Beautiful wedding at Hope Mill

Hope MillThought this fabulous wedding was worth a little write up. Dinosaurs and afternoon tea…what a combo!! We love it. This gorgeous venue is one of our all time favourites, Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester. It’s situated in the ground floor of a former cotton mill, now a grade 2 listed building. The space is SO unique. Super high ceilings, two large spaces that both feel cosy, fab staff, flexibility to create the wedding you want in the space, AND they are not a wedding factory.

We were beyond delighted to be selected to provide a vintage afternoon tea for the wedding of our clients Lauren and Chris. Booked 12 months before their wedding we were counting down the days. It was a complete honour to be catering for them in Hope Mill. vintage afternoon tea

With 130 guests at the wedding we had a lot to do. We baked lots and lots of cake, 150 scones, and made over 1300 yummy sarnies. The guest list included 16 vegetarians, two vegans and 17 children. The menu catered for them all. We had eight different sandwich fillings on the menu, and 14 different types of cake.

 

The room was set-up with the most gorgeous solid wood trestle tables (on hire from www.rustictrestletablehire.com), vintage books and dinosaurs on the tables, and the most beautiful floristry from Eden Floral Styling (our vintage china to complete the look). Set-up and smooth running of the day managed by the fabulous Stef from Alternative Weddings Manchester.

floralsRun up to the big day was busy, the day itself beginning with room set-up. The empty space soon filled and looking great. Then back to our base to make all those sandwiches. We were using a mix of rolls, thinly cut wraps, seeded, wholemeal and white bread. All the sandwiches and scones were served to guests at the tables, along with lots of hot loose leaf tea. The cakes were presented on a beautiful table for guests to help themselves. This was a great option for our clients, they were keen to keep the wedding informal with lots of opportunity for guests to mingle. It also meant guests had lots of choice of what they ate!

Cakes included our best sellers Lemon Drizzle (with a fresh lemon curd filling), Carrot Cake and Nan’s Chocolate Fudge Biscuit, one of my Nan’s recipes. It wasn’t long beforevintagecakes guests were filling their plates. Our tea-lady team were on hand to keep the cake table tidy and topped up, teapots full and everyone happy. Once food, tea and speeches were finished our team cleared the tables and helped prepare the space for the evening of entertainment. We all had a fab time, tea-ladies and guests alike. So much LOVE in that room!!

 

If you want to know a bit more about the day, or about what we could do for you, just get in touch…tea@alicesvintagepantry.co.uk

A few more images from the day…

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Village Hall Weddings

Couples looking to tie the knot have SO many options when it comes to venues these days…just google ‘wedding venue Manchester’ for a start…the options are almost endless. Over the six years we have been in business there has been a definite increase in the number of couples choosing village or church halls for their wedding celebration venue. Many moons ago this is where many wedding celebrations would take place, they are making a come back big time and we LOVE them.

Village Hall Wedding

They can offer a huge amount of flexibility at a very very low cost. Have you had a search in your local area? Many of the buildings are beautiful with great amenities and catering space. We have been in many that have gorgeous flooring, high ceilings, beautiful windows and great outdoor space. And all at a low cost. There isn’t normally a restriction on which suppliers you commission to provide your food and entertainment, leaving you to create the wedding of your dreams. You can source your own suppliers, those who you hand pick to match exactly what you need and want. You can decorate the space with pretty much anything you like. Arrange a bar that suits your style and guests. Get the food in that you really wanted on your wedding day. So many positives.

And what about the downsides…are there any? We’ve struggled to come up with any that can’t be fixed…perhaps just a couple of things to keep in mind…

Staff – a village hall does not normally come with its own team to run your day for you. You need to consider who is going to switch the lights on, let your guests in and serve them a welcome drink and nibbles, light the candles, turn your tables around for the evening, clear up any rubbish and leave the venue tidy.

This is where we have seen a big increase in the work that we do. Our fab team of lovely tea-ladies (and a couple of gents) can take on any of these tasks (and lots of others too). We don’t just serve the afternoon tea, we do all of the above plus lots more…often staying until the wedding ends to make sure it all runs smoothly. Its a great way to take the pressure off friends and family and leave all your guests to enjoy their day. Get in touch to find out more!

