Todays' bread class was so much fun, what a lovely group of bakers. Some were returners, after the bread for beginners class, whilst other had chosen to plunge in and do what we describe as the part 2 class first. A little more challenging but as we talk you through each stage, it works just as well.
Lucky girl that I am, I visited Rome recently and in the interests of research (of course) and desperate for a cuppa found myself in Babington’s Tea Rooms at the foot of the Spanish Steps. It has been there since 1893 having been founded by two Englishwomen and claims to have served luminaries including Keats and Shelley who were also, presumably, desperate for a cuppa. It’s well worth a visit. Entering feels like stepping back in time and into another world. From the noisy hubbub of Piazza di Spagna and the heat that bounces up from the stone, inside is an oasis; dark, calm and cool. They serve lovely loose leaf teas even if they have some rather odd ideas about toasting scones and, be warned, it isn’t cheap at 36 Euro for a cream tea for two.
I loved the food in Rome and was excited to sample the focaccia and pick up some tips. Immodest though it may sound, I think that our recipe for focaccia is infinitely superior to any that I tasted there and we’ll teach you to make it on our Stage II bread class this Sunday, or on 1 October if you are free?
Did you know that its National Picnic week starting today? [16 June] It’s one of my favourite weeks in the foodie celebration calendar. Even the word ‘picnic’ still evokes the same rush of excitement in me as it did when I was a child. A picnic is an adventure and conjures up romantic, fantasy images of The Famous Five, gingham napkins, sunshine, sandwiches, fizzy pop, cakes, flasks of tea, picnic blankets and Tupperware. Who else remembers picnics on the beach and the crunch of sandwiches with real sand that had somehow found its way into all of them - eughhh.
The picnic is synonymous with summer, although I’ve enjoyed them even in the depths of winter albeit snuggled up in the car, and sunshine (but who hasn’t had to sprint to the car dragging and dropping plates, cups and food when the heavens have opened!)
I like to think that afternoon tea is a slightly more genteel, indoor version of a picnic. Again it’s a celebration event with loved ones with refined sandwiches, cakes and tea. All the fun only without rain and wind, swatting wasps and having real sand in the sandwiches!
This weekend the weather is set to sizzle, so get your hamper and blanket and get out and about in the beautiful Cheshire countryside. Sand optional.
If you would like a picnic style afternoon tea this summer, let us know, we would be happy to cater for it. Jen, 01925 357940 www.roomforty.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy International Women’s Day from Room Forty Afternoon Tea! This year’s focus is on ‘purposeful collaboration to help women advance and unleash the limitless potential offered to economies the world over.’
But how does this translate in Warrington and is it actually possible to collaborate and succeed in the current economic climate, with Brexit and uncertainty looming on the horizon, or is everyone watching their own back?
How much are we prepared to promote others, and risk our customers placing their order with the person we’re working with rather than us, and is it a risk worth taking?
My own experience with Room Forty is that of a fabulous collaborative culture in existence in Warrington. I can’t count the number of people, male and female who have given me advice, support and encouragement for no benefit to themselves, just to help a green shoot grow and flourish.
The generosity of strangers as I took my first nervous steps into networking has been enormously encouraging, and boosted my confidence to explore and begin collaborating with businesses to help them grow too.
It is with this rather gung-ho and positive, ‘let’s share the opportunities’ that I take all my business opportunities, and I’m delighted that in response several businesses have asked me to be involved in their projects, or have recommended Room Forty to their friends and customers, and the snowball effect is incredible.
One such business, is Sewing Bee Sanctuary, who approached me following my Artisan Feel Good Fayre in Lymm in December. Rebecca loved the Room Forty concept and is passionate about teaching people to learn to sew. We got together for a cup of tea and, within an hour had planned a fantastic craft-ernoon tea on 2 April (11am, 1pm and 3pm) l, where guests will enjoy a two hour sewing lesson, taking their fully lined home made bag home, followed by afternoon tea with bubbles!
What followed next was an introduction by Rebecca to Barbara at her gorgeous new shop in Lymm, Laurel House Interiors and Gifts. With three heads now collaborating we were all fired up for how sharing our businesses together could benefit all of us and the village of Lymm, keeping footfall strong. The open evening last week where we all showed our businesses was a great success and we hope to repeat it again in the coming months.
And so it goes on, and there’s so many more women that have encouraged me to #beboldforchange; from the friends who call on a Tuesday (the day when I generally feel overwhelmed!) to those that spark new ideas and share their talents.
