Doris is a firm lover of a good slice of cake, so, as it is national cake week, what better time than now to delve a little deeper into the history of cake making. 

National Cake Week falls on the first week of October, which in 2018 is on the days 1st – 7th October. However, who created the first cake and how was it created? 

Doris and Cake_preview

Originally known as kaka, some form of “cake” has been baked and eaten since the era of ancient Greeks and the Romans. Essentially a form of bread dough, the recipe of the first cake would have consisted of flour, eggs, milk, nuts and honey (or in the case of the Romans, the milk was replaced by butter). Despite the ingredients sounding familiar, cakes did not taste quite like the way they do today, but rather just a richer, and sweeter type of bread. 

This form of cake was eaten across areas in Europe for many years, until the renaissance period where the development of ovens and and ingredients created the world’s first sponge cake. Icing was also created during this period, meaning that cake making and eating transformed from a regular everyday bread into the sweet treat that we know and love today.

A few hundred years later, and the cake industry saw yet another advancement. With events such The Great Depression and the World Wars, the need for quick yet energy full food sources was in great need. Cake and pancake mixes in packets were created, along with the introduction of bicarbonate of soda or baking powder instead of yeast to speed up the process. Colourings and flavourings were also introduced within this period to create a variety of luxurious cakes to suit all tastes. 

From fruit cakes to chocolate gateaux, we are now spoilt for choice when it comes to indulging in desserts. Making a perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea, cakes and baking are a staple in Doris’ kitchen. Can you beat a good slice of cake?

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As it is National Coffee Week here in the UK, we thought it was the perfect time to show you how to make the perfect espresso.

The Coffee

The coffee should be from a good reputable brand and always buy whole beans to grind yourself if you can. Beans should be kept in a dry, cool place and not in the freezer (like the urban myth suggests), or anywhere near heat. The roast of the bean should have taken within 3 weeks of you using them and good coffee bean sellers should have a roast date on their packaging.

The Grind

Getting the grind right for your beans really does make a huge difference in your espresso. Too fine and it will taste ashy, too chunky and it will be watery. The texture you are looking for is like flour but with a little bit of gritty sand running through it. The grind should also clump very slightly if you squeeze it without it being damp or sticky.

The Dose

Ideally you should be using between 14g-18g of coffee grounds per 30ml espresso shot, depending on the strength you like it and the coffee beans being used.

The Machine

Make sure your espresso machine is clean and dry both inside and out, including the filter. If you are tamping your coffee (pushing it down to lock out any air) you should do it enough so that when your tip the coffee basket over your head, no coffee escapes (or covers you in coffee grounds!). For an optimal working machine and for the best taste your 30ml espresso shot should only take 30 seconds to create, from switching the water flow on and off again.

Temperature

The temperature your machine heats at should be a consistent temperature and sit somewhere between 90C and 96C. If your machine fails to keep a constant temperature then your espresso will not have the right taste.

Literary Espresso Mug Collection - Doris & Co English Creamware Ceramics Made in Britain

The Mug

The diminutive Doris & Co espresso mug with inspiring quotes from great writers. Perfect for deep thinkers, strong coffee drinkers, those to be inspired or thanked. For budding writers, young would-be goods and old ne’erdowells. These mugs are taken from an early industrial English ‘coffee can’ shape (1820’s) and made in English creamware by hand in England.

Enjoy your perfect espresso and Happy National Coffee Week!

#NationalCoffeeWeekUK #NationalCoffeeWeek

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So it’s done, we’ve barrelled out of the Christmas break, made it through the New Year milestone, packed away the decorations and suddenly we’re past the middle of January! How on earth did that happen and do you actually feel like you stopped over the break?

Too often, the answer to the above question is no – whether you had gatherings to cater for, parties to go to, presents to buy and wrap or had planned to just hibernate, very often things crop up at the last minute over Christmas and we end up being really busy and sometimes quite frustrated.

Frustrated because our wrapping ended up being a frenzy of sellotape and boxes – rather than the dreamy afternoon by the fire we had planned in our heads. Frustrated because the recipes we squirrelled away weeks before Christmas stayed squirrelled away and a panic shopping trip ensued when we realised that we just hadn’t got the time to be creative. Frustrated when the crafty activities we had planned to embellish the Christmas table with stayed as plans.

But ultimately, we know that Christmas is about being together, the presents and the flourishes are just touches that are nice but they really aren’t the be all and end all – nobody ever reports back that you ruined their Christmas because their crackers weren’t handmade. But in all of this, there is one important element that we missed that really does need to be put right and before 2018 gets much older.

The important bit is the “me-time” that you missed – those dreamy insta-friendly activities would have involved you unplugging and indulging yourself and that’s important. It’s important for your energy, important for your mind and important for your health. So whilst your New Year mindset is still in place (but you do know that you can make little improvements all year round right?) – here’s 5 Doris mini me-times that will help you grab little bites of time here and there – it’s a start and they all add up.

metimewindow

1 Grab a glass of water and drink it slowly whilst just looking out of the window and watching the world go by – too often we just gulp our drinks down and it’s really not that good for us. If you’ve got 5 minutes to spare, you can sit and watch #wellnesswednesday for some great tips on hydration over at Karen & Clan.

metimewalk

2 Go for a short walk – around the block, around the park or just up and down the lane. Instead of hopping out of your car and running inside or texting as you walk home – opt for a little perambulate and just let your mind wander. If those pesky shopping list or work deadline thoughts keep jumping in, tell them quite firmly to take a hike and just concentrate on what you can see around you and breathing in and out. If you’re outside for your job anyway, just mindfully tune out the interference and spend 5 minutes drifting.

3 Have a bath instead of a shower – or have a long shower without feeling that you have to jump in and out quickly. If you can dim the lights, light a candle and zone out for a while – even better – but just remember to tell those busy thoughts to do one for 5 minutes.

metimelunch

4 Actually eat your lunch. Doris is really bad at just having lunch when it fits into her day and then rushing it through – but being mindful about your lunch can give you 5 minutes me-time. Sit somewhere away from work and just concentrate on your lunch, no texting at the same time or making calls – just mindful consumption and wandering thoughts. Your brain will really appreciate the time to revive before you throw yourself into the afternoon. gathermugsip

Photo Credit: Sweet-Images Photography

5 Make a proper coffee or brew a pot of tea – Doris knows that a good mug of your favourite drink is important, but when you make it properly, it forces you to take 5 minute out of your day, so just aim for one drink a day that gives you that me-time and use the time wisely. Zone out, chill out and really make the most of the comforting hug that a mug gives.

So there you go – tiny slices of me-time slotted in alongside things you are already doing – so no saying that you just don’t have time – no matter how busy you are you can always fit at least one of these in. If you’re still having trouble justifying it – remind yourself that the best creativity comes out of silence…after all Archimedes had his eureka moment in the bath!

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