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  • National Tea Day

    Here at Ulster Weavers, we have mugs at the ready to over-indulge in the favourite British drink for National Tea Day on 21st April. There’s no better excuse to invite friends and family, old and new over for a cuppa! Go on, put the kettle on, warm the teapot and enjoy our fun facts about this quintessentially British tipple; you can use them to impress friends and family at your next impromptu par-tea... 

    It may surprise you, but most of the leaves inside our sacred teabags are bought from an auction in Mombasa in Kenya.  Back in the 18th Century there were many discussions about the health benefits of tea and whether it was good or bad for you.  In the 21st Century, we know that tea has many health benefits, for example it can boost endurance; specifically, green tea extract has been found to increase metabolism and the body’s ability to burn fat. Drinking tea also reduces the risk of heart attacks and Parkinson’s disease, as well as degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, that are linked to dehydration. 

    There are all sorts of traditions attached to our trusty cup of tea; whether as a comforting hot beverage in times of crisis or a decadent treat as afternoon tea or a cream tea.

    Afternoon tea was born by Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford when she complained of feeling a little peckish during the late afternoon. A hot cup of tea and light snack was created and served between 3.30pm-5pm to fill the hunger between lunch and dinner and was very popular with the upper classes back in the 1840s. By the 19th Century it was established within the middle and upper classes and nowadays afternoon tea is served in hotels, at any time consisting of sandwiches, cakes, tea and sometimes a glass of bubbly. 

    The cream tea tradition ignited in the Westcountry in the 1850s when tourists flooded in thanks to the new railway opening. Visitors were looking to relax and indulge and so the, now famous, cream tea came to be; made with only the finest local ingredients. The tea always consisted of strawberry jam and clotted cream on a warm scone. The biggest debate still to this day is how do you make your scone? Cream then jam, or jam then cream? We say at Ulster Weavers, jam and then cream!

    Finally, nobody wants a cold tea so if like us, you like to keep your tea hot, our beautiful tea pots and tea cosies are perfect; the cosies come in all different shapes and sizes; simple, decorative or shaped there’s one for everyone.

    Find them here

     

     

  • Spring Refresh

    The long, cold winter is finally drawing to its conclusion, praise be! With the new shoots of spring, the lightening evenings and warming temperatures, it’s time to help your home step into the new season as well. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean you need to repaint and decorate; our homeware will do the trick nicely.

    For the trend-lovers

    Spring 2018 is all about indigo blue. This vibrant colour provides fantastic contrast on sunny days and is bright enough to bring life to your home on dull, rainy ones. We love the colour, which is why we’ve designed our new Cat Nap range around it.

    Taking advantage of traditional Japanese Ink and brush techniques, as well as the aforementioned indigo blue, it’s a perfect choice for those who want to be up to date with the latest, greatest homeware trends, or those who simply love cats.

    Find the new range here.

    For the gardeners

    Spring is the most exciting time for amateur gardeners. It’s a chance to give your pride and joy a proper refresh after helping it survive through winter. Bring that joy of the emerging new blooms into your kitchen with one of our gorgeous RHS ranges.

    Horticulture is all about celebrating the sheer variety of plant life, and our various RHS ranges do just that. From the green shoots of Foliage, through to Traditional Rose, Chrysanthemum, Passiflora or Strawberry, all our RHS products can take root successfully in your kitchen.

    See all the RHS ranges here.

    For the spring lambs

    Spring will always be associated with lambs. The arrival of these cute little balls of wool is a great way to mark the seasonal change, so why not welcome some into your home as well?

    Dotty Sheep was our most popular range of 2017, and with good reason! You loved the modern design, contrasting shades of mustard and grey, and the sense of fun imparted by the collection.

    Fall in love with a new set of lambs this year, check out the full set of Dotty Sheep products here.

    For the woodland walkers

    Spring is a particularly stunning time for the woodlands and forests of the world. Bluebells and blossoms burst into life painting the forest in shades of white and blue, while birds sing in the trees and new aromas waft in the breeze.

