Leiths School of Food and Wine

21 July 2014

Ten days ago I attended a two day course in food photography and styling at Leiths School of Food and Wine. For a while now I have been taking my own images for this blog, broadening my limited knowledge with online tutorials. It has taken me so far, but there is nothing that can match being in the company of someone who has made a success out of food photography. 
Food photographer William Reavell, who has worked on books with Mary Berry, Rick Stein, Antonio Carluccio, Sophie Grigson and Gizzi Erskine, to name but a few, led the course. Every aspect of food photography was covered; from the technical, which covered exposure, composition, lighting and angles, through to the creative side that tackled styling, plating up and propping images.
It was largely a practical course, which is frankly the only way to learn. The class worked in pairs taking it in turns to both style and photograph the food. On the first day we worked on salads and brownies and on the second day it was stir fries and meringues. We worked in one of the Leiths kitchens with a fantastic range of both produce and styling products at our disposal. I was like a kid in a sweet shop.
This post shows just a selection of the images I took during my time at Leiths. I must say, I did feel more at home styling and photographing the cakes, particularly once I saw that edible flowers were on hand. One thing that this course did unexpectedly provide me with was a definition of my style of work. Talking through my photography and styling with Bill, it became clear how I want to take my work forward visually. He provided me with lots of valuable advice which I intend to follow over the coming months. I can't wait to put it into practise now.

A Blueberry Cake {and some new napkins}

10 July 2014

I made this Blueberry Cake for the little local cafe that I supply on an adhoc basis. They requested
something summery and fruity, which is exactly what this cake is. You could easily replace the blueberries with other berries of your choice; raspberries would be a nice alternative.

You see those napkins in I used in the shot? Well, they were the result of a sewing challenge I recently undertook for Ikea. They sent me a sewing machine with all the basic kit and challenged me to produce a set of napkins using one of their new (free) in-store craft patterns. Once I'd selected my fabric (also Ikea), I set to work and just under 90 minutes later I had a brand spanking new set of six napkins. You can follow my challenge and read more about Ikea's free craft patterns over at Heart Home.

Blueberry Cake

175g soft butter
175g golden caster sugar
3 large eggs
225g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
142ml carton soured cream
3 x 125g punnet of blueberries
200g tub Philadelphia cheese
100g icing sugar 
Preheat the oven to fan160C/ conventional 180C/GM 4 and butter and line the base of a loose-based 22cm round cake tin with non-stick baking paper.
Put the butter, sugar, eggs,flour, baking powder and vanilla in a bowl. Beat with a wooden spoon for 2-3 minutes, or with a hand electric beater for 1-2 minutes, until lighter in colour and well mixed. Beat in 4 tbsp soured cream, then stir in half the blueberries with a large spoon.
Tip the mixture into the tin and spread it level. Bake for 50 minutes until it is risen, feels firm to the touch and springs back when lightly pressed. Cool for 10 minutes, then take out of the tin and peel off the paper or lining. Leave to finish cooling on a wire rack.
To make the frosting, beat the soft cheese with the icing sugar and the remaining soured cream in a bowl until smooth and creamy. Spread over the top of the cooled cake (don’t be impatient as the frosting will melt if the cake is too warm) and scatter with the remaining blueberries or a mix of blueberries and other seasonal berries. Tip: If you want the icing a little thicker, let the frosting in the fridge for a while.