Summer Food Fest {at the Oracle Reading, Berkshire}

The Oracle in Reading is my shopping centre! I go there not only for the shopping, but for the food! The Riverside has an amazing variety of restaurants all in one spot! From sushi, to burgers, to tacos and pizza there is something for everyone!

This weekend (August 12-13th) sample food from some of the restaurants and if you have the Plus App check it out for some amazing deals this weekend from Jamie's Italian and Boost!

The Oracle invited a group of us bloggers out for another supper safari! We got to try Ed's Diner's shakes and floats (amazing by the way) and our main course was from the well known Miller and Carters followed by dessert at Las Inguas !!

As an American I love a good retro American Diner and Ed's doesn't disappoint with their amazing shakes and floats! I of course had a classic rootbeer float and it was just what I had wanted after a walk through town!

I had heard amazing things about Miller and Carters, but never had the pleasure of visiting before. I can honestly say the steaks were so good that I can't wait to take my friends there!! We were given a variety of all the sides and salads to accompany the steaks. The steaks we were given to share were the 8oz sirloin and the famous Tomahawk steak! Both were cooked to perfection and served with a sort of onion hash brown that I couldn't get enough of! That's saying something because I generally don't like onions! The waiter served us an great red wine (Newton Johnson: 2013 Full Stop Rock) to accompany the dinner and it was a perfect pairing!

We ended the night at Las Iguanas with a cocktail and their dessert menu! We couldn't decide so they gave us one of everything! My favorite was the churros and the chocolate cake!! The cocktail was a bit like a mojito, but is called a Caipirinha that is made with Las Iguanas Magnifica cachaca, fresh lime, and sugar. I found it refreshing after such a rich meal of steak!

Overall a great night out and I met some amazing new bloggers that I've only met or seen in passing at other local events! Find them on twitter: 
Mode Madeleine @MaddieMagpie 

The Oracle Shopping Centre, Reading, RG1 2AG

notes: I was invited out by the PR group that handle the Oracle and was not asked to write a positive to review, but to share and spread the news of their summer food fest this weekend! For more information see my contact policy page!

Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip, & Fudge Muffins

Whenever some one says to me that they would like to start baking, but don't know where to start or what to try first I always suggest muffins. Muffins are one of the easiest things to bake as you just mix all the dry ingredients together and then the wet ingredients. They also almost always use oil instead of butter and therefore usually turn out soft and fluffy!

Muffins are also a great thing to bake with children for the same reasons above! These delicious Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip, and Fudge muffins were created last Sunday morning by my two girls.

Sunday's are our lazy days and they wanted muffins for breakfast. They couldn't agree on chocolate chips or fudge pieces so we put both in! We were all ready to go and we had all our stuff out ready to go when I realised we didn't have eggs!! I know!! To avoid disappointed we ran to our corner shop in our jammies!

Both girls were like "What?!?! We're going to walk there in our jammies?!?!" They were shocked and horrified, but at 7 o'clock in the morning (they are early risers) it was only the guy working there who saw us!

So, for lazy Sunday mornings or something to do over the summer holidays bake these tasty peanut butter muffins and add whatever you want to them!!

Peanut butter, chocolate chip, & fudge muffins

150g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
100g caster sugar
pinch of salt
90g peanut butter
100ml sunflower oil
1 large egg
175ml milk
chocolate chips
fudge pieces

Heat the oven to 200C line the cupcake/muffin tin with paper cases.
Sieve the flour and baking powder into a big bowl, add the the sugar and salt - mix together.
In a smaller bowl or jug mix the peanut butter, oil, egg, and milk together. The peanut butter won't fully incorporate, but that's okay!
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and fold in until just combined. Gently fold in the chocolate chips and fudge pieces. I guesstimated them about 50g of chocolate chips and about 25g fudge pieces.
Spoon into the paper cases and bake for about 10-12 minutes. Until the sponge springs back after being lightly touched, if in doubt use the skewer test.

notes: recipe adapted by my 8 & 6 from 100 Magnificent Muffins and Scones by Felicity Barnum-Bobb 

Cafe London: Brunch, Lunch, Coffee, and Afternoon Tea (book review)

Ask and you shall receive. In my book review of Eat Like a Londoner last October I said it would have been better if there were more bakeries and similar places mentioned. Well, this book covers those bakeries and similar places; those places where you can get a good cup of coffee or enjoy a great afternoon tea and even some really off the wall places that you could only find in London!

In 2015 London had a population of 8.674 million people and there are hundreds if not thousands of cafe's in and around London to cater to the caffeine boost everyone needs on a daily basis. Cafe London gives us 100 of the best places to find not only coffee but, a great place to get brunch or lunch! It also tells us the best places to book in for an infamous afternoon tea or where you should go to satisfy a sweet tooth with some of the best bakeries in the city!