    How could you not love the woodlands at this time of the year? We certainly do and have aimed to immortalise the majesty of this time of the year with our Woodland range. Forest animals take centre stage in this collection of tea towels and mugs, with foxes, pheasants and owls the star attractions.

    Why not check the set out for yourself on our website?

    Are you spring ready? If you have any tips you’d like to share with us, get in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

  • Celebrate the year of the dog with Ulster Weavers

    Happy Chinese New Year! On Friday 16th February, the new year of the Dog will begin. A whole year dedicated to man’s best friend sounds like a fantastic idea to us, and something we’re more than happy to get involved in!

    As you probably know by now, we’re animal lovers at Ulster Weavers, always looking for new ways to honour the feline friends or canine companions in our homes. So, to celebrate the new year, check out some of our favourite dog designs!

    Walkies:

    It only seems right to start a new year with a new design! You can read all about the design process behind this new creation here, and for those interested in celebrating canines big and small, Walkies is a great way of doing so. From the Labrador to the Beagle, the French Bulldog to the Shiba Inu, if you’re happy seeing a large variety of dogs in your home, this is the kitchenware for you!

    See the whole range here.

    Wiscombe Dogs:

    Ralf, Jack, Cedric, Lucky and Angus are the dogs of the Wiscombe range. These four-legged legends are the models that adorn the ranges of homeware named after them. If you’re after a terrier like Angus, a Dachshund like Ralf, or a Jack Russel like…err…Jack, these beautiful, simple designs are the perfect thing to brighten up your kitchen’s character.

    Browse the Wiscombe family on our website.

    Hound Dog:

    Elvis Presley may have said that you ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog, but you won’t be crying all the time with this beautiful range in your kitchen. The simple blue and cream design draws your eye towards its numerous doggy adornments. 

    And unlike other dogs, these ones won’t try and steal your dinner!

    Check out the range here.

    Scottie Dog:

    Say hello to our Scottie twins. One is here to help keep your tea warm, the other to encourage a refreshing breeze into your home. Both feature a chequered pattern, as well as paw prints dotted across their fur, and both will become firm friends of any other dogs in your life!

    Want to welcome the twins into your home? You can find them here and here!

    Like any of our doggy friends? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And, of course, have a wonderful year of the dog!

  • Introducing our new range, in partnership with the Eden Project.

    Have you ever visited the Eden Project? This world-famous conservation centre in Cornwall is one of the most iconic tourist attractions in the UK and home to thousands of tropical, Mediterranean and indigenous plants, as well as birds and butterflies.

    At Ulster Weavers, we share this love of the natural world and wildlife and are very proud to show off the fruits of our new partnership with the Eden Project!

    Much like the tending of the Eden Project plants, the production of this new range has been a labour of love. It has taken time to develop a range that boasts the expected quality of all Ulster Weavers products, but also fits the environmental credentials of the Eden Project. After many months of labour, we’ve done just that.

    Our initial range, which includes tea towels, aprons, bags, oven gloves and mitts, has been manufactured by Ulster Weavers using unbleached cotton, as well as FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) approved card printed using vegetable inks for labels and packaging.

    Of course, ecological friendliness is extremely important, but so is design and style. The various designs in our new Eden Project range all contain simple, single colour plant designs and a beautiful, highly detailed bird at the centre. The range includes woodpeckers, robins and many more.

    We’re really excited about these beautiful homeware accessories, with ecological sustainability and intelligent design at their core. The new designs will be available in February, with many more additions to the range coming throughout 2018.

    Like what you see? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

  • Introducing our new designs for 2018.

    New Year, new ranges! A big positive about the start of 2018 is that we can finally share some of our new 2018 products with you!

    Over the last year, our design team has been hard at work researching, planning, producing and testing new ideas just for you, and the fruits of their hard work are now ready to be unveiled.

    Alongside fresh designs from our partners, new and old, which we’ll be able to introduce to you very soon, these are our very own designs, available to add a splash of colour into any home this year.

    Walkies

    Everyone at Ulster Weavers loves dogs, in fact many of us love nothing more than spending time with our four-legged friends. It’s this relationship that takes centre stage in the new Walkies design for 2018. Featuring a stylised depiction of a bustling dog park, the design showcases the many different walks of life and breeds of dog that accompany them.

