Vintage advantage

Cover: The Vintage Tea Party YearA new list for 2013 – books with ‘vintage’ in the title. I don’t think I will be making choux pastry swans for a Happy New Year party, nor edible keys for a Wedding Tea Party, nor lacy faggots for a Gentlemen’s Tea Party, but I did love looking at The Vintage Tea Party Year. If you like floral china, second-hand clothes and embroidered tablecloths, this is the book for you. It can even help you out with styling your hair for a Tea Party –  if you have enough patience (and hair) for a victory roll.  Perhaps I could have a Useless in the Kitchen  but Willing to try a New Hairdo Tea Party. BYO pastry swans and lacy faggots – I’ll supply the tea and the hairpins.

Vintage Cakes is divided into handy chapters like Everyday Cakes, Little Cakes and Posh Cakes; although there could be a question around where a Victoria Sandwich Cake should be – surely it’s more Posh than Everyday? The photographs are  a bit gorgeous; more lovely floral china, beautiful slightly battered tins and cottage garden flowers set off the actual cakes to perfection. For this one I could supply a tea-cloth and a tea-cosy, and, if given enough notice,  possibly the lollies for the top of the Celebration Cake featuring pistachio green icing topped with the entire contents of a mixed lolly bag.

Cover: Vintage HandbagsVintage handbags follows the history of the handbag from 1900 until now.  Lavish illustrations and intriguing asides abound – apparently after the First World War “the increasing mechanization of cooking and housework… freed women to spend more time outside the home: going to work, lunching with friends, attending a matinee or visiting the local lending library.” Lucky old them, off to the local lending library clutching bags of a “plumper, more commodious shape” than the little reticules and Dorothy bags the Edwardian ladies sported.

Vintage Beauty Parlor was something of a disappointment. Do the ’80s really count as vintage?  Perhaps they do if you remember big hair and big earrings only too well.  Although this book could be useful if you take themed parties  seriously – it really does take you through how to achieve the looks step-by-step. Whether or not you would want to is another matter.

Embrace the age of the cupcake

The Crabtree Bakery cupcake cookbook
The Crabtree Bakery cupcake cookbook

You’re not imagining it. Cupcakes ARE the treat du jour. Ever since Carrie and the gals munched on beautifully iced drops of spongey goodness in Sex and the city, the rise of the cupcake as a teatime supremo has been set in frosting.

The cupcake phenom started in New York, and it’s slowly made its way around the world, advancing like a mini-cake “icing age” and spawning many a brightly coloured, gorgeous illustrated cookbook. Look, you know that something’s a fully fledged craze when things start “specialising”. With titles like Vegan cupcakes take over the world : 75 dairy-free recipes for cupcakes that rule hitting the shelves it’s pretty safe to say that the reign of the cupcake is far from over. They’re just so darn pretty!

Other pastel coloured homages to the art of the cupcake that you might also find enticing are –

Bake me Im yours
Bake me I'm yours

But don’t worry, if the idea of donning a pinny and getting all fiddly with paper cups and icing seems like too much hard work, you’ll find that Christchurch is now home to not one, but two specialty purveyors of cupcakes, in the form of The Cupcake Parlour, and The Cupcake Collection so there really is no need to get to get your hands dirty, or sticky for that matter…