Author Archive | Rasa Pelham

Soap making (from scratch)

I love creating, crafting and DIY projects! I would like to think that I buy less (and spend less by being really really frugal) and make more, however this is still not truth. I started making my own cosmetics and soap so hopefully this will take towards my goal (to live homemade lifestyle of course).

To make this soap you will need:
610g olive oil
85g caustic soda (I bought mine in B&Q and I have seen some sold in Boots)
230ml water
2 tsp lemon balm or citronella essential oil
zest of 3 oranges
zest of 2 lemons
Safety googles
Rubber gloves
A stainless steel or enamel (not aluminum) pot
A glass or plastic pitcher to hold the water and caustic soda
A glass or plastic measuring jug
Plastic or wooden spoons (that you are not going to use for food again)
A stick blender/hand processor
Two thermometers with the prong (I used one, but had the kitchen towel paper at hand to wipe after each use)
Kitchen towel paper for clean ups
1. Prepare the workspace and gather all the ingredients ( you will be working with caustic soda, dangerous chemical, so make sure children and pets are not underfoot while you work). Make sure you have googles (I used my own spectacles which was safe enough) and rubber gloves at hand, because caustic should never touch your skin, as it would burn you (for more info read on how to work with caustic soda (sometimes called lye) safely.
2. Pour 230ml cold water (around 20C) into the pitcher. Measure 85g caustic soda and pour it into measuring jug. Add caustic soda into the water (not the other way round; don't add water into the caustic soda) and as you doing that keep your face turned away to avoid inhaling the fumes. Set the mixture aside as it is cooling down and fumes dissipate.
3. Weigh out 610g of oil and pour it into pot. When Caustic soda water is around 45C start slowly heating the oil. When both oil and caustic soda are at the similar temperature (around 35C-39C), gradually pour caustic soda mixture into the oil while mixing (do not use metal spoon for this).
4. Use stick blender to mix the mixture for 5-10 min until "tracing" occurs (you should see the spoon leaving visible trace behind it, like in the pudding). If you don't see any tracing, be patient and try again after 10-15min rest.
5. Add essential oil and orange/lemon zests in to the mixture, mix and then pour it into the moulds. I used celicon loaf baking tin, but if you are using regular baking tin do line it with baking paper as well. Be sure you are still wearing your rubber gloves at this stage, since raw soap is caustic and can burn skin.
6. Leave the soap in the tin/mould for 36hours before unmolding.
7. To unmold the soap turn tin/mould over and allow it to fall on a towel or clean surface. Cut the soap into desired size pieces (I used cookie cutters to cut out these lovely heart shaped pieces).
8. Allow the soap to cure before packaging or before use for min of 3 weeks.
Rasa xo

At my grandma’s!

Happy Mother's and Grandma's day (if I can add that just because I feel this is fair)!

So... this lovely lady is my grandma and I had such a wonderful time visiting her today. As I mentioned before, her home is my paradise as so many cool old-fashioned things can be found there. Although my dad warned me today once more that I should not "steal" my grandma's stuff (well... she gives everything with joy, so never considered to call it stealing), I took a lot of pictures to show you how lovely her home looks....

Don't you just love her style!
Rasa :)

Make your own apron

I made this apron for my friend Vickie (late birthday gift) who is wonderful in cooking (great chopping skills may I say). This was also a good chance for me to try out my new vintage sewing machine which works like a dream and it was quite affordable on e-bay.  Few things had to be fixed of course, but I still recommend old fashioned machine to anybody who wants to sew (not manual however, unless you want to be making apron for one month). And if you do get a vintage machine I really recommend Jennie (from London) who was really really helpful (and positive), it was so lovely to meet her!

Anyway I made the apron... happy happy! (I used to sew a lot in the past when I studied Fashion at Uni, so was feeling a bit nostalgic, missing all this sewing experience).... And this is how I wrapped the gift...

So how did I make it? Well... try it for yourself! Here are the instructions.

Let me know how it goes ;)

Rasa xox


Thyme and Lemon Tartlets

I just made these tonight, so writing this post while I am eating one of them. Absolutely yamm...!
I like the cinnamon/cornmeal crust (I know! odd! But it defiantly works) and really impressed with my new sugar crusting skills (this is my first time to use cooks torch) as I managed without burning the house down! Try it for yourself, the recipe is here.


