Saturday, 26 January 2013

January Newsletter - Duck Egg Designs

A Late Happy New Year to you all!
Everyone at Team Duck Egg has been working flat out on new designs and sourcing some gorgeous vintage finds from across the country. We are very excited about 2013!
We wanted to say a big THANK YOU to you all for your support and help in growing the Duck Egg Community in 2012. All your help so far has led us to now having over 35000 Twitter Followers and over 1000 Facebook Fans, these numbers are rapidly rising and it is all because of you!
10% Discount for 1 Week Only
As a thank you to you all we are doing a 10% Discount all this week to all our Newsletter, Facebook and Twitter fans! Simply enter the CODE "35000" in at the checkout and receive 10% of your order!
Personalised Toy Boxes from Duck Egg Designs
Our most popular products of 2012 were our Personalised Toy Boxes, being modelled here by William. We have more models coming out soon.
Duck Egg Book Club
Duck Egg Book Club:
We also launched our Book Club which can be found at - this is thanks to our New Editor JESS - she is a superstar! The club is growing fast and always has great comments and views on it. Please help spread the word!
Duck Egg Designs Kitchen Range
The opening image of the Newsletter refers to the fact we launched our kitchen range at the back end of last year. It has been a great success and we are currently working on our exclusive range of Duck Egg Kitchenware - plates, cups, mugs, saucers and much more!
We are very excited about 2013 and hope it has started well for all of you also!
You Guys 
One the driving forces behind Duck Egg is you and your comments. We source and stock what you want and we love your feedback and it hugely influences everything we do. We'd ask if you would keep writing to us at and keep us updated with all your stories and thoughts. Also let us know if we can help you in some way? A shout out on twitter maybe to help your business or events?

So much to update you on and we will in our next newsletter. Until then have a great January and best of luck to everyone who is trying to keep to thier New Years Resolutions.. we have already failed!!
Speak soon.
Team Duck Egg

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Chocolate Pavlova and Top Baking Tips

Chocolate Pavlova

Chocolate Pavlova and Top Baking Tips

From time to time we get to introduce some excellent guest bloggers and interesting people we meet through the Duck Egg Designs Community. 

Our first guest Blogger of 2013 is Becky of "Becky Bakeswells". We met the wonderful Becky through our twitter community (35,000 followers - Twitter: @duck_egg) where her friendly helpful advice and super tips have helped us on a number of baking occasions... and we have a few!

Becky is planning on launching her bakery soon and we thought it would be great to introduce you to her and some of her delicious recipes!

We thought we'd start with Becky's Top Tips before we fly into one of her delicious cakes.

Becky BakesWell's Top Baking Tips

1)      If you’re up against the clock when baking, put fridge cold eggs into a bowl of warm water for five minutes to take the chill off them – room temperature eggs will whip up more easily and produce better quality results.


2)      When trying out a new cupcake recipe it’s wise to bake one ‘test’ cupcake before filling the rest of the cases. This test cupcake will enable you to check oven temperatures, timings and will influence how far you fill the cake cases - some mixtures will rise dramatically in the oven and others can be more modest.

3)      Cakes not rising as they should be? Check the date on your baking powder and bicarbonate of soda – the shelf life of these raising agents is surprisingly short and using fading raising agents can lead to disappointing results. You can put left-over bicarbonate of soda to good use as a thrifty fridge freshener though – put an open container of it in the fridge to absorb strong smells.

4)      When whisking up egg whites, wipe the inside of the bowl and whisk/electric mixer beaters with a lemon wedge to remove any traces of grease that could prevent your egg whites from whipping up properly.

5)      Before storing flour in your cupboard, pop the pack of flour in a sandwich bag to protect the packaging and freeze it for 48 hours to safeguard against flour mites. Always store flour in a plastic container with a tight fitting lid. 


Chocolate Berry Pavlova

Chocolate Berry Pavlova

This crisp yet marshmallowy meringue base is studded with chunks of chocolate, blanketed with a cool, smooth layer of cream and is then scattered with berries. This dessert is so useful - the meringue base can be made in advance, the fruits can be tweaked to suit the season and it’s perfect for serving at parties as it’s light, and handily gluten-free.

Serves: 8-10

Chocolate Meringue Base
300g caster sugar
6 egg whites
3 tablespoons cocoa powder sieved
50g dark chocolate, chopped into small chunks
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar

500ml double cream
500g mixed berries
Finely grated dark chocolate or sieved icing sugar to decorate

1)      Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade/350 degrees Fahrenheit/gas mark 4. Using a pencil, draw a 23cm diameter circle on a piece of baking parchment, turn it over and place this on a wide baking tray.

2)      Using an electric whisk or the whisk attachment of a food mixer, whip up the egg whites until they form soft peaks of tight, compact bubbles. Whisk in the sugar one spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and glossy.

3)      Gently fold in the sifted cocoa, the vinegar and the chocolate chunks until everything is completely combined. Be careful at this point – you want everything to be mixed together properly, but you don’t want to bash all the air out the mix that you have just carefully created.

