Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Fête Nationale

The 14th July is Bastille Day - France's Fête Nationale, a national holiday with parades and celebrations.

Bastille Day is a holiday celebrating the storming of the Bastille - a military fortress and prison. It happened on July 14, 1789, in a violent uprising that helped usher in the French Revolution. Besides holding gunpowder and other supplies valuable to revolutionaries, the Bastille also symbolized the callous tyranny of the French monarchy, especially King Louis XVI and his queen, Marie Antoinette.

The France’s tricolor flag is flown high, the French motto Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité cheered and La Marseillaise sung with passion — all popular symbols of France that had their origins in the heady days of the French Revolution.

Traditionally since 1880, in one of the world’s oldest annual military parades, French troops march along the Champs-Elysées in Paris before French government officials and world leaders.

However this year there was no parade, instead 2,000 soldiers gathered at the Place de la Concorde where France held a tribute to those working hard against the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Hubby and I always celebrate, I love France; it's a chance for us to enjoy some of our favourite food and wine. It was especially nice just now to do something special. My arm is not fully mended but together we managed to put together a super 'journée française'.

Cellier des Dauphins is our favourite French wine and we were delighted when they sent two bottles of Cotes du Rhone wine to help us celebrate Bastille Day, thank you Cellier des Dauphins.

Our day began with croissants and coffee imagining we were on the banks of the Canal du Midi, when in fact it was the Oxford Canal. Safely cocooned in our picnic chairs between our car and the water it was lovely to sit and watch the boats go by. 

Back home we had thought of a light pique-nique in the garden with a glass of our wine but the weather was not joining in our French day. 

However we did enjoy a superb evening dinner, a selection of our favourite food. We made tapenade which was delicious on French bread. Our lentil, apple and walnut salad was great with the brie cheese, although I liked the roquefort more. We've really missed our usual trips to France but our sharing mussel pot brought back lovely memories. 

Tarte tatin is one of my favourite desserts, Hubby did a super job peeling the apples whilst I did the caramel. I'd like to say we made our own puff pastry but life's too short and ready made tastes great. 

There is nothing more satisfying than turning the pan and voila the tarte tatin comes out looking golden brown. It was delicious .... and there's some left for today.

So even though this year's celebrations were different due to my radiotherapy appointment, my broken arm and restrictions keeping us all safe, Hubby and I had a lovely Bastille Day.

Bonne fête mes amis 🇫🇷

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

English Wine Week

A little note to say this post is full of links to previous posts, wine events and winemakers ... so settle in with a glass of something nice and enjoy my English wine experience!

If anyone asks me if I have tried English wine I reply with a resounding 'yes'!

However I hadn't realised how many different wines until I looked back over my blog posts. That's the primary reason I write Aimetu's - wine, food and travel; it's full of our adventures and wonderful memories.

Those great memories include visiting Love Wine in BirminghamGuildford and Birmingham again the following year with friends, it's where we have discovered and tasted many English wines. Unfortunately this year's Guildford Love Wine was postponed, we're looking forward to the new dates when we can again meet with some fantastic winemakers from near and far.

From our visits in 2017 and 2018 we discovered these English winemakers; always in holiday mood I'm already planning a few mini breaks with vineyard visits for when life allows.

Our first actual tour of an English vineyard was in September 2015 and was the start of my 50th birthday celebrations. Driving north early on a Sunday morning in my new car with it's perfect 65 plate, I was filled with excited anticipation; Wroxeter Vineyard did not disappoint. We had a brilliant day, walking the vines, discovering new grape varieties and tasting superb wines whilst enjoying a super lunch.
Our first English vineyard visit 
Looking back over our travels I was surprised to read that we didn't visit another English vineyard until 2018 .... however we made up time by visiting four over the year.

Our first 2018 visit was to an English winemaker you've probably read about in my recent writings - Oatley Vineyard. As part of our wine weekend holiday with friends I arranged a visit to this, at the time, unknown vineyard tucked away in rural Somerset. It was an absolute delight and a treasure to find.