My next collaboration will be amazing, and really fits with International Women’s Day! Kirsty James from Colony Networking approached me to help launch her first female run, female led network for, you guessed it, women only, Colony Women. It’s not that I don’t think that mixed networking is great – I do, and I have made a lot of new male and female connections and friends through it. But because this network will focus solely on women, it hosts inspirational speakers who aim to inspire, motivate and propel women in business with great key note speakers such as Jo Howarth from the Happiness Club. My involvement? Well, Kirsty is planning a creative and interactive twist on each of the events. The first is called tea with a twist, so there’s your hint!
Tea with a Twist will take place on the afternoon of 30 March at The Base, opposite central station. Tickets are available from www.colonynetworking.co.uk
Having the courage to be bold, open up, share, support and encourage fellow women in business has been empowering. I’ll certainly be continuing to #BeBoldForChange and champion collaboration and the rewards and friendship it brings.
How will you #BeBoldForChange today?
We're not food snobs, if you want a box of perfectly uniform Mr Kiplings that's fine, we've got some fabulous crockery you can hire to serve it on.
But, for us, afternoon tea is about decadence, luxury and a few elements of surprise. A chance to sit back, forget about shopping and washing up, and allowing someone else to take the strain - knowing that everything has been taken care of, and the food has taken thought, time and love to produce.
At Room Forty our menu includes sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam and then three further cakes, with nothing taken out of a packet and no preservatives in sight. If you would like fruit skewers to replace one of your three cakes we can do that, it is all about indulging you and treating your guests to a, well a treat!
All our sandwiches and cakes are home-made by me, Jen, with your party in mind. We use great, locally sourced ingredients, supporting other local businesses where we can, such as our lovely butchers (Rowles). With such a personal service we can adapt the menu to suit your tastes. So if you only want brown bread rather than a mixture of brown and white, please ask, or if you would prefer to have the chutney on the side, no problem at all.
Similarly, if there is an ingredient you don’t like, such as cinnamon, almonds or chocolate we will avoid it - that is the beauty of a bespoke menu, made just for you.
All our chutneys are home made in our kitchen and we make several of the jams too, with many of the fruits picked by ourselves or by wonderful friends and customers who are kind enough to bring their surplus to us.
We couldn't get fresher and we cant do enough for you. So if you are planning a treat, make it a decent one and put your feet up!
Oh, the play on words - what fun you can have with 'tea. My branding for one - always pulls a smile when people work out why I named my business Room Forty :)
So, what's this about bags I hear you ask?
Last year I met a lovely lady called Rebecca. She'd just set up her own business called Sewing Bee Sanctuary and loved the Room Forty experience at the pop up we did in Lymm in November. We just started chatting about how we could work together and within an hour our first Crafternoon Tea was arranged, dates times and everything - well, there's no point hanging around when your excited about a new project!
We've since decided on the format of the event and what our guests will make - all stitched on Rebecca's 8 sewing machines, one per person, so no one needs to wait for their turn.
I had the privilege of making the project - a denim tote bag, a couple of weeks ago. I have to say I was delighted and amazed with my new found talent in equal measures - and I think that you will be too!
Rebecca had thought of everything, I even had a basket with my own scissors and the experience was a pleasure. She explained everything to me and was patient, gently guiding me to learn how to use a sewing machine for the first time. Our group sizes are small - just 8, so that Rebecca can help everyone.
My task is to plan a menu that rewards our crafters for their new found talents, and create a relaxing and friendly ambience to enjoy afternoon tea with a glass of something bubbly.
Of course there will be plenty of tea, sandwiches, scones with jam and clotted cream but what cakes to serve? - maybe meringues with fresh fruit? Definitely something chocolatey,then lemon drizzle, sticky toffee cake... I can't decide, you'll just have to wait and see!
To book your place or arrange your very own crafternoon tea at home drop me an email email@example.com or ring 01925 357940.
This Crafternoon Tea will be held on 2 April 2017 at Lymm Parish Hall.
11am -2.30pm FULLY BOOKED
1pm - 4.30pm £40pp
3pm - 6.30pm £40pp
Blimey, is that the time already? Room Forty is seven months old, Christmas is but a jingle bell away and 2017 is knocking on the door.
It’s seven months since I left the cosy nest of my familiar, sensible, relatively safe, reasonably well paid job as a marketing and PR consultant and stepped out into the world of being self-employed and baking for a living. I blanche when I think of myself as a professional baker, but that is what I suppose I now am!
It’s busy, very. And I’m loving it, and from the feedback I have been receiving our guests do too!
Living the dream is a cliché, but here I am. Room Forty was my dream and it is now real and thankfully very live. ‘Routine’ is a distant memory, every day is a unique adventure, everything (except doing the books of course!) is an opportunity and much of it an adrenaline rush.
