Thursday, April 28, 2011


"Let's see now. We have a dozen peach, a dozen berry, a dozen pumpkin, and a dozen cherry. Now when we finish the apple, we can quit for the night." -
Mildred Pierce

If you watched the miniseries of Mildred Pierce last month then it's more than likely that it left you aching for pie, or chicken and waffles for that matter.

I thoroughly enjoyed this miniseries, although it does leave you quite disturbed at times. It taps into the terribly gloomy depression era with its darkly stunning cinematography, 1930's style, and powerful acting, particularly from Kate Winslet, who plays Mildred Pierce and Evan Rachel Wood, who plays Mildred's pretentious daughter Veda. I heard that this was a much better adaptation of the book than the Joan Crawford movie. Has anyone seen that movie or read the book?

I'm not certain if this peach and blueberry pie is very true to the Great Depression, but Mildred sold really good pies and this is certainly a really good pie. I love the almost neon purple that comes out of the blueberries; it's very striking against the orangey peach and golden crust. This pie is not sickly at all and has a lovely sweet and mellow flavor. The pairing of peach and blueberry together is so perfect and summery.

This peach and blueberry pie is wonderful on its own, served warm or cold, or with a little custard. Please let me know if you do make this and manage to not eat the whole thing in one day...I would love to know how you did it.

Happy Royal Wedding weekend! I will most likely be one of those Brits that feels left out and gets up at 4am to watch it all... :)

Peach & Blueberry Pie: (makes one 9" pie)
For the pie filling:
  • Approx 6 ripe skinned Peaches (or 2 cans of non-syrup, sliced peaches)
  • 4.4 oz blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp orange zest
For the topping:
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar (extra for sprinkling)
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp rolled oats
  • 1/8th tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8th tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp orange zest
  • 1/4 cup butter
Prepare the pie base in a 9" pie dish and then par-bake in the oven at 375F for 6 mins. Set aside. (Keep the oven on.)

In a bowl mix together the sliced peaches and all the rest of the pie filling ingredients. Set aside.

In another bowl add all the pie topping ingredients and rub the butter into it all with your fingers until the mixture resembled fine breadcrumbs.

Add the pie filling carefully into the pie crust, distributing everything evenly.

Then add the crumb topping mixture covering all the fruit.

Sprinkle another teaspoon or so of brown sugar on top.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 375F for 35-40 mins or until the pie is golden brown.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011


One ha' penny, two ha' penny – hot cross buns!

Easter is late this year and it certainly feels like it. Normally my birthday is right around Easter and it has always been more of joint celebration with birthday cake, Easter eggs and eating my body weight in chocolate.

This is the first year I decided to make hot cross buns instead of buying them. It's hard to find the real deal here in the States, all the hot cross buns seem to be more like sticky buns with icing rather than tea cakes. In the UK, they are sold everywhere as "tea cakes" until Easter approaches, when a cross is stamped on them and they become hot cross buns. I love them for breakfast, cut in half, toasted and smothered in butter with a cup of Miller Harris Thé Pétales.

I found this hot cross bun recipe in a book I have from Betty's Cafe & Tea Rooms in Yorkshire, UK. It's a lovely book full of seasonal recipes and desserts from their cafe's. I'm sure there's plenty of posts to come from this book.

Some of my beautiful birthday presents from this year. Some Miller Harris goodies, Fortnum & Mason delights, one of my favorite Jo Malone Scents, Liberty of London, Macarons and Books.

Bettys Tea Rooms Hot Cross Buns:
(A Year of Family Recipes by Lesley Wild, Bettys Cookery School)

(makes 12)

For the crossing paste:

  • 180g (3/4 cup) strong white flour/bread flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of baking powder
  • 50ml (3 tbsp) vegetable oil
  • 200ml (3/4 cup + 2 tbsp) water
For the buns:
  • 400g (1 1/2 cups + 3 tbsp) strong white flour/bread flour
  • 1 level tsp salt
  • 60g (1/4 cup) fine white sugar
  • 2 heaped teaspoons mixed spice (I used pumpkin pie spice)
  • 45g (3 tbsp) butter (cut into small cubes)
  • 50g (1/4 cup) fresh yeast OR 25g (2 tbsp) dried yeast
  • 130ml (1/2 cup + 1 tbsp) tepid water
  • 70ml (1/4 cup + 1 tbsp) milk
  • 100g (1/4 cup +2 tbsp) currants
  • 115g (1/2 cup) sultanas
  • 50g (2 tbsp) chopped mixed peel
For the sugar-syrup glaze:
  • 200g (3/4 cup + 1 tbsp) fine white sugar
  • 200ml (3/4 cup + 2 tbsp) water
You will need to make the crossing paste a couple of hours before it is required to allow it to relax before piping.