I have fond memories of our visit in early 2018 and thanks to our recent online order we are now enjoying Oatley wines with friends here in the Midlands, virtually of course!
Our visit to Oatley Vineyard
Virtual Oatley tasting in lockdown
Having discovered The Bolney Estates wine at Love Wine and realising they were located on our route to Newhaven for our ferry crossing, we thought it would be rude not to call by for a lunch stop.

We were amazed by their wines, especially their new Rosso vermouth, and equally amazed by their beautiful vineyard. Set down a small leafy lane The Bolney Estate has a great cafe with balcony seating overlooking the vines. Their wines are elegantly laid out in the shop, so much choice, all so inviting. The Eighteen Acre restaurant follows on from the shop and offers a great range of food. We had a very enjoyable lunch with a glass of wine and would have loved to have stayed for a tour, we will certainly be visiting again.

Our lunch stop visit to The Bolney Estate
Our next tour was at Dedham Vale Vineyard, a retirement gift for Hubby from our daughter. We set off east, not our usual holidaying direction, early one sunny Sunday morning in July.

Essex is not an area we had thought of for wine making however Dedham Vale grow a variety of grapes around the vineyard and in the neighbouring area. We had an extensive tour of the vines followed by a tour of the working parts of the vineyard; our tour ending with a super wine tasting with views across the beautiful English countryside.

Dedham Vale's beautiful setting 
Our final visit vineyard visit of 2018 was actually two visits in one. Hubby and I had an impromptu week in Dorset, the home of Langham Wine Estate and popped over the border into Devon to also visit Lyme Bay Winery, both super experiences although we didn't tour the vines.

At Langham we treated ourselves to lunch accompanied by a glass of their delicious Blanc de Noirs.  Another superb vineyard producing a great range of sparkling wine, with drinking restrictions due to driving we just had to bring some home. This English wine estate is stunning example of the beautiful countryside we have in our country, our next visit will definitely include a tour and longer time to enjoy not only super wines but the super food too.

My glass of Langham Blanc de Noirs
The shop at Lyme Bay Winery was full of goodies, fruit wines, liqueur wine, sparkling wine, still wine and spirits. I have known of Lyme Bay fruit wines since a young girl as they had a shop at Lulworth Cove, a favourite holiday place my Dad and I often visited. It was lovely to visit the actual winery but with so much choice it was hard to decide what to bring home. With Christmas approaching we bought a variety of fruit wines and liqueurs to give as gifts, as well as a bottle of Sandbar made from 100% Bacchus for us to enjoy at Maison Hearnden.

2020 has certainly been a different year, no vineyard visits, no wine events but that hadn't stopped everyone talking about, sharing and discovering wine .... especially with superb live wine chats hosted by (amongst others) Brad Horne - Wine Time London.

Thanks to Brad I now have more English winemakers to add to my visit/tasting list, an ever growing list that now includes:

With shopping online and nationwide delivery there is no reason to not enjoy English wine at home, Hubby and I will certainly be ordering more to enjoy here whilst looking forward to when we can spread our wings and go visiting again.

As I said this post is full of links to our past adventures and the variety of English winemakers we have discovered, however I could not finish without mentioning the best English wine

...... it's priceless ...... and is of course .....

I have over the years made many wine, following in my Grandfather's footsteps. 2014 was a good year resulting in Dandelion, Rhubarb and Elderflower wines, each receiving compliments from those who have tasted them. I have since made Tea Wine and Rhubarb Wine .... bottled ready to drink!

Chateau Hearnden
Dandelion, Rhubarb and Elderflower 
I currently have two demi-johns of Beetroot wine in the garage ready to bottle when we have saved enough empties ..... that's my lockdown activity sorted!

Cheers everyone .... enjoy English Wine Week 🥂

Sunday, 14 June 2020

Our Virtual Wine Tasting

Every Saturday Hubby and I have been meeting online with our friends using Messenger for a virtual quiz night. It's great fun with the quizzes varying from Trivial Pursuits to Mr and Mrs.

Of course bottles of wine are opened (although I'm not drinking much just now) and snacks eaten. All our wines are different which led us to thinking it would be fun to have a virtual wine tasting and enjoy the same wines together - we did just that yesterday enjoying an English white and Italian red.

