Tag Archives: afternoon tea

Recipe: Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Bundt

Last year I treated myself to a bundt tin and I’ve been baking the prettiest cakes in the world in it ever since. My current favourite bake is a Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Bundt and it’s one I take along as an offering whenever a cake is required. It’s really easy, looks as pretty as a picture and it tastes fantastic. This cake also gives people the impression I’m a much better baker than I really am, it’s just a foolproof recipe and a fancy tin.

Lemon drizzle is an absolute classic and one which has been a staple of mine for a few years now. Everyone loves a lemon drizzle, but this version with blueberries really takes it up a notch.

Recipe: Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Bundt

Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Bundt

Ingredients

250g caster sugar
250g softened butter
4 eggs
250g self-raising flour
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Zest of 2 lemons, finely grated
Juice of 1 lemon
250g fresh blueberries

For the icing –

150g icing sugar
Zest of 1 lemon, plus juice of half of the lemon

How to make your Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Bundt:

Pre-heat the oven to 190° and liberally grease your bundt tin with melted butter.

Beat your butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, eggs, flour, baking powder and lemon zest and juice and give them a really good mix. Add the fresh blueberries and stir in gently.

Pour the mixture into your bundt tin. Smooth the top of the batter and bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes. Once baked through, remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for at least 15 minutes.

Once cool, turn out onto a suitable plate or cake stand and make up the drizzle icing. Do not even attempt to drizzle the icing on until the cake is fully cooled.

Recipe: Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Bundt

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and mix with the lemon juice and zest. I like a thicker drizzle, so add the lemon juice a teaspoon at a time until you get the consistency you want.

Prick your cake all over with a skewer and carefully spoon your icing over, try to get some of it down the little holes in your cake. Leave it in a cool place for the icing to set a little, then serve with a pot of tea.

It’s as light as a feather and an absolutely fabulous spring bake. If you don’t have a bunt tin, you can always bake it in a regular cake tin, just adjust the cooking time as you see fit.

If you enjoyed this, you might also like to try this lemon and ginger drizzle cake.

Recipe: Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Bundt

Review: Afternoon Tea at Cocoa Cabana, West Didsbury

A couple of weeks ago to celebrate two friends getting new jobs, a group of us went for afternoon tea at Cocoa Cabana in West Didsbury. To my shame I’ve never eaten there before, but I’ve bought and eaten plenty of their chocolates over the years. I was interested to see what their chocolate afternoon tea would be like, plus it seemed like a bargain at £16.99 each, so I needed to check it out properly. 

Review: Afternoon Tea at Cocoa Cabana, West Didsbury

Cocoa Cabana in West Didsbury is a small chocolatiers and cake makers. They have three small tables inside and on nice days you can sit outside on Burton Road and watch the world go by. There were eight of us, so we took up all of the inside tables. Because of the size of Cocoa Cabana and the work involved in making an afternoon tea you do have to book in advance. 

My friend Sarah had done all the booking and had arranged for us to take some celebratory prosecco with us to have with our tea. There was rather surprisingly no corkage to pay for this. The afternoon tea comes with unlimited tea or coffee, you can have hot chocolate but there is an additional charge for this.

Review: Afternoon Tea at Cocoa Cabana, West Didsbury

We were served pots of good tea and we chatted as our sandwiches were brought to us. I was one of two vegetarians and our sandwiches were brought on separate plates. I thought that was a nice touch as the carnivores often snaffle the veggie sandwiches before I get to them. The sandwiches were freshly made with seeded bread and good quality fillings. There were nice egg sandwiches, cheese and pickle and ham and mustard amongst others.

More tea was poured, prosecco corks popped and a procession of sweet treats were brought to our table. The freshly made fruit scones came with lashings of cream and a salted caramel sauce; a real twist on the classic but one I really enjoyed. It was a little sweet for a couple of my friends, but the sauce was a winner for me.

