Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Penny Reviews: Tearooms-Vernon Cottage

Oh I do love a good tearoom. Especially when its on a bright and sunny afternoon. My family and I went to Vernon Cottage located in Shanklin on the Isle of Wight. I've been to this tearoom many times and have always had a good experiences with the food.

You find your table and make a note of the table number and order at the bar area inside the cottage. I was meeting up with some friends and they had ordered already, so I went straight to the bar to order a cake and a cup of tea.

As I approached the staff member behind the counter, he was polite to begin with but that changed when I wasn't sure of the table number. He rolled his eyes and tutted at me and told me to point to the table were I was sat. I did so and was a little taken back. "Table 38 then? So what do you want?" I was a little shocked at the change in behaviour, and answered just as rudely with "lemon cake and apple crunch tea, please." We exchanged money and I sat back down with my friends and explained what had happened. They agreed with me, that he was rude. 

When the cake came over by another member of staff, who was very polite. The cake was light, fluffy and really lemony and the buttercream was the just the right amount. It was a beautiful sponge with a tangy buttercream that I would definitely recommend. 

When the waiter gave me my tea and cake, my friend ordered a

coffee in a cup rather then a mug. He said that its only one size as the coffee is from a machine. She said that should be fine. The rude staff member brought over the coffee with the receipt. Awkward to say the less, he mentioned the 'cup' situation and again shrugged it off and said "Its a machine, so yeah, nothing I can do." and simply walked off. 

Overall, I would come in for the nicer staff members and the delicious pastries and cakes but this time, the rude member of staff really made the experience uncomfortable. There were other members of staff who were pretty nice, so it could be a one off.  

Bake On! Penny x

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Penny Reviews:Restaurant-Lakeside Park

As a belated birthday gift my granparents took me to a restaurant that I've always wanted to go to. Lakeside Park, located on the Isle of Wight, is known for its high class restaurant and spa facilities. Its located in Wootten Bridge, near a lovely and scenic lakeside. The restaurant is presented in a modern, clean and crispy white decor. 

When entering the restaurant we were welcomed warmly and shown to our booked table. We were read the specials and explained that we could order from the fixed menu or the a la carte menu. I ordered a Kir Royale, cause it was my (belated) birthday and cause why not. Drinks came promptly after we ordered them. We were left alone to decide what we would like and after about 5 minutes we ordered.

For my starter I ordered the scallops with pork belly, cauliflower puree and mango puree. The presentation was incredible! Art on a plate or slate rather. I'm not fussy on slates for plates but the black against the cauliflower and scallops, it really popped. The saltiness pork against the fishy scallop then partnered with the fruity mango was balanced well with a number of different flavours and textures. 

Main course was also beautifully presented, I did feel it need a little more colour however. It was a fillet of halibut served with Parisian potatoes, curly kale and braised red cabbage. The halibut was perfectly cooked but I did find 2 thin bones-it happens with fish- and perfectly seasoned too. The potatoes and curly kale were also perfectly cooked, however the red cabbage was bitter and I felt that it was a little out of place on the dish.

Now dessert took ages to order. With the restaurant filling up, our waitress was a little flustered and passed us a number of times before we had to ask for a dessert menu. The Lakeside 'Toffee Crisp' looked interesting, so I ordered that! Dessert was hand prepared, so it did take a little while, but it was worth the wait. The dessert itself was made up of a blood orange sorbet, chocolate popping candy 'soil', a dark chocolate cup filled with a caramel sauce and a chocolate mousse topped with crispy oranges. One of the best desserts I've ever had!

Overall, the whole experience was amazing. The menu is pricey, so its worth a visit for a special occasion. The staff were kind if a little over flustered and familiar, some of the staff were a little unprofessional by stating that my Nan was 'doing a runner' when she was just going to use the restroom. Which made us a little uncomfortable. But other then that, both the waiter and waitress were nice enough. 