In early 2018 we visited Oatley Vineyard, tucked away in the Somerset countryside it was a superb place. Iain and Jane welcomed us with a tour of the vineyard and tastings of their super wines. It's a beautiful peaceful setting, a place we hope to visit again soon.

Our purchases from our visit have all been enjoyed so we decided to place an online order jointly with our friends; currently Oatley Vineyard are offering free delivery UK wide and twelve bottles were soon making their way up to the Midlands.

Our order was a mix of Jane's 2018, Leonora's 2017 and the cellar aged Leonora's 2014. I was disappointed there was no Elizabeth's wine available, it was my favourite on our visit and obviously everyone else's too.

Iain and Jane have decided to no longer put foils on their bottles, to be honest they are not needed and it's quite nice seeing the cork nestling in the bottle neck.

Our English white was the Leonora's 2014, we noticed how clean and crisp this wine was; I remember from our visit the cleaness of the wines being a delight. Leonora's was a wine everyone enjoyed, finding orange blossom, apricots and honey in it's elegant finish, a new wine to some but visiting an old friend for others.

Oatley Vineyard is one of many that have been featured on WineGB West's live Instagram. In lockdown live broadcasts have opened up the world of wine to more people and have helped our English Wineries in these difficult times. I have met so many new growers and producers and have already started a list of holiday possibilities with vineyard tours being the focus.

Brad Horne at Wine Time London has also been doing the superb Wine Social live chats with wine makers from all over the world. I was delighted to see Laurent again from Cellier des Dauphins but a highlight for me was meeting Tickerage Wines, their story is amazing, it's a place high on my list to visit.

I'll be keeping an eye on Brad's wine chats, 8pm on Instagram with the added bonus of catching up on IGTV. I'm missing many things right now; being with family and friends, enjoying good food and wine, but mostly being on holiday with my Hubby discovering new places, new wines. Wine Social Live has certainly been a boost to me right now - thank you to everyone in our new virtual world.

Back to our own virtual Saturday nights, I cannot believe we have been doing these fun evenings for 12 weeks. As mentioned we've played Trvial Pursuits (very technical to set up), set our own quizzes and most recently Mr and Mrs .... thankfully no divorce papers have been issued!

Our Italian tasting was Squinzano Rosso from Lidl. It is usually £5.99 but was on offer the other week at £3.99 so our friend purchased and doorstep delivered a bottle for us all to try.

Hubby and I have tried it before, looking in the extensive wine reviews at Cuvée Reserve it seems we first discovered it in 2016. Cuvèe Reserve is not only a great wine forum for chatting about and discovering wine, but also a superb record of wines tasted by using the review library.

We all liked this although the ladies not quite as much as the white. There were plenty of sour cherries in its deep flavour, along with hints of licorice and herbs, it's nose was quite smokey and there were some light tannins on the finish.

We thought Squinzano Rosso was a wine best served with food as a little sour on its own. It's not always available in store, even less likely at the reduced price but worth picking up if you do see it.

Thank you to our friends for another great night ... here's to week 13 ... I'm thinking of opening some bubbly as it's Father's Day weekend and nearing our wedding anniversary  ..... cheers!

Monday, 8 June 2020

Laithwaites in lockdown

A few weeks ago Hubby and I decided to place a Laithwaites order. Although we are not drinking as much just now, we both decided that during lockdown we needed a treat.

Laithwaites have some very good wine monthly plans but we like buying wine from various suppliers so rather than sign up to a plan we decided to place a one off order. It was really enjoyable browsing through Laithwaites extensive range.

We decided to make up a box of 12 wines but as an extra treat and a little bit of excitement we also ordered one of Laithwaites Mystery Cases.

I have to admit when receiving a Laithwaites delivery in the past I have not paid much attention to the actual packaging but looking closer the Laithwaites boxes are a work of art in their own right.

Each box has a road going round with a delivery van making it's way past well known landmarks and wine bottles. The bottles are labelled with popular grapes; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Malbec to name but three.

The well-known landmarks include the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Colosseum, Tower Bridge, the Eiffel Tower, a windmill and Big Ben. As well as the landmarks the images include, sun, rain, snow, an aeroplane, even a hot air balloon.

