Tag Archives: afternoon tea

Yoghurt, lime and pistachio cake with rosewater and lime drizzle…

My love of festivals (of the music variety) has been well documented on this blog as has my tradition of festival baking (here, here and here). I managed to get the first of this year’s festivals under my belt pretty early on when I headed to Meadowlands in East Sussex at the end of May. It wasn’t just the festival we were going for, it was also my friend Georgie’s ‘Hen Don’t’. As you may have surmised from the name, she’d stressed to her Bridesmaids that she didn’t want a traditional hen do, which was totally fine with me. The thought of having to walk around in sparkly feather boas and sashes (and the rest…) fills me with dread. It kind of goes against my festival morals but we had decided to ‘glamp’, which involved turning up at the car park, having our bags carried for us, being housed in a lovely bell tent with jute flooring and sleeping on an air bed clad in lovely soft duvets and bedding…but I’m not going to lie to you…it was amazing!

IMG_5961[1] IMG_5963[1]

I’m getting a bit waylaid here…back to cake!

A few of us were asked to bring some baked goods with us so that we could have a little afternoon tea on Saturday afternoon. I’d had a bit of a busy week in the run up to the festival but I try to grab every opportunity I can to test some of the recipes that I find in cook books, rip out of magazines, find online and take photos of. I’m continually hoarding these recipe snippets in a ‘must try’ pile, and here was my chance to give a couple a go. I went for a yoghurt, lime and pistachio cake with rosewater and lime drizzle (if you’ve had enough of my wittering you can just scroll to the bottom of the post for the recipe)…

Yoghurt, lime and pistachio cake 2

and a white chocolate, almond and blueberry blondie…

White chocolate, almond and blueberry blondie

Please forgive me for the rubbish standard of the photos…I’m using the excuse that all I had to cut the cakes with was a blunt butter knife and…I was in the middle of a field! 🙂

Along with some delicious Malteaser fridge cake and squidgy brownies we had a pretty good spread…

Festival afternoon tea

Festival afternoon tea

It went some way to lining our stomachs and powering our dancing later on that evening!

After getting home and recovering from the weekend of festival excess it wasn’t long before I made the yoghurt, lime and pistachio cake again. This time I managed to take a much better photo…

Yoghurt, lime & pistachio cake

It’s a pretty unassuming looking cake but the fragrant flavours all work really well together and the drizzle, together with the inclusion of ground almonds makes it exceptionally moist. It benefits from being wrapped up and kept in the fridge for a day or two, which is handy if you need to make it in advance as long as you can refrain from pilfering a slice in the middle of the night Nigella stylee!

A slice

I found the recipe in Rachel Allen’s ‘Bake‘ book and made a couple of tweaks.

To make it you’ll need…

225g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 pinch salt

75g ground almonds

100g caster sugar

2 eggs

1 generous tbsp or 50g runny honey

250ml natural yogurt

150ml sunflower oil

Grated zest of 1 lime

100g pistachios, roughly chopped

For the syrup

150ml water

100g caster sugar

Juice of 1 lime

1-2 tsp rose water (this depends on your taste and the strength of your rosewater. I use Star Kay White Rose Extract, which you can find in Lakeland. It really packs a punch and you’ll only need a small amount i.e. 1-2tsp. Whereas this Natural Essence of Rosewater from The English Provender is a lot weaker so you may want to add more.)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and grease and line a 20cm cake tin with greaseproof paper.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl and stir in the ground almonds and caster sugar.

Mix the eggs, honey, yogurt, sunflower oil and lime zest together in another bowl.

Make a well in the middle of your dry ingredients and slowly pour in the wet ingredients. Use a whisk to bring them together until they’re just combined. Finally stir in the chopped pistachios before pouring the mixture into the tin you prepared earlier.

Pop it in the oven for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

You need to leave the cake to cool in the tin for about 20 minutes, which gives you plenty of time to make your lime and rosewater syrup for drizzling.