Review: Afternoon Tea at Cocoa Cabana, West Didsbury

The chocolate tarts were much coveted. Crisp pastry filled with chocolate ganache and topped with a red berry. The tarts were excellent, but very rich and very intense. Most of us managed half a tart each (you can take what you can’t finish home if you’d like).

Following the chocolate theme, there was also a large plate of chocolate brownies. I am not much of a brownie fan, but I shared one with a friend and it was perfectly crisp on top and gooey in the middle. 

What did turn my head was this little plate of prettiness. Tiny eclairs, a teeny banoffee pie, a bite-sized cheesecake, little raspberry chocolate pots, a miniature lemon meringue tart and the lightest, most magnificent pistachio macaron ever.

Review: Afternoon Tea at Cocoa Cabana, West Didsbury

As with every afternoon tea I’ve ever had, there was far too much food, which is probably a good thing. Afternoon tea should not leave you wanting more and the staff at Cocoa Cabana were clearly used to boxing up leftovers. 

The Afternoon Tea at Cocoa Cabana is just £16.99 per person, which is really excellent value. We didn’t feel rushed and the service was attentive but not intrusive. I did need to go home and have a nap directly afterwards, but that is my greed and not a comment on the quality of the food. I liked the separate veggie sandwiches; and the macarons I will dream of for a while yet. I do think the salted caramel sauce should be sold in jars.

The verdict? A good afternoon tea, with some real highlights at very reasonable price, I’ve paid upwards of £25 in Manchester for very average afternoon teas and the Cocoa Cabana afternoon tea was better value and much better quality. Plus the service was accommodating and attentive. It’s nice to have afternoon tea (and chocolate) of this quality available outside of the city centre. Go on, treat yourself (and me).

Cocoa Cabana 128 Burton Road, West Didsbury, Manchester, M20 2JQ

Visit the Cocoa Cabana website for further information http://cocoa-cabana.co.uk/

Review: Afternoon Tea at Cocoa Cabana, West Didsbury

Note: We paid for our Afternoon Tea in full.

Recipe: Lemon and Ginger Drizzle Cake

To say I’m a little obsessed with my new bundt tin is something of an understatement. I am constantly thinking of nice cakes to bake in it, after all, it’s just a fancy shaped cake tin and you can bake almost any kind of cake in it. Lemon drizzle cake is a real family favourite. It’s as light as a feather and the sweet but sour drizzle lends a satisfying tang to this afternoon treat.

Recipe: Lemon and Ginger Drizzle Cake

I had a jar of Opies Stem Ginger in Syrup left over from Christmas and as lemon and ginger are one of my favorite flavour combinations, I thought I’d spice up my standard drizzle. I was not disappointed, it was everything a classic lemon drizzle should be, but with a lovely gentle hum of ginger. I’ll be baking this one again and again and again. My lemon and ginger drizzle cake is a winner!

Lemon and Ginger Drizzle Cake

Ingredients (serves 16)
6 oz caster sugar
6 oz softened butter
3 eggs
6 oz self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
2 pieces of Opies stem ginger in syrup, finely diced

For the icing –
150g icing sugar
Zest of 1 lemon, plus juice of half of the lemon
Syrup Opies stem ginger in syrup

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 190°. Liberally grease your bundt tin with melted butter and dust the inside of your tin with flour so that the flour is stuck to the butter and your cake shouldn’t stick to the tin.

Beat your butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, flour, baking powder and lemon zest and give them a good mix. Add the finely diced stem ginger and combine.

Pour the lot into your bundt tin. Smooth the top of the batter and bake in your pre-heated oven for 30 minutes. Once cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for at least 15 minutes.

Once cool, turn out onto a suitable plate or cake stand and make up the drizzle icing.

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and mix with the lemon juice and zest. Loosen the icing by drizzling in some of the syrup from the jar of stem ginger, use as much or as little as you would like, I used around 3 teaspoons of the syrup.

Prick your cake all over with a skewer and carefully spoon your icing over, trying to get some of it down the little holes in your cake. Leave it in a cool place for the icing to set a little, then serve with a pot of tea.

