Enjoying Life's Little Pleasures

The Ariel House Blog

Halloween Tea Brack


Although traditionally associated with Halloween, Tea Brack is a year round favourite here at Ariel House and is usually found on the breakfast buffet each morning.

Also known as Barmbrack or “The BarnyBrack” as we used to call it as children (I have no idea why, and would love to know if anyone else called it this too), this loaf is central to Irish Halloween tradition.

The base of the recipe consists of tea soaked dried fruit, such as raisins, sultanas and cherries. As a young child, I always knew when Halloween was drawing close, as my Mam would start collecting left over tea from the pot each evening and storing it in in one of the old glass milk bottles.

The real Halloween brack contained little surprise items, like a ring, a pea, a stick, a piece of cloth or a coin. Whatever you came across in your slice of brack would determine your fortune for the coming year! If you find the ring you’ll soon be married; the cloth shows you will have bad luck and the coin is a sign you’ll be blessed with good fortune. At home, the items were always wrapped in greaseproof paper before going into the mixture, so we spent our time trying to find the paper wrappings through buttered slices of brack to see what we would unearth!

At Ariel House, our Tea Brack recipe is the one my Mam used to make, it’s such a lovely, versatile bake. It can be a cake or bread, for breakfast or for afternoon tea,  it really suits any occasion or time of the day.

Our Halloween Tea Brack:


– 300ml cold tea

– 4 tsp Jameson Irish Whiskey

– 110g sultanas

– 220g currants or raisins

– 55g chopped glacé cherries

– 55g chopped mixed peel

– 200g brown sugar

– 225g self-raising flour

– 1 egg, beaten

– 1 tsp ground nutmeg


1. Place the cold tea and whiskey in a bowl. Add in the sultanas, currants, glacé cherries and mixed peel. Cover and set aside to soak overnight.

2. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4.

3. In a mixing bowl, mix together the sugar, self-raising flour, beaten egg, nutmeg andsoaked fruit, with its soaking liquid, until well-mixed.

4. Transfer the mixture to a loaf tin, lined with baking paper.

5. Bake for 1½ hours, until risen and set.

6. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes in its tin, then turn out and cool on a wire tray and serve in thick slices with lots of butter

Happy baking and most importantly, Happy Halloween!

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Breakfast Together Week: Delicious Pancake Recipe

Breakfast Pancake Recipe


Breakfast Together Week takes place this year from the 6th of October to 12th of October. Breakfasts are hosted across the country to help support the ISPCC Childline services which help children in need 24 hours a day. It is a great initiative to get people together and to raise awareness for this fantastic service for children who may not be as lucky as some.

Here at Ariel House, one of our most popular breakfast dishes is the delicious pancake. No longer confined to just Pancake Tuesday, it is a dish that we cook up seven days a week and always goes down a treat! Whether it be sweet or savoury toppings, the basic pancake recipe is always the same and makes for a delicious fluffy pancake. Perfect to serve to people over a long and lazy brunch.


Ingredients (serves 4)

250g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
50g caster sugar
250ml of milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
50g unsalted butter



1. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar into a bowl.
2. Mix the milk, eggs and the melted butter in a large jug, then add the flour mixture and mix quickly to make a batter.
3. Heat a cast iron frying pan or flat-surfaced griddle until medium-hot, grease lightly with some butter and pour in the batter in batches to make rounds 8-10cm/3-4in in diameter.
4. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until bubbles form on top of the pancakes and the underside is golden, then flip each one over and cook for one minute.



Pancake Recipe



We adore Highbank Orchard Syrup drizzled over a stack of these and topped with crispy bacon but the possibilities are endless. Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, poached berries and rhubarb with a dollop of Greek yoghurt or this delicious seasonal damson syrup from Fiona Dillon looks amazing and is sure to be a hit with our guests when we make it this week!

So what are your favourite toppings for delicious fluffy pancakes? Please share, we would love to hear from you!


