Weekly Inspiration: Tea and Cake.

Hello! This is a weekly feature where I share my photos with you. I carry my camera everywhere, and I constantly take pictures of things that excite me. Prepare to see lots of colours and patterns through my lens.

Firstly, let me clarify that these photos were not taken in the space of one week. (Sadly, I am not able to make – or eat – that much cake!) Instead, this is a round up of a month of sweet, delicious photos taken in London and in York. If you’re into cake, then you must visit York – there were quaint tea shops tucked around every corner, with piles of cake beckoning from the window displays. Here were some of my favourite places to eat at and photograph:

Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour26-08Tarts & Tidbits is a delicatessen with retro window illustrations and loads of tasty things inside. It’s on the same street as The Cafe 68 Gillygate (See below!).

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Macarons and marzipan mice at Betty’s Cafe, an old-school York tea and cake establishment.

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The Cafe 68 Gillygate had a table at the window which was laden with tall, colourfully frosted cakes. I couldn’t get a proper photo for two reasons. Firstly, there was too much glare on the glass, and secondly, I was too hungry for cake.  I had an enormous slab of amazing caramel apple cake (above), and my boyfriend had a chocolate mint cake which was so rich that he couldn’t finish it. So I helped him.

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Meanwhile, back in London, I went for coffee at Mamacita in West Hampstead. It has a wall which is plastered in images of Frida Kahlo imagery, and cups in the perfect shade of green!

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I also did a bunch of baking this month. Below is Mary Berry’s classic Victoria Sandwich cake…which I made less classic by using rose jam instead of strawberry. It was totally delicious, and also quite photogenic.

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The birthday cake below is the most kitsch creation I have ever been involved with. It was a joint effort with my friend Simone, who baked and iced the whole thing – a 3-layered coconut custard cake. I was responsible for the ‘Meow’, the fluoro candles and the paper decorations. I just can’t do subtle however hard I try (although, frankly, I’m not trying).

Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour26-02This next cake is another example of my non-subtlety. I took a plain vanilla sponge recipe and added sprinkles to the batter for a rainbow effect. The sprinkles dissolve while baking, so it didn’t end up all crunchy.

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The rainbow cake was for my boyfriend’s nephew who was turning 5. When making a birthday cake for a little boy, it seems totally legit to go overboard with the food colouring and sprinkles and…a whole packet of Haribo.Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour26-11 Continue reading

Illustrated Recipes: Apricot Muffins & Pumpkin Fudge

Hello! This post is part of my illustrated recipes series. I love making food and I love drawing it, so I figured I should put the two together!

These two doodles were made for two of my friends. On their wedding day (yes, more weddings around here) they asked guests to bring print-outs of their favourite recipes, so that they could begin married life in a …delicious way. Obviously, I wasn’t going to rock up with plain old Times New Roman on printer paper. Oh no. I was going to draw my recipes! I dug through my old handwritten recipe binder and pulled out two old favourites:

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Recipe 1: Apricot Muffins (original here)

Helena-Maratheftis-illustrated-recipe-cards-02I’ve had a lot of practice with these muffins because one of my best friends really likes them, and she ain’t afraid to make requests! Having said that, they’re really really easy to make.

TOP TIP: I’ve always used tinned apricots rather than dried ones. If you live in the UK, go to Sainsbury’s and buy tinned breakfast apricots instead of regular apricot halves. They’re smaller and sweeter and you won’t need to chop them up (unless you want to separate the halves, which I often do).

Recipe 2: Pumpkin and Walnut Fudge Helena-Maratheftis-illustrated-recipe-cards-03

This recipe is a bit more complicated, but I’ve still managed to make it a few times without a candy thermometer. Just go for it! It looks and smells amazing while it’s cooking, and tastes really good when it’s set.

TOP TIP: Do not be tempted to stick your finger in for a taste while it’s boiling – you will melt your hand off! (I speak from experience.)

Enjoy responsibly!

(i.e. don’t eat the whole batch in one go before it’s even cooled properly.)

Cake & Canvas: Thefty at Bea’s of Bloomsbury

Sweet news! A handful of my paintings have been installed at Bea’s of Bloomsbury, the cult London cake shop. If you haven’t visited Bea’s before, you now have a double excuse to go!