    Predominantly soft grey, this dog homeware design is one of the most varied and colourful we offer; bringing in cherry red and apple green tones that are perfect for bringing joy and light-heartedness into your kitchen.

    Beekeeper

    Spring is right around the corner, and with it comes the return of the bees. These little guys bring so much life to the world by helping to pollinate and rejuvenate millions of plants with their buzzing around.

    We look to celebrate this with our new Beekeeper range! The bright oatmeal-coloured background features busy bees buzzing by beautiful buttercups (and other flowers not beginning with b).

    Cat Nap

    We’ve celebrated dogs and bees already, it’s only right that felines join the mix! Joining Cats in Waiting and Cat Walk in the Ulster Weavers’ cat homeware family is the new Cat Nap range.

    The striking design, created for cat lovers by a cat lover, uses traditional Japanese ink and brushes and captures the varying poses of our feline friends, relaxed, stylish and adorable. The charcoal coloured moggies sit on a soft blue floral background and their complimentary yellow collars give a flash of unexpected vibrant colour and cheer that will look at home in any classic or modern kitchen.

    Bountiful Floral

    Inspired by the William Morris wallpapers of the arts and crafts movement, as well as our love for everything beautiful and natural, the new Bountiful Floral print is a clean and colourful addition to our range. The design looks particularly at home in flat coloured kitchens, such as predominantly white or grey designs, as the bold modern colours, such as pinks and yellows, will really stand out and add a lot of vibrancy.

    Excited for 2018? We’re looking forward to sharing more with you throughout the year. And don’t forget to let us know on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram what you think of the new designs!

  • Your Top 10 Ulster Weavers favourites of 2017

    Everyone loves a top 10 at Christmas don’t they? Whether it’s movies, music or sports stars, the end of the year wouldn’t be quite the same without a listicle about favourites from the year gone by.

    We’re no different here! We’ve been looking at some of your most popular Ulster Weavers items from 2017.

    Now. Onto the top 10!

    10. Dotty Sheep Side Plate

    Kicking off the top 10 is the ever-popular Dotty Sheep range. Namely, our bone china side plate. Perfect for bringing a bit of colour to your table.

    Like what you see? Join the flock by checking out the Dotty Sheep range here.

    9. Dotty Sheep Tea Towel

    Two Dotty Sheep entries in the top 10? Clearly the range has fans! (Spoiler alert: more sheep show up on this list…)

    And why wouldn’t it have fans? How could you not love the mustard yellow and grey contrast? It’s perfect for brightening up any kitchen.

    Check them out here!

    8. Dotty Sheep Placemats

    Like the release of a new Ed Sheeran album, the top 10 is being overtaken by one artist! Protecting a table has never been so much fun. These bright, colourful cork placemats are easy to clean, and loved by adults and kids alike.

    Check them out here!

    7. Dotty Sheep Cup and Saucer

    So what goes well with your tea towels, placemats and plates? We wouldn’t be British if we didn’t offer perfectly styled cups and saucers, to make your tea look as good as it tastes!

    As with all our products, we’ve designed this cup and saucer to withstand everyday use, while remaining delicate to hold. As it should be.

    6. Royal Wedding Anniversary Tea Towel

    As a British company and bearers of the Royal Standard, we were very excited to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. Clearly, we weren’t the only ones as well!

    If you’re a fan of the royalty looking for something to commemorate historic dates and occasions, we’re here to help! You can order this one here:

    Rumour has it, there is a special event happening for the royal family next year, watch this space to see what we have planned…

    5. Dotty Sheep Straight Sided Mug

    Did you think we’d finished with Dotty Sheep on this list? Clearly you all love it very much, and the mug proves to be the best seller from the whole range!

    A perfect gift for yourself or a friend, this mug will serve you well, it’ll survive trips through the dishwasher, and everything you can throw at it (not literally).

    Find them here!

    4. Christmas Dove Tea Towel

    We all love Christmas, don’t we? It’s plain to see all of you do, because you’ve taken this beautifully simple dove design into your homes and embraced it. Thank you so much for that.