4)      ‘Glue’ the baking paper to the baking tray with a dot of meringue mixture on each corner of the paper. Dollop the meringue mixture into the centre of the circle, then flatten and spread outwards to cover the circle shape. You want to create a thick circle with a flattened top and straight upright edge – you don’t want the side surfaces to be shallow and collapsed.

5)      Place in the oven and turn the oven down to 150 degrees Centigrade/300 degrees Fahrenheit/ gas mark 2. Bake for 60-75 minutes. When it’s ready, the meringue should look like it has a crisp outer shell and it should be dry on top. However, when you press the centre, it should feel marshmallowy.

6)      Now, here’s the trick – turn the oven off and open the door slightly, leaving the pavlova base in the oven to cool completely. This precaution helps to avoid the meringue becoming deflated or damaged when you build the pavlova later and helps it to remain crisp and chewy.

7)      When you want to serve the pavlova, invert the meringue base on to a serving plate or a cake stand and peel off the baking paper. Whisk the cream until it just starts to hold its shape and dollop it on to the base. Scatter your chosen berries over the cream and then sprinkle over the grated chocolate or a slight dusting of icing sugar. 

Slice of Pavlov

For more info on Becky:

We will be back with a new blog soon but in the interim you can keep up to speed with our website: and our Facebook: 

Do leave your comments and ideas as we love to hear from you all. Big thanks to Becky and enjoy baking!

Team Duck Egg.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Top Tips for Vintage Finds

Vintage Wooden Wine Box (12 Bottle Box)
Wine Box from a selection at

With all the excitement and the thrill of our new kitchen and idyllic country style dining room, our attic is looking a bit forlorn. Forgotten at the top of the house, we were lucky that it had been converted before moving it, but with the little one's tribute to the Olympic gymnastics down the attic stairs, it is a place off limits during the day. It has become a functional space of housing awkward items such as the golf clubs which elbow and jostle anything that might sit beside them. It is an office to house the bigger computer and somewhere there is a bed which any poor unsuspecting overnight guest has to seek beneath forgotten toys and dusty sewing projects. My mother stoically comes to stay and has until recently been very jolly about fashioning a blind for the Velux windows with a towel. The blind has been fixed, but time and money has meant the attic has become a vortex. So now with the computer disappearing behind reams of drawings and filing, I have decided it is a New Year and time to get organised! With this in mind and the space being a challenging 'U' shape we need to find pieces which are useful, practical and have of course the potential to up cycle!

Top Tips for Vintage Finds...

Our first priority and a top request from Duck Egg are for chest of drawers. When I first started out in interiors, I was amazed by the ferocity of the chest of drawers market! It is a case of if you see something you like, buy it before it goes. The answer to why they are so loved is their unending practicality. We often look for the less fashionable mahogany type because they usually have beautiful and original handles. Don't worry if the handle set isn't complete you can usually find similar style on eBay or if you are little like the Duck Egg crew we use ours with the missing handle. The darker wood styles often have lovely engraved patterns on which in a lighter colour add another interesting dimension. I like to use a white palette with larger pieces of furniture and have recently started using 'Pavilion Grey' from Farrow and Ball, which is a very soft grey and lovely for distressing with a dark wax for a more Gustavian feel. It is often a good contrast with other white furniture. Annie Sloan also has a beautiful 'Paris Grey' which is lovely if you are covering darker wood as there is no need for primer or sanding. We are looking for an interesting and Victorian style small chest of drawers for the attic that can cope with the low eaves and has that Downton feel....

Always check for wood worm in pieces by looking for fresh dust inside drawers...and a great although maybe slightly outdated idea is to line drawers either with scented liners (try Crabtree and Evelyn) or wallpaper off cuts with dried herbs placed in the drawers.

We are also looking for bookshelves. A great way of transforming cheap bookshelves is to paint in a luxurious colour such as a rich Duck Egg or Pink and distress. A white undercoat showing through will help with ageing it when you distress it. To make these bookshelves more unique and vintage, cut out old maps and wallpaper to line the back and paste with PVA or a spray adhesive. Simple, fun and very stylish. You could also stencil the outside if you wanted to. Line up old Penguin titles and junk shop finds and integrate favourite collections such as shells. A vintage crate might also fit well  in the shelves or be a useful addition on top.

A big expense when finalising an interior is often the mirror. Go for shapes. An oval shape will not take up too much room and add gentle curves to the room. There is something very fairy tale about this shape, so don't be put off by a heavy gilded frame if you want a more shabby chic feel. You are more likely to find gilded frames and a chalk paint will cover well and brighten the frame if you want to change it. Just remember to mask the glass with a good quality masking tape.

Good places to start looking for vintage finds are antiques fairs, a great place to define your taste from a wide range of eras.

Look out for lovely styles, easy to upholster pieces such as footstools, which are a quick and relatively inexpensive way to update an interior with a vintage feel, quirky cupboards where you can replace front panels with chicken wire for a rustic French feel. Come and share your projects with Duck Egg on Twitter @duck_egg or .