My paintings will be up for the next month, so head over and take a peek while nibbling on some cheesecake, a huge meringue, or a duffin (doughnut + muffin!). I’m doubly excited to be a part of Bea’s because, apart from a reputation for making super-delicious treats (which you know I love), Bea’s has been commended for it’s gorgeous interior design.

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Helena-Maratheftis-Beas-of-bloomsbury-06I popped in to Bea’s to photograph the exhibition yesterday. The paintings add a nice burst of colour to the space, with the soft lighting making the rhinestones extra twinkly!  Of course, I didn’t leave before having lunch (a massive portion of quiche and salad) and dessert (a rich chocolate cupcake with fluffy raspberry buttercream – pictured).

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Good cake + good design = the ultimate sweet spot in the universe.

Thanks for having me, Bea’s!

Bea’s of Bloomsbury
44 Theobald’s Road
London
WC1X 8NW
(Near Holborn Station)

Weekly Inspiration: Exploring art (and cake) in beautiful Vienna.

Hello! This is a weekly feature where I share my photos with you. I carry my camera everywhere, and I constantly take pictures of things that excite me. Prepare to see lots of colours and patterns through my lens.

I’ve always wanted to visit Vienna. I blame (or rather, thank) my high school art teachers who raised me on a diet of  Hundertwasser and Klimt and Schiele, all Viennese artists. Of course, Vienna is known as much for its cakes as it is for its art, so it’s doubly surprising that it took me so long to make my pilgrimage. However, I finally made it! I spent four glorious days in Vienna last week, and I’ve got the photographic evidence to prove it! I’ve left out the standard tourist shots of St. Stephen’s Cathedral and instead am presenting a Thefty-eye-view of the city. I hope you enjoy it.

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Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour23-02St. Stephen’s Cathedral is pretty fantastic. By night, it was illuminated in rainbow colours. By day, the incredible tile work looked beautiful in the sun. My friend, referring to the stripy bits, said,  ‘That looks like the sort of cathedral you’d design.’

Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour23-04The golden orb on top of the Secession building is basically a beacon for magpies like me. We went inside to view the mural by Klimt, and it did not disappoint.

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Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour23-06Afterwards, we decided to check out the contemporary version of Vienna, which involved a visit to the Museum of Modern Art (MUMOK).  This was followed by a sunbathing session on huge, neon loungers in the museum’s public courtyard. Well played, Vienna.

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Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour23-10Later on, we did some cake-perving. Naturally, this culminated in an afternoon coffee and cake session at the famous Sacher Hotel. Yes, we had Sachertorte. Yes, it was good (but admittedly not my favourite treat of the trip. So shoot me!).

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Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour23-11The highlight of my trip (apart from cake) was visiting the Hundertwasser Museum. I thought my obsession with his work had peaked in my late teens, but after fighting back tears the whole time I was at the museum, I concluded that Hundertwasser’s work still speaks to me. (I also concluded that I am the world’s biggest crier.)

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Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour23-13Photography was prohibited inside the exhibition, so I could only photograph the (very striking) interior of the building. Colours and patterns, ahoy!

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Hundertwasser believed in’ diversity over monotony, for romanticism, for the organic and for unregimented irregularity, for spontaneous vegetation and for a life in harmony with nature’…all concepts which I can happily get behind.

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Weekly Inspiration: Black + White + Neon.

Hello! This is a weekly feature where I share my photos with you. I carry my camera everywhere, and I’m always taking pictures of things that excite me. Prepare to see lots of colours, patterns and good times through my lens!

Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour20-02My latest jumper + necklace combo. It’s still really cold in London, so I’m trying to keep my winter clothes interesting!

Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour20-04I’ve been eating a lot more soft boiled eggs since I bought these fluoro plastic egg cups. Aren’t they great? (Yes.)

Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour20-07Speaking  of fluoro, I think this is the brightest lunch I’ve ever had.

Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour20-08So. I’d been perving on this mug from Design House Stockholm for a very long time…so when I spotted its doppelgänger on sale for a mere 95p in a charity shop, I had to buy it! So, so pleased.

Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour20-05Now, this was even more exciting than the mug. I was photographing specimens at the museum when this label caught my eye. It’s one of Charles Darwin‘s own specimens! Argh! This resulted in a complete fangirl meltdown moment.

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These biscuits are Iced VoVos, a favourite treat from my Aussie childhood. I finally cracked open the box I’d brought back from my holiday last December, and they were good.

Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour20-06On my desk this week: Jars of paint water, bowls of fruit, and brand new drawings.

It has been a bright and jam-packed week! What have you been up to?

Illustrated Recipe: Cherry & Coconut Truffles

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Hello! This blog post is part of my illustrated recipes series. This week I felt like making peppermint patties, but when I realised I was all out of peppermint extract, I knew I had to get creative. I had recently bought a bottle of Morello Cherry Cordial and thought it would work perfectly. Of course, cherry and chocolate always makes me think of these, so I had to throw coconut into the mix as well. You can always leave the coconut out if you prefer, and you could always substitute the cherry cordial for any other flavour.

INGREDIENTS (based on this recipe)

For the cherry filling:

  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 tablespoons evaporated milk
  • 1.5 teaspoons cherry cordial
  • A few drops of red food colouring (optional – I didn’t use any)

For the coating:

  • 450g of dark chocolate (couverture is best because it melts easily)
  • 2 cups dessicated coconut

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DIRECTIONS

1. Combine all the ingredients for the filling in a large bowl, and stir until combined. You should end up with a firm, dough-like consistency. If the filling is too sticky or wet, simply add more icing sugar until it firms up. With your hands, roll teaspoonfuls of filling into balls, and then flatten the balls into  discs with the heel of your palm (see above picture). Lay the discs onto a tray lined with greaseproof paper, and put them into the freezer for at least half an hour. (I left mine there overnight and they were completely fine.) Make sure you don’t skip the freezer step, because this prevents the discs from falling apart when you dip them into hot, melted chocolate later on!

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2. While the filling is in the freezer, prepare your coatings. In one small bowl, melt your chocolate. You can either do this using a double boiler, or you can do it (carefully) in the microwave. Fill another small bowl with the dessicated coconut.

Helena-Maratheftis-cherry-truffles-33. Remove the discs of filling from the freezer. You will need to coat each truffle individually or you will make a giant mess if you do them all at once! Start by dropping a frozen disc of filling into the bowl of melted chocolate, so that it is completely coated. Using a tablespoon, lift it out of the chocolate and immediately drop it into the bowl containing coconut. I used a fork to flip the truffle over to make sure both sides are covered in coconut. Then place the truffle onto a tray lined with greaseproof paper and wait a few hours until the coating hardens.

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Enjoy!  That’s all that’s left to do!

These are delicious and make very cute presents. They can also be stored in the fridge for several weeks.

Weekly Inspiration:A foodie rainbow.

Hello! This is a weekly feature where I share my photos with you. I carry my camera everywhere, and I’m always taking pictures of things that inspire me. Prepare to see lots of colours, patterns and good times through my lens!

So, this week I’ve been eating. A lot. Whenever my parents are in town, this is what happens. Today’s pictures are a foodie rainbow: home-cooked food, as well as treats from Portobello Road market, The Brass Rail in Selfridges, and high tea at The Orangery. Enjoy!

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Weekly Inspiration: Happy New Year!

Hello! This is a weekly feature where I share my photos with you. I carry my camera everywhere, and I’m always taking pictures of things that inspire me. Prepare to see lots of colours, patterns and good times through my lens!

Happy 2013, guys! What did you get up to on new year’s eve? We had a little party in our flat. I made a lot of cake, as usual. There were lots of bright and kitschy decorations…as usual. Have a look:

Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour14-05Vasilopita is a traditional Greek new year’s eve cake. It’s usually a simple orange sponge cake, but I took it to new, technicolour heights. I’m not sure my mum would approve.

Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour14-03Lemon cupcakes with blueberry frosting, inspired by this recipe.

Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour14-01I got a lot of Turkish Delight chocolate for Christmas, so I baked a bar of it into chocolate brownies. I highly recommend it!

Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour14-04Earl Grey scented cupcakes with clementine frosting. (The cake recipe is from here, but I made a simpler frosting: icing sugar, butter, and the juice and zest of 2 clementines.)

Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour14-07The food table at our party. Yum, yum, yum, yum.

Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour14-13Midnight! Every year, we welcome the new year by banging on pots and pans with wooden spoons (and potato mashers, tongs, and any other utensil we can find).

Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour14-08Party poppers! We like to party like it’s 1993.

Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour14-12A doorway-ful of streamers.

Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour14-09We love a bit of neon.

Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour14-02Some gorgeous, gorgeous wine packaging.

Helena-Maratheftis-weekincolour14-11The morning after was beautifully sunny…and totally messy.

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May your 2013 be filled with cake, friends, sunshine and happiness.


Gingerbread Stars: An Illustrated Recipe.

Hello! This blog post is part of my illustrated recipes series, because I love making food as much as I love drawing it.

Helena-Maratheftis-gingerbread1Every Christmas, I make gingerbread. I love the way it makes the house smell spicy and amazing, and I love spending a couple of hours decorating the cookies. For this year’s first batch, I made gingerbread stars. However, you can make any shape you like. I don’t judge.

My cookie recipe is the Waitrose Christmas Gingerbread recipe. It’s essentially foolproof, so I’ll leave you to it. However, I DO have some decorating ideas I’d like to share!

GINGERBREAD DECORATING IDEA #1: Crunchy sugar icing

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Directions (consult above diagram for help):

1. Mix 2 cups icing sugar and 3-4 tablespoons of warm water in a large bowl. You want the icing to be ‘spreadable’, so add water to loosen or add more sugar to thicken it if necessary. Add a few drops of food colouring if desired (I added green food colouring to half of my icing, and left the other half white)

2. In a separate dish, spread a thin layer (half a centimetre will do) of caster sugar. If you like, combine – or replace! – the caster sugar with sprinkles of your choice. I added blue and green sugar balls.

3. Use a butter knife to spread a thin coating of icing all over each cookie. Alternatively, place a thick blob of icing in the centre of the cookie.

4. Immediately place the cookie into the dish of sugar, with the iced side facing down. The sugar (or sprinkles) will stick to the icing and create a sparkling, crunchy surface.

5. Dust off the excess topping by gently tapping the cookie, then allow the icing to harden on a tray or wire rack.

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GINGERBREAD DECORATING IDEA #2: Piped decorations

If you’re feeling extra fancy, you can opt for delicate piped decorations (see above). For example, if you make gingerbread men instead of stars, you can use a piping bag to ‘draw’ eyes, noses and buttons.

Make the icing in the same way as before, but rather than applying it to the cookies with a knife, fill a piping bag with a small, circular nozzle…and get piping! Alternatively, you can buy icing in a tube from most supermarkets. All you do is open the packet and squeeeeeze. Simple. Feel free to decorate with coloured sprinkles, and make sure to let the icing dry thoroughly before you stack the cookies.

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The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for a couple of weeks, so you can make them in advance and give them as Christmas presents. They look pretty and taste delicious, so what are you waiting for? Eh? Enjoy!

Brownie Sandwich Cookies with Raspberry Buttercream: An Illustrated Recipe.

Hello! This blog post is part of my series of illustrated recipes, because I love making food as much as I love drawing it. This time, I madeChocolate brownie sandwich cookies, filled with raspberry buttercream. These were totally amazing and I highly recommend them. They’re chewy and rich, and the filling adds just the right amount of zing.

I’ve adapted the recipe from this pretty food blog. The recipes for the brownie bit is the same, but I’ve written it down for you because the blog is in Polish, and Google Translate gave some pretty…er… questionable directions (involving the word ‘slaughter’).

COOKIE RECIPE

  • 300g dark chocolate, roughly chopped (You can use choc chips)
  • 40g butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 35g plain flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt

DIRECTIONS

Melt the butter and 200g of the chocolate in a double-boiler (reserve the rest of the chocolate). Allow to cool. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla until thick and fluffy (about 5 minutes of whisking). Pour the melted chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Mix well. Gradually add the sifted flour, baking powder and salt to the chocolatey mixture. Finally, Add the remaining 100g of chopped chocolate, and stir well. Allow the mixture to stand for 10 minutes. This last stage is very important as it gives the batter time to thicken up.