Room Forty has developed in so many ways that I had never predicted, but it’s a thrill exploring the avenues which open up. I’ve developed and grown not only as a baker but also as a business woman. Much of the time I’m so engrossed in the task ahead that it’s difficult to reflect back, but, I’m proud and really pleased at where Room Forty is at. Without exception every customer has been delighted and that thrills me. I set out to create a product that was extra-ordinary, exceeded expectations and resonated ‘quality’ and Room Forty is meeting those standards.
The core business of Room Forty will always be providing afternoon tea’s, but, I’m now supplying selected outlets with biscuits, cakes, tea and preserves, hiring out and selling vintage china and also running Room Forty events; I’ve organised baking classes, a successful pop up in July, the Artisan feel-good Fayre in Lymm in November and am running another pop up version of Room Forty at the Croxteth Artisan Fayre over the weekend of 10/11 December (do come along!).
Enquiries are ever increasing and the diary is filling up, with bookings already made for March and July!Other opportunities continue to appear and it is all looking very exciting. 2017 will also see Room Forty’s sister business Forty Communications taking a leap forward, - more about that in a future blog!
I have learned so much in the past seven months, and while I have way to go, I am pleased with how it has gone. Thanks to everyone for your support and enthusiasm; customers, friends and, especially, my lovely family who I must also thank for their patience as well (weekends are now spent working, as well as most evenings and alas, meal times are often erratic).
My only enemy in this venture has been time, or rather lack of it. There never seems to be enough time to crush everything I have to do into the hours available. So here’s hoping that Santa brings me an eight day week on 25 December!
As a busy working mum I know just how easy it is to find yourself caught in the thick of Christmas mayhem before you have had chance to sit down, put your feet up and mull over your to-do list. This artisan fayre and pamper day will provide a sense of space to seek inspiration and get ahead of the game, especially for those hard to buy for family members! I’ve found some amazing and creative new business women (and one man) who put so much love into their products including handmade cards and crafts, amazing vintage gifts, artisan foods, photography and incredibly relaxing pampering treatments, there will be something for everyone!”
Get spoilt rotten with cake, pampering and shopping in the heart of Lymm on Saturday 12 November 2016 11.30am – 4.30pm Lymm Parish Hall, Pepper Street, Lymm WA13 0JB
As well as our afternoon tea (advance bookings only please to avoid food waste) I will be serving delicious Cheshire Tea in beautiful fine china, with cakes and cream scones I may even add my rapidly becoming famous brownie to the menu!
To whet your appetite, I have teamed up with Rachel at Kinney holistics to bring you a special offer! It’s a cream tea (tea plus scone with jam & Cream) and a holistic treatment of your choice for just £12.00. This offer is limited to the number of bookings our two therapists can fit in, so book in advance if you can rather than wait till the day.
Gift vouchers for pampering treatments and afternoon tea are available.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org 01925 357940 www.roomforty.co.uk
So, who will be there?
Room Forty Afternoon Tea’s I (Jen!) will be running a vintage style tea room with an array of cakes and award winning Cheshire Tea in beautiful china cups and saucers. For those who love afternoon tea you can book in advance and have sandwiches, scones with jam and cream and several little cakes all for £16.50.
Room Forty will also be selling packets of tea, home-made jams and chutneys and some of their vintage china on the day, perfect quality little gifts for secret Santa’s!
Kinney Holistic Therapy, Rachel and Jacquie will take your stresses away with relaxing treatments in a quiet room next to main hall. You’ll enjoy a choice of reflexology, massage or mini facials for the special discounted rate of £10 for 20 minutes, or put 2 together for a full 40 minute relax!
Cards and Creations Sandra has been making her beautiful cards, paper art, calendars and magical fairy items for six years as a hobby, but has now taken up crafting full time and is loving it!
Stella and Dot Mhari will be bringing a range of stunning quality jewellery and accessories, perfect for the party season!
She said ‘I’m passionate about helping other women to feel great in what they wear – and I think that accessories can really transform an outfit, they finish your look and create a wow factor.
The Vintage Bureau Jane set up the vintage bureau a few years ago. She sells beautiful brooches, vintage linens, hand stitched journals, needlework cases…you will never find anything the same items elsewhere!
The Handmade Corner Claire is a teaching assistant by day and a crafter by night, She creates stunning homewares and gifts including log tea light holders and decorations, wooden decorations and decoupaged items
The Little Nut Tree Sam opened the Little Nut Tree in Lymm village (near the wedding shop) just 7 months ago. A family run business, Sam, her mum and brother make and sell beautiful bespoke gifts and homewares.