    If you’re planning ahead for Christmas next year, why not look to see what other special seasonal products we do? We’ve got a lot to offer!

    3. Penguin Doorstop

    Claiming the bronze medal is our wonderful Antarctic friend. He’s perfect for keeping your kitchen door open, entertaining your children and befriending your dog.

    He’s so proud to help, he’s even dressed in his finest, and who doesn’t love a good bow tie?

    Order your new home assistant bird here!

    2. RHS Traditional Rose Calendar Tea Towel 2018

    As for the silver medal? A timelessly designed tea towel, for those who like to keep track of the time! It’s nice to see our fans like to plan ahead, however you use this tea towel next year, we hope it brings you luck and happiness for 2018!

    There’s still time to order yours here.

    1. Elephant Parade Doorstop

    Ladies and gentlemen, your gold medallist for 2018 is our beautiful elephant doorstop! Filled with love (and sand), we even donate money to protect elephants every time we sell one of these little guys. So by brightening up your house with one of these little guys, you help to protect their big brothers and sisters around the world.

    Join the elephant parade here:

    So that’s that! Another year wrapped up, with exciting new ranges and products arriving next year, what will take the top spot in our 2018 top 10? Only you can decide!

  • Survey: Are traditional cooking skills declining?

    At Ulster Weavers, we love to cook. There’s nothing quite like a home-cooked meal to make you feel better at the end of a long day. However, we’ve started questioning in recent years whether cooking is a skill that’s dying out in the UK.

    To check whether there was any truth to this, we recently worked on a piece of research, asking people from across the UK, from all walks of life, whether they thought traditional cooking skills were dying out. We also showed them all a list of 30 classic cooking skills, including making béchamel sauce and creaming butter and sugar, and asked how many of them they could do. The results were surprising, here are a few of the skills, and what percentage said they could do them:

    While most people surveyed could do most, if not all, of the traditional skills mentioned, only 18.2% could do everything, and some basic skills, such as making a basic béchamel sauce could not be achieved by more than half the people surveyed.

    So why have these skills shown signs of decline? 80% of the people surveyed admitted they don’t have enough time to cook from scratch, with 78% relying on convenience foods such as ready meals and pre-chopped vegetables in order to get by.

    Shifting Tastes:

    Alongside this decline in cooking skill has come a marked shift in what people tend to cook and eat. British classics of the 1970s, such as toad in the hole and Lancashire hot pot have declined in popularity considerably, while global flavours, such as Thai curry, have seen a large growth:

    What could this mean?

    Overall, this survey has raised worrying questions about future generations. As people’s working lives get busier, the less they cook. Which means they won’t be able to pass their skills onto their children, which could lead to these skills dying out.

    If you’d like to read the full survey for yourself, you can download it here.

    Have any thoughts on this survey? How did you learn how to cook? Let us know in the comments below, or on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Our top picks for Christmas - 2017

    Christmas is fast-approaching, and with it comes the chaotic nature of Christmas shopping and gifting.

    The thing is, at Ulster Weavers, we don’t really do stress and chaos; we prefer things to be calm, cosy and lovely. To help you feel the same way, regardless of needing to find those special gifts for family and friends, we’ve put together a short Christmas gift guide featuring some of our favourite items for some truly unique Christmas gift ideas.

    Best of all, they’re all available online for delivery, meaning you get to skip all that frantic running about! Sit back, put the kettle on and enjoy the Christmas build-up…

    For a comfortable home:

    Working hard to keep your house warm this winter? One stylish and effective way to keep your home cosy is by using one of our draught excluders. Made from high-quality cotton and filled with polyester and sand for maximum insulation, they are available in a range of designs to suit any home.

    Our choice would be the Hound Dog draught excluder (https://www.ulsterweavers.com/hound-dog-draught-excluder). Perfect for any dog lover!

    You can see all our draught excluders here: https://www.ulsterweavers.com/home-accessories/draft-excluders

    For the baking lover:

    It’s no secret that we love baking at Ulster Weavers. Thanks to the rise of shows like Great British Bake Off, we think the nation is rediscovering its passion as well. If you’re capable of producing fabulous show-stoppers, or just want your cake to look the best it can, our range of cake stands can help.

