Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Recipe Mini Eclairs with Violet Essence Icing

I have discover choux pastry with this easy bake Mini Eclairs with violet essence icing. I was inspired  by the Rose Eclairs I had at my Fortnum and Mason Afternoon Tea, this was my first time at making choux pastry, which I have to say is one of the easiest pastries to make - or is that just beginners luck.

Recipe for Eclairs with Violet Essence Icing
This recipe creates a light fragrant petite cream cake, that taste of Summer. The Mini Violet Eclairs recipe was the perfect edition for the recent Afternoon Tea held in the garden last month. 

Recipe - Mini Eclairs with Violet Essence Icing

  • saucepan
  • wooden spoon 
  • scales  
  • baking tray
  • baking parchment 
  • piping bag
  • elair nozzle (optional)
  • whisk
  • bowl
  • sieve

makes 12

33g plain flour
75ml water
pinch of salt
25g butter
1 beaten egg

icing sugar
violet essence
purple food colouring (optional)
1 small carton of double cream

  • Heat oven to 200 degrees c.
  • put the water and butter into a saucepan, heat slowly until it melts
  • bring to a brisk boil
  • Remove saucepan from heat, add flour and stir quickly. The mixture will form into a soft dough, leaving the saucepan sides clean.
  • Allow to cool slightly, then gradually add the egg and beat hard until you have a smooth and shiny mixture.
  • Place the mixture into a piping bag, use a wide round nozzle or just snip the end off a piping bag. 
Piped Choux Pastry for Eclairs
  • Pipe onto the lined baking tray. For the mini eclair pipe the mixture to a length of 8 cms. If you do not have a piping bag then use spoons dipped in water and place blobs of the mixture you will end up with choux pastry like those used in profiteroles.
  • If your piping is not very even or one of the ends is sticking up, dip a fork in water and slightly even the piped mixture. But do not squish it!
  • Bake in oven for 10 minutes on 200 degrees c. Bake for a further 12 minutes on 180 degrees C.
  • Turn off oven and remove pastry from oven, make a small slit at the end of each eclair, then place back in oven to dry out for 5 minutes.
  • Then leave to cool on a wire rack.
Mini Eclairs Recipe

Filling with cream

Fill the choux pastry fingers with double cream, whipped to a thick but soft consistency, so that you can still pipe it. You can either pipe the cream into the choux finger using a special eclair nozzle. Or you can cut the choux finger in half sideways and then add the cream.

To make the violet icing

125g icing sugar sifted
25ml water approx
1-2 drops violet essence
purple food colouring
  • You want to aim for a thick but spreadable consistency.
  • gradually add the water to the icing sugar, mixing gently at first then whisk well to remove any lumps. 
  • Add the drop of essence, taste the icing to see if you need a drop more. 
  • Add a tiny amount of the food colouring, you want to a achieve a light lilac colour.
  • You should have a thick but spreadable consistency.
  • Either spread the icing with a palette knife or dip the eclair into the icing to cover the top. 
  • Leave to set on a wire rack.
Mini Eclairs Recipe with Fragrant Violet  Icing
I am entering my Mini Violet Eclairs into Recipe of The Week hosted by A Mummy too. Also into CookBlogShare hosted at Super Golden Bakes. Finally also joining in with this weeks Bake of the Week specially hosted by Hay in a Day
Link up your recipe of the week   Casa Costello

Other recipes you may like to try:-
Chocolate Chip Shortbread
Vanilla Macaroons

Friday, 15 August 2014

How to Store Apples

If you have apples ready for harvesting, you will probably have plans for eating or baking with them. Quite often though you can be left with an excess of fruits. For those fruits that are in good condition, no bruises and blemish free you can store the apples over Winter. 
Storing apples over winter
How to store apples
Picking apples - you will know if an apple is ripe as it should come away from the tree with a small twist.

Storing apples - you must have a perfect apple for it to store well. No marks, bruises or blemishes so pick them carefully and inspect them well.

You do not need a fancy wooden apple store, I will show you how to store apples using old newspaper and reusing old office trays.

