I was lucky enough to visit River Cottage HQ this week (thanks to the Foodies 100), and it was a wonderful day. A chance to step back, relax, meet other bloggers, enjoy the stunning surroundings, bake and try some delicious food. The day did not disappoint and having watched River Cottage on the TV for several years now, it was really interesting to see where it is filmed and the discover the story behind it.
Set among the rolling Devon countryside, the setting for River Cottage HQ is so picturesque and we were so lucky to have a day of sunshine which really added such colour to already gorgeous surroundings. Taking the tour of the gardens and farm with all its autumnal colours and produce was interesting and of course it is all grown organically and with such love and care. The fruit and vegetables that are grown at the cottage is only used there on site and is not shipped off to anywhere else.
Our day was split into 3 different sessions, and my favourite by far was the cookery workshop led by Gill who taught us how to make our own butter (take 500ml of double cream, whisk until it separates, squeeze out all of the liquid and place your butter in the fridge – just like that!). Then we made some soda bread using the buttermilk (aka the leftover liquid from our homemade butter) and blackberries we picked from the River Cottage hedgerows.
Our lunch was GORGEOUS – seriously soooooo ruddy good, and I would have happily eaten it all again! The sweetcorn – man alive the tastiest corn on the cob I have ever had the pleasure to put in my mouth! Mmmmmmmm!
Our dessert included a homemade ice cream flavoured with coffee beans, Madagascan vanilla and salted toffee shards. It was AMAZING and it got me thinking on my journey home at the end of the day, that I would try to recreate the flavours in a cake. Obviously, River Cottage are big users of organic ingredients, but *slaps wrist* I do not have any in my house so my cake uses non organic produce, BUT I did use my homemade butter in the cake *smiles sweetly*.
I did not have any coffee beans to freshly grind into my cake batter, so I just used a strong shot of instant coffee mixed with a small amount of boiling water
So if you fancy making my River Cottage HQ day out inspired Coffee, Vanilla and Salted Caramel Layer Cake, here is how I made it
- 200g butter + extra for greasing
- 200g caster sugar
- 4 eggs
- 200g self raising flour
- 1 tsp madagascan vanilla extract
- shot of coffee - 2 tsp of instant coffee mixed with 3 tbsp boiling water approx
- 1 1/2 tubs Betty Crocker vanilla flavoured buttercream
- 2 bars of Lily O'Brien salted caramel chocolate
- pinch of sea salt
- pre heat the oven to 180oC / 160oC (fan)
- grease and line 2 x 8cm cake tins
- cream the butter and sugar together for about 5 minutes until pale and soft
- add the eggs, the vanilla and 1 tbsp of flour and beat well
- then fold in the remaining flour
- pour in the coffee shot and mix well
- divide the cake batter between the 2 tins and then bake in the oven for approx 20 minutes
- once the sponges are cooked, leave to cool
- once the cakes are completely cold, slice each one in half to make 4 sponges
- mix the buttercream, the salt and the salted caramel chocolate - but leave 4 squares for decoration - in a stand alone mixer, or if you don't have one, bash the chocolate and then mix into the buttercream
- sandwich the sponges together with the buttercream, leaving enough to cover the top of the cake
- break open the remaining chocolate squares to decorate the top of the cake.
Taking some inspiration from Lucy’s food styling session, I photographed my cake outside among the walled flower beds!!!
The cake tasted lovely – not as good as that ice cream by any means, but nice enough to take along to a MacMillan Coffee Morning being held tomorrow to help raise funds for a great cause.
Thank you to River Cottage HQ for a fabulous visit and to Foodies/Tots 100 for organising a blog camp there.