Recipe: Lemon and Ginger Drizzle Cake

I made my cake in a bundt tin because I don’t need any excuse to bake a bunt, but it would work equally well in a loaf tin or any other cake tin you have to hand. This lemon and ginger drizzle cake is a lovely, light as a feather cake.

A lemon drizzle is a firm family favourite, but adding stem ginger takes this to the next level. What’s your favourite cake?

If you enjoyed this, you might like these other recipes –

Recipe: Lemon and Ginger Drizzle Cake

Negotiation Academy – How to do bartering battle

Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea – yum!

I didn’t do very well at school. Well, I did well enough but my heart wasn’t in it. School for me was a bit boring and the lessons felt a bit irrelevant. They also never, ever, ever served afternoon tea.

I was intrigued this week to be invited along to the webuyanycar Negotiation Academy. Like any good schoolgirl I arrived with a brand new notebook and a selection of pens (though regrettably no pencil case with “I heart Robbie Williams” etched on it in blue biro).

The Negotiation Academy was a 90 minute masterclass in the very swish Great John Street Hotel in Manchester. With a delicious afternoon tea thrown in to soften the educational blow, I sat down and was taken on a whistle-stop tour of all things negotiation, not hostage negotiation, but haggling with retailers negotiation.

Sandi Mann

Dr Sandi Mann

We were lucky enough to be treated to some words of wisdom from experts who really were experts and seriously knew their stuff! I already “knew” Dr Sandi Mann, we both write for the same magazine, and whilst we’ve never met we have nattered online a few times. She’s brilliant, so engaging, interesting and was the perfect person to kick off the afternoon.

Sandi is a specialist in social psychology and ran through a host of top tips for negotiating with retailers including playing good cop/bad cop, using body language to your advantage and my favourite tip, just ask, if you do it with enough (polite) confidence, you might just get away with it.

Following Sandi was Tarlok Teji, a Retail Expert and Visiting Teaching Fellow at Manchester Business School who, with over 30 years’ in industry revealed the sales tricks and treats used by retailers. Including getting your timing right, retailers usually have monthly targets, go shopping at the end of the month and they’re more likely to offer a discount to bag that sale! Tarlok packed a heap of really useful information into just ten short minutes.

Completing the indoor section of the whistle-stop negotiation tour was Martin Chimes. Martin is an independent personal financial advisor and in his ten minutes on the hot spot gave some fab straight-forward sensible advice such as, set a realistic budget that anticipates future costs, NEVER reveal your budget to the retailer, do your homework before leaving home and when it comes to finance for big ticket items such as cars research all the options available, don’t just go for the finance plan available from the retailer, you could save £££s!

Richard Evans

Richard Evans

We then bundled ourselves up against the freezing weather outside to spend a bit of time with the lovely Richard Evans who is Head of Technical Services at webuyanycar.com. Richard has been a mechanic for 31 years and there is literally nothing he doesn’t know about cars. Nothing!

Richard showed us how to inspect the panels on the car to see if they’d been replaced by looking at the colour of them, as well as checking out the bolts on the inside of the doors which could indicate that it’s been in an accident or been modified in some way. He gave a raft of top tips including checking no dashboard lights are illuminated when you run the engine and double checking that the mileage stacks up by visiting www.gov.uk/check-mot-history-vehicle brilliant tip that last one!

Disclaimer: I was invited to attend the Negotiation Academy, given a scrummy afternoon tea and my travel and childcare expenses were covered. 

Festive Afternoon Tea at Opus One

Now I’m self-employed, I am officially a part-time member of the ladies who lunch brigade. When I was offered afternoon tea for two at Opus One at the Radisson Blu in Manchester, I decided it was high time I treated one of my fellow self-employed types to high tea. So last Wednesday myself and the exquisitely monikered Bobble Bardsley put on real clothes, turned Homes Under the Hammer off and went out for a posh tea at Opus One.