Bake On! Penny x

Friday, 13 May 2016

Fat Friday #47 Cookie Dough Cupcakes

Oh yeah! Cookie dough! One of my guilty pleasures. I never eat cake batter or biscuit doughs as I want to eat the baked product. But cookie dough is another thing, if there isn't enough to make a full cookie, I will eat it. When I saw this recipe for cookie dough inside a cupcake, it was definitely one for a Fat Friday.  Although, you'll need to start the day before to make the cookie dough so they have enough time to freeze. 

Recipe (Adapted from Primrose Bakery Everyday by Martha Swift
Cookie Dough Ingredients:
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 75g golden caster sugar
  • 75g flour
  • 30g dark chocolate chopped into pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Electric hand whisk/Wooden spoon
  • Freezer friendly plate or tray
  • Bowl
1) Place all the ingredients into a bowl and mix until combined
2) Using a set of scales (hopefully you used some to weigh out the ingredients!) weigh out 20g of cookie dough and roll into balls. (Note: they maybe a pain to roll but its worth it)
3)Put in the freezer to freeze overnight. 

Cupcake Ingredients:
  • 170g unsalted butter
  • 170g golden caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 170g self raising flour
  • 45ml milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Electric hand whisk/Wooden spoon
  • Cupcake tin lined with 12 cupcake liners
  • Bowl
  • Wire rack
1) Preheat the oven to GM 4/180c/350f. Line the cupcake tin with cupcake wrapper.
2) Cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. 
3) Add the eggs in one at a time and mix until incorporated. 
4) Throw in the flour, milk and vanilla extract and beat again until no flour lumps are present.
5) Spoon the batter into the cupcake cases until they are 2/3 full.
6) Grab the frozen cookie balls that you made the day before, and place one ball in each of the cupcakes. You won't need to press them in, the batter should bake over them. 
7) Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cakes are golden brown on the top. 
8) Leave in the tin to cool for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Buttercream Ingredients:
  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 350g icing sugar, sieved
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 60g sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 35g dark chocolate pieces, chopped

  • Electric hand whisk/Wooden spoon
  • Sieve
  • Bowl
  • Piping bag fitted with a large circle nozzle/ palette knife
1) Place all the ingredients in bowl and beat until combined.
2) Once the cupcakes have cooled down, pipe a swirl on top or use a palette knife to spread onto each cupcake. 

Happy Friday!
Bake On! Penny x

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

6 Things Not to Say to Someone who has Anxiety &/or Depression

Sorry about not posting anything last week, I had a bit of a health scare and wasn't able to bake/work/sleep very well/eat all the chocolate/post on this blog. So here's a little bonus post to make up for last week.

This post highlights some of the cringy statements that I have been asked about my mental health. So to inform and educate others I'm listing my favourites here. These are totally real and have been asked by strangers and former friends. Let's get to it. 

1) "Oh I was depressed once, but I got over it."
I've had this said to me and I was speechless. Instead of standing up for myself or questioning it, I took it on the chin. This is a very insulting thing to say to someone who is going through depression. Let's face it you didn't have depression as a suffer has, you might have been a bit down or sad at one point, but your mood improved and it passed. Depression is, sadly, constant and something you don't 'get over' in an instant.

2) "Do you rock back and forth when you have a panic attack?"
Erm no. People who have panic or anxiety attacks act differently. But assuming that an attack is sitting in the corner, rocking back and forth, is ignorant and far from the truth. It completely depends on the person. In my case, I hyperventilate, I shiver and will not allow anyone to touch me or attempt to calm me down until I feel calmer and more grounded.

3)"So you aren't you worried about what people will think of you?"
All the damn time. Mental health is still something that most people do not like to talk about and it's not really discussed. With anxiety, you're always thinking about what others will think of you: "Are they watching? They are watching. So don't fuck up. Keep it together for a bit and don't panic." Depression can get to a point where nothing matters but you still don't want people to think you 'can't cope'  with daily life. 

4)"You'll never hold down a job/relationship/friendship. It will stay on record for the rest of your life."
Sorry what? What record? My permanent record? Most strangers have their own problems to worry about, let alone your mental health. You don't need to advertise your mental health, unless you feel you want or need too. Your employer can't fire you, your true friends will stand by you and most families will understand. Most people are a little more informed now, so they should be understanding. Saying that some people still are pretty ignorant/stupid/stuck in the past or want to be hurtful. Ignore the idiots and pay them no more attention or energy. 

