The tradition of Afternoon Tea is said to have begun with Anna, 7th Duchess of Bedford, complaining of “that sinking feeling” in the late afternoon. (At the time, it was usual to only eat two meals a day – breakfast and then dinner at about 8pm. Sounds the worst!) She begun taking tea and a snack in her private boudoir which soon moved to the drawing room with the addition of friends and a walk in the park afterwards. Sounds the best!
My favourite things to serve at teatime are chocolate brownies – these ones are salted pecan and gluten free – and flapjacks packed with nuts and seeds, made with maple syrup and coconut oil. I use the refined version so it doesn’t taste of coconut. It’s nice to offer something less sweet and with the oats, nuts and seeds, these keep you full of energy until at least suppertime.
These mini tarts are spiced spinach and feta with pine nuts and roasted butternut squash with goats cheese, sage and walnuts. Mini tarts like this are such a lovely addition to an afternoon tea and offer something different to the usual finger sandwiches.
Having an afternoon tea event is such a lovely way to get people together, whether it’s for a personal celebration or a business occasion. Teatime treats always look so sweet in miniature and give guests the chance to taste a little of everything. And of course, champagne or prosecco go perfectly with these delicate nibbles so you don’t have to stick to tea. Try it for your next event!
85g plain gluten free flour (I use Dove’s)
20g coconut palm sugar
1 tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp salt
130ml almond milk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
50g coconut oil, melted and cooled
zest of half a lemon
50g dark chocolate, chopped
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
Lay the hazelnuts on a baking tray and toast in the oven for ten minutes. If they have skins, you’ll need to rub them off as much as possible in a dry tea towel. (Tip: buy ready skinned and roasted hazelnuts and skip this step!)
Next blitz the nuts in a magimix until they’re a fine crumb. If you don’t have a food processor, you can finely chop them. Put the nut crumb, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a bowl and mix together. In a seperate bowl, lightly beat the egg and add the milk, vanilla and coconut oil. Mix to combine then add to the dry mix and beat until smooth. Finally, add the lemon zest and dark chocolate to the mix and combine.
Put a frying pan (or pans) on a medium heat and wipe a little coconut oil over the surface. Depending on your pan, you may need more oil if the mix sticks. Non-stick pans work best. Spoon the mix into the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes, until bubbles start to form and pop on the surface. Flip them over and cook for a further 3-4 minutes on the second side.
Stack the pancakes onto a plate and serve with your chosen accompaniments. I like to caramalise banana slices in a little butter and coconut sugar. They’re also delicious just covered in maple syrup!
Most popular so far have been the cinnamon rolls which are vegan – there is definitely an increasingly large call for vegan friendly products – and the banana bread (gluten and dairy free) which is available toasted for an extra treat with maple butter or hazelnut cacao butter.
Come and find me (tunnel 1 in the station) and try some treats. I’m also serving delicious loose leaf teas from Zig Zag Teas and rich hot chocolate made with raw cacao and almond milk (dairy free and vegan!)
For the longest time I have been trying to find/create a shortbread recipe which isn’t packed with sugar. I adore shortbread and it’s one of the only things I’ve really missed since I began trying to bake without cane sugar. Most baked treats can be pretty much exactly replicated without it but I’d sort of assumed it wasn’t possible to get that crumbly delicious texture using a liquid sweetener like honey or maple syrup. It turns out that, happily, I was wrong…
I am working with Miles Tea and Coffee, who are a lovely company based in West Somerset, to create a series of recipes using their delicious tea blends. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a complete tea addict. I adore it – whether English breakfast with milk or (my fave herbal option) Jasmine green tea – I cannot get through a day without it. It’s not just the taste, but the feelings of comfort it gives. If I’m ever feeling sad or overwhelmed it completely calms and rebalances me.
This is the first of my ‘baking with tea’ recipes and I am completely in love with it. The fragrant Bergamot flavour of the tea comes through beautifully into the shortbread and blends so perfectly with the honey. If you prefer a very subtle earl grey taste, I’d reduce the amount of tea by a half. These are (unsurprisingly) the perfect accompaniment to your afternoon cup of tea. They’d be equally enjoyable as part of a dessert – with a sharp lemon posset or sandwiched together with freshly whipped cream and raspberries. I hope you enjoy and watch this space for more ideas for baking with tea.
If you’d like to know more about Miles Tea and Coffee or to buy their yummy Earl Grey (or any of their other teas), visit their website here.
115g unsalted butter
175g spelt flour
50g clear honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon earl grey tea leaves
pinch sea salt
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
First blitz the tea leaves until they’re a fine powder. I use a NutriBullet for this but you could use a spice or coffee grinder. Next beat the butter until soft and pale using an electric mixer. Add the honey and vanilla and beat again for about a minute. Mix the flour, salt and tea together. (If you wanted to make this recipe gluten free, I would use a mix of Dove’s plain flour mix and ground almonds.) Add to the mix in stages beating until just incorporated. Be careful not to overbeat at this stage or the shortbread may become tough. Pull the dough together with your hands and wrap in clingfilm. Put the dough in the fridge for about 20 minutes. Remove from the fridge and roll out to 5mm thickness using a small amount of flour to prevent sticking. Cut out rounds (or your preferred shape) and bake for 8-10 minutes, until just starting to turn golden. I use a round 5cm cutter which gives 32 biscuits.
Anyway, back to wedding cakes. To be asked to make this most special of celebration cakes feels like such an honour – that the bride and groom are putting such trust in you and your creation is an amazing feeling. That first cake I made was chocolate almond – a deliciously dark chocolate cake with a hint of almond, filled with chocolate icing into which I stirred chopped toasted almonds to give some crunch and added flavour. I always feel that cakes are vastly improved by the addition of a crunchy texture added somewhere. The white icing on the outside was a decadent mascarpone vanilla bean icing. I’ve only ever made white wedding cakes so far and it does feel nice to follow tradition but I’m excited to try something different soon… watch this space!