Venue dressing – a village hall can be a large space and the task of dressing it can seem daunting. Many clients underestimate the work that can be involved and some spend hours the day before their wedding getting it right. Its worth making a detailed plan early on about how you will manage that…and it IS manageable. Careful planning and talking to those that have done it many times is well worth the time investment. It might be worth considering getting the help of a professional venue dresser (not as expensive as you might think), or at least getting your friends and family to help you out. We work with some amazing venue dressers and will happily recommend them to you.

Vintagetea

Wedding planning – if you are booking a hotel wedding you will be assigned a planner or coordinator…a village hall won’t come with one of those. If you haven’t planned a wedding or event before this might unnerve you. There is quite a bit to think about and organise. At Alice’s Vintage Pantry we have catered for and managed lots and lots of weddings, we are happy to help with the planning and can offer lots of advice. Just get in touch and ask away!!

Happy wedding planning lovely people!

 

Baking the perfect scone…

Scones come in all shapes and sizes, a wealth of recipes are available from savoury to sweet, fruit or cherry filled, milk, buttermilk or cream. Then there is the shape – drop scones, triangle, square or the more commonly used round scone. Topped with butter, jam, fresh cream or cream everyone has their favourite scone.

Scones and Cream

At Alice’s Vintage Pantry we have tried lots of different recipes and make different scones for different occasions. No matter what your favourite type is or what recipe you are using, if you are baking your own follow our scone tips to get your perfect scone.

 

  • Don’t spend too long rubbing the butter in to the flour – the quicker you do it the lighter your scone will be;
  • No matter what your recipe says, make sure your butter is at room temperature, if it’s too cold it will take too long to rub in to the flour and will result in a heavier scone;
  • Roll out your dough to a depth of no less than 2 cm’s. This will seem deep but it will give you a greater height to your scone;
  • Make sure you apply even pressure to the rolling pin, to get an even rise to your scone the best way to start is an even dough;
  • Dip your scone cutter in a little flour prior to cutting, it will prevent the dough sticking to the cutter and will help give a more even rise;
  • Once you have cut your scones, place them upside down on the baking sheet, again this helps them to rise more evenly;
  • If you want a softer top to your scone, cool them on a wire rack and place a slightly damp clean tea towel over the top;
  • Whilst scones do freeze well, they are always best baked fresh and served the same day.
  • And of course make sure you serve them on a tiered vintage cake stand with a cuppa served in a dainty vintage teacup!

Vintage Cake Table

Try these tips with Delia Smith’s basic scone recipe…

225g self-raising flour

40g butter, at room temperature

1½ tablespoons caster sugar

a pinch of salt

150ml milk

Preheat the oven to gas mark 7 (220c). Grease a baking sheet.

Sift the flour into a large bowl and rub the butter in rapidly using your fingertips. Stir in the sugar and salt, take a knife to mix in the milk little by little. Knead the mixture to a soft dough.

Turn the dough out on to a pastry board and roll it out using a floured rolling pin. Cut the scones out using a 4-5 cm cutter and place on the baking sheet. Dust each one with a little flour. Bake near the top of the oven for 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Enjoy with good quality jam and clotted cream.

Featured Wedding…bath tubs and bubbles!

Really delighted that one of the weddings we catered for last summer has been featured on the fabulous Rock My Wedding website today! Massive congratulations to Rebecca and Rob for organising such a fantastic and unique wedding…all held on their friends farm in Smallwood, Cheshire. Stunning photography by Steve Bridgewood Photography! Click here to see more…http://www.rockmywedding.co.uk/rebecca-robert/

VintageWedding

 

Creating the Perfect Vintage Tea Party

Afternoon tea anyone? Fresh baked scones, plenty of hot tea, finger sandwiches and delicious cakes. Who doesn’t like it? Given the recent rise in popularity of afternoon teas I think the answer is not many! It seems to go down well with all ages, and works for almost any occasion….from weddings, to baby showers, birthday parties and christenings.  I’m lucky enough to spend lots of time at vintage tea parties. With enquiries flooding in at the moment I thought it might be a good time to share a few tips on how to go about creating a vintage tea party.