It's very clever artwork depicting wine from around the world and indicating wine can be enjoyed any weather, any time and anywhere. I thought they were great fun and was surprised I hadn't looked closer before.

And so to our wine choices, I haven't included tasting notes for each wine but I have mentioned some reasons behind our purchases, and added links (if available) to each wine.

Our 12 bottles were mainly reds with just two whites because at the moment I'm not drinking much and Hubby prefers red wine. The other reason is, on inspection of our wine cellar, we still have quite a few white wines from our various holidays but as winter is now passed the red wine selection is looking a little depleted!

Our red wines wine selection: 

The Waxed Bat Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec 2019 from Mendoza, this is one of our favourite red wines from Laithwaites.

Hubby enjoys Spanish wines and one of his choices was Copa Real Tempranillo 2018; he also bought two bottles of Camino de Seda from Vendimia 2019

Le XV du President 2018 has a very simple yet striking label and was the reason for our purchase, it's a French wine but one we haven't had before.

Yarrunga Field wine from Australia is one of my favourite. I really enjoyed their white and so we decided to add a bottle of their 2018 Shiraz from New South Wales

One wine that eludes both Hubby and I is Bordeaux.  We have tried many bottles, both on holiday and at home, but have yet to find a bottle that makes us smile. Fingers crossed we added a bottle of Chateau Bel-Air Le Perriere 2018, could this be the one.

Having had a super enjoyable family holiday in 2018 in Portugal we decided on a bottle of Aluado 2018 made from Alicante Bouschet, one of our favourite Portuguese grapes.

Recommended for BBQs we added a bottle of Grillhouse Western Cape 2019 Shiraz Pinotage from South Africa. We both enjoy South African wine especially Pinotage.

Final bottle of red was a tribute to my Dad, he enjoyed purchasing wines from the Sunday Times Wine Club which is the sister company of Laithwaites. His favourite wine was Il Papavero Vino Rosso - cheers Dad

The two whites we chose were ones that we haven't had before,  the first being Chain of Stones 2018 Chardonnay from Moldova. Quite a distinctive label with the words written on pebbles, I'm looking forward to try this one.

The other white wine was the Gaillac Perle Tres Cantou.  I have had this in France but I've never brought one back home. I'm saving this for a lovely sunny summer's day when life feels better than it does just now.

As well as our chosen dozen we also bought a Mystery Case of 12 wines. Averaging out the prices of all 24 bottles, including our addition discount on the Mystery Case as we'd already purchased 12, the price per bottle was around £6.50 which we feel is a great buy!

We opened the Mystery Case with great excitement not knowing what we would find. It's a great way of trying wines we probably wouldn't choose ourselves and looking at our selection I'm keen to try all of these.

The Mystery Case included 6 reds and 6 whites, the red wines were:

Mr Anderson Far and Wide 2018 Merlot from South Australia

Prestige du Capitole 2018 a Cabinet Sauvignon from the Southwest of France

Venta Vieja Malbec 2018 from Spain

End of the Line 2018 Malbec from Mendoza in Argentina

Chante-Clare from France, with its distinctive French cockerel label, is a wine we have had this wine before.

Cerro Nevada is a Cabernet Merlot wine from Chile.

The 6 white wines were quite a variety, some new some we didn't

Albastrele Chardonnay 2017 wine from Moldova.

A second bottle of Albastrele, this time Sauvignon Blanc.

Cerro Nevada from Chile 2018 bottle of Sauvignon Blanc

I was very pleased to discover a bottle of Il Papavero Vino Bianco, another of Dad's favourite.

Cite de Carcassonne does not produce much wine so I was delighted to find a bottle of Chasan 2018, La Revelation.

 And finally a South African Sauvignon Blanc 2019 labelled Halfway

During this time of lockdown it was great fun to both choose some wine and receive mystery bottles, delivered to the door meaning I was still shielded. 

Over the next few months we will be opening our Laithwaites purchases, enjoying old favourites and discovering new - cheers Laithwaites!

Sunday, 24 May 2020

Welsh Cheese, English Rugby and French Wine ....

..... shielding, although restricting and repetitive, has its highlights and this past week there have been three such moments in the 10th week of our staycation.