Almost a year ago now, I made another friend’s wedding cake (above) which was again, chocolate based but this time with salted caramel running through it. I think as people are choosing to forgo a traditional sit-down dessert, the flavours they’re choosing for wedding cakes are becoming more pudding-esque. For this wedding, I also created a pudding table, full of miniature bites like blackberry and apple crumble tarts, raspberry and white chocolate cheesecakes, chocolate brownies, cookies and carrot cakes… yum! It’s really nice to give guests a choice like this and also allows them to try a couple of things, as well as the opportunity to have gluten/dairy free choices for anyone who might have dietary preferences. With the cake as the centre piece I was so happy with the way the table turned out.
I can’t wait to have the opportunity to create some more of these special cakes… I have a couple of orders for later in the year already and hopefully more to come!
I’ll start by admitting that I don’t particularly like mince pies. I can eat them but I can just as easily not eat them…ever. There are so many delicious alternatives being passed around at Christmas time that pastry and a blob of unknown filling never really appeals to me. This has however, changed to some extent this year. I embarked on my mince pie journey in late October when starting to think about what my festive offering would be. Making the mincemeat was the fun and easy part. I used a Mary Berry recipe (that can be found here) which I chose because it uses butter rather than suet (yuck!) It’s pretty heavy on the brandy but the spices are perfectly balanced and I like that it used cranberries in addition to the other brown, brown, brown fruits!
Next came the pastry and this proved a little difficult. I decided to use spelt flour rather than try to go gluten free. I often use spelt as an alternative to wheat flours and find it to be pretty interchangeable. It tends to behave in a pretty similar way and the difference in the gluten structure doesn’t cause a problem. Unfortunately when it comes to pastry, at least when making mini pies as I was, I encountered a few problems. For some reason, I think because the gluten that occurs in spelt doesn’t create the same stretchy structure (which is why many people find it more easy to digest) the pastry is much more crumbly. One of the pastries I wanted to use…a recipe I like and use a lot…was far too buttery and the star shapes I placed on top lost their shape as the butter melted. Completely delicious but a bit too rustic looking to sell! The fourth (yes!) attempt, which used a much higher ratio of flour to butter than the others, turned out perfectly. It is crumbly and rich and delicious. The recipe is below and I can really recommend it. It’s so good I’m going to use it as my standard pastry recipe from now on. You could scrape in the seeds from a vanilla pod instead of the orange zest for an alternative flavour…this would be delicious with an almond frangipane filling and poached pears or other fruit. It may have something to do with the satisfaction of having worked so hard to get the perfect pastry, but I can now say that I’m a bit of a mince pie fan and will be making these every year! KBL x
500g spelt flour
250g cold unsalted butter, cubed
2 tablespoons unrefined golden caster sugar
finely grated zest of an orange
2 egg yolks
splash of cold water
Jar of your favourite mincemeat
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
Mix the salt and flour together in a big bowl then rub in the butter with your fingertips. Be gentle – don’t squash the butter into the flour but let it just rub between your fingers and it will gradually become like fine breadcrumbs or wet sand. Stir through the sugar and orange zest. Mix the egg yolks with a little cold water and mix this into the dry ingredients, bringing it together with your hands to form a ball. Flatten slightly and wrap in cling film. Refrigerate for at least an hour. When you’re ready to roll out, dust your work surface with flour and roll out the dough to about 4mm thick. It will be very crumbly but don’t worry…this makes it delicious, if a little harder to work with. Cut out rounds a little bigger than your tart tin and press into the holes. You may need to patch up a bit as it’s so delicate. Fill each with a spoon of mincemeat (don’t overfill!) and then top with a star of pastry. Lightly beat an egg with a little water for the egg wash and brush over each. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Leave to rest for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
For the last couple of months I’ve been excitedly working on my Christmas products and hampers. I just missed Christmas last year – I had only just started – and felt it was a real opportunity missed. I think this made me start extra early this year and I’ve been testing and testing to develop a set of lovely Christmas recipes to sell at my markets stalls and to put into my made-to-order hampers.
The first thing I did was to make a huge batch of mincemeat. Using a yummy mixture of dried fruit, toasted and flaked almonds, vanilla, spices, some butter and a lot of brandy. This gets baked inside my spelt pastry mince pies with festive star tops and packaged into little treat bags. The hampers also include a traditional Christmas pudding, chocolate brownies, Florentines and festive snowflake biscuits. Full details of prices and contents can be found here.
Wish me luck for my new blogging leaf! KBL x
220g flour (I use spelt)
220g roasted pumpkin
120ml coconut oil (melted)
100g coconut palm sugar
80ml milk (I use almond)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
grating of nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
Mix all the dry ingredients together, except for the sugar. Put the roasted pumpkin into a food processor and blitz until its completely smooth. Add the sugar, eggs, oil, milk and vanilla and mix well. Add this to the dry ingredients and mix roughly (lumps are ok for muffins – a lumpy batter equals light and fluffy here). Spoon the mixture into muffin cases and sprinkle a few of the pumpkin seeds on top of each. Bake for 12-15 minutes until they have risen and bounce back to the touch.
Icing: coconut milk, honey, raw cacao powder.
Glaze: almond milk, dark chocolate.
A little post script… Every recipe from ‘A Modern Way To Eat’ that I’ve tried so far (and I’ve tried a fair few) has been incredible. It’s the most exciting and reliable recipe book I’ve come across for a while and I can’t recommend it enough.