Rasa xox


By the way…

Hey all, thanks for reading my blog so far!
Just been thinking that I have not told you the important news (not news for some people, but I thought I will make this official), that I am getting help from Prince's Trust.... Yea!!!
So watch out for this space as there will be new exciting things coming up! (Can't tell you what it is yet)

Rasa ;)


Earl Grey Poppy Seed Tea Cakes

I hope everyone is enjoying the snow in London like I do. I am Lithuanian after all!

Anyway (change of the subject), around to weeks ago I came across this recipe on SprinkleBakes website that blew my mind. I honestly get excited when I see nontraditional  ingredients matched together. So I made it! I changed the the deco to more "natural" looking and it came out like something really suitable to serve on St. Valentines day (very dainty as my flatmate said). But I could not wait until February... so there you go!

Makes 6

For the cake:

  • 170g caster sugar
  • 6 Earl Grey tea bags (removed from the bags)
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. rapeseed oil
  • 2 tbsp buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 125g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • sugar for dusting
For the Earl Grey syrup:
  • 170g caster sugar
  • 180ml water
  • 4 Earl Grey tea bags
For buttercream:
  • 115g unsalted butter, softened
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp orange extract
  • Juice of 1 small lemon
  • Zest of 1 small orange
  • Zest of 1 small lemon
  1. Preheat oven to 180C.  Grease an 11x14-inch pan (I used oven shelve pan) with butter and line with baking paper (grease the paper as well).
  2. In a large bowl beat the eggs, then add sugar, tea leaves (from the tea bags), poppy seeds, oil, buttermilk and vanilla extract. Mix well!
  3. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  Slowly add to the liquid ingredients.  Mix until well combined.
  4. Pour mixture into prepared pan and tilt pan to distribute the mixture evenly.
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Check at 12 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back when pressed with fingers.
  6. Turn cake out and dust surface with powdered sugar.  Let cool completely.
  7. Use cookie cutter rings to cut out about 18 cake circles.  Set aside.
  8. To make the syrup stir together sugar and water in a small saucepan.  Place over medium-high heat and bring to a bubble. Stir to make sure all the sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat and place the teabags in the hot sugar syrup to steep.  Infuse for 5-7 minutes, then remove and discard tea bags.  Set aside to cool.
  9. To make buttercream cream butter together with sugar. Add orange extract and lemon juice; beat again for another minute until light and fluffy.  Add zests and mix until smooth.  Transfer to a piping bag or zip-top bag with the end snipped (no decorator tip necessary)
  10. To assemble brush each cake circle with the syrup and apply some buttercream on top of 12 of them. Join three together leaving the one for the top without the cream. Dust the tops with icing sugar. I used small heart shaped cookie cutter as a stencil to make poppy seed deco on top.

Enjoy the snow!

Rasa :)


Happy New Year’s day!… Waffles anyone?

I have finally got an old fashion waffle pan that I have been searching for quite a while now! Luckily my grandma had it in her attic, perfect for my new "culinary" experiments.... So since I came back to London I have been making waffles like mad: starting from basics until I got carried away with the most random ingredients (good combinations however!). The beginning have been quite challenging of course as you would expect. In fact we have a saying in Lithuanian that sounds something like this "first pancake never comes out right", which describes my trial very well. Now when I nailed it I can make waffles (on the old fashioned cast iron waffle pan), while chatting or playing Sims online (really embarrassed by that). So far I made plain waffles, blueberry waffles, bacon cornmeal waffles and rosemary-garlic potato waffles. My friends loved bacon cornmeal waffles that taste like America. However I am voting for the rosemary-garlic potato waffles which reminds me of Lithuanian potato pancakes with the Italian twist. Try it for yourself (regular waffle maker will do)!

Serves 3-4 people

Ingredients: 2 medium sized potatos
2 eggs
125g plain flour
60ml olive oil
1 onion (peeled and finely chopped)
160ml milk
4 garlic cloves (peeled)
1/2 tbsp rosemary
salt and pepper to taste

1. Peel, wash and cut the potatoes into uniform small pieces. Put potatoes and garlic in a large pot with cold water to cover. Add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Then lower heat and cook until potatoes can be pierced easily with a fork drain, reserving about 60ml of potato/garlic water.

2. While potatoes cook, heat olive oil, rosemary and chopped onion in a small frying pan over low heat just until onion softens a bit. Transfer potatoes to a large mixing bowl. Pour oil and onion over drained potatoes.

3. Add milk to still-warm frying pan - just to take chill off - then pour milk over potatoes. Using a fork, a potato masher or a spatula, mash potatoes with oil and milk.