Simply boil the water and sugar in a small saucepan for about 5 minutes until it has reduced by half. Then add the lime juice and leave to boil for another 2 minutes. Take it off the heat and leave it to cool before adding your rosewater. Take heed of my notes above regarding the strength of your rosewater…add a little, then have a slurp, if you want it stronger then add a little more to suit your own taste. If you’re too heavy handed with the rosewater at this stage your cake might end up tasting like a bar of soap…be warned!

Use a skewer to make holes all over the top of the warm cake. Spoon over the syrup making sure every bit of it sees some of the syrupy action.

I finished the cake off by scattering a few more pistachios on top and dusting it with icing sugar just before serving.

We ate it on its own but I think it’d be delicious with a dollop of natural yoghurt or creme fraiche on the side (festival optional).

Enjoy!

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Tea tasting with Kandula and a recipe for leek and smoked Camembert filo tarts…

After a strenuously indulgent weekend as part of my annual family ‘Easter Eat Fest’, I thought it was the perfect time to finish off a well overdue blog post about an event I did as part of the EAT Cambridge festival at the beginning of March. I was invited by Liz from local boutique B&B, Duke House and local tea company, Kandula to come up with an afternoon tea menu to complement 5 teas from their range for a tasting event for a lucky few guests at Duke House. It was a great chance for me to experiment with new dishes and cakes and to (hopefully) come up with the perfect match for the teas that had been chosen. I spoke at length with the Gail and Jane from Kandula, and they advised me of the flavours that would bring the best out in their teas. The final menu looked like this…

Kandula Tea and Afternoon Tease Menu

With the Ebony Ceylon I matched homemade wholemeal and white soda bread scones topped with delicate cream cheese and cucumber and smoked salmon, creme fraiche and dill. It’s a delicate tea that needed a delicate but savoury food to set it off perfectly…

Homemade soda bread scones

The guests really got into the event and spent time (in between mouthfuls) discussing how successful they felt each food and tea combination was…

Tea tasting guests

Next up we matched the English Breakfast with a new invention of mine…leek and smoked Camembert filo tarts. I was told that the English Breakfast tea was robust enough for a more strongly flavoured savoury dish and had recently been introduced to the existence of smoked Camembert so decided this was the perfect chance to put it into action. The combination of a light filo tart, leek, a creamy filling and melted, lightly smoked Camembert was an absolute winner! (see below for the recipe)…

Leek and smoked Camembert filo tarts

Kandula English Breakfast Tea

Kandula’s signature tea is their Pink Ceylon, a unique green tea with a beautiful pink colour, which won a gold star in the Great taste Awards 2011. It’s a wondefully delicate tea, perfect with Portuguese style custard tarts…

Portuguese style custard tarts

Custard tart matched with Kandula's Pink Ceylon

The next tea, was definitely my favourite, the Earl Grey, which is complemented by anything fruity or citrussy. I had opted for my lemon drizzle cakes topped with lemon curd cream and blueberries…

Lemon drizzle cupcakes with lemon curd cream and blueberries

Lemon drizzle cupcake with lemon curd cream and blueberries

and finally we matched the spicy Ebony Chai with my ginger chocolate shortbread topped with dark chocolate ganache and cristallized ginger…

Ginger and chocolate shortbread with dark chocolate ganache

It was a real treat for me to work on this event and in such a lovely location. I hope to do more in the future.

Now, without further ado, here’s the recipe for my delicious leek and smoked Camembert filo tarts…

You will need…

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 leeks, finely sliced (I always make sure I wash them well in a colander once sliced in case there is any dirt or grit trapped between the layers. Be sure to pat them dry with some kitchen towel though or your tarts will be soggy)

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves only

3 free range medium eggs

200ml double cream

100ml milk

1 packet ready made filo pastry

60g butter, melted

1 smoked Camembert* (you won’t need all of this but it’s so delicious I’m sure there are many other ways you can find to enjoy it! 🙂

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

This recipe will make 12 small tarts using a 12 hole muffin tin but it can also be used to make 1 large tart using a 20cm (8inch) pie tin.