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Cakes Fit for a Queen

Afternoon Tea


Back when we were younger, an Irish tea table was not considered complete without a plate of freshly made Queen Cakes upon it. In other houses, they were called fairy buns or butterfly buns, but in our house, they were always called Queen Cakes. The whole act of creaming the butter and sugar together, takes me back to my mother’s kitchen and I can almost hear the scrape of the wooden spoon working through the mixture. Queen Cakes are some of the simplest buns that you can make, perfect for beginner bakers or little hands to help with. Even better, these delicious treats take just a half an hour to conjure from start to finish. Such a pretty addition to any afternoon tea table!


Ingredients for 12 buns:

175g self raising flour

125g caster sugar

125g softened butter

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons of milk


Suggested Topping Ingredients:

100ml of raspberry jam

100ml of soft whipped cream

Icing sugar



Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius.

Line a 12 hole bun tray with bun cases.

Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth.

Gradually add the beaten eggs, if mixture starts to curdle, drop in a tablespoon of flour.

Add in the remaining flour and the milk.

Use an ice cream scoop to fill the paper cases and bake for 15 minutes or until golden.

Cool on a wire tray.

Once cooled, carefully cut a small slice from the top of each bun, cut this slice in half to resemble butterfly wings.

Pipe some cream and some jam on top before replacing the wings on the bun at a slight angle. Dust with icing sugar and voila, a memory of childhood awaits you!


Queen Cakes


The beauty of these buns is that they are so easy to customise for any sweet cravings that you may have. Replace the jam with a creamy spoonful of nutella, smooth caramel or sweet lemon curd to indulge your taste buds. Fancy giving this recipe a try? Leave a comment below letting us know how you got on!

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Ariel House Mini Meringues!


We recently had an email from an American guest who had enjoyed our afternoon tea so much that they were trying to recreate it for some friends back home in New York. She especially wanted to know how we made our mini meringues as she had been making them for years but could not get the texture that we had achieved in our kitchen. Meringues are such a simple little recipe to make and it always amazes me as to how well received they are by our guests. The addition of a layer of softly whipped cream and a smear of lemon curd is a combination that was surely made in heaven. The sweetness of the meringue counteracted by the tartness of the lemon is a winner every time. This recipe is from our kitchen to your kitchen, from Dublin to New York!

Ingredients for 12 mini meringues:

– 3 egg whites
– 175g of caster sugar
– 250ml of cream, softly whipped
– 12 tsps of lemon curd

ariel-blog-meringue-3 Instructions:

– Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
– Line 2 baking sheets with greaseproof paper.
– Whisk egg whites until very stiff.
– Very gradually add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, whisking well after each spoonful.
– Drop rounds of the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet.
– Drop oven temperature to 110 degrees celcius for 45 mins to 1 hour.
– Allow to cool and decorate with softly whipped cream and lemon curd.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do. Such a lovely recipe to have in your repertoire and there are hundreds of fillings to choose from. Nutella and chopped hazelnuts, caramel and bananas, strawberries and cream, the combinations are endless. Let us know if you have any unusual combinations we could try out!




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Homemade Lemonade


We were so delighted to see The Great British Bake Off back on our screens last week! We are huge fans of home baking here in Ariel House as you all know and we are just loving the surge in interest in home baked treats that we see all around us! It is such a pleasure for us to share our own baked treats with guests at our ever-popular afternoon tea celebrations. We pride ourselves on treating our guests to tasty treats and are always on the lookout for inspiration. During the course of The Great British Bake Off, we are going to going to attempt to create a treat from the show each week so watch this space!

We have had a really busy Summer here at our guesthouse on Lansdowne Road with visitors from near and far being accommodated. We have been making a delicious, refreshing lemonade to quench our weary traveler’s thirst. Lemonade is such a simple thing to make, but it is amazing how well it can go down on a hot day. Here is hoping that we have many more weeks of sunshine before the Autumn weather truly kicks in!

To make this truly delicious lemonade, you will need:

1 cup of sugar

1 cup of water

4 or 6 lemons juiced

3 or 4 cups of cold water

How to Prepare:

- Heat the sugar and water together to make a simple syrup. The syrup is ready when the sugar has become completely dissolved.

