Love Audrey Bakes ~ Peaches & Cream Salted Caramel Cake

Peaches and Cream Salted Caramel Cake

As I sit here in my winter jammies, huddled against the radiator while listening to the rain fall outside my window, I wonder if I’ve missed the boat on sharing this incredible summer bake?

The day I trialled the recipe was glorious. Think wall-to-wall sunshine, a warm breeze and bright blue skies. While I doubt we’ll be experiencing weather like that again anytime soon, there might still be time to sample the delights of this delectable sweet treat. However, if autumn is more your thing anyway, I suspect you could substitute plums for peaches in order to keep things seasonally appropriate.

Peaches & Cream Salted Caramel Cake

The real beauty of this recipe is that it looks far more complicated than it is. The batter itself is simple enough, the caramel comes from a jar, and then it’s really just a question of toasting, whisking and slicing the various fillings before assembly. For me, the most laborious part is having to make three cakes using only two tins, but it’s definitely worth the extra 20 minutes it takes me to bake that final layer.

As with most things that involve salted caramel, the cake tastes ridiculously good. If I was ever going to employ the word ‘amazeballs’ on this blog, it would be to describe this bake.     Peaches & Cream Salted Caramel Cake

You will need:

  • 250g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 250g golden caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 4tbsp whole milk
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 320g jar caramel dipping sauce
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 60g pecan halves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 300ml double cream
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1tbsp icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
  • 4 peaches, sliced

1. Preheat the oven to 180C, gas mark 4. Grease and line 3 x 20cm round cake tins. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. In a jug, lightly whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Slowly pour this mixture into the creamed butter and sugar, beating until combined.

2. Gently beat in 2 tbsp caramel sauce, then the flour and salt. Divide between the tins and bake for 18-20 minutes until the cakes are golden and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let them cool in their tins on a wire rack. Toast the pecans on a baking tray in the oven {or in a dry frying pan on the hob} for three to five minutes. Set aside to cool.

3. Mix the sea salt with the remaining caramel sauce and set aside. In another bowl, whisk the cream, vanilla and icing sugar to soft peaks {mine is a little over done in these pictures}. Set aside a few nuts. Halve the caramel, cream and remaining nuts and finally divide the peaches into three piles. Set them all next to you, ready for assembly.

4. Put 1 sponge on a plate. Top with half the caramel and pecans, and a third of the peaches before spooning over half the cream. Put the second sponge on top and repeat this process. Finally, place the last sponge on top, dust with icing sugar, pile the remaining peaches in the centre and scatter with the reserved nuts.

What have you been baking lately? Personally, I’m looking forward to foraging for blackberries soon as they’re probably my favourite fruit to bake with.

Love Audrey xxx

Thirty One

Izzy, Franky and Jesse

Another year older. Is it really 12 months since I wrote this list of 20 Things I Learnt in my 20s? Apparently so. The first year of my 30s has been fabulous. Terrifying, exhausting, and challenging too, but fabulous nonetheless.

Although I entertained the idea of hosting a BBQ in our recently renovated yarden, in the end it was a quiet day with my family that appealed most. Like all the best celebrations, food was the main focus. Lots and lots of food. Oh, and cocktails! Don’t forget the cocktails.

After a three course breakfast {yes, really}, I pulled on my favourite dress and we headed into Bristol. Meandering slowly up Park Street in the sunshine, Mr. LA and the children were very patient as I browsed Blackwells, Cath Kidston and a few of the vintage shops. My birthday money may have been burning a hole in my pocket, but I was very restrained.

As midday approached, we headed to Jamie’s Italian for lunch. This was my third visit to the Bristol branch and they’ve impressed me every time. Great food and great service in a stylish, but child-friendly, setting.

Jamie's Italian

After sharing a generous platter of antipasti, I tucked into Penne Carbonara and a simple green salad. Izzy and I have been dreaming about the lemony yoghurt and herby dressing that accompanies this side for months. I finally remembered to quiz the waiter about its composition and he was kind enough to jot down the recipe for me before we left. Mr. LA enjoyed his meatballs and the children both cleared their plates too, the definitive sign of a successful meal.

While Izzy and Jesse slurped cloudy apple juice through their straws, we grownups decided to sample the delights of the cocktail menu. I love that ‘Why the hell not?’ feeling you get when it’s your birthday, although I did reassure the waiter that we didn’t make a habit of drinking hard liquor at lunchtime, just in case he was about to label us irresponsible parents. I kicked off proceedings with a Florence Fizz {Limoncello, pomegranate juice, elderflower cordial & Prosecco}, but one sip of Mr. LA’s Vanilla and Lemon Martini and I knew it was all I wanted to drink for the rest of the afternoon.

