Recipe: White chocolate & lemon cake

lemon & white chocolate cake

One of the things I love about living in a country with distinct seasons is how the food that we eat changes as we move from one season to the next. In summer it’s all about fruit, salads, seafood, barbecues and chilled rose wine, preferably enjoyed al fresco with the warm sun beating down. As the weather gets colder I start to crave richer and heavier foods like casseroles, lasagne (with or without the pasta), apple pie, and look forward to sipping hot chocolate or red wine in front of an open fire.

I’m sure my waistline would benefit from living in a warmer climate but my taste buds would definitely miss the autumnal fare. I am starting to draw up a list of recipes that I want to try this season but in the meantime this lemon and white chocolate cake is perfect for the Indian summer we’re having at the moment when it’s still warm enough to enjoy a cup of coffee and slice of cake out in the garden.

Ingredients:

  • 100 g butter
  • 100 g white chocolate
  • 2 egg
  • 200 ml sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 250 ml plain flour
  • Grated zest from one lemon and 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

 

  1. Whisk the egg, vanilla extract and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy
  2. Melt the butter and stir in the chocolate. Add to the bowl
  3. Stir in the flour, lemon zest and juice
  4. Pour the batter into a greased loose base cake tin
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes in the middle of the oven at 200 degrees
  6. Sift over some icing sugar and serve with raspberries and whipped cream

The BBC Good Food Festival

Last Saturday we went to the BBC Good Food Festival held in the picturesque grounds of the historic Hampton Court Palace. It really was a feast for all the senses: a beautiful setting, gorgeous smells and of course lots of yummy food to taste. And taste it we did, walking up and down the stalls sampling everything from cheese and chorizo to brownies, biscuits and fudge before deciding what to buy. We were lucky with the weather too, it was the last day of sunshine before the rain arrived.

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{The boys and I in front of the fudge stall that sold almost every flavour imaginable from traditional vanilla and clotted cream to Jammy Dodger, Skittles and Bailey’s fudge. Casper got a tad over excited!}

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{Cameron tasting some cheese. In the end we bought five different varieties to take home, including caramelised onion, mango and garlic cheeses.}

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{These deep fried sugary churros were delicious – even more so when dipped in the pot of melted chocolate that they were served with. I have found a recipe on Pinterest that I intend to try next time I feel in need of a calorific treat.}

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{The beautiful palace was the perfect backdrop. It’s almost impossible to get a photo of Cameron these days without him doing the ‘Victory’ sign. Must be a ten-year-old boy thing!}

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{When you got bored of eating there were lots of games to play in the gardens, including croquet, giant chess and connect four. The children challenged Daddy to the tug of war and, thanks to a superb team effort, they won!}

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{Clemmie loved the ‘princess’ stamp that the ticket lady stamped on our hands when we arrived at the food festival}

All in all, a lovely day out. This week so far has been work, work and more work. Looking forward to the weekend and my mini break next week. X

 

Five on Friday

A week and a half into the summer holidays and we have settled into a routine of sorts. I do a couple of hours work in the morning, while the children play and watch TV. Then we have lunch and head out to the swimming pool at our local gym or just play in the garden – the paddling pool is still a huge success. The boys went to sports camp for two days at the start of the week and I had a meeting up in London for work but apart from that we haven’t strayed too far from home. Next week they are all going to camp on Tuesday and Wednesday before we go to Sweden for two weeks.

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{This has been the weather for most of the week – although rain is forecast for tomorrow.}

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{The paddling pool is very popular and the kids can now set it up and deflate it by themselves}

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{Cameron prefers to kick a football around the garden}

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{Today I gave the kids the option of going to the Aquarium up in London or to the cinema. They chose the latter and we went to see How to Train Your Dragon 2}

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{Followed by a late lunch at Pizza Express.}

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend! We’re going to put the roof box on the car and start packing for our holiday. X

A Nice Day for a White Wedding

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They say that a change is as good as a rest and I certainly feel refreshed after our weekend mini break in Cambridge. We were only away for one night but the change of scenery and some quality family time did us the world of good. On Saturday we attended my husband’s cousin’s wedding, held at one the many colleges of Cambridge University. Glorious weather, a stunning setting, beautiful ceremony, good food and wine all did their part to ensure that it was a great day. And I was a very proud mummy indeed after many of the guests complimented my children’s good behaviour (it’s nice to know that they can do it even if I don’t always see that side at home!). It was their first wedding and they all did very well to sit still at the ceremony in the chapel and during the speeches. My eldest was happily chatting away to the guests at the dinner, impressing them with his knowledge of Henry VIII and all his wives.

The only downside was the sleeping arrangements. We had a family room in the hotel where we stayed, with one double bed and two singles. After the requisite arguments about who should be sleeping where, we ended up playing musical beds for much of the night and I don’t think anyone woke up in the same bed they went to sleep in. On Sunday we strolled around Cambridge, taking in the sites, along with the sea of other tourists, and stopping for ice cream at one of the many cafes. We decided against punting on the river as my husband was feeling rather delicate from the previous night’s excesses!