4. Add potato/garlic water and continue to mash until mixture is smooth.

5. Taste potatoes and season liberally with salt and freshly ground pepper. Preheat waffle iron and finish batter by beating eggs into potatoes with a whisk or handheld mixer. Combine together flour and potato mixture.

6. Lightly butter or spray waffle iron grids. (You can skip this step with well-seasoned or non-stick materials.) Scrape batter by half-cup measure onto hot iron, smoothing batter evenly almost to edge of grids.

7. Close iron and bake until brown and crisp.

I suggest you serve it with cream fresh to make it more Lithuanian-ish ;)

Rasa xox


Little bit of magic for Christmas… or New Years Eve!

I tasted this cake at the time when I was working at the French Patisserie and I fall in love with it. Now when I was looking for something to bake for Christmas I accidentally came across this blog with the recipe! As I was reading I realized that the blog author has experienced the same: first watched it being made on the TV and then later found the recipe in the magazine. I sure agree with Bree that this cake is magical not only because of the taste, but also because of the baking process. You see... the cake base floats up and exchanges with the flan without any mixing! Try it for yourself... it might be too late for Christmas, but there is always time for your New Year's party ;)

For the cake:
  • 120g caramel/toffee sauce
  • 75g cup flour
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 110g bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 85g butter, melted
  • 120ml buttermilk
  • 110g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

For the flan:

  • 2 (395g) cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 600 ml whole milk
  • 175g cream cheese
  • 6 eggs
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Spray a Bundt cake tin with baking spray. Pour caramel/toffee sauce into the bottom of cake pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Place chocolate and butter in a microwave safe bowl, heat until melted, 2 minutes at 50% power. Whisk buttermilk, sugar, eggs, and vanilla into chocolate until incorporated. Add flour mixture and stir until combined. Pour batter over caramel.
  3. Add sweetened condensed milk. milk, cream cheese, eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla to a blender, Blend for one minute, or until very smooth. Slowly pour over cake batter.
  4. Place the cake pan in a large roasting pan. Pour boiling water halfway up the sides of the pan and bake for 75 to 90 minutes, or when a toothpick comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. Transfer to refrigerator and chill for at least 8 hours.
  5. To unmold, place the bottom of the cake pan in hot water for 1 minute. Place a cake plate over the cake pan and flip over. Slowly remove pan and serve.
  6. Visit BakedBree for the instructions with pictures.

***Merry Cristmass ***

Rasa :)


Gingerbread cookies for snowy weather :)

I am finally almost there! My presents are almost packed, a lot of my knitting projects are over, my baking is coming to the end and the most importantly I am here in Lithuania watching the snow falling down :) (sorry I needed to brag).

Anyway... as I am waiting for Christmas Eve to come I remembered about last years' Christmass and the lovely gift that I received from Liz. That was a little folder with all the American recipes including the gingerbread cookies recipe of course. I baked so many this year!


Ingredients:  490g flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cloves (I used all spice mix instead)
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
230g butter, softened to room temp
130 brown sugar
1 egg
90g treacle (if you can't find it you can substitute with more brown sugar)

Whisk together first 6 ingredients and set aside. In a separate bowl cream butter and sugar with a mixer. Add egg and molasses (or more brown sugar); beat on medium until mixture is smooth. Add the flour/spice mixture slowly, blend on low until just combined. Wrap in plastic and chill for an hour. Preheat oven to 165C. Roll out and cut cookies. Place 1/2 an inch apart on an ungreased pan. Bake for 9-11 minutes (be careful not to brown them as that means they are burning). Wait until they are cool and decorate with frosting if desired

Happy Christmas waiting



Are you feeling Christmasy yet?

I love Christmas! Everything about it! I especially love baking and decorating. Have you done your Christmas decorating yet? I am sure you did! I have seen so many of my friends on Facebook putting all these wonderful pics of their homes which kind of put me under pressure. Because me as always never on time with this. And this is not because I have lack of inspiration, this is because I always run out of time. So here we go, I finally unloaded what was in my head already all made (including baking) and ready to go....

I even knitted this bird shape hanging decoration and if you remember last year's post on Christmas decoration,this is exactly the pattern I used.

This bird decoration is not only for Christmas (it is for keeps ;). The knitting pattern for it is here!

Happy Christmas decorating!