Cocktails at Jamie's Italian Bristol

While we were far too full for dessert, the children fell upon their portions of ice-cream with gusto. I swear they have hollow legs.

Ice Cream

After lunch, we wandered up towards Clifton Triangle before finally heading home for birthday cake, cups of tea and a family viewing of Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Once the children lay drowsily in their beds, Mr. LA cooked another 3 course meal, dishing up more antipasti {it’s my favourite}, steak served with pesto and warm ciabatta, and finally a little pot of Gü heaven. We ended the night on the sofa, sipping wine and watching Only Lovers Left Alive, which I can highly recommend.

All in all, a very happy birthday indeed!

Love Audrey xxx

My weekend has mainly been spent…

Playing in the yarden Jesse Hospital Asthma

  • Waking up to find Mr. LA had already left for London. I normally stir when he has an early start, so I was incredibly grateful for the extra sleep.
  • Lying in bed quietly while I waited for the children to surface.
  • Snuggling under the covers with Jesse for a while. He had the beginnings of a cold, requiring a spoonful of Calpol and a few blasts of his inhaler.
  • Heading downstairs for a cup of tea.
  • Cuddling Izzy when she finally joined us downstairs. I love that she’s learned to appreciate the beauty of lie in at the weekend {although I am well aware that it has a lot to do with the fact she stays up reading long after we’ve put her to bed}.
  • Making breakfast and drinking more tea.
  • Deciding a lazy day at home would be a good idea. After a long week of working harder than I knew I could, I had hoped to go adventuring with the children, but I sensed Jesse wasn’t up to it. I’m glad I followed my instincts.
  • Jumping in the shower, pulling on a crisp white t-shirt and skinny jeans, and tying my hair in a top knot.
  • Drying laundry in the sunshine while the children played on the yarden floor.
  • Watching every episode of Love Your Garden on ITV Player. Aware of my newfound passion for tending to our outside space, my mum suggested I give it a watch. I had no idea Alan Titchmarch was such a god.
  • Cooking and eating pasta for lunch.
  • Worrying about Jesse’s breathing.
  • Worrying some more.
  • Giving him another few doses of salbutamol.
  • Trying not to panic.
  • Second guessing myself.
  • Calling 999.
  • Pacing around the living room while I waited for the paramedics to arrive.
  • Breathing deeply as I did my best to absorb what was happening.
  • Hitching a ride in the ambulance to Bristol Children’s Hospital, blue lights and all.
  • Laughing at Jesse as he declared the nebuliser ‘just like Darth Vader’.
  • Trying not cry.
  • Telling Izzy everything was going to be alright.
  • Marvelling at how tiny Jess looked all of a sudden.
  • Feeling like the next few hours passed in a blur. The doctors and nurses were brilliant and Jesse’s breathing was soon under control.
  • Leaning on the people of twitter for support. Say what you want about the internet, but I feel very lucky to be part of a community that gives the most amazing virtual hugs just when you need them most.
  • Giving Mr. LA a very real hug when he arrived. The poor man had received my frantic texts just as he boarded the train home from London.
  • Eating sandwiches and crisps for our supper.
  • Wandering through to an observation ward.
  • Realising I had been running on adrenalin for most of the evening. As my anxiety ebbed away I felt sick and suddenly exhausted.
  • Deciding I should be the one to take Izzy home and get some sleep. We’ve inadvertently become old hands at frantic trips to A&E and I’ve always stayed overnight when the children have been admitted, but I just didn’t have it in me this time.
  • Taking a taxi back to the house.
  • Climbing into bed almost immediately.
  • Letting Izzy think she was sleeping in my bed because she didn’t want to be alone, when really it was the other way round.
  • Waking up very early, checking my phone and feeling relived to see Mr. LA’s text messages telling me everything was OK.
  • Walking to the supermarket in the rain.
  • Making four ingredient nutella brownies to welcome the boys home.
  • Tidying and sorting the kitchen while I still had the energy.
  • Re-washing the laundry I’d been forced to leave in the machine overnight.
  • Giving Jesse an enormous hug.
  • Wishing I could take his asthma away.
  • Serving up broccoli pasta and a colourful chopped salad for lunch.
  • Dozing on the sofa while the children watched a movie.
  • Mustering up the energy to put them to bed.
  • Ordering Chinese food and craving an early night.
  • Wishing we could get an extra weekend to recover from this one.