Thanks to modern technology we have been able, like many, to keep in touch using video calls with our daughter who lives just over 100 miles away in South Wales. It's been so lovely to be able to see and chat over the last few months as life here hit a strange path ... even stranger on 6th May when I fell in the garden and broke my right upper arm !

Life is different for everyone just now, both personally and professionally. I feel for us all, employees and employers but especially for the small businesses. Hubby and I have visited many vineyards, farm shops, and local producers who all make such great produce and rely on tourism, local markets and food fairs.

Earlier this week we received a surprise parcel from Philippa and Michael - a box of Welsh cheese from The Welsh Cheese Company.  All the cheeses were from small producers highlighting the amazing variety available, such a great idea especially just now.

This was the first time we'd had a cheese delivery, to be honest we did not know about it at all, but what a super idea.

The Welsh Cheese Company was founded by Tom Pinder in 2017 when he decided to share his passion for cheese. The cheeses are from all regions of Wales, they came beautifully packed in a unique printed box detailing the various locations. The four cheeses were nestled in packaging from Woolcool made from sheep wool.... how amazing is that!

Hubby and I love all the cheeses; the four in our selection have such variety of flavour, super smokiness, soft cream, smooth blue and rich butterness - Perle Las has long been a favourite of mine so I was delighted it was in our box.

It was a super surprise gift, thank you Philippa and Michael.

Michael is responsible for the second highlight of the week ... rugby is my favourite sport, especially Welsh rugby but I have been a Leicester Tiger's fan for many years and since Wasps moved to the Midlands we have enjoyed many games at the Ricoh Stadium.

With my walking being up and down the garden path due to being at home, I have been listening to podcasts on my bluetooth headphones. I love Scrum V and have had to stop myself chuckling out loud when listening to the episodes from Dan Biggar, Jamie Roberts and Rhys Webb.

BBC Radio 5 Live have Rugby Union Weekly and to my amazement at the end of the 18th May edition my name was mentioned! Oh my goodness, a national shout out wishing me well as I recover.... the request was put forward by Michael ... what a super surprise!

The third highlight of the week was on Friday when Sumilier Tasting hosted a live chat with Laurent Paré. Laurent is the wine maker from Cellier des Dauphins, our favourite French wine producer. Hubby and I have visited this beautiful area of France so it was lovely to see Laurent in 30 degree blue skied Cotes du Rhone region.

The tasting included Cellier des Dauphins white, rosé and red Cotes du Rhone, their Villages red, Plan de Dieu and a new rosé Val Soléu.

I'm fascinated by all aspects of wine growing and during the live chat Laurent shared information about the soil, the climate, the geographical area, the cultivation of the grapes as well as the various picking methods. Laurent also gave some great history and insight about Cellier des Dauphins unique bottle shape. So much to learn, every grape, every vineyard, every wine different.

Thank you Sumi, Laurent and Cellier des Dauphins for a great hour learning more about rhe wondeful Cotes du Rhone.

Hubby and I have a few bottles of Cellier des Dauphins in our collection and after seeing France's blue sky we decided the best thing to do was to open a bottle of white .... cheers!

Our life continues with our staycation at home, we have no idea how long as once my arm is stable my chemotherapy and radiotherapy will start ... 2020 has certainly been a year of trials and tribulations, thank goodness for highlights ..... I wonder what this week brings!

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Á votre santé

Life is certainly not normal for any of us just now .... but for me a little bit of my life is 'back'. Over the last few weeks wine bottles have been popped and their contents enjoyed.

It is lovely to be back enjoying wine, beers and spirits; as well as my blog I also host Cuvée Reserve, an online wine forum that is full of great reviews. A sign of recovery is having a wine to post about; it's a great place to share discoveries of, and discover new wine. Pop along and join in our wine discussions at Cuvée Reserve,

So as it's been a while since I posted about wine I thought I'd share a few of my latest openings ...

It seemed only right to start witha bottle of champagne, I have many other champagnes that I love but the history of this wine, the memories Hubby and I have of celebration bubbles and having visited Nicolas Feuillatte in France make this my go to, absolute must bottle!