VintageTea

  • Take it as far as you like. Just stick to the beautiful china and finger sandwiches or go for it with a vintage dress code, appropriate music and games from a bygone era. Vintage afternoon tea parties can be vastly different. Decide whether you are going for the country fate, pearls and lace or Mad Hatter tea party theme…accessorise accordingly.

 

  • Vintage china is a must…whether you borrow, buy or hire it, pretty cups and saucers, little tea-plates, teapots and embroidered table linens all need to be there. The tea somehow tastes better, guests will love choosing which cup to use, and it becomes a real talking point at the party and will make it a memorable occasion.
  • Sandwiches need to be tiny, tasty and pretty. The crusts need to come off before you got them in to triangles or fingers. Little open sandwiches cut using a round or fluted pastry cutter also work well. Be sure to use a small amount of butter to stop your sandwiches going soggy, and make them at the last minute…finger sandwiches dry out very easily.

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  • Use loose leaf tea…it makes a world of difference. Not just the flavour, guests will also love the novelty of using a tea-strainer to get their perfect cup of tea.
  • Depending on the size of your party, borrow extra kettles, fill flasks with boiling water, or get your hands on an urn. Plenty of hot tea is essential.

 

  • Bake plenty of cakes…your guests will appreciate having a choice and you don’t want those cake stands looking bare…the cakes are a big part of the overall look.
  • Put bowls of fresh strawberries out, or arrange them around your cakes. A great way to add a really summery look.

Emma & Dan wedding 227

  • Your tables will look gorgeous laden with pretty vintage china, think about any additional decoration you might like. Little glass vases filled with flowers. Bunting strung along the side of the table. Bird cages filled with flowers or candles. Little tea-lights or strings of pearls. Candelabras. All can be easily and cheaply brought or hired.
  • It doesn’t have to be all about the tea…a glass of something fizzy works very well with a vintage tea party. Even your alcohol can be served in teacups.Vintage Wedding 2
  • Use fresh flowers to help decorate the room. Hand tied, in bird cages, or in little glass vases. Go for traditional flowers such as roses, lavender and sweet-peas.

 

Hope these tips help get your tea party planning started! Get in touch to find out more about how we can help you.

 

Its that time of year again…Parkin!

Blog original written for the Manchester based online magazine ‘4 Manchester Women’

Parkin…feels like I haven’t made this for a while…it’s been 12 whole months since it popped out of my recipe books and made an appearance in my well used ovens. Each year I make several batches to give to friends and family and to take along to Bonfire night parties, and each year I wonder why I don’t get it out more often. As I sit and write this, the smell of Parkin wafts through the house as it rises in the oven. Will I be able to resist trying a little later on tonight? As Parkin vastly improves in taste and texture if you leave it for a few days, I tell myself I will wrap is tightly in foil and leave it well alone until the weekend….if this happens it will be a first, no cake in this house lasts longer than 24 hours…we love our cake and we certainly eat it…one of the major advantages of baking for a living.

So what exactly is Parkin? Well there is lots of history to it which I won’t detail here, basically it comes from up North (yippee) and is kind of a cakey version of gingerbread, often baked with oatmeal and treacle. Records of it trace back a good few centuries and no-one seems to know exactly why it has been associated with November 5th (not too concerned about that, just want it to taste good). Recipes vary massively, we normally bake one that contains treacle and oatmeal, but decided to give this a go this year….
Auntie Eva’s Parkin Recipe

Good old Auntie Eva brings us this one from her home in Bradford at the age of 93! Still sharp as her name (Eva Sharp) she will be delighted to know that her favourite Parkin recipe is being shared with others.

2 breakfast cups of self-raising flour
1 breakfast cup of sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
4oz stork margarine (she is very particular about that!)
1 small table spoon golden syrup
1 cup boiled milk
1 egg

Really simple to make, just mix the dry ingredient’s, rub in the margarine and pour over the milk and syrup – stir well and bake in a 20cm square tin. Bake for 1 hour at 100 degrees, then turn the oven up by 10 degrees and bake for another half an hour.

