Friday 27 June 2014

Brit Decor Bakes: Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

All images / Mike Ahern

In the full heat of Summer I am often drawn to the zesty freshness of citrus flavours, and this is one of those sentimental Summer-inspired bakes that I really wanted to share with you, but with a twist, of course.

Lemon Meringue pie was a childhood favourite of mine and as the only other member of my family who liked this dessert, I hold fond and vivid memories of eagerly sharing a slice or two with my dear Gran. The silky texture and sharp taste sensation of the lemon curd combined with the beautifully baked peaks of meringue  are some of my essential memories and tastes of Summer. So how would these crucial ingredients taste in the context of a cupcake?

(For the cakes)
150g Caster sugar
175g Self-raising flour
150g Unsalted butter
3 Eggs
3tbsp Lemon juice
Lemon curd

(For the Meringue)
150g Caster sugar
3 egg whites
2 tsp Cream of tartar (optional)

How to make:
Preheat the oven to 180oC and line a baking tray with 12 cupcake cases. Mix together the caster sugar, flour, butter and eggs, followed by the lemon juice until you have a batter. Spoon half of the mixture into the cases and then place a tea spoon of lemon curd on top of each one. Add the remaining cake batter on top of the lemon curd. Place in the oven for around 10 minutes.

Whilst the cakes are baking in the oven quickly whisk together the sugar and egg whites for the meringue (I like to add a couple of tea spoons of cream of tartar for some extra fluffiness but this is entirely optional). Once your mixture resembles fluffy peaks, add this to a piping bag and remove the cakes from the oven. Add the meringue topping to each cupcake and then return to the oven to bake for a further 10 minutes. Happy baking friends!

Tuesday 17 June 2014

Brit Decor: Stationery Crush

All images / Mike Ahern

There are some things, quite a few actually, that I just cannot be without in my home. One of my must-have items has also become a little bit of crush; stationery, or to be a little more precise, notebooks. I prefer a handy pocket size version so I can take it around with me and scribble inspirational little notes wherever I am because my brain simply can't remember every little detail.

Speaking of inspiration, a print called 'Cellardyke' owned by the lovely Mr Bright Bazaar, recently caught my eye with its minimal styling and eye-catching lines. The print in question was by the refreshingly original Lovely Pigeon and when I learned that this small but perfectly formed brand produced stationery too, I hurriedly  clicked onto their web store. With gorgeous colours to choose from and each notebook temptingly matched with copper and brass foils, the geometric shapes look truly awesome.

After some deliberation over colours, I opted for the concrete grey notebook with brass foil illustration because I love the luxe look of the foil set against the minimal grey card. However, to my utter delight, the notebook also arrived with a stunning copper foil postcard (also 'above'), which now takes pride of place in my study at home, along with my newest piece of stationery, of course.

Friday 13 June 2014

Brit Decor: Makes/ Cherry & Amaretti Ice Cream

All images / Mike Ahern

Do you ever get that sudden burst of inspiration whilst shopping for groceries? The very moment when you spot what could be a key ingredient for a knockout recipe? Well I had one of those 'light bulb' moments recently when I spotted a punnet of fresh cherries! I was immediately drawn to their perfect glossy forms and could literally taste them. So not knowing exactly how I would put them to good use, I hurried to the checkout...

Several hours later I decided to take a gamble on the all too unpredictable British Summer and hedge my bets on a spell of warmer weather ahead, with some ice cream. I just so happened to have a bag of Amaretti biscuits crying out to be used and I knew that their distinctive Almond flavour would be the perfect match for the cherries and bring some texture to the ice cream.

I guess it's therefore rather fitting that today should be a gloriously warm and sunny day here in the UK!

120ml Double cream
50g Granulated sugar
2tsp Caster sugar (for the cherries)
2 Large egg yolks
80ml Milk
200g Ripe cherries (stoned)
100g Amaretti biscuits
Ice cream cones (optional)

You will ideally need an ice cream maker for this recipe.

How to make:
Begin by beating together the egg yolks and sugar, then add the milk and place into a saucepan on a low heat (it's important not to boil this). As the mixture slowly thickens into a custard, remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, place the cherries into a pan along with 50ml of water and the caster sugar - cook until softened. Then pop the cooked cherries into a blender and allow to cool. (I kept back the cherry juices from the saucepan to refrigerate and use as a topping for the ice cream). Then crush a handful or around 100g of Amaretti biscuits and place to one side.

In a separate bowl, whip the cream until light and fluffy. Add the cooled custard, the chopped cherries and the crushed Amaretti to the whipped cream before placing in the ice cream maker.

Once frozen, serve with the optional extras of some additional finely crushed Amaretti and/or some of the cherry juice saved earlier.

Happy ice cream making!

Monday 9 June 2014

Brit Decor: #Decorex100 2014

Well my friends, it's not every day that I receive a tweet from @Decorex_Intl informing me that I have been nominated for the #Decorex100 - the top 100 most influential interior design tweeters!

Since taking the decision back in August 2013 to develop Brit Decor into something bigger and better, to push my creative boundaries, challenge my confidence levels and share the creative love, I think I have come a long way. But there is still so much more to do and days like this only make me want to strive to work even harder. More importantly, none of this would have been possible without the encouragement and engagement I have received from you; my awesome readers!

I am utterly thrilled just to be nominated for this but if you'd like to vote for me and Brit Decor, please visit this link or tweet the following:

"I'm nominating @mikeahern_ for the #Decorex100 top 100 influential interior design Twitter users"

This is in no way meant to read like some presumptuous winning speech, but rather, today's exciting nomination has served as an overdue reminder that it's only right to thank everyone around me for their un-dwindling support and love. You know who you are.

This year Decorex International 2014 will be held at their new Syon Park venue in September, with a contemporary interpretation of the Georgian era, which I am really excited about having lived in and just outside of the Georgian City of Bath for most of my life! Maybe I'll see you guys at the event too? I hope so...


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