Ginger and White

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A lazy Saturday morning needs a fairly relaxed Saturday afternoon to follow. We decided to seek out the countryside and go for a wander, so we went to Hampstead. I’m sure such a faraway part of London counts as the countryside? We were offered a plethora of cake eateries along the high street but we headed to Ginger and White which was the book option for the area.

Tucked down a side road this little cafe was full and we were greeted by a smiley member of staff who directed us to some seats. Although the cafe was full the atmosphere was one of quiet contemplation, many customers were using laptops and crowded around a central table. The cakes were a variety of vegan and gluten free flavours, all looked tasty. We opted for a chocolate with early grey ganache and a pistachio and almond loaf. Both were surprisingly delicious given their unusual combinations. The earl grey ganache was particularly nice and oddly tasted like tea – but in a good way, that somehow went with chocolate? I suppose a good chocolate biscuit and cup of tea combined in a cake! The nutty loaf was very moist and packed with pistachios, in the cake and piled on top. An impressive cake experience, the kindly waiter even forgot that he had already brought ours to us and we almost had double cake! There was a sting in the tail however – it was rather expensive! Over £10 for two cakes and tea I believe is too much.

After cake we left behind the stress of the laptop users busy clicking away and sought Hampstead Heath. We spent some hours looking at the pretty flowers and climbing trees on parliament hill. A trip to a pub in Kentish Town sealed the afternoon. Thanks North London -you were most obliging.

Rating:
Cake: Me 5.5/7 Charlie 5.5/7
Atmosphere: 3.5/7 – staff delightful, but too many punters obsessed with laptops!

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Dubrovnik; my experience of Croatian Cake.

 

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I must apologise profusely for my recent lack of publicised cake consumption. I assure you that I have been trying to keep up my cake eating ways while I have been on my Easter holidays. I arrive at this blog after a week in Dubrovnik, Croatia, and a long weekend of chocolate eating.

I didn’t research Croatian cake before I arrived but instead sought out the cakes that I could find in the old town during my wanderings. A whole week offered up a range of cake experiences and types. The most common thing I found in cafes was two types of cake on offer translated into English; ‘cake’ and ‘pie’. Pie was a firm and shortbready textured sponge cake with fruit sandwiched in the middle. Cake was not cake at all, but more often than not a layered slice of soft soft meringue, mousse and cream. This cake was also on dessert menus in restaurants alongside a Croatian style creme caramel concoction that I didn’t actually try – I have never been overly keen for creme caramel.

Our first cake experience was in Cafe Festival on a rainy day. We had already been here before for the hot chocolate, which was SO tasty. A cup of thick chocolate sauce rather than a drink, it was even served with a spoon. If I have learnt anything about hot chocolate in life, it is that the Europeans do it so much better than us. This rainy afternoon however the other tourists had drunk all the chocolate before us, so we were served instead a tall glass of hot chocolate cocoa with a straw. Feeling immediately like a child we tucked into our choice of cake. I went for a cherry pie and Charlie a ‘festival’ ‘cake’. The cherry pie was a lovely textured sponge, firm in a good way. The perfect middle ground between cake and biscuit with soft juicy cherries squidged into the middle. I would love to know the recipe for that not quite sponge. Charlie’s cake was a creation of chocolate mousse, meringue and cream. The chocolate mousse was the heaviest part! Definitely not a cake in the British sense but a fluffy light taste experience.

Cherry Pie

Cherry Pie

Festival Cake

Festival Cake

Cafe Festival felt to me like a very french cafe, the decor was dark, the staff attentive, the coffee served as espresso’s. The huge bar was stocked with every type of spirit I had and hadn’t heard of. A piano in the corner was played in the evenings. Our next cake spot was rather different. We found, after many days of wondering whether other cake locations existed, the Patisserie Pupo. A much more modern affair of coloured checked tablecloths and retro posters with a glass display of homemade cakes under the till. Here a peach juice was a more suitable cake accompaniment than a luxuriously small cup of melted chocolate. I chose an orange and almond cake, Charlie the apple pie. The orange cake was a traditional sponge cake with a strong orange flavour and a zingy buttercream, decorated with an almond. A moist cake with a good taste, not too strong. Charlie’s apple pie was the Dubrovnik style sponge with grated apple, cinnamon and sultana filling. This again had that difficult to describe firm almost shortbread tasting texture that reminded me of a cake my Grandma used to make me when I was young. I was a little bit jealous.