    One of the most popular ones in our range is the Dotty Sheep cake stand (https://www.ulsterweavers.com/dotty-sheep-cake-stand). Using the same popular print as the rest of the Dotty Sheep range, the stand is made of high-quality ceramic, and can be taken apart for easy storage.

    Find our entire range of cake stands here: https://www.ulsterweavers.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=cake+stand

    For the tea connoisseur:

    We’re a nation of tea lovers in the UK. Nothing comforts people like a nice mug of tea and a comfy place to sit. If you have a tea lover in your life, now would be a good time to look at tea pots, they’re set to make a comeback in 2018!

    Once you’ve found a tea pot that suits, team it up with one of our animal tea cosies, such as our adorable Scottie dog, (https://www.ulsterweavers.com/scottie-dog-shaped-tea-cosy) to keep their tea warm and looking fantastic!

    All of our tea cosies can be found here: https://www.ulsterweavers.com/kitchen/tea-cosies

    For the sofa:

    Nothing brightens up a living room like a few cushions, does it? We’re very proud of our range at Ulster Weavers, with all our cushions made of 100% cotton with a dense polyester filling, for optimum comfort, and to ensure that the cushions stay plump and shapely.

    Whatever colour scheme you’re going for, we’ll have a cushion to suit. For example, contrasting colours with grey is very on trend, and our Dotty Sheep cushion, with a different design on each side, will co-ordinate perfectly with any shade of grey!

    Check out all our cushions here: https://www.ulsterweavers.com/home-accessories/cushions

    For the home chef:

    While not technically a Christmas gift, the chefs who work away in the kitchen on the big day deserve a few bits to make it more enjoyable!

    Bring the Christmas spirit into the kitchen with one of our special winter ranges, featuring everything from oven gloves and gauntlets to Christmas tea towels and aprons. As with all Ulster Weavers products, unique designs are extremely important, and our winter ranges include snow globes, robins and festive garlands.

    For truly traditional Christmas kitchenware try our Christmas feast range, designed in conjunction with Kelly Hall. Featuring a range of useful trays, coasters, mugs and tea towels, the design combines all the elements in a traditional Christmas dinner, meaning it can also act as an impromptu checklist if you’re worried you’ve forgotten something!

    Take a look at the Christmas Feast range here: https://www.ulsterweavers.com/collections/kelly-hall#/collections/kelly-hall/shopby/christmas_/

    With these and hundreds more products on our brand-new website, we could write 10,000 words on all the products we love. Check them out for yourself here: https://www.ulsterweavers.com/

  • Top tips for a family Halloween

    There’s no denying that in recent years, Halloween has become something of a highlight on a family’s social calendar. It’s a great chance to have some fun, show your creativity, and potentially spook your children, and who doesn’t want to do that occasionally!

    To help with your Halloween inspiration, we’ve put together a few ideas on how to decorate your home, as well as interesting Halloween party food ideas to serve up for trick or treaters, or at a spooky get-together.

    Decorate your house.

    You can’t have a Halloween party without making your home spooky, it just wouldn’t be right. However, this doesn’t mean you need to spend lots of money on special decorations that, let’s be honest, are likely to end up in the bin on November 1st.

    We’d suggest using your creative skills, as well as your kids’, to make something a bit different, reflecting your own style and sense of humour, while also saving yourself a bit of money. It also increases the Halloween fun for your kids! Some of our favourite ideas on how to make Halloween decorations include:

    • Another simple Halloween idea is to cut eyes into toilet roll holders and place a small torch or a glow stick inside them. Hide the holders in dark corners or hedgerows. The resulting sinister glowing eyes will spook your family, friends and neighbours! For the ultimate effect, try to use red or green lights.
    • Follow this step-by-step guide on YouTube.For trick-or-treaters in your neighbourhood, you can ‘monsterise’ your front door, turning it into a character all of its own. This can be done in many different ways, but if you treat the letterbox as the ‘mouth’ of the character, you can add teeth by using paper cut to shape, as well as eyes further up the door.
    • If you’re skilled with photo editing software, you could put your head in a jar… Don’t worry, it’s completely painless. It requires you to take 3 photos of your face, from both sides and straight on, blend the photos together, laminate the image, and place it in a large glass jar filled with water and food colouring. Find out how to do this here.

