Elf on the bus

We love an afternoon tea at house Elf, and this one is a little special…its on a bus.  That’s right afternoon tea on a Routemaster bus.

IMAG3143.jpgThe bus takes you around the big sites of London starting at Victoria Coach Station.  Heading past Big Ben, Harrods, The Royal Albert Hall, around the park and back through Piccadilly to Victoria station.

Elf tip: Make sure you book in advance, you can select the seats and table that you would prefer.  We recommend paying the slightly higher price to sit on the upper deck, it is worth it.

We opt for the 5pm slot and climb on at Victoria Coach Station.  We’re on the upper deck and settle in with the amazing spread in front of us.  The team introduce themselves and take drink orders.  Cold and hot options are available and are served in lid-ed cups which fit into sunken cup holders on the table to prevent spillages.

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And we are off.

It is, slow.  Delicious but slow.

We munch our way though sandwiches of all different kinds.  Yum!

We make it to the Royal Albert Hall and the traffic gets the best of us so the bus makes a u-turn.  Meanwhile we are on to the cake section.  There are mini lemon tarts, mini chocolate muffins and little raspberry topped tarts.  Everything is superb.

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The whole thing is a great experience but:

Elf tip number 2:  Don’t book during peak time, go for the 12:30 slot instead.

The whole afternoon tea is wonderful in any case.  Cake, beautiful London, tea and the sights!

If you fancy booking in click here and always this is not a sponsored article.

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Beesting Elf

Beesting cake or Bienenstich is a yeast based desert that is similar to brioche in its consistency. Some people say the name comes from the bees that are attracted to its honey topping, others say that to be a true beesting it needs to have been stung by a bee!

Anyway, aside from that it is Mr Elf’s favourite and after lots of years without this cake I have decided to take on the challenge and create one for his birthday. I have been researching recipes and there are many variations out there. I have gone for a combination recipe taken from a couple of different sites (BBC good food and Good To Know websites) and combined them to make a recipe that is not to custardy (yuck!) and fingers crossed it will work out.

The recipe is a yeast based cake although if this seems daunting there are non-proofing recipes out there that I am sure would work just as well.

Ingredients for the dough:IMAG2076

250g plain white flour
125g butter (cold ish)
2tsp caster sugar
Pinch of salt
7g easy-bake dried yeast
3 medium eggs

Lightly butter a Medium baking tin. Mix the flour and butter together to make breadcrumbs, by rubbing the butter though the flour with your fingers and thumbs. Next add the sugar, salt, yeast and eggs and knead it in to the mixture until combined (take a little time to do this). Turn out on to a lightly floured surface form the dough into a ball, use a little extra flour if you need. Put the dough into a bowl and cover with cling film. Leave to rise for 1 hour in a warm place until it has doubled in size. Once it has risen knock the dough down, shape it into a ball and put it back into the baking tin you are going to use in the oven. Cover and leave to rise for about 1 hour, until doubled in size

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Ingredients for the topping:IMAG2079

50g unsalted butter
50g sugar
4tbsp honey
Pinch of salt
80g sliced almonds
Vanilla extract

Bring the butter, sugar, honey, and salt, together in a non-stick pan on the hob and bring to a gentle boil. (Keep an eye on this or it will boil up over everything and this is very hard to get off!) Let the mixture reduce slightly then remove from the heat, and stir in the almonds, making sure that all the almonds are evenly coated in the honey mixture. (You can add extra almonds if you feel like it). Spoon over the dough making sure you get an even coverage. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180°C for 25 minutes until golden brown.

Ingredients for the filling:IMAG2080

250g Double cream
Vanilla extract
1.5tbs honey

Make sure you allow the cake to cool right down to room temperature before you try to add the filling. Whip up the cream until thick and slowly add the honey and vanilla. Cut the cake in half (extra hands might be needed) and spread a generous layer of cream inside. Sandwich back together serve.

You could use Crème fraiche instead of cream, or you could go the custard based filling and make a thick custard instead. Don’t be afraid of this delish cake. It is remarkably easy and just needs a little bit of extra time and planning to allow for the proofing. (I didn’t remember to do this, and was baking in to the night)

Elf tip: Make sure your eggs are room temperature. Cold eggs make for sad yeast.

 

Baking Elf

In a whole new adventure my sister and I are baking a very special cake for my very special mum and making it edible for the other elf by making it gluten free.

We start with a simple sponge recipe which I have put below for anyone who wants to try it out.  We simply replaced the self raising flour with gluten free self-raising flour, we just used a supermarket home brand for this recipe.IMAG1596

We baked the four sponges in two batches and let them cool down completely before using a cookie cutter to cut a hole in the middle of three of the cakes.  We chose the cake with the smoothest top for the very top layer. IMAG1607

Next we layered up the three cakes with holes in them on top of IMAG1608each other, using low sugar jam and whipped cream to stick them together.  Then we put our surprise filling into the hole, we chose to use strawberries and raspberries, but you could just any fruit that is not too wet.  With one final coating of jam and cream we put the last cake (the one without the hole) on top.

Finally we iced the cake with mascarpone icing which we dyed pink to keep with the red berry theme.  And topped with wafer daises as a final touch!IMAG1614

This was a really pretty cake and a beautiful surprise with the berries hidden inside.  Most importantly it was delicious!  I will definitely be baking this again (maybe with less layers next time…it was very big!) and the gluten free flour worked well.  No one could tell the difference.  It rose nicely and had a lovely spring.

Yum!

 

Recipe

IngredientsIMAG1609

125g butter
125g caster sugar
2 eggs (medium)
125g self raising flour

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c
  2. Line/grease two cake tins (approx 18cm in diameter)
  3. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  4. Slowly beat in the eggs
  5. Divide the mixture between the two tins
  6. Bake for about 20-25 minutes