- Add the lemon juice and syrup together in a suitable jug and add 3 cups of cold water before tasting. If you feel the taste is too strong, add a 4th cup of cold water and taste again.

You may also adjust the flavour by adding more sugar or lemon juice.

- Refrigerate until completely chilled.

- Top with ice and fresh mint.

- Serve!

Hope you enjoy this delicious homemade lemonade recipe as much as we do here in Ariel House!

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Hotel & Catering Gold Medal Awards 2014 Nomination


We at Ariel House are delighted to announce the hard work and dedication of our team has been recognised! Our Dublin guesthouse has been selected as a finalist in the 26th Annual Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Awards. The Hotel and Catering Review Magazine is the leading business publication for the Irish hospitality sector, sharing helpful advice on running and promoting businesses. Their awards are renowned, judging excellence in all areas of the industry.

We have been nominated across three categories: ‘Guesthouse’, ‘Customer Experience’ and ‘Value for Money Hotel of the Year’. While industry experts judge most categories, ‘Value for Money Hotel of the Year’ relies on a public vote to choose its winners. If you’d like to see us collecting a prize on the main stage, please click the below image to vote before August 13th. The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony taking place on the 22nd of September, 2014.

This has been a fantastic year for Ariel House and receiving such a prestigious award would be the cherry on top. Thank you so much to all of our customers, your positive reviews and recommendations continue to bring our Dublin guesthouse to new heights – we will continue to provide the best possible experience for our guests.

P.S. don’t forget to vote



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An Award-Winning Breakfast by Our Ariel House Chef’s

Over the years, we have built up a reputation as being one of the best B&B’s in Dublin and although we pride ourselves on the charming elegance and Victorian features of our bedrooms, B&B stands for more than just beds – it’s about the breakfast too!

Our Breakfast Chef, Rose, recently celebrated her 12 year anniversary working as part of the Ariel House team. It got us thinking about all of the scrumptious food and delicious recipes that Rose and her team, Manu and Ulisses, have made for our guests over the years. We thought it was the perfect opportunity to shine the light on the fruits of all the labour our chefs go through every morning to give our guests a truly award-winning breakfast.


Rose, the Breakfast Chef, at our B&B in Dublin.

We believe that guests come to our B&B in Dublin to treat themselves and that they expect that little bit extra from their breakfast; that’s why Rose and the team believe in using seasonal ingredients and sourcing the best in local Irish produce.

We are proud to use only free range, Irish eggs as well as button mushrooms which are grown right here in Co. Dublin. Our bacon and sausages are sourced from Wexford producer, Pat O’Neill. Both our black and white pudding come from the renowned, Clonakilty Pudding. The chutney on our breakfast tables is homemade using Rachel Allen’s recipe. Most of our breads and pastries are home baked with the exception of the sourdough and Cinnamon Rolls which are made by Master Baker Vlad at his wonderful Arun Bakery in Dublin 7. Our great fruit jams and marmalades come from the Kilmurray Farm in Co. Wicklow, with some of our jams and the amarena cherries, marinated in honey and poitin, that we use in our porridge coming from the lovely Irish Bee Sensations in Co. Cork.


When you look for a B&B in Dublin, you can search through all of the images and photographs you want but sometimes you can just never truly capture the taste of crispy streaky bacon or the smell of freshly baked bread in the morning. At Ariel House, presentation has always been key. We believe in making our food look just as good as it tastes.


It will come as no surprise that Ariel House was awarded the “Best Guesthouse Breakfast” award at the Irish Breakfast Awards in 2012. Our Victorian guesthouse has also been commended for our breakfasts by The Daily Telegraph newspaper, Lucinda O’Sullivan’s Great Places to Stay Guide and The John and Sally McKenna Guide. Rose and the team’s hard work and dedication over the years has been well recognised and it’s safe to say we are not the only ones who love Rose’s delicious food; it looks like everyone else does too!

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Kidding Around in Dublin – Keeping Children of All Ages Entertained During Easter



As the Easter break approaches, many of our guests and indeed many of you, will be contemplating how to keep their children entertained. This blog post details 5 of our top recommended places to visit in Dublin to keep your children entertained.