If you want to add the oatmeal, just reduce the amount of self-raising flour and replace it with the equivalent amount of oatmeal , either double the amount of golden syrup or add a tablespoon of treacle.

Bakers tip: to help you spoon in the syrup and treacle, place your metal spoon in a mug of boiling water before using it – the syrup will just slide of the spoon into your mixing bowl.

Wrap your parkin in foil and leave it for a few days before eating.

 

Happy baking!

Charity Tea Party to raise money for Breast Cancer Care

What a fab day we have had!! We decided to open up our doors this morning to raise some money for Breast Cancer Care. The vintage china collection came out, we baked scones and cakes, and served freshly brewed loose leaf tea…we invited friends and family and two hours later had raised £330!! Here are a few photos…Scones and Cream charity3 charity2

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Baking The Perfect Sponge

From picnics to sports day – how to bake the perfect sponge cake

Winning the Mum’s race at sports day just isn’t that cool is it…nor was coming last as I remember from my last encounter with such an event (oh my goodness, how on earth did I manage that?!). What is cool is donating a beautifully light and perfectly risen Victoria Sandwich to the refreshments stall. Rising above the tray bakes and cupcakes the perfect sponge will make you proud that you tied your apron strings rather than the laces on your trainers. Whilst others are in their lycra sweating (yes, some Mums actually do put themselves and their kids in training for sports day!), you can be in the kitchen sipping tea whilst you mix your buttercream. And baking your own is at least a zillion times better than shop bought sponge. Not only does it taste far better, it’s cheaper, you know what’s in it and it’s a creation you can be proud of. This is all sounding a bit like a Kirsty Allsop dream…the reality is that many of us don’t have much success in getting our sponge to rise…flat cake syndrome is all too common and puts many off baking their own sponge cakes…so what to do about it? Well, there are some basic rules to baking that whilst pretty straight forward really do make all the difference to turning out a cracking cake. Have a read below, give it a go and let us know how you get on….

  • Weigh and measure all your ingredients before you get started, and do it accurately – it’s well worth investing in electronic scales. Baking is basically science, so you need to get the experiment spot on.
  • Grease and line your cake tin before you begin to mix, if you leave your mixture sitting around whilst you get this job done air bubbles will start to rise to the top and limit your cakes ability to rise.
  • Use the best quality ingredients that you can afford and make sure it is all at room temperature before you get started.
  • Get some decent measuring spoons – if a recipe requires a ‘teaspoon’ it means 5mls – most ‘teaspoons’ measure less than this.
  • Use really soft butter – make sure you get it out of the fridge well in advance of your bake-off. If it is still feeling a bit on the hard side when it’s time to get started either pop it in a warm place, microwave it for a few seconds, or grate it on to a plate.
  • Most sponge cakes start with creaming together butter and sugar – take this process seriously. Creaming together doesn’t mean a quick mix, it means fully incorporating the ingredients and then continuing to mix for at least 5-10 minutes until really light and fluffy. This is pretty hard work if you are doing it by hand, so if you are planning on doing a bit more baking (or even just mixing pizza dough or bread mix), invest in an electronic mixer.
  • When it comes to adding the eggs make sure you do it slowly. If you go too quickly the mixture may curdle and result in a heavier sponge. So just a little at a time with a good mix after each addition.
  • Make sure the oven is to the correct temperature before you put your hard work in it. Modern ovens are generally pretty temperature accurate but they do vary slightly so get to know yours.
  • Have your cooling wire at the ready, but leave your cake in the tin for two minutes before placing it on the wire.
  • And last but definitely not least…whatever you do don’t open the oven door!!

Victoria Sandwich recipes seem to be everywhere I look – with jubilee celebrations and the picnic season well and truly upon us, every supermarket shelf and magazine is offering us their variation on the classic sponge recipe. At Alice’s Vintage Pantry we use a tried and tested recipe that turns out the most delicious Victoria Sandwich…needless to say I’m quite keen to keep that one close to my chest, so here is another created by the super talented and much loved Delia Smith.