    Make something delicious.

    Halloween wouldn’t be the same without treats for everyone. It’s a big part of the whole experience, and probably our favourite part! If you’re a keen baker, you can produce some fantastic sweeties for the spooky occasion. From literal finger food to spider cookies, it isn’t too difficult to make scary, delicious food with our helpful Halloween tips. Just make sure to grab your special Ulster Weavers Halloween tea towels and oven mitt!

    • For a simple, yet effective, Halloween treat, try making your own spider chip cookies. We’ve got our own favourite cookie recipe as a basis, but any recipe where the chocolate chunks are clearly visible will suffice. To turn chocolate chip cookies into spider cookies, remove the baked cookies from the oven, and immediately take a toothpick or cocktail stick, and streak out the chocolate to look like legs. That’s it!
    • Create creepy ‘finger’ food for a delicious, yet unnerving treat. Simply combine porridge oats, dates, dark chocolate and peanut butter in a food processor and pulse until you have a rubbly consistency. Shape the mixture into fingers, and press a toasted almond flake in to the mixture to represent the fingernail. Store in the fridge until you’re ready to serve them!
    • You can create delicious mummies by coating chipolata sausages in honey, mustard and ketchup, and wrapping in croissant pastry (home-made or pre-rolled). For that added effect, use the mustard to create creepy eyes through a slit in the pastry, perfect for a party!

    Do you have any other special recipes or ideas for Halloween, or have you tried any of ours? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

  • National Baking Week – A guide for beginner bakers

    With the rise of TV shows like Great British Bake Off, baking is becoming increasingly popular in the UK. More and more people are picking up their whisks and rolling pins, and turning their hand to creating delicious homemade food in the oven.

    At Ulster Weavers, we’ve made it our mission to get as many people to try their hand at baking as possible, whether it’s encouraging people to show us what they’ve cooked at the weekend with one of our competitions on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (link to competition), or providing the high-quality kitchenware our fans need to get great results and look good whilst doing it, we’re always looking at new ways to help people to improve their baking skills.

    But what about total newcomers? How do you learn to bake? What do you need to know? What baking tips do you need to really help you get ahead in the kitchen? To celebrate #NationalBakingWeek, we’ve aimed to answer some of the key questions for new bakers!

    Read on for our five top tips for baking a cake as rookie bakers, from deciphering the difference between some baking essentials, to tricks and hacks to bake better, faster and easier!

     

    What is the difference between light and dark brown sugars?

    Granulated, caster, icing, muscovado. Browns and whites. The difference between sugars can be a bit of a minefield for the new baker.

    With granulated and caster sugar, you can usually buy it as white or golden. These are almost completely interchangeable. If a recipe calls for golden caster, and you only have white caster, you will get a result that tastes the same, but lacking the rich colour of a golden sugar. When you’re baking your cake, think about the colour you’re aiming for, and pick your sugar accordingly.

    The main types:

    The three main types of sugar used in baking are granulated, caster and icing. The difference between the three is how finely ground they are, with granulated being the coarsest and icing the finest:

    Granulated: If you like sugar in your tea, this is the type you’ll use! Granulated is an excellent all-round sugar for cooking, but it’s too coarse to be used in the majority of cakes.

    Caster: This is the most commonly used form of sugar in baking, as the sugar is fine enough to dissolve in mixtures, removing any grittiness from the finished product.

    Icing: Also known as ‘confectioner’s sugar’, this is the finest form of sugar available. Icing sugar dissolves on contact with water, and so it is most commonly used to, as the name suggests, create icing for a cake, or dusting a finished product. Icing sugar has a tendency to form powdery clouds, so be prepared to thoroughly clean your kitchen surfaces after use, and whisk carefully!

