In the Garden: Grow Your Own....Where to Start

Although most would think otherwise, you really do not need much space to start to 'grow your own'.  OK, it will limit the quantity of crop, but that's okay, we all have to start somewhere.  I started about 5 years ago, with three simple wooden barrels growing round carrots, peppers and strawberries....all those things you hear about how great fruit and vegetables taste when they come straight from your garden really is true

- plan your growing space -


So, where to start....take some time to plan your growing space before you get planting, there are many options out there; hanging baskets, pots, raised beds, veg trug, grow sacks....the possibilities seem endless.  There are a couple of websites I can recommend that will help you explore your options:

Then decide what you would like to grow.  I think the most important thing here is to think about which fruit and vegetables you eat the most....putting your time and effort into growing something that ends up on the compost heap is not a great motivator to keep interested in and becoming an advocate for 'grow your own'

Once you have your list, look them up (I would recommend RHS or Gardeners World for this) to see how they like to grow and which align with the plan you have created for your growing space

- seedlings or plants - 


The next big decision....seedlings or plants?  This really does depend on how much time you have (and patience) and whether you have a nice warm space to keep your propagator (a window sill above a radiator is always great).  I started growing from seed for the first time this year....I shall let you know later if it is worth all of the effort.  If you would like to start simple, there are many nurseries and supermarkets out there that have done a lot of the hard work for you in getting your fruit and vegetables off to a good start

However, if you do decide to give it a go, get some good seedling compost and sieve it if required to ensure it is fine enough to allow the little seedlings to poke their heads through when they are ready.  I would recommend a propagator to get your seeds going and a mist spray bottle to keep them damp....don't over water them though otherwise the seeds with rot (speaking from experience here)

cucumber seedlings
seedling spray

Once your seedlings are becoming too tall for the propagator they will need re-potting....keep the pots small to starts as I think they feel a little overwhelmed moving straight to a big one.  I can recommend hairy pots, a great eco friendly alternative to the traditional plastic pots you see around.  Then just keep them watered it an area with a lot of light and watch them grow....simple(?)

seedlings_sugar snap peas

I will be writing more 'grow your own' blog posts to try and encourage as many of you lovely people as possible to get involved.  In the meantime as questions, please drop me an email ( or comment below.  Do share your progress pictures from seed to crop over on social media @bakerycakerybox


Bakery Cakery | Kiara

In the Kitchen: Victoria Sponge Recipe

the quintessentially British teatime treat that became popular during the reign of Queen Victoria

victoria sponge

New to baking or just want to knock something up that is quick and simple?  Then our classic victoria sponge recipe is just for you


For the sponge:

  • 300g Caster Sugar
  • 300g Margarine
  • 300g Self Raising Flour
  • 4 Free Range Eggs

For the filling:

  • 125g Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
  • 125g Icing Sugar
  • 100g Raspberry Jam


  • Preheat your oven to 150degC (fan assisted)
  • Line an 8" tin (we recommend Invicta cake tins)
  • Cream the margarine and caster sugar
  • Add an egg with 75g of the self raising flour and fold
  • Repeat for all eggs
  • Spoon mixture into tin and level
  • Place in oven and cook for 1hr
  • Allow to cool

Now for the filling:

  • Cream the icing sugar and unsalted butter to make a buttercream filling
  • Cut your sponge in half (once cool)
  • Spread jam onto one half and buttercream filling onto the other (we tend to put jam on the top half and buttercream on the bottom, they seem to slide around less)
  • Reassemble and dust with icing sugar

Finally....grab a cuppa and #enjoyyourcake

For a visual walk through of the method or just to double check your mixture looks about right, we have created a short video


Any questions or need any help, drop us an email ( or comment below


In the Kitchen: Cake Storage

If you are anything like me, you will have got overly excited on the lead up to the festive season, filling your cupboards with treats, more than you could possibly consume.  Do not fear, there is an alternative to making yourself feel sick trying to eat them all

In order to retain the freshness of our cakes we always recommend to keep them in an airtight container once opened.  With that in mind, I have selected my top six cake tins 

Garden Trading Charcoal Cake Tin

1. Garden Trading Round Cake Tin in Charcoal £22.00

I do love Garden Trading, their designs, although clean and simple, are also a great statement piece.  Made of powder coated steel with a diameter of 24.5cm and height of 18cm, it is great for a classic victoria sponge

Orla Kiely Melamine Tins

2. Orla Kiely Melamine Tins £45.00

You can't go wrong with Orla Kiely or a melamine storage tin, great for picnics and that cake you have had a slice of but just cant finish.  I wouldn't know what to do without mine, they are permanently in use

