A Weekend in Bridgwater
Vegan cupcake with raspberry butter cream frostingLast weekend I visited Designer in her home town near Bristol. The train journey up was surprisingly smooth, but alas I can not say the same about the journey back due to a mix of badly labelled and positioned trains and confusion over stations, which led to mad bolting towards unknown platforms and hopping on random trains. I know. Mad. Returning to Oxford only half an hour later than expected though was acceptable to me and overall the weekend was a wonderfully packed one full of baking, eating, baking, drinking, baking, make-over, films and fruit picking. Did I mention baking? What more can one ask for?
Beetroot Risotto with crème Fraîche and dillArriving late Friday evening, we settled down to a beautiful beetroot risotto made by Designer, which was a stunning characteristic blush red. Washing it all down with a small glass of Rhône, I can happily concede the weekend had well and truly started. We had a lazy start the next day, watching Saturday morning cook shows on the TV whilst it showered in the grey outdoors. I had to admit I was hoping for a sunny day - but I speak too soon. As we were leaving to go find a Pick Your Own (PYO) Farm, the sun blazed out and burned the remaining clouds away, leaving us to a beautifully bright and mild day with a playful wind teasing us. After getting slightly lost down a maze of brambles-lined country road, a friendly local redirected us to the PYO, which turned out to be closing the very next day due to reaching the end of their season. Determined, we trundled down the extensive farm looking for raspberries and gooseberries and found both. A fun, albeit slightly prickly session later, we left with a punnet of white and black gooseberries and sinfully sweet raspberries, basking in the sun with a farm-made ice cream. A short drive later and we found ourselves walking down beside the locks, gazing at the canals, blackberry bushes and sloe berries. It was too early to pick anything yet so no foraging, but the delicate purple blackberry flowers were a delight to look at nonetheless. We enjoyed the last of the sun for the day sitting outdoors enjoying a traditional cream tea whilst watching a wasp trying to engulf a jam splodge. Quite amusing really! Supper that night was a lovely simple dish of smoked salmon, prawns and lemon spaghetti dish in a crème Fraîche sauce, this time accompanied by a Rose Pinot Grigio.
PYO Farm showing raspberries and black gooseberriesAs evening approached, we perused gingerbread recipes and finally alighted onto one found the in the Hummingbird Bakery Book. Instead of using the specified list of spices though, we substituted the equivalent amount in gingerbread mix, lovingly made up by Designer's mum. The smell was divine, and we hadn't even baked them yet. Patiently we tucked the dough into the fridge to allow the flavours to develop over-night as we turned to making grilled pepper salsa which tasted heavenly with toasted pitta strips and tortilla chips, which we happily munched with Pinot Grigio and watching Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Tonight was finished with a rich chocolate mousse hiding brandy-soaked black cherries in the bottom, with delicate almond macaroons we made earlier along with the mousse.
Cream Tea by the Locks
Sunday morning was a relaxed affair, once again watching addictive cookery shows and sipping tea. Eventually we naturally migrated to the kitchen to start some much anticipated baking. Upon commenting on the sadly steep continual rise on dairy products, especially butter, we settled for vegan chocolate cupcakes adapted also from the Hummingbird bakery with the intent of decorating them in butter cream later. The mixture resembled a stiff chocolate paste, resembling more brownie than chocolate cupcake, but in the oven it went with the two of us each believing it would not rise due to how heavy it looked. In the meantime though, we had fun rolling out the gingerbread dough and making little boys and girls. A check on the cupcakes and to our delight, the mixture had ballooned and we had cute round cupcakes waiting to come out, trading their oven space with the gingerbread people. We watched part of Gigi, one of my all time favourite musicals before realising that time really wasn't on our side. Off to the kitchen we ambled to get started on decorating. A hilarious session later, we finally had icing the right consistency to pipe: white glace for the gingerbread people and a raspberry tinted butter cream for the cupcakes. With the kitchen a tip, although filled with lovely aromas and baked treats, I realised I was about to miss my train if we didn't leave pronto. A fast pack-up later (in which time, Designer had thoughtfully layered some gingerbread friends into a box for me) we were out the door speeding towards the station which mercifully was a short distance away. With the arrival of the train, our weekend together came to an end, and we said our farewells. I was about to embark on a complicated journey home, on a mission to reach my church service on time; Designer was headed back to her now "slightly" chaotic kitchen and I had gingerbread friends to keep me smiling all the way home.
Gingerbread Making Fun