    When you’re baking most cakes, these sugars will suffice. If you decide to turn your hand to something else, be it a chutney or a crumble, you might find yourself needing to use another sugar, such as Demerara. To find out all about them, head to the BBC guide!

    Is bicarbonate of soda the same as baking powder?

    This is a question we hear quite often! A large range of baked goods; require either baking powder or bicarbonate of soda, but most notably cakes. This is because both bicarb and baking powder are raising agents, and do roughly the same thing; they release carbon dioxide when they come into contact with moisture and warmth.

    However, the ways in which the two ingredients work does have an impact on how you use them. Bicarbonate of soda requires an acidic product to mix with in order to produce the gas. This is why you’ll often find it in mixtures that involve lemon, yoghurt, buttermilk or honey. Meanwhile, baking powder has a dried acidic element mixed in, so it is more suitable for cakes without an acidic base, such as a Victoria sponge.

    The short answer: Bicarbonate of soda and baking powder do the same thing, but in different ways. You can use baking powder in place of bicarb, but not the other way round. Using baking powder as a substitute could also adversely impact the taste of your cake.

    How do I know when my cake is ready?

    Every recipe tells you how long your cake will need in the oven, and at what temperature, but many a cake has been burnt/underbaked by taking this information as gospel.

    Every oven is different, and even fan ovens have variations in temperature within them, so it might take slightly longer or shorter to bake a cake in your oven, depending on this. We would advise purchasing an oven-safe thermometer, which can give a much more accurate assessment of your oven temperature than the thermostat on the front, and use that to get the perfect temperature.

    We would also advise setting the timer for a few minutes shorter than advised by the recipe, this gives you the chance to react if the cake is baking faster than anticipated. Although try to avoid opening the door when possible, however once or twice won’t ruin most cakes.

    Finally, an old trick is to insert a knife or skewer into your cake, and if it emerges clean, the cake is baked through. While this does work, we would advise removing the cake when there is still a small amount of residue left on the skewer. The cake will continue to bake for a few minutes after it is removed from the oven, so removing it early will help keep the cake moist.

    The short answer: Keep an eye on oven temperatures, don’t take the information on the recipe as undisputable fact. When removed from the oven, push gently down on the middle of the cake. If it doesn’t spring back, it isn’t ready.

    How do I ice a cake effectively?

    You’ve baked that perfect cake, mixed up your icing, and are now ready to make a masterpiece. While this is more of an artistic skill than the more scientific basis of baking, there are still some steps you can take to get the best result possible.

    The most important step is to ensure your cake has thoroughly cooled before applying icing. If the cake is warm, the icing won’t set, and will slowly melt off the cake, wasting the ingredients and leaving a messy result.

    One clever tip to help get a cleaner top is by crumb coating a cake. To do this, take a small amount of your icing, and apply a thin layer to the surfaces of the cake you intend to ice. This will act as a ‘crumb coat’, sticking down any crumbs or loose pieces of cake, and preventing them from appearing on the surface of the icing.

    Once the crumb coat is set, apply the rest of your icing on top for a clean finish with no crumbs showing.

    The short answer: Make sure your cake is cool before doing anything to it, add a thin layer of icing first to stop crumbs from being visible on the iced surfaces.

    How do I measure ingredients effectively?

    Accurate measurements seem like quite a simple step to take, but something that isn’t often given the appropriate amount of time. The mixture of ingredients in a cake need to be finely balanced, there is a very small margin of error. Too much of one ingredient, or not enough, could leave your cake flat, dry or gritty.

    To avoid this, measure your ingredients carefully, and in advance of making the cake. If you take the time before you begin to have everything ready and pre-measured, it’ll remove the chance for mistakes, and will probably take less time than the alternative.

    With dry ingredients, such as flower and sugar, make sure you sieve them in, this will stop them from sticking together, preventing lumps in your mixture.

    The short answer: Measure in advance, have everything ready to go!

    With these tips, as well as our range of cupcake recipes, you should have everything you need to get started this National Baking Week. We’d love to hear about your baking efforts, and of course if you have any tips of your own, please feel free to share them with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

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