Five baking tips to get you started

Baking is basically chemistry, the recipe books you follow the result of a series of science experiments. You don’t however have to be a scientist to learn to bake. You just need to know some basic rules and tips. Chemistry was the very first subject I dropped at school, well was forced to drop by some wise teachers, thankfully it hasn’t affected the light texture of my Victoria Sandwich or the height of my Carrot Cake. There are many rules and tips I could share, here are a five to get you started, more to follow;

  • Be organised, get out all the equipment you need and weigh your ingredients, cake mixture does not like sitting around waiting whilst you look for the vanilla extract
  • Always get your ingredients to room temperature before you start baking, too cold and your experiment won’t be as good as it could
  • Line your baking tin before you start, once your ingredients are mixed it needs to go straight in to the tin, leave it sitting around and it will begin to form air bubbles which will affect the look and texture of your cake
  • On the subject of lining, whether the recipe tells you to or not line both the bottom and the sides of your tin for a more even colour
  • Don’t be tempted to open the oven door, really really don’t, there is nearly nothing worse for a rising cake than the temperature to suddenly drop

If you have baking tips or photographs of your ‘experiments’ you would like to share with our readers please post them here.


Flapjack…More Than Just Some Porridge Oats

My first experience of making flapjack was in Home Economics at school, using the recipe from the back of a pack of porridge oats. We came across this recipe a little while ago, and as far as flapjack is concerned, have never looked back. It has a lovely fruity flavour but still retains the stickiness of a plainer flapjack. Yum! It stores well and can easily be layered (just put a little greaseproof paper in-between layers) so is a great alternative in the biscuit tin, or for picnics. Two tips for making this work well: don’t overcook, when you check it at 25 mins it will still be bubbling and may not look ready, don’t worry, as it cools it will all come together; press the mixture in to the tin using a wide flat surface like a palette knife or a spatula, press it down again when you get it out of the oven.

You will need

  • 175g butter
  • 175g soft light brown sugar
  • 125g golden syrup
  • 350g rolled oats
  • 150g sultanas
  • 100g chopped dried apricots
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 orange, rind zested

Preheat the oven to 180c / gas mark 4. Line or grease a 16x16cm baking tin.

Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a pan over a low heat, stir occasionally.

Whilst it is melting mix the remaining ingredients in a large bowl.

Pour the butter mixture into the dry ingredients and combine. Press in to the prepared tin.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until the mixture starts to brown a little at the edges.

Cool in the tin, then use a very sharp knife to cut in to as many pieces as you like.

Have a go and let us know how you get on….next recipe will be an Orange Sandwich Cake from the 1930s…watch this space.

Alchemy for Charity– Turning Butter to Gold (well…pound coins at least)

It’s been a whirlwind couple of days…what started off on Thursday morning as 15 packs of butter ended on Friday night counting pounds and pennies to reach the grand total of £751.10 for CLIC Sargent, the children’s cancer charity supporting both child and families when they need it most. Over 80 ladies and a few brave men gathered in Bowdon to eat our delicious cakes and finger sandwiches and dig deep in to their pockets for a good cause. And what fun we had. Bunting throughout, full of our vintage teacups, teapots and cake stands the venue for our Vintage Tea Party was transformed. Guests arrived to choose their favourite teacup and plate and tuck in to the assortment of cakes, sandwiches and home baked sausage rolls. Tea flowed, children played and the vintage cake stands quickly needed refilling. Huge support from local businesses meant the raffle and auction table was full of prizes, from massages and meals out, to haircuts, chocolates, wine and cakes. With the sound of 1920s music playing in the background the collection jars filled. Scones served with a dollop of jam and clotted cream, moist carrot cake, buttered tea loaf, blueberry cupcakes and apple cake were a few of the tasty treats we turned out for the event.

Colclough, Coalport, Queen Anne and Royal Grafton were amongst the vintage china collection our guests were treated to. All in all it made for a very pretty picture…we will shortly be uploading a selection of photos to our gallery page…here are a couple to keep you going….