Not only are we told about the food, but we are also told of the ambience and decor of the places and if the gorgeous pictures are anything to go by these places are absolutely stunning each in their own way.

The addresses of each cafe is provided along with websites and any other information that might be important. At the end of each chapter we are given "seven more" places to check out! The index is broken down into London districts and it includes maps with the cafe's pinpointed! Our editor thought of everything!

If one lives in London or they are planning a day trip I would consult this book for the best places to grab a quick bite or treat!

Chapter Breakdown: 

Brunch - It's a very American thing to have brunch, a sort of meal that is eaten early morning. A meal that isn't quite breakfast but, isn't lunch either. The Counter Cafe, a converted warehouse, is said not only to serve a great brunch, but roasts it's on coffee on site! You can take a bag home with you after enjoying a great cuppa! Sounds like my kind of place!

Lunch - Sometimes lunch can be over looked, by that I mean it's the meal that gets rushed because of time. Instead of grabbing an awful pre-packaged sandwich or salad any of the places listed in this chapter would be a great alternative! The cafe I'd like to visit is the J+A Cafe mainly because the location, tucked away down an alley way run by two sisters who insist on sourcing great ingredients!

Coffee - What can I say I'd visit every place listed here as I love a good cup of coffee! I also like trying new and different types of coffee! Coffee isn't for everyone, but don't rule these places out as the majority of them sell more then coffee! They provide food too!

Cakes & Bakes - I have heard and visited several of these places listed and there are so many more I have never heard of and need to remedy the fact that I haven't visited!! I can recommend Konditor & Cook for their Curly Wurly cake that I tried a few months back for the fist time. I have wanted to visit Violet Cakes and Lily Vanilli for ages now, thinking I am due a trip to London to do just that!

Afternoon Tea - When you think of London and of England you think of afternoon tea and this chapter gives you the best places to visit for a great afternoon tea! Of course the majority of the places need to be pre-booked so make sure you plan a visit to these places! I think I need to book myself into Sketch mainly because it's described as making "you feel like you're dining in a giant fondant fancy."

Culture, Shop, Tea Break - the best cafes found in museums, galleries, and shops! As much as I love a good baked good I also love a good book so my first stop would be the London Review Cake Shop it's connected to the London Review Book Shop.

Unusual & Alfresco - This chapter is split into two, first listing all the unusual places to go like the Cereal Killer Cafe that serves all varieties of cereal and Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium where cats wonder around freely. You're not allowed to cuddle the cats, but you can pet one if and only if it comes up to you. Then there is a short list of places that have outside seating! The Lido Cafe even has a pool and is described as South Beach in south London!

Overall this is a great little book for those who love food, coffee, cake, and most of all London! 

notes: Cafe London by Nicky Evans, Pippa Bailey, Andy Hill, and Nicola Tup Edited by Zena Alkayat and Photographs by Km Lightbody (SRP-UK £9.99 US $14.99 Canada $17.99) was given to me to review by the publishers Frances Lincoln - Quatro, no other compensation was given - all opinions are my own, for more information please see my contact/policy page above.

Orangey Orange Cupcakes with Raspberries

I baked in my new cooker! They (the mystical beings from wherever) say that all cookers temperatures can vary by 5 or 10 degrees one way or the other. The only way to find out how my new oven's tempted swayed was by baking in it!!

It sways on the side of being a bit hotter then the temperature says, but now that I know that I can either adjust the temperature or the cooking/baking time!

One never stops learning things. Like that your boiler needs to be switched on to work. That was a fun visit from the boiler man. He solved my problem with a sharpie marker. He wrote boiler on the plug base thing for me. Just to inform everyone that it's the boiler and it should be switched on.

(For my American friends and family and readers all the electric sockets have switches on them and can be switched off and on. Very useful if you ask me.)

Needless to say this last month has been a learning curve. Now that things are slowly settling it was good to get back to baking! I have a plan to share at least one bake a week. We will all see how that goes....

Anyhow to the cupcakes! These are very orangey with orange zest in the sponge and frosting and raspberries dotting around in the sponge and as decoration! So, I called them orangey orange cupcakes with raspberries!

My flat sits on top of a business and so when I took some of these beauties down to share with them and they all had nothing but praise for how good they were! I was even called to say that they were amazing! That made my day and a good testament that you should try them out!