To make the filling…

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the leeks over a medium heat for 10 minutes until soft (but not too brown). Then add the garlic and thyme and cook for a few more minutes before removing from the heat and setting aside for later.

Mix together the eggs, cream and milk in a jug and season with salt and pepper.

Now to prepare the filo cases for the filling…

Brush each hole of the muffin tin with a thin coating of melted butter.

Take the filo pastry out of it’s wrapping and cut it into squares large enough to fit into the hole of a muffin tin and come right up the sides. Once you have a stack of small squares of pastry, take 1, brush it with melted butter and lay another square on top of it at a 45 degree angle. Repeat this again with another sheet and another until you have 4 squares lying on top of each other but slightly offset to create a spiky edge. Gently take the stack of pastry and push it into a hole of the muffin tin, being careful to push it into the edges without  ripping it. Do this until you have filled all 12 holes.

Spoon some of the leek mixture into the bottom of each pastry case and then divide the liquid mixture between the tarts. Finally place a small square of smoked Camembert on top of each one and pop them in the oven for 25-30 minutes, keeping an eye on them to make sure the pastry doesn’t burn.

When they are done the pastry should be golden brown and the egg mixture set. Remove them from the oven. These can be enjoyed straight away or can be left to cool for a few minutes before removing them from the tin and leaving them to cool completely on a wire rack so they can be eaten cold…the perfect picnic food! I decided to warm mine through slightly just before serving.

*A quick note on smoked Camembert…if you’re Cambridge based, I know you can get smoked Camembert from River Farm Smokery, it’s also stocked in The Larder at Burwash Manor. If you are unable to find smoked, them normal Camembert would be delicious too or perhaps some Dolcelatte or Gorgonzola if you like a cheese that packs a punch!

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A very summery spiced tomato & red pepper chutney

Afternoon tea just wouldn’t be complete without a nice array of finger sandwiches. I make mine using bread from my local baker (Donaldsons on Mill Road), I make sure I’m not stingy with the salted butter and I most definitely cut off the crusts :). I like to keep the fillings simple and classic…ham & wholegrain mustard, cucumber & cream cheese, egg mayonnaise & cress and cheese & homemade chutney.

My next afternoon tea guests have requested cheese & chutney as one of their fillings and what with it also being the start of the British tomato season, I thought there was no better time to get chutney making!

I felt quite refined this morning as I hopped on my faithful old bicycle (Sally the Raleigh) and pedalled across town to peruse and select the perfect ingredients for my chutney from the market. I was spoilt for choice and came back with this bountiful crop of tomatoes still on the vine and huge red peppers…

I’d found this recipe for spiced tomato and red pepper chutney a while ago in an ancient copy of the Sainsburys magazine. It was very popular with my family and friends when I made it before so I thought I’d give it another go. I love how it retains the vibrant colours of the fresh ingredients…

and…it’s amazingly easy to make. As with most chutneys all you need is time and patience 🙂

To make about 1.5 litres (approx 5 jars) you’ll need…

1 tsp cumin seeds

2 tsp coriander seeds

4 tbsp olive oil

2 large onions, diced finely

4 red peppers, cut into approx 1 cm dice (I like my chutney chunky but if you like yours finer feel free to use a food processor to do the chopping)

1.4kg ripe tomatoes, cut into approx 1 cm dice

8 cloves garlic, crushed

4 tbsp ginger (a chunk of ginger the size of about 4 wine corks), grated

8 tbsp soft brown sugar or demerara sugar

8 tbsp red wine vinegar or cider vinegar

Grated zest and juice of 4 oranges

1 tsp dried crushed red chilli flakes (optional if you like your chutney with a kick)

Lightly crush the cumin and coriander seeds in a pestle and mortar and toast them in a dry frying pan until they start to release a gorgeous aroma, then remove them from the heat and set aside.

Pour the oil into a large pan and add the diced onions and toasted spices. Cook for a few minutes but try not to brown the onions, just soften them slightly.

