vendredi 8 juillet 2011

Summer things


I wore a summer dress and no tights for my flight to Birmingham, knowing that the sky would probably be heavy with rain clouds when I arrived but it always feels good to find cooler days, even if it means slipping on a cardigan in the evenings. Yet in a strange twist, there was a week of pure English sunshine while a rainy autumn descended upon Berlin. I rediscovered the pleasures of early mornings with the patterns of the sunlight dancing on the kitchen floor and the cats getting up to all kinds of nonsense. The garden smells so fresh walking barefoot over the lawn covered in clover. There were a few lazy afternoons watching Wimbledon, cheering on Federer and Nadal, even if it didn't do much good and walks along winding country lanes where you might find fresh berries if you're lucky.

In a week's time, I'll turn my back on them once more to fly back over the roofs of the German capital, picking out the sights in miniature, wishing someone was there to meet me at the airport to make the transition just a little easier.

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Do you hear what I hear Oscar?

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Lunch at the bottle kiln






In the Japanese garden












A walk around the reservoir






Returning to Hardwick Hall on a perfect summer's day



A wedding was held in the old Hall



The father of the bride can't watch










A Derbyshire cream tea in the cafe later on


Julie from Booktravellers asked me for more strawberry recipes last time. This was the first cake I made here, simple and very British, all the lightness of a classic victoria sponge with a delicate nuttiness.

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Strawberry and almond sponge

For the sponge

125g soft butter
100g caster sugar
3 large eggs
100g ground almonds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g plain flour
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
2-3 tablespoons milk

To decorate

250ml double or heavy cream
some strawberries, halved
1 teaspoon sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time until completely incorporated. Stir in the vanilla extract followed by the ground almonds.
2. In another bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder and gently add to the wet ingredients, alternating with the milk until you have a smooth mixture that's neither too dry nor too runny.
3. Divide the mixture in between two 9 inch greased and lined sandwich tins and bake in the oven for around 30-40 minutes. Remove and leave the cakes a little in their tins before turning them out onto a cooling rack.
4. When the cakes are completely cool, whip the cream until it starts to become frothy then add the teaspoon of sugar and continue whipping until the cream starts to become very thick but before it turns stiff.
5. Sandwich the cakes together with the cream and some halved strawberries. Repeat for the top layer. The cake is best eaten on the day it's made but you can store it in the fridge if you cover it to stop the it drying out and cream setting too much.

16 commentaires:

  1. Thanks for sharing those pictures with us! I hope that you are having a great summer.

    Cute kitties and lovely pictures that make me nostalgic!



  2. I am smiling...When I think "Birmingham" I think Birmingham, Alabama (laugh) not Birmingham, England. I was thinking.."cooler days" no way. You can cut heat like a knife in the southern U.S....

    Amazing photo journey as always. Thanks for sharing.


  3. Emily Vanessa, your photographs are gorgeous! I can feel the English sun shining through them.
    By the way, I think I have a favorite cat, Jasper. :) I love his whiskers.

    I was too watching Wimbledon. None of our favorites won... better luck next year.
    Have a great last week in England!!

  4. @Rosa - Oh thanks! Summer here has been so lovely and I'm going to miss Derbyshire.
    @Velva - Ha, yes I should have thought about that. Hope summer isn't too much of a scorcher for you and that you enjoy it.
    @Magda - So pleased you like the photos. We've had quite a bit of sunshine, especially for Wimbledon so it was lovely to go out for walks with my camera. Jasper is everyone's favourite and it's not hard to see why. He can be a bit mean at times but you can never be angry because of his charm. I was sad when Nadal lost in the final and was thinking of you because you're such a big fan of his but hopefully he'll win a few more. Take care.

  5. That's so funny. I was thinking of you when Federer lost!

  6. Oh, your walks, "walking barefoot over the lawn covered in clover" and "walks along winding country lanes where you might find fresh berries if you're lucky" -- lovely. And your strawberry and almond sponge... So much beauty.

  7. Everyone always thinks of strawberries and England in the same breath, don't they? And Wimbledon. What a lovely very British. :)
    Marvelous photos as usual but the the way you caught the father of the bride made me smile.

    Enjoy your last few days....

  8. Beautiful almond sponge cake, the berries look perfect. It's been rainy here, so your pictures of pretty summer flowers are a welcome respite from the chilly air.

  9. I couldn't make Hardwick hall this trip since I was only up in Derbyshire for 2 days and they didn't open till Wed. Too bad. I love Bess of Harwick. Her why not about those windows changed everything. What a glorious place to get hitched. You did a great photo essay and that dessert? quintessentially English!

  10. Love the orange-red poppy. Your photos are lovely as always.

  11. oh cake and cats, you sure know how to pull at my heart strings :)

    how are you? long time no speak!

  12. @Magda - Lol, that made me smile all day, you're so sweet!
    @Denise - I miss walking barefoot because in Berlin there are just too many dogs in the park to make that possible and with the clover, it felt so soft. Must find a place to pick my own fruit near Berlin, it's addictive.
    @Barbara - Oh yes, strawberries are quintessentially English, perhaps with a glass of Pimms. The expression of the father of the bride really tickled me so I'm glad you like it too.
    @Nicolette - The weather in England was much better in Berlin where they had 13°C and heavy rain. One of the best summers in ages and everything looked so fresh and green.
    @Deana - Hey, I didn't know you were in Derbyshire and must have missed that on your blog, how exciting. Pity you didn't see Hardwick, I especially love the gardens but hopefully there'll be a next time.
    @AM - Thank you so much. Hope you're having a great summer.
    @Hila - I've really missed reading your blog but am pretty behind with all my favourites so forgive me. I'm going to check yours out now though and can't wait to see what you've been doing. Take care.

  13. All of these photos are absolutely beautiful (your adorable cats, the flower close-ups, that yummy cake at the end, all of it!).

  14. English countryside is so charming, the gardens, the flowers, the doors to hidden gardens. I wish it remains that way forever.

  15. Excellent shot of the red flower, it's amazing how the focus is on the flower and the back ground is very out of focus. Nice work.

  16. Everyone always thinks of strawberries and England in the same breath, don't they? And Wimbledon. What a lovely very British. :)
    Marvelous photos as usual but the the way you caught the father of the bride made me smile.

    Enjoy your last few days....