Orangey Orange Cupcakes with Raspberries

225g unsalted butter, softened
225g caster sugar
a pinch of salt
2 oranges, zest of
4 medium eggs
225g self-rising flour
250g (about) raspberries

Heat the oven to 175C and line two 12 cup muffin tins with cupcake cases.
Beat the softened butter, sugar, salt and orange zest together until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl/jug gently beat the eggs together. Gradually add the beaten eggs to the butter mixture, scraping down the sides when necessary. If it starts to separate or curdle add 1 or 2 tablespoons of the flour (from the 225g) to bring the mixture back together and then continue to add the egg until it's completely combined. Sift in the flour and gently fold in until just combined. Place 1-2 dessert spoons into each case and place 1-2 raspberries on top of the batter! (Be sure to save some for decoration!) Bake for 20-22 minutes depending on your oven. After 10 minutes I rotated my pan to ensure a more even bake. They should be golden brown and springy to the touch, if not sure use the skewer test to ensure they are completely baked.

While they are baking make the cream cheese frosting

Orange & Cointreau Cream Cheese Frosting 

250g full fat cream cheese
250g unsalted butter
625g icing sugar
2 oranges, zest of
2-3 teaspoons of Cointreau, (orange liqueur) optional

Bring the cream cheese out of the fridge when you are ready to start making the frosting, I would suggest doing so while the sponge is baking.

Beat the butter and 200g of the icing sugar together until combined, then add another 200g and beat until smooth, repeat one last time with 225g sugar until it is smooth and fluffy. Add the slightly softened cream cheese, orange zest, and Cointreau if using to the mixture and beat until combined, scraping down the bowl as needed. Put in a piping bag if using and place it in the fridge for about 30 minutes or until it's firm enough to pipe. If not piping I still suggest leaving it in the fridge for a while to firm up.

By this time the cakes should be out of the oven and cooling. Pipe on top of the cooled cakes and add a raspberry (from the cake ingredients) to complete the look!!

more fruity cupcakes:
Salted Caramel Apple Cupcakes from Farmersgirl Kitchen
Diamond Jubilee Cupcakes from Fab Food 4 All
Dark Chocolate & Passion Fruit Cupcakes from Supper in the Suburbs
Orange & Beetroot Cupcakes from Tin and Thyme

notes: recipe was adapted from Peggy Porschen cupcakes - my review is here! FYI I do know that boilers need to be switched on, but I wasn't sure which switch was which and I didn't want to just start flipping switches everywhere and accidentally break something else in the process of trying to turn the boiler on! Just thought I should clarify that!

ARTIGIANO - Summer Cocktail Menu {Reading, Berkshire}

The night before I moved into my new flat I tagged along with my friend and fellow blogger Alyssia to Artigiano in Reading town centre for a fun night of cocktails and pizza!

Artigiano has been providing great coffee in Reading for over a year now! There are four other locations in the UK - St Pauls, Reading, Exeter, and Working St, Cardiff - I can’t speak for the other locations, but I love the Reading location it’s comfy and trendy!

During the day they sell the best coffee and by night they serve some amazing cocktails and provide entertainment. Follow your local Artigiano Facebook page for events and such as the website doesn't provide that information!

They showed us how to make 5 different cocktails from their new summer menu before allowing us each to have a go at making our favourite! Mine favorite was the Arti’s Espresso Martini - Artigiano is known for it’s coffee so it’s no surprise but first they showed us how to make their most popular cocktail....

The Porn Star Martini served with a shot of Prosecco. The Prosecco is meant to be sipped while drinking the martini to help cleanse the palette so to speak.

Then we made a Margarita, Arti’s Espresso Martini, Cointreau Fizz Tea, and last but not least the Bramble! The thing with cocktails is that they do actually contain a fair amount of alcohol and by the time you’ve had one or two you feel a bit tipsy! For the full menu why not stop in or visit the website for more details!

We finished up the night by trying out their artisan pizza. They were very good, the vegetarian one was my favorite!!

Overall it was a good night out - they provided us with a goodie bag full of everything we needed to make our own Gin and Tonic! I have more photos/videos over on my instagram - go have a look! 

If you are thinking "Gee! Not only does drinking cocktails sound fun, but making them sounds even more fun!" then visit the Exeter branch as they are offering a Create - Your - Own Cocktail Experience where one of the resident mixologists helps you create 3 different cocktails. At £20 a person, 4 people or more, it's a pretty good deal! See the website for more details and stay tuned perhaps the Reading branch will be following suit? 

As I mentioned I went along with my friend! 
Why not check out her post over on her blog Alyssia Rose!!

notes: I was invited along as a guest with another blogger, therefore I was not asked to provide a review nor was I given any form of compensation except for the food and drink on the night. All opinions are my own - for more information please see my contact/policy page above!

Perfecting Sourdough by Jane Mason {a book review}

Jane Mason has written 3 books on a topic she has a real passion for. Bread. Her latest title, Perfecting Sourdough, was published in May, but her love of sourdough started way before then. A long time ago her friend gave her a very old wheat sourdough starter and a copy of an old American sourdough book.