Now add all of the remaining ingredients…

and bring to the boil. Once it’s bubbling away, turn it down and simmer until it thickens. Make sure you stir it frequently so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom. The test to see if your chutney is thick enough is to drag your spoon down the centre of the pan, if the divide in the chutney remains, you’re done! The recipe I was following said that it would take 30-45 minutes for it to reach this stage but mine took considerably longer, hence the need for time and patience 🙂

But eventually it’ll look a little something like this…

at which point it’s ready to decant into sterilised jars (Find out how to sterilise your jars here)…

Finally, pour a tablespoonful of olive oil on top of the chutney and screw the lids on tight. Once sealed, your chutney will keep for months. Once you crack into a jar just make sure you keep it in the fridge.

Here’s my motley batch of summery spiced tomato and red pepper chutney…

The perfect addition to a delicious mature cheddar sandwich!

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Afternoon Tea…we won’t let this rubbish weather stop us!

It appears that the sun is being a little shy in getting his hat on this year, but that’s not going to stop us hardy Cambridge folk having some afternoon tea fun! I’ve blogged previously (here) about my exciting collaboration with Cambridge Hen Party and Let’s Go Punting as their afternoon tea provider. 

This weekend, despite some sketchy weather conditions, a bride to be and her hens tucked into afternoon tea in the sheltered haven of the gorgeous converted barn at The Punter on Pound Hill in Cambridge. It was the perfect setting, I absolutely love their collection of mismatched furniture and quirky decor. I took a few minutes before the ladies arrived to take a few snaps…

I got another chance to give my collection of mismatched crockery an outing and made sure no place setting was the same 🙂 …

I served up delicate finger sandwiches, mini Devonshire scones with jam and cream, gooey brownie squares…

and luscious lemon drizzle cake with lemon curd buttercream icing…

These mini milk bottles are so adorable I couldn’t resist serving the milk in them…

to accompany tea in my favourite teapot collection…

If you’re interested in booking an afternoon tea and punting package drop Caroline an email on info@cambridge-hen-party.co.uk for hen parties or info@letsgopunting.co.uk for non hen parties (boys, you are by no means excluded from enjoying afternoon tea :).

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Punting & afternoon tea…the perfect combo…

I’m very excited to share some news about a cakey collaboration I’ve been working on with ’Let’s Go Punting’, a small independent punting company in Cambridge. This summer I’ll be providing birthday cakes for their birthday party tours and ‘Afternoon Tease’ packages for their picnics and hen parties!

In my mind, punting and afternoon tea are the perfect combo, but then again maybe I’m biased 😉 What better way to spend a summer weekend, kicking back and relaxing, whilst being chauffeured in a punt down the river Cam, laughing at the hoards of tourists trying to ‘do it themselves’ and careening into one another…it’s more entertaining than an episode of Britain’s Got Talent I can tell you! 🙂 Anyhow, I digress…you’ll now be able to do all of the above but with the added bonus of enjoying an inimitably English, homemade afternoon tea on the riverside! Take a look at the menu below, which can be booked alongside any of their punting packages…

A selection of delicate finger sandwiches (no crusts of course!)

filled with… 

cucumber & cream cheese

ham & wholegrain mustard

free range egg mayonnaise & cress

or cheese & homemade chutney

Homemade mini scones…

with a choice of either plain scones served with lashings of jam & clotted cream…

or cheese scones served with butter…

A homemade cake…

There’s a choice between either a victoria sponge sandwiched with jam & vanilla buttercream icing…

a chocolate fudge cake with chocolate ganache icing…

or a lemon drizzle cake sandwiched with lemon curd buttercream icing…

and as if that weren’t enough there’ll also be…

Mini homemade brownie squares

and…

Homemade iced tea 

Now, with the British weather being as unpredictable as it is, my afternoon tea’s can be supplied in a lovely reusable picnic bag that can be taken away to a location of choice (preferably somewhere cosy & dry) or if the the sun has got his hat on, can be enjoyed in one of Cambridge’s gorgeous green spaces. You can find everything you’ll ever need to know about booking etc on the ‘Let’s Go Punting’ website…or just give them a bell, they’re a lovely bunch 🙂

All this talk of afternoon tea got me craving scones so, I decided to revisit my good old Be-Ro cheese scone recipe. It’s one that I’ve been using for years and was originally recommended to me by my Mum.

