Grazing Platters….the latest in catering trends

So excited to introduce to all our clients our new menu option…grazing platters, the latest trend in event catering, and one of the best yet in our opinion! Our creations provide a wonderful decorative feast and the perfect centrepiece for any event. Delicious charcuterie boards, decorated with fresh herbs and berries. A selection of cheese and crackers with fresh fruit and chutney. Homemade humous, baba-ganoush and roasted red pepper sauce, served with crudité and a selection of delicious breads. Bowls of olives. Falafel. Antipasti skewers with vine ripened cherry tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella. All presented beautifully on our wooden boards, slates, and fabulous vintage china.

Our team will arrive to your venue in plenty of time to set-up your grazing platters and create a beautiful display that your guests will be wowed by. We can leave you to your feast, or stay to help with drinks and clear up. And if you fancy a sweet treat to accompany your savoury grazing platters we can provide that too.

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.

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!

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.

At Alice’s Vintage Pantry we think vintage cake stands filled with scones and cakes look divine, that there is almost nothing better than drinking tea from a dainty vintage teacup when poured from a vintage teapot…but there is one thing that you need at your vintage tea party to complete the look…beautifully hand-embroidered vintage table linens. We have a large collection of table linens that we have been lucky enough to find in various places all over the country.

They range from smaller ‘tray cloths’ to large table cloths that look pretty covering any table, and can be overlaid on top of plain white table linens. The cloths featured in these photos are a few we bought earlier this week in Manchester; we love them so thought they were well worth a blog mention! Get in touch if you want to know more about hiring them or any other items from our collection.

Chocolate, chilli and all things baking…

A couple of months ago I was asked by the fab 4Manchester Women(online magazine style blog) to write about baking and all that goes with it…just in case you missed my first article, here it is….

Blogging about baking…simply fab…this must surely mean I get to test out more recipes and eat even more cake…the first thing you should know about me is the basis of survival in my rather hectic life is a proper cup of tea accompanied by a delicious piece (or three) of home baked cake. I try and blame my rotund (and seemingly growing) belly on the four children I have, but if the truth be known it is purely down to a love of testing my baking and that of anyone else I can get my hands on. My other great love is vintage china – in fact I think my perfect day would probably largely be made up of the above mentioned tea and cake, all served up on gorgeous vintage china…little teacups, cake stands, pretty milk jugs, cake forks…my dream day. Not one to miss out on making it all a super big part of my life, I decided a little while ago to set up a business that incorporates all three – Alice’s Vintage Pantry – I hire out my rather large collection of china for weddings, christenings, baby showers, birthday parties and lots of other special occasions, and I provide afternoon tea catering, ‘everyday cakes’, and celebration cakes for other cake lovers, corporate lunches with a twist, and anyone who wants to lay on a rather special feast for their chums. Not a job I will ever complain about.

I love it all, so was delighted to be asked by 4Manchester Women to write about baking and all that goes with it. As a super busy working Manchester mum I was really excited to discover that there is a blogging site out there that will put me in touch with other similar women AND keep me up to date on what’s happening in Manchester (whilst I break eggs in to bowls and sieve flour, oh and look after the littlies). My blogs will feature baking tips and recipes and will answer any questions you have on how to make the perfect Victoria Sandwich or anything similar. Email me your questions to feature in next month’s article And because I love the women of Manchester any of you ordering from Alice’s Vintage Pantry will get 10% off if you quote the following when you place your order – ‘Cake is an essential food group for any self-respecting woman’ (urm, not sure I should be quoted on this, but hey, I live by that rule!)

So where shall we start? Cupcakes I think. Never have they been more popular. Pretty much any flavour and style you like is out there and they seem to be available on every street corner. Some of you lovely Manchester ladies took part in a bit of research to establish how best to represent Manchester Women in a cupcake…ok so don’t take this too seriously…just a bit of fun really and the chance to try out a new recipe. What did you come up with? A chocolate and chilli cupcake covered with chocolate icing and topped with popping candy sprinkles –what does this represent? Well, that us Manchester ladies like a bit of indulgence, but only with a bit of kick and fizz. I’ve been trying out a few recipes for this ‘4Manchester Women’ cupcake and would like to share the best with you. Go get your cupcake cases out and your oven gloves on….

For the sponge you will need:

  • 225g butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 340g self raising flour, sifted
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1-2 teaspoons dry red chilli flakes
  • 110ml milk

Preheat the oven to 160c and line a tin with cupcake cases.

Break up the chocolate in to a bowl, place over a pan of simmering water to melt. Make sure the butter is soft, and cream together with sugar.

Break the eggs in to a separate bowl, add the vanilla extract and whisk lightly. Add the egg mixture to the butter and sugar slowly, beating in between additions. Once it is all combined sift the flour and cocoa powder onto the mixture and fold in. Now mix in the chilli flakes and add the milk. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Remove and cool on a wire rack before icing.

For the topping you will need:

  • 300g icing sugar
  • 35g cocoa powder
  • 100 butter (unsalted)
  • 45-50 mls whole milk
  • Popping candy
  • Small red finger chillies

Sieve icing sugar and cocoa powder in to a bowl. Add the butter. Use an electric mixer to combine. When there are no lumps of butter left slowly add the milk. Then mix until light and fluffy.

To decorate simply put the buttercream topping in to a piping bag and pipe away, or use a spatula or something similar to spread on the top of each cake. Sprinkle with a bit of popping candy and place a small red finger chilli on top.

So there we have it…let us know how yours turn out and send us some photos if you can. Now time for me to finish off these cakes…

On the baking blog next time…top ten tips to beat flat cake syndrome.