Love Audrey xxx

My weekend has mainly been spent…

Dorset Holiday Dorset Holiday

  • Waking up at my parents’ house in Bridport, Dorset. After arriving on Thursday evening, we spent a rainy day at Sidmouth Folk Festival. We joined in with the ceilidh, ate fish and chips for lunch and listened to some beautiful music before heading home for a sausage and mash supper.
  • Nursing a mild hangover. There’s always plenty of wine when you visit my mum and bonus dad.
  • Sipping tea and chatting to my sister over breakfast.
  • Jumping in the shower and getting dressed.
  • Eventually heading out into the sunshine.
  • Wandering around the market.
  • Browsing the incredible second hand book store.
  • Picking up two beautiful vintage paperbacks for Izzy. She’s already made a start on The Family From One End Street and I think she loves the smell of old books almost as much as I do.
  • Making our way home for lunch.
  • Smothering the children in sun cream, packing a bag and driving to Charmouth.
  • Dipping my toes in the sea with Jesse.
  • Watching Izzy paddle among the waves.
  • Sitting in the sun while Jesse built sand castles with my sister’s boyfriend and Izzy explored the shoreline with Mr. LA.
  • Watching an ominous black cloud roll over the cliffs.
  • Deciding to cut out losses and make for the car in case the heavens opened.
  • Dozing on the sofa.
  • Sitting with Izzy in the last of the day’s sun.
  • Looking forward to dinner. My bonus dad had spent all day preparing a Danish cold table which is a real treat.
  • Greeting my parents’ neighbours as they arrived.
  • Drinking and chatting in the garden.
  • Sitting down to eat. The meal always involves a lot of schnapps so it soon became loud and lively.
  • Eating and drinking far too much.
  • Putting the children to bed just before midnight. They had sat at their own table and played happily while the adults grew more and more merry!
  • Mistakenly thinking it was a good idea to stay up until after 1am.
  • Sleeping in.
  • Dragging myself downstairs.
  • Trying not to laugh at Mr. LA’s hangover.
  • Somehow managing to make it out of the house on time.
  • Driving to Lulworth Cove to meet my grandmother and great uncle.
  • Realising we’d left our picnic at home.
  • Parking the car and walking down to the water.
  • Marvelling at the natural beauty of the place.
  • Sitting on the pebbles and watching the children swim.
  • Eating salty chips in the sun.
  • Enjoying the sight of Izzy frolicking in the water with my aunt Sally.
  • Wandering back up the hill towards the car.
  • Dropping into a cafe for an ice cream on the way.
  • Taking a peek inside the heritage centre.
  • Letting the children take a quick dip in the outdoor pool at my gran’s hotel.
  • Knowing the children would doze all the way home.
  • Eating our forgotten picnic for supper.
  • Joining in with the crossword.
  • Feeling sleepy.
  • Retreating to bed at 9pm. I cannot burn the candle at both ends anymore.
  • Wishing we could stay a little longer.

Love Audrey xxx

PS. Forgive the phone photos, I forgot to pack my camera charger.

Broken

The best excuse I have for not blogging recently involves Jesse, a climbing frame, A&E and an orthopaedic surgeon. Arm1

Just over two weeks ago, Jess took a tumble in the playground. School hadn’t even started, he was playing with a friend while Mr. LA chatted to a fellow parent. Jesse hesitated to jump from the rope bridge, but his buddy didn’t, dragging him awkwardly to the ground below. I’m told he cried loudly, but after he calmed down, he was happy enough to go into class. Mr. LA explained what had happened to his teacher and headed home, albeit with that funny feeling you get as a parent when you know something isn’t quite right.

Sure enough, the school phoned within the hour to say the colour had drained from Jesse’s face and he didn’t seem to be coping very well. We called a taxi and the boys headed to the hospital while I put in an appearance at Isabel’s sports day. I wanted to split myself in two. I felt I should be with Jesse, but I couldn’t bear to think of Izzy arriving on the playing field to find we were a no show. I stuck it out for a few races, but once I’d received the text confirming Jesse had broken his elbow, I knew I needed to leave. Arm2

If you’ve been reading a while, you’ll know I’m not a huge fan of hospitals. I wish I could explain how they make me feel, or describe the way panic builds in my chest whenever I set foot inside one, but it’s hard to type through the tears that fall when I start to think about it too much. I’ve always believed that to be inside one is my worst nightmare, but in fact sitting in traffic a mile away while someone I love was in one was much worse. It’s the only time I hate my imagination, when it churns up memories I’ve done a good job of burying somewhere in the depths of my mind.

So I rode the bus into town, biting my lip to keep my emotions in check. I did a good job too, until I couldn’t find the entrance to the children’s hospital and my heart started thumping and I felt as if my head was going to explode. Then I saw Jesse, his arm encased in a creamy white cast worn close to his chest in a sling. He was fine, flashing me a huge smile as I stepped through the automatic doors, but I burst into tears anyway.

