Decadent Velvet

While I’ve been weighing the pros and cons of starving myself three or four inches thinner for the sake of a dress, as well as baking Red Velvet Cakes (we’ll got to them in a minute), I took the more practical and sensible step of heading to a dress boutique and trying on dresses which fit me now.

I went to Vivien of Holloway. If you love the New Look style of the post-WWII years, and you haven’t heard of Vivien of Holloway, get your arse to Holloway Road, London. The lovely ladies there will be delighted to help. If I had the money, I would own one of everything. And a swagger jacket in every colour. They specialise in reproduction ‘50s clothes.

And not just their signature circle-skirted halterneck dresses. There’s the pencil skirts and swagger jackets, the gypsy tops and pedal pushers (which are actually the perfect length on the short-legged me), jeans, Capri pants, halterneck tops, pencil dresses, petticoats. A brilliant home of gorgeous fabrics and beautifully made clothes.

I was there to try on the wedding dresses, the confection of lace and satin being my main target, with the elegant Grace dress as another option. I was soon side-tracked by everything else on offer, which is annoying since I haven’t the money just yet to buy any of it. Sadly.

While I ruminate on all the lovely clothes, and prioritise my wish-list, shall we have some cake?

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This week’s trial was Red Velvet Cake, which came out somewhat less red than the picture suggested. This was possibly due to one of two things. Firstly, I used red wine vinegar instead of white (I have a bottle of chocolate red wine I let turn to vinegar), or secondly, not enough (or strong enough) red food dye.

Anyway, be that as it may, the cakes turned out well and tasted good. Another great Hummingbird recipe.

So, for about 12 cupcakes, you will need:

60g unsalted butter

150g sugar

1 egg

Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, then add the egg and mix well.

10g cocoa powder

2 tablespoons red food dye

Half a tsp vanilla extract

Mix together into a thick paste. Mix into the butter mix until it’s all smooth and evenly incorporated.

120ml buttermilk

150g plain flour

Add these, alternating half at a time, into the cake mix and stir well between additions.

Half a tsp salt (I normally skip the salt, I will admit)

Half a tsp bicarb of soda

1 and a half tsp white wine vinegar (I didn’t find that using red made any difference)

Stir thoroughly into the mix and spoon into cases. Bake at 170C/325F/Gas Mark 3 for approx. 20-25 minutes.

The suggestion is to use a Cream Cheese frosting, but decorate to your taste. Enjoy with a cup of tea.

The Hunt for The One

There’s this idea for brides that you will find, probably after an exhaustive hunt, a dress. This dress will be unlike any other. You will look and feel a bride in it. It will make you look stunning, the most beautiful that you will ever look.

It will also cost a fortune and you will likely have ordered it in a smaller size in the belief that you will lose weight for your wedding.

It will be the star of the wedding, the one thing which people will ask about.

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I began my hunt with the lovely ladies at Fur Coat No Knickers, in Central London. You see, I know I want a shorter dress (there’s no way I’m having a train!), with a full skirt of lots of lovely fabric and swish, and a one-off vintage dress would be brilliant. Oh, and not too expensive. I think it’s ridiculous to spend vast sums on a dress for one day, so it’ll either be cheap, or easily dyed.

So that’s my checklist.

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I wriggle in and out of dresses for a while. I swish and flick the skirts. My sister and I decide that I need lace and sleeves. My sister reckons that I need a long veil. The veil makes it bridal, she thinks. She becomes quite excited about it all.

We decide that it needs to be full to the ground or at least to mid-calf. Anything between seems just a bit odd on my admittedly short frame. I’m 5’3”.

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While we don’t find ‘The One’, I get some good ideas as to what I’d like. Lace, sleeves, mid-calf length. And white. I’ve never been sure if it suits but apparently it does. I don’t decide on the length of veil though. That I’ll do once I’ve found my dress!

(And, no, none of these dresses are in the running, in case my partner reads this!)