  • 110g butter
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • A few drops of vanilla essence
  • 110g self-raising flour (sifted)
  • Jam to fill, and sifted icing sugar to top

Preheat the oven to gas mark 3 / 170c. Grease and line two 18cm cake tins.

Cream butter and sugar together. In a separate bowl beat the eggs together thoroughly then slowly add to the butter and sugar. Stir in the vanilla essence. Sift the flour on to the mixture and slowly incorporate using a metal spoon. Divide the mixture equally between the two tins and bake for 25 minutes or until well risen and springy to the touch.

Feedback and photos please!

And if you don’t want to put your apron on don’t forget we can bake one for you – we deliver anywhere in Manchester, Cheshire and the surrounding areas.

This blog was originally posted on the 4Manchester Women website www.4manchesterwomen.co.uk

Recently Engaged?? Want to know more about what we do?

Christmas and New Year is one of the most popular times to get engaged…not sure whether the festive period just gets everyone all loved up or whether all the booze around gets to us??? Either way its a super happy time for all you couples looking to get hitched. This makes January a super busy time for us. We get lots of enquiries about the services we offer, all of which we respond to as quickly as possible. Whilst we can provide lots of information over email or on the phone, a chat face-to-face is a good way for you to find out more about us, and for us to get to know more about the plans for your day (and a great chance for you to try our cake!) . So when we aren’t catering for vintage tea-parties, we are busy with meetings and follow-up quotes for weddings. There is lots of information about the services we provide on the ‘Weddings‘ section of this website…but just a quick summary to get you started….

Vintage Afternoon Tea Catering – from 20 to more than 120 we provide delicious finger sandwiches (plenty of them), scones, home-baked cakes and plenty of tea. Its all served on our beautiful collection of vintage china (included in the price)

 

 

Tea-Ladies – to keep your day running smoothly. Our tea-ladies (and gents!) are super helpful and very professional, but also offer a more relaxed and informal approach to wedding service. Our ladies are available to hire with or without the catering service.

 

Vintage Cake Tables and Wedding Cakes – a different way of serving cake or desert to your guests, beautiful, delicious and a real talking point.

 

 

 

 

Vintage China Hire – extensive and very gorgeous collection of vintage china to add something really pretty and unique to your day.

If you are interested in any or all of the above please get in touch via our contact page or give us a call on 07890 090547.

Never a dull moment at Alice’s Vintage Pantry!

Hello!! It’s been a while since we found time to sit down a write a few words about what we have been up to…we have had the busiest few months to date…lots of vintage tea parties, vintage china hire, meetings with brides and grooms, testing new recipes and much more. No two days are the same, the diversity of events we cater for, and people we meet is huge.

Over the last few months it has ranged from catered weddings for over 100, to catered hen-parties for five, vintage cake tables for weddings and christenings, birthday parties for all ages (from a 1 year old girl, to a 21 year old boy and to a lovely 95 year old lady), vintage china hire for shop launches and special events (including the very glamorous Louboutin at Harvey Nichols!) and many more happy occasions. We’ve also catered for funerals, the other end of the spectrum; we hope that we have provided something special on those sad occasions.

 

Our collection of vintage china and accessories has been growing too…SO many cups, saucers, teapots, cake stands, table linens, cream and jam bowls etc etc…we’ve had to build new shelving and storage to accommodate it all. We have soured it from a wide range of places, vintage markets, charity shops, antique shops and, loveliest of all, dontations from friends and clients who are keen to see their vintage china go to a good home. We love it all and appreciate the support of all of those around us.

2013 has been an amazing year for Alice’s Vintage Pantry, we are already looking very busy for 2014….very much looking forward to bringing our fabulous vintage tea parties to all you lovely people!! If you would like to book a vintage tea party with us, or find out more about what we offer please get in touch.

 

Fill in the online enquiry form, call us on 07890 090547, or email tea@alicesvintagepantry.co.uk

Alice x