Orange Cake

Orange Cake

Apple Pie

Apple Pie

Finally, we felt we needed to go off piste, or off cafe as it were, and seek out some more casual cake. We needed to discover that truly local joint. We found the Gregg’s of Dubrovnik. I have to admit I can’t remember the name of the shop. We have been sea kayaking and were walking back to the hotel dripping wet and quickly getting colder when we came across a bakery, this was far outside the touristy old town in localsville. We stumbled in and ordered a hotel room picnic of cake and pastry, and the very nice lady inside ignored our soggy state so well you would have thought her British! We ended up with a pastry horse shoe filled with walnut paste and a baklava cake. The pastry was crispy and sweet from the icing sugar, but the walnut filling wasn’t particularly flavoursome. We were very excited by baklava cake; cake + baklava must = awesome? Well it was ok, nice crunchy bits on top but the cake was soaked in syrup so much it was rather soggy. A very sweet cake dripping with sugar syrup, perhaps good for a boost and would have been nice warmed with cream, but not the best cold from a plastic container. Get me a steak bake any day.

Baklava Cake

Baklava Cake

Walnut Pastry

Walnut Pastry

No ratings this week. These cakes are not in London so ratings are on holiday like me.

Has anyone else had Croatian cake and found something different?

 

 

Peggy Porschen Parlour

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Other than my delight at the alliterative nature of the name, this pink paradise of cake was a truly charming place to spend an hour on a Saturday afternoon. The sunny decor sweetened up an otherwise dull Saturday and the first day of the Easter holidays.  Meeting some friends in Chelsea we ventured inside to see what was on offer. 

There are only a few tables inside and more outside so we were lucky to find room for four. The parlour mainly serves cupcakes but there are slices available as well. We all chose a drink and cupcake, and Doug had a slice as well to try out as much as possible! The cupcakes were impressive. I chose the Champagne Strawberry and was delighted to discover it actually tasted of champagne. The buttercream was gorgeous and every cupcake had a gooey middle surprise. Mine was a strawberry compote with real chunks of strawberry. The sponge was flecked with black vanilla seeds but was just that tiny bit on the dry side which prevented it from reaching a seven. The buttercream, gooey fillings, and fresh strong flavours meant that these are some of the best cupcakes I have tried yet. Doug wasn’t as impressed with the slice of cake because it wasn’t very chocolatey, despite appearances. 

The white tables looked rather plain until covered in candy coloured teacups. The teas were well flavoured, mine a delicate rose, but the coffee was average. Overall, not a cosy cafe for the afternoon but more a sophisticated and super girly cake hangout to get a cupcake fix in a lovely area. 

Ratings:

Cake; Me Strawberry Champagne: 6 Tash Salted Caramel: 6 Lulu Banoffee: 6 Doug Salted Caramel: 6 Chocolate Slice: 4. 

Atmosphere: 6 – a very sleek operation all round. 

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Colosseum made of Cake

What happens when year 11 ask if they can do something fun on their last lesson before Easter? Do you say yes or no?

“What kind of fun thing?” I ask, suspicious. This year 11 class aren’t the basic Disney Hercules watching kind. They are more inventive. “Can we make something out of cake?” “What about the Colosseum?” “Yes! Can you make us a cake that we can carve into the Colosseum?”

A cake carved into the Colosseum by three 15-16yr olds. What a brilliant idea! I obliged.

Here are the results. I know there is only one tier but forgive me because on a Thursday night in the last week of term I could only manage one cake. And remember, this is my students first attempt at carving cake into Roman amphitheaters with basic kitchen utensils. I am impressed they got so far without eating it all.

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Start by hollowing out

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Carve in some arches and ice the top

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Add some slanted seating and a stage

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Finish off with some buttercream sand and tiny chocolate cake gladiators. Job well done year 11!