Natural History Museum

Most children have a fascination for animals and insects and there is no better place to satisfy their curiosity (and yours) then at the Natural History Museum. With over 2 million specimens this museum is fondly known as the “Dead Zoo”, there is a tremendous charm to the place and you can see amazing examples of many types of mammals, birds and insects on display in glass cases. The museum is centrally located on Merrion Street in Dublin 2, for more information and opening hours visit their website – http://www.museum.ie/en/intro/natural-history.aspx

The National Wax Museum

Since most of us will never meet any major celebrities in our lifetime. The National Wax Museum is a unique experience to bring children up close and personal to some famous people from throughout history.  Like many other wax museums this features some world renowned figures, however, it has an added Irish twist to it bringing Irish history to life through exhibits such as The Writers Room,  Hall of Irish Legends and Time Vaults of Irish History.  Visit their website for more information – http://www.waxmuseumplus.ie/index.asp

Dublin Zoo

In Phoenix Park you’ll find Dublin’s top family attraction, Dublin Zoo.  The zoo opened in 1831 and is one of the world’s oldest zoos. It is home to over 400 animals ranging from gorillas and giraffes to a plethora of flamingo’s and monkeys plus the ever comical meerkats.  This is a true family day out so pack a picnic and plan to walk and through the 28 hectares and see their amazing collection of animals up close and personal.  For admission prices, visiting hours and more – got to their website – http://www.dublinzoo.ie 


For younger children, Imaginosity, a Dublin Children’s Museum located in the Beacon South Quarter, provides plenty of creative play. The list of activities are endless and include activities like Story Corner, Wobbler & Toddlers and Endangered Species. There are about 4 different daily activities.

Do be sure to book ahead, especially during the holidays. Directions, hours and a full listing of activities can be found on their website. http://imaginosity.ie/

Leprechaun Museum

The legends of Leprechauns lie deep in Irish culture and the Leprechaun Museum, located on Jervis Street in Dublin 1, is just the place to learn more about Irish folklore and mythology. For more – http://www.leprechaunmuseum.ie/

There are loads more activities for children in Dublin to choose from of course. These are merely five options which come highly recommended from both ourselves here at Ariel House, and our guests.

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Mother’s Day Pavlova – Afternoon Tea / Dessert Recipe

afternoon tea pavlova

Afternoon Tea Dessert – Orange & Dark Chocolate Pavlova

Mothers’ Day takes place in Ireland this Sunday, the 30th of March.  It is always celebrated earlier in Ireland than most other countries. It is nonetheless usually a big celebration where we celebrate our wonderful mother’s and even our grandmother’s. The occasion is usually highlighted by a special meal or afternoon tea either at home or out in a favourite local restaurant.

Our afternoon tea here at Ariel House is always a big hit among mother’s and indeed among women in general. One of the delicious desserts that we offer is our Carmelised Orange and Dark Chocolate Pavlova. It is a simple recipe but the addition of chocolate and orange makes it a bit more special for the day.  So for those of you making your meal at home or hosting an afternoon tea for your mother on Sunday, why not make our pavlova recipe to finish it off perfectly?

This recipe is one of the ten recipes featured in our new recipe booklet which is available on our website to download for free. You can pick up a physical version of the recipe booklet in person when you visit Ariel House either.


Caramelised Orange & Dark Chocolate Pavlova


  • 4 egg whites
  • 225 cater sugar
  • 1tsp cornflour
  • 1tsp white wine vinegar



  • 2 oranges, peeled and cut into thin slices
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 125ml water
  • 300ml of cream
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod



  1. Heat the oven to 180°C. Cover a baking sheet with baking parchment.
  2. Whisk the egg whites with electric beaters until they just for stiff and shiny peaks.
  3. Gradually add the sugar, a couple of tablespoons at a time and whisk really well between each addition. When all of the sugar is used up, continue whisking for 3-4 minutes or until the meringue is still and glossy and stands up in peaks.
  4. Whisk in the cornflour and vinegar.
  5. Spoon the mixture onto the baking parchment and use a palette knife to make a circle about 20cm in diameter. Put in the oven, turn the temperature down to 120 degrees and cook for  for 1 ½ hours. Carefully peel off the baking parchment and put the pavlova on a serving dish.
  6. Put the sugar and water into a large saucepan and swirl under the mixture turns amber. Take off the heat and tip in the orange slices. Quickly coat them and remove to a piece of parchment paper, allow to cool.
  7. Scrape the vanilla seeds into a mixing bowl, add the cream and softly whip, then spoon onto the pavlova.
  8. Place the orange slices on top and grate over the dark chocolate.


If you do attempt to create this wonderful afternoon tea recipe on Sunday, let us know how you get on our Facebook or Twitter page.

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Art in Dublin | Museum & Gallery Recommendations

Art in Dublin

Dublin offers a wonderful variety of galleries and museums for visitors keen on viewing art. Whether your preference is ancient manuscripts or modern photography – the art in Dublin  suit all tastes. We have put together a selection of some of the museums and galleries that we recommend to guests of our Dublin guesthouse, but it is by no means a complete list.


Located at Dublin Castle (in Dublin 2) the Chester Beatty Library has been described by the Lonely Planet as “not just the best museum in Ireland, but one of the best in Europe.” The current temporary exhibition, Costumes Parisiens, Fashion plates from 1912-1914, runs until the 30th of March 2014. Plus, the permanent collection has one of the finest collections of books and manuscripts made by a collector in the 20th century.  There are also many events happening at the library throughout the week from talks to tours and workshops.

It has free admission and you can find out more about upcoming exhibitions and their permanent collection on their website: www.cbl.ie


Also in Dublin 2, the Royal Hibernian Academy, Gallagher Gallery, 15 Ely Place – has ongoing exhibitions of Irish artists. The Dorothy Cross exhibit, Connemara, goes live on the 13th March until the 27 April. Another fantastic exhibit with the works of James Hanly will also be on display during the same period.

Coppa Café in the museum has soups, sandwiches and salads along with excellent coffee. For more go to their website: www.rhagallery.ie


The National Gallery is located on Merrion Square West, (Dublin 2) and this year is celebrating 150 Years since it opened.  Having opened in 1854, it houses over 15, 000 works of art. It also has free admission and it is open 361 days a year.  While it has an amazing collection including works by Goya, Caravaggio, Breton and Canova it is also is the home of “Ireland’s Favourite Painting” – Hellelil and Hildebrand, The Meeting on  the Turret Stairs- Frederic William Burton (1816-1900). One of our colleagues Ewa is an Honours Degree Student of Art History and volunteers for the National Gallery as a guide. She is a wealth of knowledge about the Gallery and its exhibitions, which is a great asset to us here. Our Dublin Guesthouse is within walking distance of The National Gallery and so it is a very popular tourist attraction for our guests.

For more information on their collections and exhibits, go to their website:  www.nationalgallery.ie .




Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane (Dublin 1) has a collection of over 2000 works of contemporary art including pieces by Manet, Monet, Renoir and Degas among others.  However, the most impressive thing at this gallery is Francis Bacon’s London studio which was re-located to the museum and meticulously re-created. Never before has an artist’s studio been so thoroughly catalogued and re-constructed. We thoroughly recommend a visit to the Dublin City Gallery to all patrons of our Dublin guesthouse.

Visit www.hughlane.ie for more about the exhibitions and their collection.

The Irish Museum of Modern Art, located at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham (Dublin 8) has several exhibitions on right now – most importantly the work of Patrick Scott: Image Space Light. Scott passed away days s before the exhibit opened and he was a key contemporary Irish artist. This exhibit is up until the 18th of May, admission €5. It is also on at VISUAL Centre for Contemporary Art in Carlow during the same period, admission free. For more information on this exhibit and others, visit www.imma.ie


Following a busy day visiting the Galleries of Dublin, our Afternoon Tea awaits in the Drawing Room of our Dublin Guesthouse!

The Ariel House Team
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