As a slight cheese related aside…whilst wandering the aisles of Asda buying my scone ingredients I stumbled upon a selection of cheeses by none other than Alex James (The previously hot one from Blur). Now please excuse me, if I’m about to sound unbelievably snobby, but I was pretty shocked that not only had Mr James sold out to a major supermarket but also that he’d chosen Asda. Don’t get me wrong, I frequent Asda on a regular basis as a cost effective place to buy the copious amounts of baking goods that I need and even spent a summer (back in the day) as an Asda checkout girl, but…tomato ketchup and salad cream flavoured cheeses Alex! really!? Having done a bit of googling on the subject I found that I’m not the only one who thinks that Mr James may have sold out, Xanthe Clay is pretty vocal about it here along with blogger Fiona Beckett aka The Cheeselover. However, as the saying goes ‘Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it’ so I picked up the most innocuous looking variety…’Alex’s Best Ever Cheddar’…

It was actually ok, not amazing, but a good, strong cheddar, which made it suitable for my cheese scone recipe.

To make 8 small cheese scone you need…

175g self-raising flour

freshly ground salt & pepper (the recipe recommends a pinch but you can use your own taste and judgement on this one)

1/2 tsp mustard powder

25g butter

75g cheese, grated

1 egg

2 tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Mix the flour, salt, pepper and mustard powder together in a bowl.

Rub in the butter until there are no big lumps of it left and the mixture has the texture of breadcrumbs.

Stir in the grated cheese, saving a little for later to sprinkle on top of your scones.

Add most of the beaten egg and milk until you’ve made a soft dough. Add  little at a time until you’re happy with the texture, if it gets too sticky add a sprinkling of flour. There should be just enough of the egg mixture left for glazing your scones just before they go into the oven.

Once you’re happy with the consistency, tip the dough out onto a surface and roll it out until it’s about 3/4 inch thick. Using a circular pastry cutter, press down firmly to cut out your scones. Try not to twist the cutter as this has a detrimental effect on the way your scones rise…just one firm push is all it should take.

Place each scone on the baking tray, brush with the egg mixture and sprinkle with grated cheese…

then pop them in the oven for 10-15 minutes until they’re golden brown and delicious!…

Serve warm with a generous amount of salted butter…

and a nice cuppa…

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Afternoon Tea for…30!

Yesterday was a big day for me…my first ever afternoon tea catering job! I definitely don’t do things by halves…it was for a whopping 30 people and even though it involved an awful lot of baking and more pats of butter than I’ve ever seen in my life…I was completely in my element and loved every minute! 

In November last year I catered for my friend’s parents Ruby Wedding celebration and I can’t have done too bad a job because they asked me back to make afternoon tea to celebrate a double birthday, my good friend Han’s ‘30th’ and her gorgeous Granny Madge’s 90th…I felt ever so privileged!

I formulated a menu using a selection of my favourite recipes that I’ve tested since starting this blog. After a day and a half of baking, icing, crust removing, buttering, slicing and primping this was the final spread… 

Almond biscotti recipe here with the addition of a few added dried cranberries.

Sticky lime and coconut drizzle loaf recipe here.

Blueberry and soured cream cake recipe here.

Sticky toffee cupcake recipe here.

Chocolate brownie recipe here.

Devonshire scone recipe courtesy of my Mum below.

