Tag Archives: De Taart Van M’n Tante

Soundtrack Of A Holiday

Brando Lives On! Florence,Rocking Dog

Brando Lives On! Florence

Having just arrived back from Umbria I still haven’t been able to rid myself of the soundtrack of the holiday! Do you find that there is always a tune that is playing whenever you jiggle radio stations, or step into bars or cafes? Often these songs are slightly annoying or indeed very annoying. In years to come you hear the tune again and it immediately transports you back to the holiday destination where you couldn’t help humming or singing it at full pelt. Our soundtrack this autumn in Umbria was somewhat embarrassedly Bruno Mars’s “Versace on the Floor”! Billy Swan’s “I Can Help” takes me to my teenage French exchange trip and to a cafe with a juke box. Newquay, “I’m In Mood For Dancing” by the Nolans, and my first holiday with Andyman in Umbria (1981) Barclay James Harvest’s album “Eyes of the Universe”. There were holidays with The Proclaimers “Lord, I Want To Be a Christian”, All Saints with “Never Ever” and The Bangles “Eternal Flame”etc.. I expect it will be a few days before I lose Versace from my head. Very hopefully I won’t lose the memory of our girls dancing around the Umbrian kitchen with baby Doug’in arms!

We found our Umbrian garden incredibly parched and somewhat resembling Little House on the Prairie. We have been reassured that our “grass” will somehow green up again. The poor Italians have had a scorchingly hot year and it has had a devastating effect on the crops. Vines hung heavy with fruit which I photographed last year tell a very different story this autumn. It has been difficult for the locals to irrigate crops and many wells have completely dried up. In our garden we are lucky to have some olives to pick when the start of November comes. There was leaf clearing to do and a pomegranate and fig tree to plant. Thankfully heavy rains came on our last day and watered those tender new trees. Alas with all the botanical tidying there was no hammock swinging, no sitting in my oak leaved reading nook and no star gazing. One day!

Wonderfully there were little toes in the pool, an inflatable avocado, some luxuriating, and serious lengths done in the cool of the pool.

There were vintage linens to launder and dry in the sun, a chimney to chat about for the woodburning stove, and lovely food to eat both at home and away.

Liv’ and I ventured to Florence and we all loved the lake (Trasimeno) especially the bonfire set up for a wedding. There were delicious custard filled Aragosta’s (lobster claws) to eat, thank you Michele, and refreshing Aperol Spritz’s to drink at Bar Gallo in Panicale. There is the small matter now of working off all that delicious Vongole and Scampi Gnocchi eaten at da Massimo’s! Why is Umbrian food just SO delicious?!

It really is lovely to be back to the green of England in September, with fresh inspiration for new projects.

Have a great week Rocking Dog x

PS Happy 30th Birthday to our boy Alex’. Have a wonderful time celebrating in France. At least there is no embarrassing cake today Alex! In a year gone by (16 years ago) I was seriously inspired by a trip to Amsterdam, in particular a visit to De Taart Van M’n Tante (My Aunt’s Tart). Many of their cakes were bold and risque. What possessed me to think it was appropriate to send a boxed cake with Alex on a geography school trip which was topped by a rubber gimp doll?! Sorry Alex.

Apartment In The Sky,Rocking Dog

Apartment In The Sky

Tiny Toes,Rocking Dog

Tiny Toes

On Dry Land,Rocking Dog

On Dry Land

Vintage Laundry,Rocking Dog

Vintage Laundry

There Will Be Oil!,Rocking Dog

There Will Be Oil!

Chimney Chat,Rocking Dog

Chimney Chat

Down At The Lake,Rocking Dog

Down At The Lake

Cake Break,Rocking Dog

Cake Break

Planting For The Future,Rocking Dog

Planting For The Future

Last Minute. com Cake!

Hello Kitty's Garden, Rocking Dog

Hello Kitty’s Garden

I was given a Last minute.com cake order by Andyman. I quickly ran up a sponge and then headed for the hills… well Marks and Spencers!

With nothing in mind I sought inspiration from the sweet and biscuit shelves. I chanced upon some boxed Hello Kitty’s left over from Easter. Further scrutinising led to some lovely jelly carrots and coconut mushrooms.

An idea was beginning to form. Hello Kitty’s Garden. My brain quickly thought of desiccated coconut dyed green, the search for ingredients to make chocolate soil and things to pretty up Kitty’s Garden.

Chocolate soil is something frequently seen on “Masterchef”, mine was cheats chocolate soil. I bought Chocolate cookies from the M & S bakery counter, and I visualised these crumbled with the dear little carrots poking out.

Home with my stash, I had a mere half an hour to pull everything together. Aggghhh! on unboxing Kitty I had found she had lost her head. I had to glue her Frankenstein style with glace icing, catastrophe averted! I whizzed up a buttercream (icing sugar, softened butter and vanilla essence) and sandwiched my sponges with this together with strawberry conserve. More buttercream was spread onto the top of the sponge to glue Kitty down and adhere the green coconut. Frouing, my favourite bit then happened. Soil sprinkled, carrots strewn, mushrooms arranged, and baby meringues dipped in glace icing before rolling in coloured sugar strands. I also added some paper flowers which I glue gunned onto skewers, these gave more height to the cake. The cake was given a fringed tissue paper sheath, adding more flowers to disguise paper joins. Voila! Cake decorating in 23 minutes!

Delivery logistics involved taking it to a plastic surgeon who would then take it on its onward journey. I hope he wasn’t too critical of Kitty’s glace icing reconstructive surgery!

Happy Birthday Maisie, I hope hearing “Happy Birthday” on the bagpipes was amazing!

Liz’s Top 5 tips for Last minute.com cakes

1. Visit supermarket/ department store sweet counters, Hotel Chocolat, Thornton’s etc..for inspiration
2. Use a toy as a starting point (I have used Sylvanian Family toys (toys sat on a cake with an edible picnic), Disney characters (eg..Aladdin on an icing patterned carpet).
3. Use Pinterest, cake decorating books, cake websites, cafe’s and cake shops for inspiration. Whilst in Amsterdam I was truly inspired by the cafe/cake shop
De taart Van m’n Tante (The Tart Of My Aunt). My teenage son that year had a sexy black and red cake, complete with a rubber gimp doll on it! I now absolutely cringe thinking about my poor son unboxing his cake on a school field trip. How could I?!!
4. If time is really short, buy a shop bought cake to decorate (swiss rolls can become spectacular caterpillars, or modelled into trains) Tray bakes and loaf cakes can also be decorated ingeniously with a little bit of thought.
5. Colour pastes, though more expensive than liquid colours are very intense and last much longer. Seek out ready rolled fondant icing and ready to mix Royal Icing in supermarkets.

Sweet Stash!, Rocking Dog

Sweet Stash!

Chocolate Cookie Soil, Rocking Dog

Chocolate Cookie Soil

Aren't I Cute!, Rocking Dog

Aren’t I Cute!