Marks and Spencer Dovecote Cake Tins

3.Marks and Spencer Dovecote Cake Tins £15.00

Something a little different from Marks and Spencer, this Dovecote design reminds me of being a child and eating my great-aunts cheese straws....they were amazing.  Two tins with a diameter of 25cm and 22cm and height of 12cm and 10cm

Living Nostalgia French Grey Cake Tin.png

4. Kitchen Craft Living Nostalgia French Grey Cake Tin £22.95

Very similar to the Garden Trading cake tin but with an elevated platter base and domed lid perfect for both storing and serving.  Slightly smaller with a diameter of 17cm and height of 11cm

Rice Rectangular Food Boxes

5. Rice Rectangular Food Boxes £11.50

These Rice food boxes are great for storing that last slice of cake or piece of brownie, ready for the moment when you really need it 

Wrendale Designs Cake Tin Nest

6. Wrendale Designs Cake Tin Nest £29.99

Original artwork by award winning artist Hannah Dale, this nest of cake tins are great for any country kitchen.  Three tins measuring 25cm, 22.5cm and 19.5cm in diameter

So, that is the final cake tin in our top six.  There are many more out there waiting to keep your cakes fresher for longer

Note: prices were valid at the point of posting

Shop Local: Flour Mill

As you may have noticed, supporting local producers is something I feel very strongly about.  So I was very excited to have some time go and visit our local flour mill, Talgarth Mill 

Talgarth Mill bakers jackets

- Dedication and hard work of local residents -


A few years ago Talgarth Mill received a lottery grant of  £500,000.  This, along with the dedication and hard work of local residents, saw its restoration.  Within a matter of months, The Bakers' Table, the mills cafe, started to win awards for the quality of its can see why

Talgarth Mill soup

Guided tours weren't running the day we visited so we opted to take a look around by ourselves, we were even able to manually grind a small amount of flour

Talgarth Mill water wheel

Each and every bag of flour made at Talgarth Mill is hand packed by local volunteers

Talgarth Mill labels

- The gardens are stunning -


At the back of the mill the hard work continues, with beautifully landscaped gardens set alongside the river Ellywe.  Hidden amongst the greenery are some beautifully crafted wrought iron structures

Talgarth Mill gardens

If you are ever in the area, it is definitely worth a visit....maybe even take home your own bread kit



In the Garden: Cider Fest 2016

Saturday 6th August was something I had been planning and looking forward to for a long time....our very own cider featival!  We needed some help with drinking all of the cider we made earlier in the year

The first challenge leading up to the party was lighting....I wanted to make sure the garden looked just an beautiful at night as it did during the day so spent some time browsing the internet then came across lights4fun which later became my one stop shop, ordering two sets of the festoon lights to decorate the barn and copper micro lights for the food table


The next challenge....tableware.  I wanted to make sure I used recyclable and preferably biodegradable products wherever possible.  So, I opted for bamboo boats and forks from Amazon and Liberty print cups and napkins from the Pretty Little Party Shop to add style and beauty

To avoid our party goers unnecessarily picking up a new cup between every drink because 'they were sure which cup was there's', I purchased some Dovecraft glittery stickers for labelling the cups, they were great fun!! 


The week before the party saw the arrival of our trusty posh potties, putting up of my homemade wooden bunting and the cleaning down of all the garden furniture


I left the decision of wanting live much pretty late but after a lot of searching, and I mean a lot, with the help of Joe from Mango Music , I booked Sebastian Tree and he was brilliant!!


The night was finished off with toasted marshmallows around the camp fire!!  A great end to the perfect won't be long before the process starts all over again!!



Afternoon Tea: The Angel, Abergavenny

The first of hopefully many more afternoon tea reviews.  Using a voucher I was given when I left my previous job (thanks guys!), I booked us in for high tea at The Angel in Abergavenny, current holders of the Tea Guild Award of Excellence.  Having been for Sunday lunch in the past, expectations were high

Arriving at reception, were a harpist was playing, we were taken to the Wedgewood room and presented with a champagne and tea menu.  After having a glass of Baron de Marck, we were presented with a beautiful three tier stand of pastries, sandwiches and cakes along with our selected tea


The tea was limitless allowing us to try as many as we liked.  We worked our way through:

  • Vanilla
  • Pheonix Honey
  • Strawberry and Kiwi
  • Imperial White
  • Iron Budha

All of which I would recommend but Vanilla was my favourite


After a cute little pot of strawberries and cream, out came the warm scones followed by the compulsory questioning of cream or jam on top....cream first and jam on top for me


Finally, we were happy to discover we could take home the cakes we didn't eat, placed in a little cake box wrapped with ribbon, allow us to continue to enjoy the experience throughout the weekend