5)"Can you not snap out of it?"
Can you snap out of a cold? No. It's the same with any mental health problem. Just because you can't see it, does not mean that it's not there.

6) "It's not a real health problem."
I have a few choice words for anyone who says this. But let's keep this clean shall we? Walk away from any idiot who says this. They need to be educated more, you can attempt to give them information about mental health but, more often then not, they are stuck in their old way of thinking and it is a pointless endeavour. 

Remember people who suffer with any mental health issues need support, not doubtful statements which may cause more harm than good. Examples of the above statements can cause suffers not to communicate effectively and be hesitant to reach out to others. So listen, be respectful and support any ways you can.  

Bake On! Penny x

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Penny Reviews: Restaurants- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea

*Note:This week is a little different as I'm reviewing a restaurant that served afternoon tea*

(Image Credit:
I turned another 20-something this year, and got a special treat for my birthday. After doing a little research on the best afternoon teas in London, I found a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea at One Aldwych in Covent Garden, which looked much like the Mad Hatter Afternoon Tea that I have attended before. This time I went with my friend Sofia.

Entering the hotel, we were shown to the Indigo Restaurant by the friendly staff, seated and the menu explained. The staff asked if we were preferred just tea, champagne or a Cocktail Charlie. Sofia and I went for a Cocktail Charlie, which consisted of Scotch Whiskey (Sofia went booze free), grapefruit juice, cherry syrup and chocolate bitters. It was sweet and smooth on the tongue, may I say that it looked pretty awesome! I believe that it was dry ice that made it delightfully smoky.  

Next the savoury selection entered our sight, the presentation was minimal and clean. The selection itself was pretty standard for an afternoon tea, but executed very well. I was impressed very much with the leek and stilton quiche, which was Sofia's favourite too. We thought that we could have used more savoury items, however, the staff were very patient in explaining that we could request more, if we pleased. And we did. Quite a lot! We ordered about 8 quiches and lots more smoked salmon and herb creme friache sandwiches. I mean, we really took the piss and ordered lots more savouries as we felt the initial portion wasn't really enough. 

After 2 more savoury orders, we asked if we could have the sweet course. Again without missing a beat, the staff asked if we would like tea. We both finished our cocktails and opted for different teas. I wanted English Garden, which was a refreshing mix of lemon, spearmint, cornflour and strawberry. While Sofia opted for the Sugarcane Black and Mango Noir teas. 

A short while later the sweet course arrived, and it looked stunning! I went straight for the candy floss, which tasted like rhubarb and custard.

I moved up to the lemon cake pops, which also had a dusting of freeze dried raspberry, which was a little disappointing as it was a regular cake pop and I felt that the lemon could have been more pronounced. 

Eton mess was sweet, creamy and looked very appealing. The chocolate caramel milk was one of my favourites, as it was like drinking a mini milkshake, which hinted at sticky caramel.

One of the coolest parts of the afternoon tea was the golden egg, that was filled with vanilla and mango cheesecake. I don't actually like cheesecake, but this was so delicious. I was surprised to see real vanilla seeds in the mixture with a mango layer on top of the egg. The chocolate was thickly layered so it was hard to break but worth it.

Next were the scones, they were nice, soft and served with clotted cream and apple compote. Next I tried the blueberry broiche, which I thought was a little dry but I added for apple compote to make up for it. One of the best treats, was the cocoa bean financier, which was a small brownie shapped in a cocoa bean. It was sticky, sweet and warm chocolatey goodness in a small package. 

Overall, I felt compared to other afternoon teas I have been too, the food was lovely with a good variety, but I felt that the treats could have more unusual considering that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is so wacky in the book. Also, I felt that the price was a little high for the quality of food that we got (£49 for a cocktail afternoon tea). The staff are definitely the reason I would come back again, they were attentive and they sung me happy birthday too, with a little cake! They really made the effort to make the day special. 

 Thanks for reading.

Bake On! Penny x
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