Buddha Beauty 100% vegan and cruelty free products. The candles are made with natural essential oils and once melted are pure enough to be massaged into the skin. They also offer a full body range including scrubs, butters, oils and hand creams as well as a full range of facial products.
Andrew Collier Photography Andrew uses his intuition and years of experience to capture your emotions and turn them into images that really get to the heart of who you are.
He told me “I’d never suggest that you pose awkwardly in a harshly lit studio. Instead, I photograph with natural light, because I use the environment around you to convey more about your individual personality”.
Amanda’s Art Amanda has been studying and exploring art and painting all her life, and doing private commissions for several years. This will be her first exhibition and public sale. I am sure you will love it!
Forever Living Hannah and Charlotte are both local mums building extraordinary lifestyles for their families and helping likeminded individuals do the same. They are both hard working, passionate and Aloe obsessed! They will be bringing lots of ideas for the perfect Christmas gift.
Jolly Nice Handmade Amy and Claire will be bringing with them an array of cheerful and unique gifts that can be personalised, including framed handmade fabric collages, and personalised Christmas tree decorations in classic Scandinavian style.
Jigsaw Hampers Minnie specialises in finding the perfect gift for new mums and babies. She creates beautiful parent and baby hampers and bouquets, wooden hearts, towels, cushions that can be personalised for you, great for more unusual spellings of names!
As any of you following my journey will know, Room Forty Afternoon Tea was set up not quite four months ago after a year of planning, scouring charity shops and vintage fairs for crockery and endless baking experimentation. Some say it took guts or madness or both to pack in a steady, reasonably well paid sensible job as a marketing manager and follow my dream, but when the inspiration struck to combine my love of tea, baking, fine bone china and vintage glitz, I knew I had to give it at least a good try, and I’m pleased to say I haven’t looked back even once. The moral of the tale? seek your goals, take a deep breath and have a go, there's no such thing as failure, just a new direction!
The pop up afternoon tea in Woolston in July was a brilliant success. I was so nervous, but everything went smoothly and our guests gave such lovely feedback. I’ll definitely be using the same venue again in the future, possibly with some more craft stalls at Christmas, but excitingly, the Institution Bar in Palmyra Square have invited Room Forty to host an afternoon tea in their lovely private room on 24 September (tickets available from the Institution).
I Iove this time of year and the wonderful abundance of fresh produce and so have had great fun experimenting with different flavours for my home-made jams and chutneys, the first batch of which, I’m proud to say, went on sale at Snoutwood Trotters, Great Sankey and will soon be available at Tom@101 Stockton Heath and Rowles Butchers. Do let me know what you think – and if you have any gluts of fruit that you don’t want, please give me a call and I’ll happily collect them from you, turn into something yummy and of course give you some.
Bread baking workshops – now taking bookings
I‘m thrilled to be launching the first of Room Forty’s classes. The bread class is designed for those who long to recreate the delicious pizza they had on holiday, or want to create a loaf with no additives, our workshops are suitable for any age or ability.
Each hands-on class will last approximately three and a half hours and will guide bakers and would-be-bakers through all the steps to making a perfect loaf, pizza dough and soda bread. Classes will start with a slice of home-made pizza bread tasting before getting to grips with the dough. Guests will learn about bread and how to make it and leave with the fruits of their labour, recipes, fully equipped to have a go at home and, importantly having had fun.
We’ll be running more classes in the future, so if these dates aren’t great for you, or if you want us to run a class at your venue let us know!
22 September and 13 October £45 each or 2 places for £80
Clandestine Cake Club
Anyone who knows me, knows that I love a bake and a chat, and the Clandestine Cake Club is the perfect way to do it. If you fancy making a cake and bringing it along, the next two dates are set for 8 September and 1 December. All you need to do is log on to www.clandestinecakeclub.co.uk and join the Warrington group to find out more. There’s no competition involved, so don’t worry that you won’t fit in, or aren’t a baking expert- its just for fun and a bit of baking banter. All you need to do is bake a whole cake, no brownies or cupcakes, come along and have a cuppa, we’d love to see you!
Apologies, this blog has a lots of dates in it, so here’s a summary!
8 September Clandestine Cake Club - Secret location
22 September bread making workshop JD Kitchens
24 September Pop up afternoon tea at The Institution, Palmyra Square
8 October bread making workshop JD Kitchens
1 December Clandestine Cake Club Secret location
150g pitted soft dates (roughly chopped)
125ml cold water
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
150g butter (softened)
150g light muscovado sugar
2 medium eggs (beaten)
1tsp vanilla extract
175g self-raising flour
6tbsp caramel toffee sauce (Dulce de Leche)
Preheat the oven to 180*c
Lightly grease a 28 x 18cm tin and line the base