It’s National Afternoon Tea Week! Which means for one week only, it’s even more acceptable than usual to eat lots of cake, drink ridiculous amounts of tea and if your circumstances allow, the odd glass or two of champagne!
I adore everything about afternoon tea; fine china, leaf tea, delicate cakes, scones, champagne and having my every need tended to. The best afternoon tea I ever had was at The Thames Foyer in The Savoy Hotel for my 30th Birthday.
It was a painfully English affair full of pomp and circumstance and I relished every minute of it. The Thames Foyer (built in 1904 as an extension to the hotel) has a glass cupola which allows natural light to pour in, with a winter gazebo in the centre complete with its own pianist to serenade you whilst you eat. The smart casual (no sportswear) dress code made it feel even more sophisticated.
The food offered was the usual affair, but elevated to a much higher level. There was a selection of sandwiches, scones with homemade jams and curds, two rounds of delicate pastries and then another round of ‘signature cakes’. There were in excess of 20 teas and a selection of champagnes amongst other things.
It was truly magnificent and I recommend for anyone to try it for a special occasion. I remember every bite of food, sip of champagne and slurp of tea like it was only yesterday!
So it’s rather convenient, that a little while ago I stumbled upon a recipe from William & Suzue Curley’s book Patisserie: A Masterclass in Classic and Contemporary Patisserie for Carrot and Chocolate Chip Cakes that used to be served at The Savoy of all places!
This recipe is very simple to make, light fluffy and perfect for afternoon tea, I can see why they made it on to the menu. I added my own twist to these cakes which is the addition of a vanilla mascarpone icing and a square of tempered chocolate, complete with a chocolate transfer design.
If they were forming part of a larger buffet you could easily serve these without the icing and they would be just as delicious. I am however trying to teach myself patisserie, so I couldn’t let the opportunity to decorate something pass me by.
Begin by mixing grated carrot (I grated it on the smallest blade on my grater) with 100g of egg (getting serious here). Then sift the dry ingredients into another bowl and fold them into the carrot mix. At first the mix is very dry and it feels like the flour and carrot will never combine, however keep folding and it all becomes incorporated.
Then add the chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate) and melted butter, mixing thoroughly. I’ll warn you, the next picture isn’t hugely attractive, the reason it’s included is because the mixture is very wet at the stage. The recipe requires you to then place the cake in the fridge for 45mins to an hour before baking. I was quite surprised by this and I haven’t come across any other cake that asked you to do this.
The reason soon became clear. The cake has some ground almonds in it, after a spell in the fridge the mixture had thickened as the almonds had soaked up a lot of the moisture and become swollen.
The cake mix is then spooned into a pastry bag and piped into a silicone muffin tin, ensure that the cake is even in the holes and that the surface is flat, so that you don’t get a domed cake when it’s baked. Cook the cakes for 18-20 minutes, they’re done when a cocktail stick comes out clean. Leave to cool on a rack until completely cold.
While the cakes are cooling, combine some mascarpone with sifted icing sugar and vanilla extract until it is smooth and creamy. This is then put into a piping bag with a star attachment and piped on top of the cooled cakes. I also finished off the cakes with a square of tempered chocolate, decorated with a chocolate transfer design.
CARROT & CHOCOLATE CHIP CAKES w/ VANILLA MASCARPONE
- ***CARROT CAKE***
- 150 g Plain Flour
- 25 g Ground Almonds
- 12 g Baking Powder
- 1 g Ground Cinnamon
- 150 g Caster Sugar
- 150 g Carrots grated
- 100 g Whole Eggs about 2 eggs
- 75 g Dark Chocolate Chips or a bar chopped 50% cocoa solids
- 150 g Unsalted Butter melted
- ***MASCARPONE ICING***
- 350 g Mascarpone
- 115 g Icing Sugar sifted
- 1 g Vanilla Extract
- Sift the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Mix together the grated carrot and the eggs in a separate bowl. Fold the dry ingredients into the carrot and egg mixture.
- Mix in the chopped chocolate and lastly the melted butter. Put in a container and rest in the fridge for 45 minutes to an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4).
- Take the mixture out of the fridge and spoon it into a piping (pastry) bag fitted with 12mm (1⁄2 inch) plain nozzle (tip).
- Using a silicone muffin tray or cupcake tray, pipe the cake mixture into the holes until three-quarters full. You can of course also use a metal cake tin and cake cases, but I think they look more delicate without a case.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden brown if muffin sized or 12-15 minutes if cupcake sized. Leave to cool, then remove from the moulds.
- Beat the icing sugar into the mascarpone and then add the vanilla extract. Mix thoroughly.
- Place the mascarpone in a piping bag with a star shaped nozzle and pipe swirls, or you could just spread the mascarpone on top.
There you have it, a delicious afternoon tea treat that I hope you will try and make yourself. Throughout National Afternoon Tea Week there are a number of promotions running around the country, take a look at the website Afternoon Tea.
What do you think of Afternoon Tea? Do you love it? Or do you think it’s a pointless exercise? Have you ever prepared your own afternoon tea for friends or family?
I have entered this blog post into ‘The Great Denby Cake Off’ blogging competition. The theme is Afternoon Tea Delight. If you want to enter, find out more information here. The competition closes at Midnight on the 31st October, so get your entries in before then.
Let me know in the comments.
Thanks for reading.