It was so nice to be able to taste again and enjoy the white fruit, apple and hint of raspberry flavours with the super toasty finish. The bubbles were a delight to watch; tiny, fast flowing in the pale gold liquid ...  a super glass to enjoy on the road to recovery.

My two favourite comfort wines are Cellier des Dauphins and Il Papavero Rosso. Both these wines are super examples of their source regions, good wine, good flavours, reliable quality at a good price. 

Cellier des Dauphins is a Cotes du Rhone wine Hubby and I have enjoyed for many, many years whilst holidaying in France. It's been a delight to find the wine available in the UK, in recent years under the Les Dauphins label but now under the original French labelling of Celliers des Dauphins. 

Il Papavero Rosso from Laithwaites or The Sunday Times Wine Club was my Dad's favourite wine. It's a great Italian blend of Sangiovese, Abruzzi Montepulciano, Negroamaro and Nero d'Avola, which we enjoyed with homemade lasagne.

For me, and I guess for most, my favourite wines are wines I have connections with. These can be memories of the occasion they were opened, where I was when I discovered the wine, a special gift given or because we have visited the vineyard and dicovered the wine first hand. 

There has been a hugely successful campaign on social media during the restrictions of Covid-19 about English wine and on April 10th using #theBIGenglishwinegoodfriday there were many bottles opened and reviews shared across Instagram and Twitter. 

In 2018 Hubby and I, with four friends, visited Oatley Vineyard in Somerset. It was a super day, a little chilly as early in the year but we not only tasted some delicious wines but learnt so much about the different grapes and how the vineyard is managed. I blogged about our visit, you can read it here - Oatley Vineyard 

Our #theBIGenglishwinegoodfriday offering was one of the remaining bottles from our visit, Leonora's 2014. A beautifully clear wine in the glass with a slight darker yellow glistening through. It's nose had floral notes with a hint of sherbet, its flavour was full of lemon with just a little pineapple. We both thoroughly enjoyed our Oatley wine and will one day be calling by again.

During our staycation we have been enjoying video calls with our family and friends. Every Saturday a group of us chat together and the last two weeks have managed to play Tivial Pursuits. I won't lie it took a bit of setting up with camera permissions on the laptop and dialling in on different accounts but it was great fun and I do look forward to our Saturday Nights In.

Last week I opened a favourite from Majestic Wine -   Bienbebido Pulpo Albarino Although I'm not a huge fan of Spanish wine I do enjoy Albarino with it's citrussy flavours along with a good depth of apple, nice dry finish and a long length. I've enjoyed this before with seafood but I quite like it on it's own; served chilled it was perfect on our Games Night.

When we visit our daughter in Cardiff we usually pop by Fine Wines Direct as they have some great wines we don't see in other places. We especially like their Franschhoek Cellar range and one of our recent openings was Old Town Hall Unoaked Chardonnay with its pineapple and tropical flavours. It is an elegant Chardonnay with a lovely finish, we enjoyed this with a chicken roast dinner, perfect!

Three other wines we opened this month were from Australia and were all new to us as they were part of a case of wine I won in a competition. Sadly the first wine we opened, Plane Turning Right, was a disappointment. Although screw cap we would have said it was corked as it had a musty, sour vinegar taste. Being a wine we didn't know we left it a day but it was no better, more sour if anything. A real shame as looking online it isn't a cheap bottle.

We did however enjoy the Ocean Eight Pinot Noir 2015. This Mornington Peninsula wine had great colour and great flavour. Plenty of dark fruits and cherries with an earthiness giving it great depth, lovely soft tannins lead to a good length on its finish. I very much enjoyed this wine, one to look out for.

The third in this trio was Oliver's Taranga Tempranillo, unusual to have a Tempranillo from Australia. It isn't my favourite grape and I just cannot take to Spanish Rioja so I was keen to try this ... great fruit with a touch of herb and mocha, some vanilla hinting at being in oak barrels, but not really for me although Hubby enjoyed it.

April has been a sunny bright month weather wise, we've been enjoying the outdoors as I recover from my operation. We received some fantastic news last Friday; although I still need more chemotherapy and radiotherapy (bye bye taste buds) the results from my operation show all the cancer was removed.

