Price Points: Grown-up Advent calendars

Selection of grown-up Advent calendars | H is for Home

There aren’t any children in our household, however that doesn’t stop us getting excited about Christmas. Christmas proper for us generally begins on Advent – this year, the 3rd of December. On that day, the tree gets erected, decorations go up and, if we’ve managed a bit of forward planning, the first door of the Advent calendar gets opened.

There’s a growing number of grown-up Advent calendars on the market – and there’s something for everyone – glamour pusses, real ale drinkers, coffee connoisseurs as well as the sweet-toothed. Here are three of our favourites…

  1. Christmas coffee advent by Perkulatte: £40, Notonthehighstreet
  2. Beer advent calendar: £74.99, The Pip Stop
  3. 24-day beauty advent calendar: £120.00, Selfridges

Price Points: Home coffee roasters

Home coffee roasters | H is for Home

Coffee connoisseurship keeps reaching higher and higher levels. We have become more discerning about where our coffee comes from, the taste we prefer and how we like to take it. Many people have coffee makers of one kind or another in their kitchens. The simple, classic Bialetti stove-top percolator, the coffee filter machine and the high tech bean-to-cup machines.

The obvious progression is an increase in the popularity of home coffee roasters. The basic models are surprisingly affordable and, as they don’t need electricity to run, are perfect for use al fresco or when camping. If you’re not the outdoorsy type, there are many others available – at a range of price points – for stove-top or counter-top use.

  1. Nuvo eco ceramic handy coffee bean roaster: £33.77, Amazon
  2. Antique coffee roaster: £135.03, Etsy
  3. BOCABOCA 250 coffee bean roaster with cooler: £345.99 eBay

Price Points: Coffee machines

Three coffee machines to suit all budgets | H is for Home

Coffee is our morning brew of choice – double shot, flat white for both of us (soya milk, no sugar, for me – cows milk, sugar for Justin). I must confess, our first mugs of the day are usually instant (the horror!). Fiddling about with coffee machines when you’re only half awake is frustrating.

When I win the lottery (once I start buying a ticket!) I’ll travel ’round the world… and buy a top of the range Jura Bean-to-Cup. It’s the height of luxury having a coffee machine that you can control remotely from your phone. Pre-program your preferences into its memory and, at the touch of a button, it can grind and brew you your perfect cuppa… just to reiterate – that’s a double shot, flat white with soya milk, no sugar, if you’re asking!

  1. Dualit Multi Brew 84440 espresso coffee machine – chrome: £199, ao.com
  2. Sage Barista Express coffee machine – stainless steel: £ 599.95
  3. Jura E8 Bean-to-Cup automatic coffee machine: £1,195.00, John Lewis

Cakes & Bakes: Sourdough coffee chocolate cake

Slice of home-made sourdough coffee chocolate cake | H is for Home #recipe #sourdough #cake #baking

This will be my final recipe celebrating Sourdough September – fitting really, that it’s a recipe for a dessert – sourdough coffee chocolate cake. I’ve lifted the instructions from one of my new favourite websites – King Arthur Flour. Their recipes quick-convert between Imperial, metric and US cups – a really useful feature!

Sourdough and coffee chocolate cake mixtures | H is for Home

As well as Sourdough September, this cake also honours International Coffee Day which happens each year on 1st October… and while I’m at it, why not honour Chocolate Week which runs from 9th-15th October. There… I’ve covered all the bases and no one was left out!

Sourdough coffee chocolate cake batter | H is for Home

Another good thing about this recipe is that it calls for ripe sourdough or discard. I love using up leftovers! It also lists espresso powder as an ingredient; I ground some espresso beans on the finest setting and that worked perfectly.

Baked sourdough coffee chocolate cake | H is for Home

The resulting sourdough coffee chocolate cake is HUGE – almost a kilo of icing alone! You may want to halve the recipe. The two of us will be eating a slice every day for a week… not that I’m complaining. It’s soft, moist, sweet and gorgeous!

Making the icing for a sourdough coffee chocolate cake | H is for Home

There are three separate parts to the process; the cake, the icing and the drizzle. If you don’t think you’ll have enough time in a single day to do all three, you can break it up into stages across two or even three days.

Slice of home-made sourdough coffee chocolate cake | H is for Home #recipe #sourdough #cake #baking

This would be a great one to make as a celebration cake. You could even divide the batter into two tins and make a layer cake if you prefer.

Click here to save the recipe to Pinterest for later.