P1000341I’d been there before and had a lovely time, so I knew we were in for a treat. We arrived and were informed they were expecting a drinks party so we’d not be able to sit in the lovely, light and airy space by the window and we were seated in the main restaurant. We thought it’d be a great place for a romantic meal in the evening, but the red lighting was a bit much for daytime, and meant that we couldn’t really see what we were eating. Also, I love Bobble with all of my heart, just not in that way.

There were a few afternoon teas we could choose from but we decided that since it was December it’d be rude not to try the Festive Afternoon Tea. Bobble plumped for a pot of English Breakfast tea and I gave the Ceylon a go. Both were a good brew.

P1000304The afternoon tea arrived and as I’m vegetarian, they’d made a few extra veggie sandwiches for me. I’ll admit in the light it was hard to tell what they were, but we both liked the cheese and pickle and I enjoyed the cream cheese and cucumber. We were both half starved so the sandwiches disappeared in double quick time.

I’d been eyeing up the scones, I love scones, these were prettily presented and the proper, thick, crusty clotted cream had a shard of caramel stuck out of it. The scones were sadly cold, but that could’ve been our fault for faffing about taking pictures. They were however light and beautifully made, just the right size and for me and they are always the highlight of an afternoon tea. If you can’t give me a decent scone then I’m going home.

By this point I was beginning to feel grateful I’d popped an elasticated waist on that morning and Bobble was proudly telling me he was wearing his more forgiving fat jeans. But we still had the grand finale to munch through. We got fresh pots of steaming hot tea and soldiered on.

First up were the mini cream horns. I felt it prudent to start with these because they looked delicious and we needed to get them out of the way because Bobble kept giggling. I’m not overly keen on pastry and I like it wafer thin if I ever do have it, so this was for me a little on the thick side, but (bowing to knowledge passed on to me by Grandma who was a pastry chef) it was perfectly crisp and flaky. It was a good cream horn.

We then tried the fruit cake, which was moist and an excellent example of what a top notch fruit cake should be and it was packed with fruit. We both felt that it could’ve done with a bit of marzipan to make it feel more festive, but it was actually one of my highlights from the tea.

P1000318I was most excited to try the mini chocolate fudge cake which looked beautiful but for some reason photographed terribly. Take my word for it, this was the good stuff. The cake was moist, light and fluffy with a gooey-gooey centre that oozed out. It was plate-lickingly good. I might have rubbed a finger across the plate to ensure no crumbs were left, I might not have, I am a lady after all.

We finished off with the winter berry jelly, sadly we were only issued with one jelly, which we assumed was an oversight as other tables were given one each. So we had to share the little jelly, which felt a bit intimate. It’s been a long time since I shared a jelly with anyone other than my husband. I loved the jelly, full of lovely fresh berries and it was such a zesty, palate cleansing end to the tea.

P1000343In all we’d had a lovely time, we’d eaten some really tasty things, drank some very good tea, put the world to rights and taken a selection of shockingly bad pictures of food. I think it’s the ideal resting point after a hard morning of Christmas shopping and before getting the tram home. The staff are friendly and attentive and the atmosphere, despite the lighting is relaxed and intimate. It’s decently priced too at £18.95 per person.

Opus One Bar and Restaurant is located in the Free Trade Hall, Peter Street, Manchester M2 5GP; Tel: 0161 8358904.

Disclaimer: We were invited as guests of the restaurant and were not asked to pay for our food or drink. We did love it though and will be back for more!

Afternoon Tea for Two at Opus One

I love an afternoon tea. I mean who doesn’t? What’s not to love? Dainty sandwiches, scones with jam and cream and a selection of decadent miniature cakes. It’s basically perfection beautifully arranged atop three plates.

It was with some excitement that we ventured into the Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel in Manchester for the launch of their autumn afternoon tea menu. It was fortuitously timed too, as the next day just happened to be our wedding anniversary. Perfect.

We arrived in the sumptuous Manhattan style surroundings of Opus One which is located in the Free Trade Hall. Possibly one of the most beautiful and iconic buildings in Manchester. We reminisced about the last time we were in the building, me to see the Halle perform, him to see The Charlatans in 1991. It’s been a while. The building is still beautiful and very, very grand.