For high tea at £26.80 per person, I would definitely recommend a visit if you are in the area

I am giving high tea at The Angel, Abergavenny, 4 scones out of 5.  Why you might ask, when it was so good.  Well, there was one little thing..the clotted cream, it just wasn't quite thick and creamy enough and lacked the crunchy top which I have grown to love and expect



In the Garden: Lifting the Lids

Some of you may remember, last September we pressed the apples in our garden to make 20 litres of apple juice and 75 litres of cider

Then came the waiting game, we needed to leave the cider to ferment until 'approximately May'

So May is here and we decided to lift the lid on the first container not really sure what to expect

After sterilising everything, we set to work siphoning the cider into a seperate container being sure not to disturb the sediment


About 45 minutes and 20-25 litres of cider later, the first container of cider had been filtered.  A cheeky little sip and it tasted good!  Then to the kitchen for bottling


Only another 60 bottles to go......I think I might be here a while

We have been thinking of a name and our favourite so far is Newton Swift, a combination of our gorgeous Springer Spaniels kennel club name and the cider farm that use to operate in the area we live.  I may just have to design some labels

If you have an apple tree in your garden, don't let them rot on the ground, make yourself some apple juice or cider



In the Garden: Our Lives Depend on Theirs

Living next to an orchard is a constant reminder of the rapid decline in our bees, along with other pollinating insects.  They play an essential role in ecosystems, as pollinators.  Hand-pollination is an extremely labour-intensive, slow and expensive process

A third of all our food depends on their pollination; vegetables like zucchini, fruits like apricot, nuts like almonds, spices like coriander, edible oils like canola…...the list goes on

There are many things we can do to help save our bees; stop using insecticides, learn to become a bee keeper, educate the younger generation on the importance of bees, create your own vegetable patch or window box, build bee habitats, bake using local honey, and many more....

We are partaking in a few of these ourselves:

We are giving away seeds with our May and June boxes that are not only great for your kitchen garden but also perfect for pollinators.  For a full list of suitable plants visit RHS


In addition to this, one of our subscribes in both May and June will receive a copy of the beautiful picture book, 'Bee & Me' making the story of our bees personal, bringing a message of hope 


A little girl befriends a bee, which takes her on a journey of discovery.  Bee & Me is both a story of friendship and an introduction to the ecology of the natural world we hope our winners enjoy it

Remember.....our lives depend on theirs



Shop Local: Cheese Dairy

I visited Monklands Cheese Dairy in Herefordshire this weekend

After having a glass of sparkling elderflower in the tea room we joined the cheese tour, where we were shown by the dairy maid how the cheese is churned, strained, flavoured, pressed and aged

We were then given the opportunity to try and purchase a range of different cheeses.  I went with the Monklands and Smoked Little Hereford


If you are in the area, I would definitely recommend a visit to this wonderful little cheese dairy.  I will certainly be buying my cheese from here in the future! 



In the Garden: Pressing Time

We try to ensure none of the fruit and vegetables from our garden are wasted.  As a result, this year we decided to press our apples (well half) for both cider and apple juice! 

Worried what it would taste like, we didn't want to invest in the mill and press to find out we really didn't like it.  This was when we stumbled across The Little Cider Press Company near Ledbury.  They have a number of pressing days you can attend, where they will show you how to press your apples and lend you the equipment to do so.

We set to work.......stage one (other than obviously picking the apples) is to wash them


Stage two, crush the apples


Stage three, press the apples.....I was amazed at just how juicy they were! 


Then time for a cheeky little taste!!  YUM!!  So sweet and so tasty!!   

The forth and final step before taking the juice home, filter it into containers


This is were you add the ascorbic acid if you are making apple juice rather than gives your juice that golden colour rather rather than the brown colour you see when you leave your apple open to the air.

We left with 75L of juice to make cider and approximately 20L of apple juice to pasteurise along with a definite recommendation that you shouldn't waste your apples......once you have had enough of crumbles and pies and your freezer is full........juice them!  

I am new to this whole process but as I understand it, it is best to pasteurise your juice as soon as possible but within the week of juicing it.  Pasteurising involves heating the juice in bottles, placed in a water bath, up to 70-75degC.  Be sure to leave a gap at the top of the bottle when filling, as the juice will expand when heated.  Once the temperature has been reach, it's time to remove the bottles from the water bath and pop the lids on.  Then leave it to cool down.....this takes a while.  Make sure you choose bottles with a good seal!  


As for the juice for making cider.....that is in the barn with its airlock installed fermenting away.  It won't be ready for drinking until about April/May next year!  I will keep you posted on its progress!