Rasa xox


After "Canvas"

Just wanted to say that I really pleased with the event (I really enjoyed being there and watching the performances). I would also like to say special thanks to Jacquie who helped me with the cupcake display and to Lola, who transported all those cupcakes to the venue :-)

Apple Cinnamon Cupcakes: "Canvas"

This whole week I have been baking... Cupcakes! Lots of them, all types! You see am participating (with baking) in this arts event where artist of all kind will be showcasing their work. I am obviously inviting you if you are able to attend in such a short notice and if you are interested to see my new cupcake collection :-). For more info go here "CANVAS"

But... if you are not able to make it, I am not going to be upset with you :-(. Instead I am giving away my favorite cupcake recipe here which I like because this recipe makes beautiful cupcakes even though if they are quite modest without the icing ;-)....

(makes 15)

Ingredients: 3 eggs
                    200g brown sugar
                    200g yogurt
                    50g butter
                    200g flour
                    1½ tsp baking powder
                    50g oats
                    1 tsp cinnamon
                    2½ cooking apples
1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line muffin tin with baking cases
2. Beat the eggs lightly with sugar. Mix in yogurt and melted butter.
3. Sift the flour with the baking powder then mix it with the oats and cinnamon. Mix dry ingredients with butter and yogurt mixture. 
4. Peal two apples and shred them. One half of the apple prepare for decoration by slicing it into really slim trips (I used slicer for that). Mix the shredded  apples into the cupcake mixture.
5. Use spoon to fill the baking cases with mixture, about two-thirds full. Arrange apple strips on top. Bake the cakes for about 25-30min.

So what do you think?

Rasa :)


My trip to Italy

I will start with the official news that I am back to London and the fact that I am experiencing mild writer's block condition (not that I consider myself a writer). So beware of this minor problem as I progress with writing my quick story. Also would like to mention that I no longer work in the cafe... who knows what the future will bring? But for now am focusing on settling in London whilst still feeling really privileged for my year experiences in Windsor.

Anyway... moving on! I had a short gap between moving to London and leaving the cafe job so I did little bit of traveling. I visited Italy, Greece and Lithuania (of course!). What I am going to talk about now however is Italy since it is what the title is suggesting. And since I am only telling short story I will only focus on FOOD. And believe me food was the biggest part of this trip! At least in my opinion...

And the most amazing thing is that we were staying at our friend's Alex house! You see, I was able to witness the real Italian cuisine. Thanks to Alex's mum as she was really wonderful hostess and cooked three course meal every time. She even showed me how to make gnocchi which is my favorite! I mean, I knew how to make these potato dumplings before, however that used to take me forever. This time I defiantly feel more confident as Alex's mum (sadly forgot her name) demonstrated a good technique how to make them quicker. I am also amazed that her recipe had some ricotta cheese which made gnocchi even more soft and tasty! Try it for yourself....


Ingredients (feeds 4 gnocchi lovers):  300g ricotta cheese
2 egg yolks
250g potatoes (boiled, pealed and mashed)
130g flour plus some for rolling
100g hard cheese like Parmesan
1tbs butter
1 leek
200g sweet peas (can be from frozen)
250ml vegetable stock
4tbsp cream
4 slices prosciutto ham
olive oil
salt and pepper

1. First, make the dough by mixing ricotta cheese, egg yolks, potatoes, flour and Parmesan together.
2. Then, prepare the sauce. Chop the leeks and fry them with butter. Then add peas, stock and whiz it up all together with hand food processor. Let it cook for further 2-3min and after taking it of the heat add the cream and season to your taste. Set aside.
3. Make the gnocchi by rolling the pieces of dough on the floury surface and then cutting them into little pieces (see picture above). To make them textured roll each gnocchi piece against the fork ribs. Lay them in floured plate by leaving some small gaps between them as they really like to stick together.
4. Lay prosciutto ham slices onto foil and bake for around 15 min until it is slightly golden. Take it out to dry.
5. Cook gnocchi in lightly salted boiling water. But don't go away too far away as the little pieces of gnocchi soon rises up to the top and that's when you should fish them out.
6. To serve mix gnocchi with sauce, little olive oil and dish them up. On top of each plate add crispy prosciutto slice and maybe some Parmesan of course.

Buon appetitio!

Rasa xox


My 30th birthday dinner party

Yesterday I have celebrated my memorable 30th birthday with a dinner party. So since my blog has had really really long holidays I thought this was a good occasion for it to come back to "work".

Anyway... for my party success I am giving a big credit to my friends Joana and Lina who were my loyal slaves all day long and a little bit to myself (I did set up this wonderfully harmonious menu after all). I would also like to grant a massive credit to the "BBC Good Food" website (not that they care), but the recipes there are always tested and the food always comes out like they say it would. Really recommend it for anybody.  Here is one recipe for the cake I made. Practically copied it and pasted it as I did not need to change anything (except the deco since fresh cherries were out of season here in Lithuania). Enjoy!


