Monday 23 December 2013

Brit Decor: Happy Christmas

Image / Mike Ahern

Wow, Christmas is literally upon us and after a mammoth present wrapping session at the weekend, I think I'm just about there!

I have just arrived home from an annual trip to the local farm shop where I met with my Mum, my Sister and adorable baby niece. We traditionally buy last minute food supplies for the all important Christmas lunch, followed by a delicious slice of homemade cake and a cup of hot chocolate.

Feeling a little sentimental, as I always do at this time of year, I want to share a personal festive message  with you by including some of my most prized Christmas tree decorations. The vintage hand-painted glass baubles 'above' were given to me and my Sister by our amazing Gran many years ago for a miniature silver tinsel tree that we had both been given and wanted to decorate all by ourselves.

I am so glad that I kept these decorations over the years as they not only look enchanting when they catch the light on the Christmas tree but they also serve as a touching reminder of those people who are dearest to me. Similarly, the handmade wooden reindeer cuts a crisp snow white silhouette  against our own 2013 Christmas tree and was bought by my partner as a gift.

So wherever you are in the world right now and whether or not you celebrate Christmas (not forgetting my Israeli friends) I hope you have a very happy holiday and I can't wait to explore a brand new 2014 with you all!

Mike x

Monday 9 December 2013

Brit Decor: Lemon Circle Cake

Images / Mike Ahern

My weekend was pretty disappointing due to the onset of man-flu, which has come at the most inconvenient of times. However, not to be beaten by the sickness blues, I decided to bake up the perfect 'pick-me-up' with this Lemon Circle cake.

I love the sweet citrus flavours and the the slight crunch to the  the lemon syrup coated base (poured into the cake mould fresh from the oven) and doesn't the grated lemon zest look vibrant and uplifting? This baking project also gave me the opportunity to use my newly purchased fuchsia pink silicone cake mould from Habitat, which worked a treat!

So here's how I did it…


Circle Cake
3 egg whites
2 tea spoons of baking powder
1/2 tea spoon salt
85 g unsalted butter
245 g caster sugar
165 ml milk
235g plain flour
11/2 Lemons (for the grated zest)

Lemon Syrup
50 g caster sugar
Juice & zest of 1 lemon

Lemon Glazing
Juice of 1 lemon
250 g sifted icing sugar

24cm ring mould.

Preheat the oven to 170 oc (Gas mark 3).

Add the sugar, butter and lemon zest to a mixing bowl and beat before slowly adding in the milk. Then gradually add the flour, baking powder and salt. Beat these ingredients until the mixture is light and fluffy. Whisk together the 3 egg whites in a separate bowl until they form stiff peaks then gently fold  into the cake mixture. Pour the mixture into the mould and place in the oven for around 30-35 minutes.

Whilst the cake is baking in the oven, it's time to make the lemon syrup. Add the lemon juice and caster sugar to 100ml of water and bring to the boil in a small saucepan until it has the consistency of a light syrup. Take off the boil and allow to cool slightly.

Once the cake has been removed from the oven, pour the syrup over the top (bearing in mind the cake will be upside down) and allow to cool slightly. Then tip the cake out of the mould and allow to cool through on a wire rack.

Finally add the juice of 1 lemon to 250 g of icing sugar and mix thoroughly until smooth and pourable.
Drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake and decorate with any remaining grated lemon zest. There you have it, a lemon circle cake!

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