Each sourdough starter has a story, a history so to speak, and Ms. Mason’s had traveled far and wide. Even though she can’t share her sourdough starter with us, she can teach us how to make our own and in doing so we can begin our very own sourdough story.

How to make a starter isn’t the only thing this book gives us. It gives us the basic knowledge on bread, sourdough, and the ingredients and equipment we need to get started. Then it gives us recipes for Batter Breads, Everyday Rye, Everyday Wheat, Flavoured Wheat, and Sweet Breads and Buns. The book ends with top tips on sourdough and a bit on bread and our health.

Bread has been given a bit of a bad rep in recent times with so many people having gluten intolerances. If you have a sensitivity to bread and you aren’t a coeliac it might be worth having a look at the additives in your bread and in turn having a go at making your own bread. Who doesn't love the smell of freshly baked bread wafting through their home?

I have found myself a jar to get my starter started and can’t wait to share with you how I get on. I especially can’t wait to have a go at making my very own San Francisco Sourdough to make bread bowls with. Along with the Onion and Olive Bread, Rosemary Bread, Cheese and Onion Bread, and Cinnamon Rolls!!

Jane Mason takes the mystery out of sourdough and gives us to it straight that it’s actually a lot easier to make! Especially once you’ve got your starter sorted. Making bread is a very simple idea, but sometimes if it wasn’t proved long enough or under or over kneaded the bread doesn’t turn out just right. These things take experience and practice so don’t give up! Try again. Keep moving forward.

In the words of Jane Mason “Everything is good toasted, even if it’s ugly.”

notes: I was given a copy of Perfecting Sourdough by Jane Mason to review by the publisher, Apple Press. Retails at £14.99 and available now from your local book retailers or online! All opinions are my own, I was not given any other compensation nor was I asked to give a positive review, please see my contact/policy page for more information.

Let Today Be the Start of Something New

Hello! How are you?

I didn’t know how else to start this post. It’s been a while since I blogged and I have several things to share with you all my lovely readers. That is if any of you still exist?

United Cakedom’s blogversary was last week. It falls on a day that is in a series of days that have some importance.

June 9th - the day I moved to the UK (2005)
June 10th - the day I moved into my very own flat (2016)
June 11th - the day I started United Cakedom (2011)
June 12th - the day my friend Lauren was born (we will leave the year out)

This time of month just seems to be a turning point where things happen to me and things get muddled and I miss important things like my blogversary. I mean how could I forget my blog! It’s the one place where I can express myself and feel like life isn’t just about the daily grind.

When I went to Food Bloggers Connect last September at one of the courses/lessons given by the amazing Urshavi Roe she asked us why do we blog? There are many reasons why I love blogging, but the first answer I wrote down was because it was a place for me to have a voice.

Now I haven’t been baking as much as I used too or should I say I am experimenting less. I tend to stick to my favorite recipes and make them over and over again. Since I haven’t been baking I’ve been catching up on a lot of books I have been meaning to read. Reading a book is a lot easier to fit in and around all the normal day stuff then baking is.

I have noticed that the new trend in blogs isn’t to have a niche, but to be a little bit of everything. I think eventually blogs evolve like that because blogs are personal and no one is just one thing. We’ve all seen High School Musical - we don’t all fit into one mold.

I started blogging as a mommy blogger and then a book blogger before settling into being a baking blogger or more broad of a term a food blogger! I won’t be changing my blog name, but I will be adding more and more lifestyle things into my blog. With events and book reviews and days out with my girls.

I hope you stick around to see it.

Part of the reason I've been a bit absent is that I've moved into a new flat! It's all been a bit crazy! I also just hooked up the internet! Look at me being all independent!! In the next few weeks I have a recent event I went to to share with you as well as a few new books I want to show you! Along with my summer reading list, maybe a movie, a giveaway, and my new baking adventures with the little freestanding thing I now call my oven.

Until then!!

photos: Top - Arthur Newbury Park, Reading, England. Second - Plenty of counter space in my new flat for my pretty mixer. I've been told that KitchenAid now do a matching pink kettle and toaster. Maybe if I am really good this year Santa will be nice to me? Third - Bought at Dunelm Mills a few years back and it now sits on my kitchen counter! Fourth - My bookcase that houses all my cookbooks. I had asked fellow bloggers and foodies how they keep their cookbook collection from going mad! A few said they just let it go mad and collect and keep all cookbooks they come across. Another few said they have a set number that is set and will switch books out every so many months or so. Others just told me to keep the ones I love and can't live without! So about half of these are ones I can't live without and the other half are ones I am waiting to see if I can't live without them. Time will tell. Last photo - my new cooker! I was weary at first, it's the one white good that came with the flat, but it's actually proven to be okay. It heats up relatively fast and so far as cooked everything I put in it. Now hopefully in the up coming weeks I will see how it does with cakes, cookies, and brownies!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...