We were shown to our seat by Peter, who was effortlessly charming and affable. We made small talk and he discovered we were celebrating our wedding anniversary… more of which later.

My Mister of 13 years ordered the Gentleman’s Afternoon Tea which came with a pot of tea of your choice, a selection of rustic sandwiches, mini hot Yorkshire pudding, warm pork pie and mini fish and chips served with freshly baked homemade scones served with clotted cream and preserves. This mammoth feast, suitable for the very greedy gentleman was £18.95 per person.

opus one restaurant afternoon tea

Rustic style cheese savoury sandwich

Being no kind of Gentleman at all, he was a bit miserly on the sharing front, but I did snaffle a cheese savoury sandwich and a forkful of the rather excellent, clearly homemade and not from a tin mushy peas. He said the pork pie, which was served warm in a light but golden hot water crust pastry, was the best pork pie he’s ever had. I can testify (in court if need be) that he has sampled a large range of pork pies. It did look exceptional, as did the crispy Yorkshire pud filled with beef and gravy. Impressive and manly.

As I’m a dainty lady, I opted for the Traditional Afternoon tea, again priced at £18.95 per person. For that you get a pot of tea of your choice, a selection of dainty lady style finger sandwiches, a plethora of delicious cakes and for me the highlight, freshly baked homemade scones served warm with clotted cream and preserves.

The sandwiches were delicious and garnished with a few salad leaves, for my taste there could have been more greenery, but I am a lover of a frilly green leaf. I must confess there was some mixing and matching of the sandwiches between us, but both his rustic and my dainty lady styles were excellent.

I then eagerly moved on to the scones (thus prompting a heated debate about the pronunciation of scone, I say it correctly, he doesn’t. End of). My heart belongs in Devon and we go often, I’m no stranger to the cream tea. I was delighted to see they served proper clotted cream rather than a thick whipped cream which I’ve had elsewhere. The jam was jammy, but the real hit were the warm, light and just the right size without being too much scones. I will look back on those scones with a fondness I usually reserve for beloved relatives.

opus one restaurant afternoon tea

Jaunty little carrot cake

Then to the top tier of my afternoon tea. There was a banoffee tart, generously topped with a delightfully marshmallowy Italian meringue. A dark chocolate éclair made of the lightest choux, a cider jelly which we were both a little unsure of, but did serve as an excellent palette cleanser and a deliciously moist jaunty little carrot cake.

I always feel a little sorry for the beautiful cakes, visually they are the stars of the show, but as they’re usually left until the very end they’re not fully enjoyed, they get toyed with and left. Thankfully the staff are very happy to box up anything you can’t squeeze in there and then for you to take home for your supper, or for the tram journey home.

Once our plates had been cleared away, the lovely Peter presented us with a beautiful plate with “Happy Anniversary” written in chocolate with two mini chocolate brownies and strawberries, it was a lovely, lovely touch and underlines the attention to detail and high standard of customer service we experienced on that day.

opus one restaurant afternoon tea

A lovely, personal touch!

It’s a beautiful, relaxed venue; if you can bag a window seat you can watch the hustle and bustle of Manchester from the comfort of a beautifully upholstered velvet chair. We were entertained by a jazz band, they were perfect, the music was not intrusive and they played arrangements of classic songs. I loved it, it all felt so restful apart from the urgent need to slip into something with a looser waistband.

I’ve had a few afternoon teas in my time and this was an excellent quality, great value tea in a stunning, iconic building. I’d very happily go there again and I’d recommend it to anyone. The prices are competitive too so you don’t have to save it for a special occasion tea, though the grand surroundings do make it feel extra special.

Opus One Bar and Restaurant is located in the Free Trade Hall, Peter Street, Manchester M2 5GP; Tel: 0161 8358904.

Disclaimer: We were invited as guests of the restaurant and were not asked to pay for our food or drink. We did love it though and will be back for more!