Sieve the flour, salt and baking powder together in a bowl.

Then add the vegetable oil. Mix together until a crumb-like texture has formed.

Add the water slowly while beating until a smooth paste has formed. Once you've added all of the water, beat the paste for a couple of minutes.

Cover the bowl with cling wrap and place in the fridge (make sure it's quite thick, mine was far too thin).

In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, salt, sugar and mixed spice.

Add the butter and rub the flour and butter together with your fingers until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

In a small bowl dissolve the yeast with the tepid water.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the dissolved yeast and the milk.

Begin to mix it all together and then begin to knead the dough for 10-12 minutes (or use your kitchen aid on speed level 2).

After kneading, spread the the dough on a floured work surface and pile all the dried fruit in the center.

Fold the outside edges around the fruit and continue to knead gently until the fruit is evenly distributed (be patient).

Allow the dough to rest on the work surface for 5 minutes covered with a tea towel.

Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and shape into round balls.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Carefully place the buns on the baking sheets with plenty of space in between.

Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours, until the buns have doubled in size.

When the buns have risen, preheat the oven to 200C/390F.

Prepare the sugar syrup by heating the sugar and water together until the mixture becomes syrupy. Allow to cool.

Pipe the crossing paste over the buns. Bake the buns in the oven for 10-12 minutes until they are rich and golden brown.

Remove from the oven and immediately brush the tops of the buns with the sugar-syrup glaze.

Allow the buns to cool on a rack. Serve warm or toasted with butter and tea.


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Tuesday, April 12, 2011


The online grocery store that we order things from weekly have been throwing in complementary seasonal produce lately, which is nothing to complain about. A few weeks ago, they were giving us lots of gorgeous pears which I loved, but for the past two weeks they've been sending us four big grapefruits with every order! I'm sure this would make many of you very happy, but I really am not a grapefruit fan. I don't like them for breakfast, in salads or as juice. What am I going to do with all these grapefruits? Every time I order, I dread another batch of free grapefruits... As much as I dislike grapefruit in general, I do however remember having a grapefruit cake once that I actually liked, so I gave it a go.

Now a flavor that I do happen to like, or obsess over to be more exact, is rose. Give me anything rose flavored and I will love it.

As an experiment, I decided to add something that I love (rose) and something I don't love (grapefruit) into something that I always love (cake) and let me just say that I LOVE this love/hate cake!

This cake is very very moist and light; it is so beautiful. The grapefruit is still very present but in a lovely mellow way and the rose flavor is subtle but makes this cake so delicate and gorgeous.

A slice of this and a lovely cup of tea; I am in love.

Pink Grapefruit & Rose Cake
(makes 1 loaf)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons pink grapefruit zest (approx one large grapefruit)
  • 2 tablespoons rose water
  • 1 tablespoon rose syrup
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1+1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
For the syrup:
  • 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice
  • 1+1/2 teaspoons rose water
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
Preheat oven to 350F Grease an approx 9" loaf pan and line with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, using a whisk or stand mixer, cream together the butter, oil, sugar, grapefruit zest, rose water, rose syrup and vanilla extract until smooth.

Whisk in the eggs.

Sift in the flour and baking powder and salt, mix well.

Then add the buttermilk and whisk until smooth.

Add the cake batter to the lined loaf pan and bake at 350F for 45-50 minutes until golden, spongy and set.

While the cake is in the oven, make the syrup in a bowl by mixing the grapefruit juice, rose water and confectioners sugar together until smooth. Set aside.

When the cake is done, leave it in the pan and allow it to cool for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes puncture it all over with a tooth pick and then pour over the grapefruit-rose sugar syrup and let the cake sit and absorb the liquid until completely cooled.

Remove from the loaf pan very gently, slice and serve with your favorite tea :)

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