The next few days passed in a sleep deprived blur. Jess was in a lot of pain and his cast was cumbersome and uncomfortable. A follow-up X-ray revealed he had dislocated a bone, so we prepared for surgery a few days later. We spent Friday afternoon on the ward, but were bumped from the list and told to come back the following morning. Jesse was finally in theatre early on Saturday. Arm3

There had been thunderstorms overnight, but blue s kies were just beginning to peep through as they wheeled him downstairs. I held his hand as they put him to sleep. It was surreal watching him drift off so quickly. They hurried me out afterwards, not in a horrible way, they were just being efficient.

I had a cry in the corridor. I get flashbacks you see, just like in the movies. These horrible images of my dad race through my mind and I have to work really hard to push them back to wherever it is they came from. Then I cried because I felt guilty for thinking about anything other than Jesse. I tried to explain why I was crying to the nurse, but I’m sure I made no sense between huge sobs and deep breaths.

We all had hot chocolates in Costa while we waited for the call to say he was in recovery. The surgery went well and we were home later that day. Jesse has taken it all in his stride, proving he is both ambidextrous and full of determination. With a bit of luck the cast will be off within the next few weeks and this whole thing will just be one of those stories we tell. Arm4

‘I remember when you were 5 years old,’ we’ll say to our son in years to come, ‘you fell off the climbing frame at school, do you remember? You broke your elbow and you were so very brave.’

Love Audrey xxx

PS. Bristol and broken bones seem to go together. Remember this?

My weekend has mainly been spent…

The weekend Montpelier Station Bristol Bakers & Co Bristol The weekend Bakers & Co Bristol

  • Waking up at my Mum’s flat in London.
  • Aching all over. I spent Friday night doing my thing as The Wedding Reporter at the Mandarin Oriental in Knightsbridge. In heels. Come Saturday morning, I was just about ready to chop my feet off. Ouch.
  • Discovering there was no milk in the fridge. Hell hath no fury like a Franky who hasn’t had a cup of tea in the morning.
  • Taking the train to Paddington.
  • Grabbing a naughty breakfast at McDonalds.
  • Boarding the train back to Bristol.
  • Reading One Summer: America 1927 all the way home. I love Bill Bryson’s narrative non-fiction.
  • Feeling glad to be back with my little family. I was only away one night, but I always miss them.
  • Eating posh fish finger sandwiches for lunch.
  • Catching the bus to Kingswood with Izzy. It sounds silly, but we only just discovered how close we are to this little parade of shops. There’s all the usual suspects {Wilkos, Sainsburys, WH Smiths} as well as a greengrocer, fishmonger and some well stocked charity shops.
  • Carrying a very heavy bag of compost home on the bus.
  • Pottering in the yarden with the children.
  • Feeling quite proud of myself for keeping a few plants alive. I am notoriously black thumbed, so this is a real achievement.
  • Cooking and eating Singapore Noodles for dinner.
  • Bathing two hot and sticky children.
  • Reading a few chapters of James and the Giant Peach aloud.
  • Giving goodnight kisses.
  • Lounging on the sofa with Izzy for a while.
  • Sipping cocktails and watching Noah.
  • Irritating Mr. LA by singing ‘the animals came in two by two, hurrah’ during all the tense scenes. I was bored.
  • Feeling tipsy.
  • Squeezing in a few episodes of Nurse Jackie before bed.
  • Sleeping in.
  • Drinking tea and eating scrambled eggs on toast.
  • Grabbing a quick shower before pulling on a my beloved Collette Dinnigan dress {a bargain in the Net-A-Porter sale last year}.
  • Gently persuading {read: nagging} the children into their clothes, sun cream and sandals.
  • Strolling to the bus stop in the sunshine.
  • Catching the train to Monpelier.
  • Exploring Gloucester Road for the first time.
  • Dropping into Bakers and Co for lunch. I can highly recommend the Huevos Rancheros and Mr. LA declared his brisket the best meal he’s had since we moved to Bristol. High praise indeed. There’s no children’s menu as such. They’ll gladly serve you a half portion, but Jesse was happy with a poached egg and some bacon.
  • Wandering slowly back to the train station.
  • Browsing a few shops on the way.
  • Letting Izzy spend her pocket money in Scrumptiously Sweet.
  • Collapsing in an exhausted heap when we arrived home.
  • Snoozing on the sofa in the yarden.
  • Attempting to make dinner. Three times. We were missing a vital ingredient for the meal I had planned so we rushed out to buy potatoes to serve with something else. They were rancid so Mr. LA started making macaroni cheese, but the milk had turned. At this point we decided the universe was trying to tell us to get a take away.
  • Coaxing the children into bed.
  • Planning to make a start on season 4 of Walking Dead.
  • Mustering up the energy to write this blog post. Yesterday I told Mr. LA that I was worried Love Audrey might have run its course. He told me he’d divorce me if I gave up on it. Tough love.

Love Audrey xxx

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