Now we’re back home with just over a week to go until our main holiday. Hope you’ve had a good start to the week. X

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{The boys looking handsome in their new suits.}

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{Clemmie looking cute in the stunning grounds of Trinity College.}

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{A cheeky selfie in the chapel}

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{I love the little touches that the couple did to personalise their wedding such as using second hand books as place settings.}

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{Kings College in the centre of Cambridge}

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{Bicycles and beautiful old buildings were everywhere.}

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{We will leave the punting for next time!}

Five on Friday

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{It’s mine! I finally got my hands on the Marc Jacobs Daisy Dream perfume – it smells so lovely and the bottle looks fab too.}

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{Another great purchase was the ‘family size’ paddling pool we bought this week. Hours of fun in the garden and keeps the kids cool in this hot weather.}

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{Long sunny days and evenings really are a balm to the soul. Last night I ate my dinner outside with a book for company while the rest of the family were glued to the Commonwealth Games on the TV.}

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{When my parents moved house they gave us their lovingly cultivated tomato plants. This week the tomatoes were finally ripe enough to eat and I have to say that they taste so much nicer than the ones from the supermarket.}

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{All packed and ready to go! We’re off to a wedding in Cambridge tomorrow so tonight has been spent getting all our finery ready. Dress from Asos (bought for Clemmie’s Christening three years ago), shoes and fascinator from John Lewis and clutch by Mulberry.}

Hope you have a fantastic weekend! X

 

Three hundred posts!

This is my 300th post on A Spoonful of Style and I had wanted it to be something special but lack of time and inspiration means that a quick update will have to suffice. It is a struggle to keep up with the blog at the moment but I hope you will agree that something is better than nothing! This week (and last) has been a whirlwind of leavers assemblies, teacher presentations and class parties, and to top it all off Clemmie has not been very well. She developed a temperature and scaly rash at the end of last week – the doctor put it down to a virus so I guess we just have to wait it out. Tomorrow is finally the last day of school and I’m looking forward to no school run, homework or after school activities for five and a half weeks, although I’m sure that by end of August I will be counting down the days until they go back.

A quick update on life lately:

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{The spa day was just as fun and relaxing as I had hoped it would be. There was a no phone policy inside the building but I managed to snap a quick pic of the traditional phone box in the garden that one could use to order drinks.}

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{Which of course we did! After swimming, steam room and facials/massages we were in need of some prosecco.}

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{On Sunday we celebrated my in-laws’ wedding anniversary in their beautiful garden. The glorious weather is still here and looks set to last for at least another week. I don’t want to complain but the afternoons are a bit stifling so a paddling pool is next on my shopping list!}

 

 

 

A Weekend of Two Halves

Saturday: Hampton Court Flower Show in soaring temperatures.

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{I didn’t buy any plants but I did manage to find a hat!}

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{A seafood platter and a glass of chilled rose hit just the right spot}

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{So many lovely flower displays to admire. From rustic country gardens…}

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{..to the more exotic orchids.}

Sunday: The final installment of Clemmie’s birthday celebrations, a garden party with grandparents and a few friends. Again we were very lucky with the weather.

Present opening

{More presents to open.}

Boys party

{My lovely boys spent most of the time playing football and badminton with their friends.}

No Added Sugar dress

{Clemmie in her new dress from No Added Sugar.}

Party 3

{A very tired girl at the end of the day!}

Life Lately

Sorry about the lack of updates but the weather here in the UK has been too good lately for me to want to spend any more time than necessary in front of a computer. There was some drizzle and rain over the weekend but next week looks set to be nice again, albeit slightly cooler than last week which is not necessarily a bad thing. Soaring temperatures and long school days often result in frazzled tempers by mid-afternoon.

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{Breakfast in the sunshine. Why does food taste so much better when eaten outside?}

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{New sandals for Clemmie – pink of course!}

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{I’m trying to encourage the children to help out more with the housework so hopefully before long Cameron hoovering the kitchen won’t be such a rare sight.}

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{Two little monkeys ♥ }

Peppa Pig

{On Friday I took the day off work and Clemmie and I went to Peppa Pig World with my friend and her daughter. It was the perfect day out for two Peppa obsessed three year olds and the girls loved every minute. And promptly fell asleep the minute we got in the car to go back home!}

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{Today was Father’s Day and the daddy in our family was treated to a cooked breakfast and lots of cards and presents – including a rather fetching Daddy Pig mug chosen by Clemmie.}

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{Breakfast was followed by a trip to the golf store so he could choose his main gift – a new golf bag.}

Hope you have all had a lovely weekend! Are you watching the World Cup? I saw the amazing Spain-Holland match on Friday and watched half of England’s first match last night. X

