Yesterday was my nineteenth birthday, and so to celebrate I threw a tea party for my close friends.
One thing I majorly overlooked was that the majority of my friends don’t find such things fun. But I do, and it was my birthday, so I made it as special as I possibly could.
Firstly I had to consider the menu. One of my friends is a vegan, so obviously I had to make special things for her. Thanks to the food blogging community, this wasn’t difficult. I made a bee-line for Bittersweet and found recipes for chocolate cupcakes and cinnamon rolls. I englished up the recipes (no idea where I’m supposed to find canola oil in this little island…) and they were so simple to follow that I had an awful lot of fun and all the stress of alternative baking was totally removed. I’d totally recommend adding Bittersweet to your bookmarks. Even if you have no alternative lifestyles to cater for, the recipes are, without doubt, all delicious.
I made some cakestands for the party. My mother bought me a cake stand for a big cake for my birthday, but I wanted some other stands for smaller cakes. I sort of followed a tutorial in Making Stuff, but I did a total Rosa-Martyn on it and threw caution to the wind and instead of measuring I just stuck various plates, egg cups, sherry glasses and all sorts of bric a brac together with a strong glue. Life’s too short. The joy of this is that you get a beautifully eclectic cake stand and it’s both affordable and entirely up to your tastes. If you’re lucky enough to live near a charity shop like mine, then you can gather armfuls of plates and things each with individual prices, only to go up to buy and have the women look at the pile and go “Hmm… 50p for you, love!” Prices vary greatly from shop to shop, so keep an open mind. One of my best buys was this adorable little plate, just big enough for the top cupcake:
I also attempted to make macarons. My friend, Demelza, came round to help me prepare for things on Saturday and it was decided that bright pink rose flavoured macarons was the best way to go, so we followed this recipe on Foodbeam. It er.. didn’t work out for us. We ended up with a couple of baking sheets of homogenous almond meringue mess. It tasted delicious but it certainly wasn’t macarons. However, being the frugal young girls we are, we decided to make the most of a terrible situation and we crumbled up the bizarre pink-brown chaos and added it to a mix of melted white chocolate, rose syrup and double cream before making little balls and leaving them to set in the fridge. We named them ‘rosebuds’ and they turned out to be delicious.
Being a tea party, I of course had to make scones. I wanted to make them accessible to the vegan so I bought some box mixes. I know it’s cheating, but this way all I had to add was a bit of soya milk, as opposed to buying quite pricey vegan butter to start from scratch. I bought clotted cream for the lactose lovers, and vegan whipping cream for anybody else wishing to give their insides a rest.
Another brilliant charity shop buy was this darling little child’s mug, which here is filled with vegan whipping cream. I think it was only about 79p, and it totally stole my heart.
Ok, now onto the main event. It took me ages to decide what cake I wanted. It had to be fabulous, it had to be decadent, it had to be different, it had to be totally self indulgent. I considered a savarin, I considered a rich chocolate gateaux, I considered a deliciously light angel cake… But nothing felt right. Until I saw this, a Poppy Seed Cake with Chocolate Ganache and I fell in love. It just looked beautiful and interesting, yet unimposing. Demelza and I made the poppy seed sponge on saturday, which I later filled with a mix of cream cheese, bitter chocolate and sugar, instead of the suggested custard and walnut filling, and the next day I made the ganache. I didn’t have any Kahlua so I subbed for some rose syrup and vanilla extract. I let the ganache set before sprinkling some icing sugar through a doily, then sticking some roses into it. Putting roses into my birthday cake felt like the single most decadent act of my life (especially at £1.65 a rose! Hardly recession friendly cake decorating) but it looks so beautiful, I think I can be excused.
You can see the ‘rosebuds’ in the cake stand behind the main cake.
Aren’t those napkins wonderful?!
I had the most delightful time with this little project, and whilst there’s a lot of food left over, and my friends would probably have had more fun with a couple of takeaway pizzas and a few glasses of something toxic, I think it was definitely worth all the money I spent and would jump at the chance to do it again.