Ingredients:  175g salted butter , plus extra for greasing
200g bar dark chocolate
300g plain flour
375g golden caster sugar
25g cocoa
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 medium eggs
200g buttermilk or natural yoghurt
                     425g can pitted cherries, 2 tbsp juice reserved, rest drained
100g morello cherry jam
4 tbsp kirsch(or more juice from a can if you want it to be non-alcoholic)
500ml tub double cream
3 tbsp icing sugar1 small punnet fresh berries (optional)

  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease and line the base of 3 x 20cm cake tins. Boil the kettle. Put the butter and 75g chocolate broken into chunks in a small pan and gently heat, stirring, until completely melted.
  2. Mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda with a pinch of salt in a mixing bowl. Whisk the eggs and buttermilk or yogurt together. Scrape the melted chocolate mixture and egg mixture into the dry ingredients, add 100ml boiling water and whizz briefly with an electric whisk until the cake batter is lump free.
  3. Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for 25 mins, swapping the tins round after 20 mins if they're on different shelves. To test they're done, push in a skewer and check that it comes out clean.
  4. Prick the cakes a few times with a skewer. Mix together the 2 tbsp reserved cherry juice and the kirsch (or more juice) and drizzle over the cakes. Cool the cakes.
  5. Mix together the remaining drained cherries and jam. Tip 200ml of the cream into a small pan and heat until just below simmering point. Chop the remaining chocolate and put in a heatproof bowl, pour over the hot cream and stir until melted. Set aside until spreadable.
  6. When the cakes are cool whisk the remaining cream and the icing sugar together until softly whipped. Spread over two of the cakes, then spoon over the jammy cherries. Stack the cakes together. Spread the chocolate cream over the third cake and sit on top of the other cakes. Pile the fresh berries in and around the cake and serve. I added black current leaves to make it look slightly wild, but this is totally optional!


Rasa xox


Summer frangipane

My friend Suzanne went away for a week so she gave me the keys to her house and offered me to use her oven (my oven is still broken). How generous is that! Anyway, I wanted to bake something with the ingredients I had so I started digging around my kitchen. I found frozen sweet pastry (that I made from scratch) in the freezer so my first fought was "tart!!". But later on, after finding ground almonds in my cupboard I made a decision on frangipane (which is a tart technically, but I like the frangipane name better)! So today on my way to my friend's house I bought some strawberries and here it comes the result :)


For the sweet pastry:

  • 85g unsalted butter
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 200g flour

For the cream:

  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 50g plain flour
  • 1/2 pod of vanilla seeds (optional)
  • 250g strawberries

For the glaze:

  • 2 tbsp apricot or seedless raspberry jam
  1. Place the butter and sugar in mixing bowl and beat them together until they are light and fluffy. Add the egg to the butter mixture and mix it until combined. Then add the flour gradually and mix until it looks like smooth dough.
  2. Place the pastry in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes to rest. (or into freezer if you want it to be used another time)
  3. Meanwhile make the cream. Place the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl and mix them together until they are creamy and light. Mix the eggs in 1 at a time until well combined. Sift the flour and ground almonds together. Slowly add the almond and flour mixture to the butter mixture. Mix the ingredients together until you have a creamy mixture. Set the frangipane cream aside until ready to use.
  4. Remove the pastry from the fridge. Roll it out on a well floured surface until it is around .5-.75mm thick. Lightly grease 30cm tart tin (or line it with baking paper). Line the tart tin with the pastry. Place the lined tin in the freezer for 15 minutes or in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.
  5. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Blind bake the pastry for 10 minutes until just firm and without colour. Remove the pastry from the oven an allow it to cool.
  6. Reduce the temperature to 180°C. Place the frangipane cream in the tart tin and spread it out evenly with a palate knife (do not over fill).
  7. Place the strawberies in the frangipane so that they are spread out over the tart.
  8. Place the tart in the preheated oven and cook it for 30-40 minutes. The frangipane cream will be golden brown, risen and firm when the tart is ready.
  9. Remove the tart from the oven and allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the tart carefully from the tin.
  10. Place the apricot or raspberry jam in a small saucepan and place it over a moderate heat. Heat it while stirring until it has melted. Remove it form the heat and brush it over the tart lightly with a pastry brush.


Rasa ;)