An Extra Special Afternoon Tea With Whittards of Chelsea
When 19th century tea company Whittards of Chelsea asked me if I would like to try a couple of teas and put together a recipe to go with them I automatically started planning afternoon tea scenarios in my head. I told them that I favoured fruit teas and white tea and fruit blends, and sat back to see what they would send me. The resultant teas, and the super showstopper but still super simple to make mini cupcakes came together one Sunday afternoon to create what I think is a super special Summer weekend treat for two or more.
These floral topped cupcakes look fantastic, but are so stupidly easy to make. I must take a moment to thank Lucinda and Zita at Zita Elze Flower School for giving me the inspiration for this bake when I met them doing to simply stunning flowers at the beginning of the week at The White Company Christmas Press Day.
I must confess here that this is not how I dress to bake, and I only dress for afternoon tea like this on special occasions! When I was shooting this little tea I was actually dressed and on my way to a garden party in Bloomsbury. As a couple of people asked me while I was wearing it, so you will no doubt be asking now, the dress was my first purchase after arriving back in England from Los Angeles; I found it in the Ted Baker sale. I can’t see it on their website (though they do still have a top and blouse in the same print) but you might get lucky in store. My cake stand was a gift from the guys at ACHICA, from the Nigella Lawson collection.
The tea Whittards sent me that I am most excited to try, but I have not had a chance to yet is their Loose Pomegranate White Tea Blend. Just the leaves themselves smell absolutely delicious and divine, as well as being rather pretty.I am ashamed to admit that because we are a teabag family, we don’t actually have the facilities to steep tea leaves,. However, next time I see one I am going to get a single cup tea leaves holder and get down to the brew; I’ll be sure to let you all know what I think of it and if it tastes as good as it smells!
The fruit tea bags I was sent have become two of my favourites. Usually, I drink Twinings like it is water and before now they were my favourite tea bags for everyday (Tea Pigs for special occasions!) However, the blends I was sent; Acerola Cherry and Raspberry & Peach had much more fresh and refined flavours I enjoyed so much more than the steaming cups I usually drink at least once a day. Even if you like your everyday tea bags and you don’t want to switch, I would really recommend carrying at least one special Whittards tea to enjoy when you actually get a chance for a sit down and a nice piece of cake.
The cupcake recipe is actually, as like most things like this, is a basic Victoria Sponge Cake. As for the floral toppers, I’ve just pulled them out of the garden so you can see whatever is seasonal. If you dont have the facility to grab something from a garden, have a look at what flowers you can get in small pots at the garden center, at a florists or in the supermarket. Go for things that can last a while without being left in water. This recipe makes about 9 to 10 small cakes and can easily be doubled up.
- 50g (2 oz) Margarine
- 50g (2 oz) Caster Sugar (Granulated Sugar)
- 50g (2 oz) Self-Raising Flour
- 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
- 1 Large Egg
- 50g (2 oz) Icing Sugar (Confectioners Sugar)
- 1 tbsp Warm Water
- Pink Food Colouring (Optional)
- 10 Decorative Small Cupcake Cases
Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius (400 degrees Fahrenheit). Add the margarine, caster sugar, flour, baking powder and the egg to a large bowl and beat together with a spoon for a few minutes until all the ingredients are combined, and the mixture is a little light. Fill each case up half way with the mixture (about a heaped tablespoon full) and flatten out with a clean finger in each case to make sure they bake easily. Cook for about 10-12 minutes until the tops are golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool outside of the cupcake tin on a wire rack to cool. To make the icing mix the icing sugar and the hot water together to make a smooth paste. It may look a little thick, but it will spread flat on top of the cakes, and if you add too much water the icing won’t set. To colour half the mixture, divide it up and use the tip of a cocktail stick to add the smallest amount of colour to each bowl, adding a little more each time in order to get the colour you want. It can go too bright in an instant, so add the colour slowly and in little inclements. Once the cupcakes are cool use a teaspoon to flood each case carefully to the top with icing and leave to set before gently pressing your decoration into the top of each.
When was the last time you had a good, proper afternoon tea, and what are your favourite tea blends?
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