanied by delicate and demure spray roses, lisianthus, veronica and stocks. When it comes to colour, the Victorians definitely had it right. Like our Mother’s pink is a strong, robust colour and these roses exude tenacity.

If you’d like to order one of these beauteous, boxed hand-tied bouquets, send me a message using my contact form, Facebook or Twitter and your Mother will be delighted when you go a-mothering laden with floral fruitfulness.

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I’d have baked a cake : Hyacinths and American-style pancakes

Fluffy, American-style pancakes and Spring-is-nearly-here Hyacinths

Nothing says  ‘welcome home’ more than the sublimely scented blend of fresh flowers and a still warm from the oven cake. In this monthly feature, I will be recommending perfect partners in fragrance to make your guests feel warm and fuzzy inside.

I am somewhat of a pancake devotee and a faithful observer of Pancake Day – which is tomorrow! Nevertheless, before now my pancake repertoire has been somewhat basic. This year, I decided to take my hand to American-style, buttermilk pancakes and, truth be told, there’s no looking back for me.

Nipping into the garden to collect some wood for our burner earlier in the week, my heart  surged to see the hyacinths poke their sleepy, somewhat cautious heads out of their flower beds. Spring is certainly thinking about sprunging, and I for one am giddy with anticipation. Inspired by my garden’s seasonal promise, this month I’ve partnered heady hyacinths with thick, eat me quick, buttermilk pancakes.

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I based my recipe on Baking Mad’s buttermilk pancakes, but halved the ingredients because I was only preparing breakfast for me and my husband, Joey. This recipe made 8 pancakes.

Ingredients

  • 65g plain white flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Tiny pinch salt
  • 18g golden caster sugar
  • 175ml buttermilk
  • 25g butter (unsalted), melted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 small egg, beaten
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Maple syrup for drizzling

Method

  1. Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl. Gently stir in the sugar and then make a well in the centre.
  2. In a jug, whisk together the melted butter, buttermilk, egg and vanilla extract.
  3. Slowly whisk the wet ingredients into the dry bit by bit to form a thick, smooth batter.
  4. Leave the  batter to rest for 10-15 minutes. Take this opportunity to arrange your hyacinths and plunge the press on your cafetiere.
  5. Lightly grease a frying pan (or skillet if you’re one of those pancake professionals), and leave for a minute or two on a medium heat to warm through.
  6. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of batter into the centre of your frying pan and cook for 1-2 minutes. Once the bubbles have just stopped forming and the edges look set, flip your pancake and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
  7. Transfer cooked pancakes to a plate and keep warm until you serve. I tried to do this,  but mostly failed and ate my pancakes smothered in maple syrup by the hob.

 

 

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