Five on Friday

Rush, rush, rush – that is how I would sum up this week. In between working, trying to sort out childcare, cooking, cleaning and making at least a half-hearted attempt at spending some quality time together, it’s been a struggle keeping up with the blog. Most of my time seems to have been spent refereeing various arguments that have erupted between the children. Half term + rain is definitely not a good combination, resulting in bored kids mooching around the house moaning that there is nothing to do whenever you switch the Xbox/iPads off. Throw in a few late nights – the boys are addicted to Britain’s Got Talent at the moment and have been staying up later than usual to watch the semi finals every night this week – and it’s hardly surprising that tempers have been fraying left right and centre the past few days. But we have had some good times too, catching up with friends, watching movies and playing board games at home. Yesterday and today I had to work so the boys went to football camp while my parents looked after Clemmie. It certainly did the trick as far as bedtime was concerned – Casper was so tired he asked to go to bed at 6.30pm yesterday!

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{We went on our annual family trip to Ikea last weekend. It was relatively painless as we got there half an hour after the store opened so managed to beat most of the crowds. As you may recall it is not everyone’s favourite destination…}

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{It seems ages ago now but last Monday was a Bank Holiday here in the UK. It was grey and drizzly so we went to nearby Hampton Court Palace where the kids took part in a digital fact finding mission around the palace. The boys were really happy as they got to use an iPad but hopefully they learned a few things!}

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{The burger chain Five Guys opened a restaurant near us a few months ago and the boys have been desperate to go so this week we finally relented. It was more expensive than McDonalds but the food was miles better. Clean plates all around}

Granola

{I made another batch of my vanilla granola this week. Really enjoying it with fresh berries and Greek yoghurt at the moment.}

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{I also bought a couple of books, both on recommendations from other bloggers. I was going to save them for the summer holidays but I don’t know if I can wait that long.}

Happy Friday to you all! What are you up to this weekend? We have friends coming for dinner tomorrow night so I have an apple pie baking in the oven, which we will have for pudding. Apart from that, we are just hoping for some sunny weather so we can get outside in the garden.  X

Too Cool for School

Clemmie in pink hat

{Ready for school?}

One of the interesting things about living in a different country to the one where you were born and spent your early years, is that it gives you a great platform for comparison. For instance, in my view, people in England are more tolerant and prepared to poke fun at themselves than their Swedish counterparts. On the other hand Sweden has cleaner air and more green spaces and things like public transport tend to run more efficiently. I could go on and on, but the purpose of this post is to talk about one difference between the two nations and that is how the education system works. In Sweden the school intake is determined by the calendar year a child was born in, from January onwards. As I was born in October I was one of the youngest in my year, not one of the oldest as I would have been here in the UK where the reception class intake includes all children who turn four before September 1 of that school year. However, the big difference is that I started school just before my seventh birthday, not just after my fourth birthday as my daughter is expected to do this coming September. I should point out that the system in Sweden has changed slightly since I lived there and children now start in Year 0 (equivalent to Reception) the year that they turn six (although it is not statutory schooling at this stage and parents do not have to apply for permission if they want to take their kids out of school for holidays etc)

In the last year I have had major reservations about my daughter starting school so young. With my boys it was never really an issue as they were born in late October and early November respectively and were almost five when they started in Reception. It seems almost absurd that my daughter and her cousin, who lives in Sweden and is only six months younger, will be three school years apart. As my sister’s daughter is born in January she will be six and a half when she starts school in 2017, the same year that Clemmie moves up to year 3 at the Junior School, having already completed three years at infant school!

Despite being a third child, Clemmie seems younger than her brothers did at the same age. Careful and shy until she gets to know people, she finds new situations like birthday parties incredibly daunting, preferring to sit close to me rather than joining in. On a more personal level, I really feel like I am making great headway in bringing her up to be bilingual and I know that as soon as she starts school, English will start to take over as she will be expected to ‘read’ books and do homework pretty much from the start.

I have looked into other options, such as enrolling her at the American school that I went to as their formal education starts later, but with two other school age children, logistically speaking it is just not possible. In Ireland, parents of children born between May-August can decide if they want their child to start school just after their fourth or fifth birthday. It seems that England is slowly moving in the same direction and after reading this article on the BBC News site I thought it was worth asking about the possibility of deferring Clemmie’s school place for another year. This afternoon I met with the head teacher at the local school and spoke to her about my concerns. She has promised to check the rules for deferment requests with the council and get back to me next week. I know it is only a very slim possibility but if there is any way that I can keep her in preschool and at home with me for a year longer I will definitely take it.

Part of me does wonder if I only feel like this because I know that, for us, living in another country with a different approach to early years education is not a far-flung fantasy but an option that we could easily have chosen. The majority of the people around me seem pretty happy to accept the status quo but whether that is because they are actually happy about it or because they have never been presented with any other viable alternatives is another question.