  1. Select suitable apples to store - no blemishes, bruises or marks.
  2. Wipe the apple with a clean rag
  3. Cut or tear your newspaper into squares, the size will depend on how big your apples are.
  4. Place the apple upside down, in the centre of the newspaper, taking each corner of the newspaper to the top of the apple, these can overlap.
  5. Place the wrapped apple right side up on an old office organiser tray.
  6. Store in a cool dark place, I store mine in the garage.
  7. Check the apples every 3 to 4 weeks, remove any apples that are starting to rot so they do not affect any of the surrounding apples. Usually you can smell a sweet fruit smell if there is an apple that is starting to turn bad.
I have used this method for storing apples for the last 6 years successfully. Here is hoping for a bumper harvest of apples this year.

How to store apples using old desk trays and newspaper
Storing apples

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Afternoon Tea in the Garden

An afternoon tea in the garden, how very English of me. A belated Christmas gift for my brothers girlfriend, a wonderful setting with perfect weather and the garden looking rather good too. The afternoon tea menu featured a new bake for me of choux pastry to make the Violet Eclairs - which incidentally were divine.

Afternoon Tea Cakes
11-17 August is afternoon tea week, so why not join in. I really enjoy baking and putting everything together to host an afternoon tea. But I am aware not everyone has the time or feels happy baking, you can still host your own afternoon tea by buying your cakes and bakes - create your own afternoon tea menu.

Afternoon Tea  - cucumber sandwiches
Afternoon Tea Menu

Beef finger sandwiches 
Cucumber finger sandwiches
Cheese Scones


Violet Eclairs
Sultana scones
Rhubarb and Gooseberry Fairy Cakes
Earl Grey Teabread


Twinnings English Breakfast tea

There were a few cheats with my garden afternoon tea, I am not sure if you have spotted them. I did not have any loose tea so used tea bags! Also on this occasion I did not want to waste the crusts so kept them on the sandwiches.

Afternoon Tea Cakes

Saturday, 9 August 2014

National Trust visit to Croft Castle

The National Trust property Croft Caste is just over the Shropshire border into Herefordshire, so not at all far from me. It is not a property I have visited previously so was a little unsure what to expect. Croft Castle is a manor house and does not look like a typical castle, that is if a castle has a typical look. The Croft Estate was established back in the year 1055 by a Norman Knight, the house and estate are of a considerable age.

Croft Castle walled garden
We first explored the grounds, there is a wonderful large walled garden, laid out with many different planting schemes :- a vineyard, roses, a pond, fruit and vegetables, flowers and lawn.  There was a small area with a display of poppies to commemorate the First World War.    The glasshouse is currently part of a restoration project and requires quite a lot of work to bring it back to its heyday.

Croft Castle gardens
The weather whilst not glorious sunshine was warm and a little cloudy, still good weather to enjoy our picnic. I can not comment on the tearoom as we did not use it, may be on my next visit.

Croft Castle - Saloon

Next we explored the castle, which felt more like a house than a castle. There were two rooms within the house that stood out and were especially enjoyable. The Saloon is set for the period of 1920's there was a pianist playing the piano and we were encouraged to sit, take time and enjoy the room and the ambiance. There were wonderful views from the windows of the Croft Estate and surrounding Herefordshire countryside. 

Croft Castle Hunt Ball
I was also captivated by the dining room, which was laid out for a hunt ball during the 1930's. There was some background noise being played which gave the room the sounds and feel of guests gathering for the hunt ball.

If my day is an example of a typical visit to Croft Castle then you can expect to experience a relaxed, enjoyable and atmospheric visit. 

Other National Trust properties visited:-
Baddesley Clinton

Giveaway winner announcement

**Winner Announcement**

The lucky winner of the Liberty Notebook has now been drawn and congratulations go to:-

Lucy Bishop

I have sent you a tweet so please reply with your contact details to "" and I will make sure your lovely prize is posted straight away. Thank you to everyone who entered, sharing you favourite bakes or places to visit.

I used randomiser to select a winner which as you can see in the screen shot below was comment no. 4.