To celebrate we had a video call with our daughter who lives in Wales with her partner. They opened a bottle of Nicolas Feuillatte Rosé champagne and we opened a very special bottle from Andrieux-Lefort a small champagne house we discovered in Challons. If you are ever near Epernay it really is worth visiting, their champagne is superb.

It's been great enjoying wine again, it's been lovely to taste my gin and tonics too. Over the next few months my wine drinking may again be on hold but I have a couple of bottles if Sancerre in the cellar, bottles we brought back from our super holiday last September.

I'm hoping by the time my treatments are done the sun will be shining, we'll be allowed to be with family and friends and we can have a real celebration ...... stay safe everyone 🥂

Monday, 20 April 2020

Battenburg.... with a difference

Aimetu's is all about wine, food and travel, the foodie bits are often my themed dinner parties which also focus on wine. This post is about just one thing..... CAKE! 

During our staycation Hubby and I have been enjoying afternoon coffee and homemade cake whilst watching the latest No. 10 update. A treat (not the update) to look forward to and I get to bake. So far we have had a Victoria Sponge, Coffee & Walnut and Chocolate Coconut. 

I have never made a Battenburg, mainly because it looks tricky but reading the recipe I wasn't as daunted. So, with great excitement and apron on (I can be a bit messy) I started getting the required ingredients together ....

... oops I knew it would be tricky ... no food colouring, the important part of a beautiful pink and yellow Battenburg. 

Not one to be daunted by a problem I spied a tin of cocoa and hey presto a chocolate and vanilla Battenburg was the result. I have to say it is delicious (we have two slices left) and will be baked again - here's the recipe

175g softened margarine or butter
175g caster sugar 
3 eggs
175g self raising flour 
Few drops of vanilla extract
30g cocoa powder

Chocolate spread
Packet of marzipan (I used white)

Line a baking tin, mine was about 8" square. I  folded the baking paper to divide the tin in half. Set the oven to 160 degree C.

Mix together the margarine, sugar, eggs and flour beating really well until it's light and fluffy. Divide the mixture into two bowls, add the vanilla to one and the cocoa to the other. Fill the baking tray with the mixtures, one each side of the dividing paper.

I'm such an 'as is' cook so cake is done when I can smell it ... I think it was around 20 minutes. The big danger with sponge is if you open the door too soon it may sink so I keep looking until I feel it's save to venture in with the testing skewer. 

Straight from the oven,  my skewer came out clean
Turned out nicely, time to cool
Cut into four equal pieces
Baking successfully done it was time to think about alternative filling. The jam in an original Battenburg did not seem right with chocolate and vanilla so I used chocolate spread. Straight from the jar it was a little thick so I 'let it down' with some milk. Another make it up as I go along idea but it worked !
Smooth chocolate spread 
Now the exciting, and nerve wracking part, would it fit together, would the chocolate spread work ... only one way to find out.

Chocolate piece and vanilla piece joined together with
chocolate spread, more spread on top
Vanilla on top of the first chocolate piece
Chocolate on top of the first vanilla piece
Now the four pieces are together it was time to wrap it up in marzipan. I had some in the cupboard as I usually make a Simnel Cake for my Mum and Keith at Easter but this year I couldn't make them one due to our restrictions.

I rolled it out to a long oblong (ish), I don't know how thin it was, I just rolled until it looked a big enough oblong and spread a layer of chocolate spread in the middle about the size of my cake.

Marzipan rolled out with Dad's old rolling pin
chocolate spread in the middle
Phew, it was the right size!
I now covered the cake in chocolate spread and wrapped it up in the marzipan. It just about met, I squished the join together but no-one sees the underneath. Turning the cake over I carefully trimmed the edges of the marzipan to the size of the cake. 
Hey presto - it looks like a Battenburg 
Oh my what fun I had, I do enjoy baking and I do enjoy putting my own mark on things. This was such fun, a little daunting at times but it all turned good in the end.

Hubby and I love this cake, the sponge is so light, the chocolate spread perfect as a filling and the marzipan goes great with the chocolate and vanilla flavour.

A 'make it up' cake that I'll be making again!

Absolutely  delicious