While waiting, preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Line two cookie trays with baking parchment. Use a teaspoon to spoon dollops of batter onto the cookie trays. Arrange the dollops several centimetres away from each other, as they will expand.  Bake for 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool thoroughly while frosting.

RASPBERRY FROSTING RECIPE

  • 1.5 cups of sifted icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup defrosted frozen raspberries (remove excess moisture with paper towels)
  • 1 tablespoon softened unsalted butter

DIRECTIONS

Mash the raspberries with a fork. In a large bowl, combine the raspberries with the sugar and butter, and whisk until light and fluffy. The consistency of the filling must be fairly thick (almost like peanut butter), so feel free to add more icing sugar if it seems too runny (or a teaspoon of water if it seems too thick). Use a butter or palette knife to smooth the filling onto cookies, and press another cookie on top to make the sandwiches. Note that you don’t need food colouring to get the bright pink colour – the raspberries do the job!

You should make these. You really, really should. and if you do? Show me!

Raspberry and Lemon Drizzle Muffins: An Illustrated Recipe.

Hello! This post is part of my Illustrated Recipes series. Today I made a batch of raspberry and lemon drizzle muffins, adapted from this recipe.

RECIPE: (Makes 20 medium-sized muffins)

225g unsalted butter, melted
200g caster sugar
4 large eggs
225g plain flour
2tsp baking powder
125g raspberries (if using frozen, defrost them first!)

FOR THE DRIZZLE:
Juice of 2 small lemons
50g caster sugar

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C.  Line a muffin tin with paper liners and set aside.

Combine all ingredients (except the raspberries) in a large bowl. Mix well with an electric mixer or by hand. Finally, fold in the raspberries with a spatula. Pour the batter into the lined muffin tins.  Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 20 minutes. The muffins are ready when they are springy to the touch and lightly golden on top.

While the muffins are cooling, combine the lemon juice and caster sugar in a small bowl.  Poke holes into the muffins using a baking skewer (or sharp knife) while the muffins are still hot. Immediately drizzle the lemony mixture over the top of the muffins.  It should seep into the muffins and make them extra delicious. Remove the muffins from the tin and cool on a wire rack.

(Look at those buttery and berryish juices! Beautiful!)

In the name of research, I ate one of these muffins. They are bright red and raspberry laden on the inside, and the muffin tops are slightly crunchy from the sugar in the drizzle. Good looking and very tasty.

Blueberry & Apple pies: An Illustrated Recipe.

Hello! Apart from drawing a lot food, I also love to cook it. This blog post marks the beginning of a new series where I’ll share my baking adventures with you, by way of drawings and photographs.

Yesterday, I baked mini blueberry & apple pies for some friends who were coming for dinner.

STEP ONE: Grease four ramekins, and press the dough into them. Bake for 10 mins at 175 degrees Celsius.

STEP TWO: Make the blueberry and apple filling and admire the colours. Inhale deeply!

STEP THREE: Spoon the filling into the part-cooked pastry pie shells.

STEP FOUR: Place the uncooked pastry lids on top, and cook for another 30 mins. Ta-da!STEP FIVE: Grab a spoon and get into that pie! (Don’t burn your tongue.)STEP SIX: Serve with whipped cream and share with your friends.

STEP SEVEN: Clutch your full belly with satisfaction.

The original recipe (& instructions) can be found here.

 (N.B. I made FOUR pies instead of two. I used one 375g box of pre-rolled shortcrust pastry, and I put in about 3/4 cup of extra blueberries. Also, I used one egg white instead of the ‘egg beaters’, and frozen blueberries rather than fresh ones.)

The Verdict: These were really easy to make, they tasted amazing and they made the whole house smell like cinnamon.

The Food Warren: A Poster.

Hello! I created this poster for The Food Warren, a food truck ‘which brings healthy local homemade food to the people of Bristol’. The truck is operated by siblings, Rob and Claire, and I really like their style!

On the poster, I surrounded the truck with a halo of  fresh food, including pots of soup, salad, a Lovely Drink and some golden scotch eggs. I opted to keep the colours warm and lively, in keeping with the Food Warren ethos.

If you find yourself in Bristol, UK, you know where to get your lunch (or breakfast)!