I took this job very seriously and even researched cucumber sandwiches on t’internet. I discovered that there are many ways to make them but the way I chose was to peel and slice the cucumber then soak it in a mixture of 1/2 cup of white wine vinegar and 1/2 cup of water for about 30 minutes. Before making the sandwiches I drained them well and patted them dry with some kitchen roll. I buttered the bread generously with salted butter, not only because it tastes better but because it acts as a barrier to stop the bread going soggy. And there you have them, and I quote…’The best cucumber sandwich ever’.

Sausage roll recipe here.

I’d been asked to make a veggie alternative to sausage rolls and after trawling the internet I came up with these amazing spinach and sundried tomato puff pastry pinwheels. I found the recipe on a blog site called Recipe Girl here. They were perfect for this event as I was able to make the filling the day before… 

Spread an even layer of it onto a couple of sheets of puff pastry…

roll it up…

wrap it in clingfilm and pop them into the freezer. So all I needed to do on the day was cut them into half inch slices, lay them on a baking tray and bake them at 200 degrees for about 25 minutes, until golden brown. They were so popular and were demolished in a matter of minutes!

One of the last things I baked were the Devonshire scones. I’d been reliably informed by my Mum that they’d be so much better if they were freshly baked on the day! So 7am Saturday morning, saw me making 40 of these beauts… 

I was amazed at how easy they were. To make about 10 small scones you need…

225g self raising flour

40g unsalted butter, at room temperature

150ml milk

1 1/2 level tbsp caster sugar

pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees and line a couple of baking trays with greaseproof paper.

You simply rub the butter into the flour until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and salt. Then with a knife (it might sound weird but go with it, it works!) mix in the milk, a bit at a time until it forms a dough. If it seems a bit sticky, sprinkle in a bit more flour and if it seems a bit dry add a splash more milk. When you’re happy with the consistency, get in there with your hands and without overworking it bring it together into a ball.

Roll it out to about 2cm thick and using a small circular pastry cutter press down firmly to cut out your scones. Even though it’s very tempting to twist it…try not to otherwise you’ll be left with very lopsided scones! Mine did have a bit of a slope to them but I like to think that it gave them character! 🙂 

Finally dust the tops with some more sifted flour…

 and pop them in the oven for 12-15 minutes until they are golden brown…

Then the only thing you need to worry about is whether you’re going to go ‘Cornwall’ (jam first then clotted cream on top) or ‘Devon’ (clotted cream first then jam on top)…this managed to spark a great debate amongst the afternoon tea guests along with whether they were ‘scones’ (rhymes with gone) or ‘scones’ (rhymes with own) 🙂 I personally enjoy my ‘scon’ the Cornwall way every time…how about you?

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ooooo Betty!

My love of autumn has been revived by a gorgeous weekend in York…bright blue skies, fluffy white clouds, amazing autumn leaves…

and afternoon tea at a real northern institution…Bettys

Bettys is ever so popular and there’s always a queue of eager sweet toothed tourists awaiting their turn to sample the delicacies…

With this in mind I’d booked a table upstairs in the ‘Belmont Room’…

what it lacked in busy buzzy cafe atmosphere it made up for with its elegant cruise liner inspired art deco features. The waitresses were dressed in period clothes and a live pianist serenaded us…all very sophisticated!

But let me get back to the main event…

A pot of Bettys tea room blend tea…

and a tower of delicate goodies…

dainty but well filled, crustless roast ham and smoked salmon sandwiches (with real butter of course)…

a sultana scone, which had a very pleasant lemon zing to it served with strawberry jam and clotted cream…

and to top it off a minature chocolate eclair, a fresh fruit tart and a lemon financier…

The financier was so very moist and had a crunchy lemon drizzle topping (definitely on the ‘must bake’ list) but for me the raspberry tart really stole the show…extremely light pastry, a sweet, creamy custard filling to die for, topped with tart but succulent raspberries. It definitely deserves a picture of its own…

Despite having filled myself up with a huge breakfast at the hotel I managed to polish the whole.lot.off…

On the way out I had a recce of the shop, which was chock full of Bettys goodies…

It may have become a Mecca for tourists but the experience of a trip back in time to this wonderful afternoon tea emporium remains a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

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