Sourdough coffee chocolate cake
Yields 15
For the cake
  1. 240g/8½oz sourdough starter, ripe or discard
  2. 225g/8oz whole or evaporated milk
  3. 240g/8½oz plain flour
  4. 300g/10½oz granulated sugar
  5. 200g/7oz vegetable oil
  6. 2tsp vanilla extract
  7. 1tsp salt
  8. 1½tsp baking soda
  9. 65g/2⅓oz unsweetened cocoa
  10. 1tsp espresso powder (optional)
  11. 2 large eggs
For the icing
  1. 680g/24oz icing sugar
  2. 170g/6oz butter
  3. 115g/4oz plain yoghurt or buttermilk
  4. 1tbsp + 1½tsp espresso powder
  5. 15g/½oz hot water
For the drizzle
  1. 50g/1¾oz dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  2. 15g/½oz milk
  3. 20g/¾oz golden syrupHome-made sourdough coffee chocolate cake ingredients
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For the cake
  1. Combine the starter, milk and flour in a large mixing bowl
  2. Cover and rest at room temperature for 2-3 hours
  3. Preheat the oven to 175ºC/350°F/Gas mark 4
  4. Lightly grease a 23 x 33cm (9 x 13-inch) cake tin
  5. In a separate bowl, beat together the sugar, oil, vanilla, salt, baking soda, cocoa and espresso powder - the mixture will be grainy
  6. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition
  7. Gently combine the chocolate mixture with the starter/flour/milk mixture, stirring until smooth. It will be gloopy at first; however, the batter will become smoother as you continue to beat gently
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin
  9. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes away clean
  10. Remove the cake from the oven and set it on a wire rack to cool while you make the icing
For the icing
  1. Sift the icing sugar into a large mixing bowl. Set it aside
  2. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter and add the buttermilk/yoghurt
  3. Dissolve the espresso powder in the hot water, add to the pan, and bring the mixture just to a boil
  4. Immediately pour the simmering liquid over the icing sugar in the bowl, and beat until smooth
  5. Pour the warm icing over the cake. If you wait too long and the icing stiffens up, just spread it over the cake with an offset spatula
For the drizzle
  1. Combine the chocolate pieces, milk and golden syrup in a microwave-safe container. Microwave until the chocolate softens, then stir until smooth (a couple of 10-second bursts)
  2. Drizzle the chocolate sauce over the icing
Print
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Price Points: Coffee subscriptions

Coffee subscriptions | H is for Home

Last week, we featured online tea offers; this week, it’s only fair to investigate a few coffee subscriptions available. We only drink one or two cups each per day, but we like them to be made using good quality beans. Favourite of ours are full-bodied espresso beans – and decaf espresso beans for evening consumption.

  1. Coffee-Direct: from £5.99 per 227 sample bag (save 15% when bought on subscription)
    Probably the one of the three that has the most choice – there are 16 different Espresso roast coffees alone! Coffee-Direct explain:

    At the checkout you have the option to choose to receive your order periodically, at any frequency that suits you. What’s more, once your subscription is set up, you’re able to amend, skip, pause or delete your subscription at any time.

  2. Coffee REAL: subscriptions – £36 – £328 (3, 6 or 12 month coffee subscriptions, 6 – 52 bags of beans)
    Coffee REAL is a company with a charitable heart. 10% of the purchase price of their espresso blend goes directly to the Born Free Foundation – and, even better, the blend is made from 2 top coffees that originate in areas where Born Free run wildlife projects.
  3. Skinny Coffee Club: from £24.95 (28 day, 8-week and 12-week day/night programmes)
    Well, I never knew that you could drink coffee in an effort to help you drop a dress size or two! According to their blurb:

    Skinny Coffee Club is ideal for those looking to lose weight, fast. It’s tasty, organic and designed specifically to raise your metabolism, burn fat, fill you with energy throughout the day and leave you feeling fuller for longer.

    There’s only 63mg of caffeine and 6 calories in each cup. Skinny Coffee is comprised of ground coffee, ground green coffee bean extract, green tea extract powder, Garcinia Cambogia, Siberian ginseng powder and spirulina powder. I’ve no idea how much like traditional coffee it tastes but there are thousands of reviews on their website posted by satisfied (slimmer) customers!

Christmas gifts of the day: Tea & coffee lovers

 

Tea & coffee lover Christmas gift ideas | H is for Home

Life doesn’t properly start for us each morning until the first mug of coffee has been consumed. After that initial jump start, we move on to cups of tea for the rest of the day.

We’re ideal candidates for the items featured in today’s round up of presents for tea & coffee lovers.

  1. Le Creuset rainbow espresso mugs – set of 6: Divertimenti
  2. Luxury tea bauble | gingerbread chai flavour by Bluebird Tea Co.: Notonthehighstreet
  3. Sage by Heston Blumenthal the Knock Box Mini: Amazon
  4. Refillable & reusable silicone tea bag: Lakeland
  5. 10 goldfish tea bags Earl Grey & herbal tea: Etsy
  6. Joco glass reusable coffee cup: Trouva