A thousand thank-you’s to all our lovely guests for their generosity, to the local businesses that supported us, to all the helpers on the day and in the run up…together you have helped make a real difference to little lives in need.

Vintage Charity Tea Party

Never mind running a marathon, what better way to raise money for charity than eating cake and drinking tea from gorgeous vintage china? March 16th will see us hosting a vintage charity tea party in a bid to raise much needed funds for CLIC Sargent, the children’s cancer charity. Scrumptious cakes and tray bakes will be accompanied by dainty finger sandwiches. The bunting will be up and the teapots full. There will be a number of stalls to browse, raffle tickets to buy and the chance to enter a silent auction. Local businesses have demonstrated their support by donating some fab prizes including; dinner for two at Francs Restaurant; cut and blow at Air Hair; neck, shoulder and back massage at Lido’s Spa; and some two rather cute pictures from County Galleries. Get in touch to find out more.

CLIC Sargent is the UK’s leading children’s cancer charity. It offers all-round care during treatment, in hospital and at home. It offers support for survivors and for bereaved families. They are currently able to help two out of every three children with cancer; wouldn’t it be great to make it three? Have a look at their website if you want to find out more about what they do.

Car Boots or Antique Shops?

Sourcing new items to fill our Pantry shelves is one of loveliest but most challenging parts of running a vintage china hire business. Our gorgeous stock has come from family, friends, vintage markets, antique shops, junk shops, charity shops and car boot sales. Once you’ve caught the bug it becomes impossible to walk past anyone of these places without sneaking a peek. Your family soon get a little tired of standing around whilst you rummage amongst old books and clothes for teapots, linens and cake stands. Getting up before the sun comes up to scour car boot sales isn’t easy, you need to wrap up warm and be prepared to search amongst all kinds of household objects and all kinds of people (and I mean all kinds!), but it’s well worth it when you find vintage china you just love. There are of course specialist markets and shops that sell the vintage china you might be looking for, but be prepared to pay a higher price – you will be lucky to get just one trio for less than £4, and you can pay as much as £25. So is it rummage at the car boot or pop to your local antique shop – the two items pictured below are two of my personal favourites, very different in style and very different prices, one bought for 25p at a car boot, one for £20 at an antique shop – which do you prefer?!

Midwinter Cake Stand

Our collection of vintage china comes from all sorts of places – it’s normally down to our keen eyes searching shops and car boot sales. Our lovely friends and family have also donated some of our most treasured pieces. The ‘Midwinter’ cake stand pictured here was donated to us by a very kind lady we have never had the chance to meet. Keen for it to be loved and used, she has added it to our Pantry shelves – what a star! Thank you!

Cake Forks and Sugar Tongs

Another early start on Sunday morning, far too little sleep again, but worth it for these cake forks and sugar tongs. They include a set of four to commemorate the coronation of King George VI in 1937. A bit of silver polish and they look so pretty. Definitely going to be making an appearance at our next booking. What a lovely find.

Everything you need for a vintage christening

Planning a christening or baby naming ceremony? Consider hiring vintage china and some bunting to make your event that extra bit special. The addition of our gorgeous table linens, cups and saucers, cake stands and bunting turned Egerton Hall in Rostherne in to a perfect venue to celebrate the christening of little Wilfred this weekend. Long tables covered with vintage embroidered clothes were set with some of our prettiest cups, saucers and tea-plates. Two-tier and single tier cake stands, serving plates and teapots filled with delicious food and scrumptious cakes. It
all came together to create a very unique and memorable occasion.

China and bunting aside, we are especially excited to be able to offer the hire of vintage christening gowns and bonnets. We have an exquisite collection that dates back to the 19th century. Take a look at some of the pictures below to get an idea of their gorgeousness. Whilst these gowns are old, they wash well, so please don’t worry about spilt milk and all the other nasty’s that can end up on a baby’s clothing – we have four children here at the Pantry so we know what it’s like!

We can also bake your christening cake and all the other cakes you need – all home made with love. Get in touch to find out more.