Wednesday, March 21, 2012


See what I did there? ......quite.
Today is World Poetry Day, so a good excuse for one of my favourite poems by one of my favourite poets.

Tea- Carol Ann Duffy

I like pouring your tea, lifting
the heavy pot, and tipping it up,
so the fragrant liquid streams in your china cup.

Or when you’re away, or at work,
I like to think of your cupped hands as you sip,
as you sip, of the faint half-smile of your lips.

I like the questions – sugar? – milk? –
and the answers I don’t know by heart, yet,
for I see your soul in your eyes, and I forget.

Jasmine, Gunpowder, Assam, Earl Grey, Ceylon,
I love tea’s names. Which tea would you like? I say
but it’s any tea for you, please, any time of day,

as the women harvest the slopes
for the sweetest leaves, on Mount Wu-Yi,
and I am your lover, smitten, straining your tea.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Luck of the Irish afternoon tea!

Well, Top of the afternoon to you!
Just had a lovely afternoon tea for St Patrick's day inspired cakes..
Guinness and chocolate cupcakes and a traditional Irish fruit loaf- an orange marmalade BarmBrack.. and of course some very strong tea!

The deliciously rich and moist Guinness cupcakes is taken from this recipe by Gizzi Erskine, who adapted her recipe from Nigella.. So take your pick on which to follow. I slightly changed the measure of cocoa powder, doubling the amount and substituting milk chocolate instead of plain. It didn't affect the rich malty chocolatyness one jot. Place the very liquid mixture into 2/3rds of the cupcake cases and bake for 20 -22 minutes. It makes enough for about 24 cupcakes.The Guinness 'foam' is made from combining cream cheese, icing sugar and double cream.. just whip it up till you get the right frothiness!

I love these vintage china plates- the one below is a midwinter 'fashion shape' from the 50's white rose pattern.

The Barm Brack is very similar to the Italian pannetone or Welsh, fruit cake bara brith, and very easy to whip up.
Start by soaking 2 cups of mixed fruit, raisins,currants,sultanas in very strong tea(I used Earl Grey for added flavour) leave for a couple of hours. Grease a loaf tin or 8 inch tin. In a large bowl, mix 1 and 1/2 cups of sugar with 1 egg, beat well together and 1/2 a cup of orange marmalde and teaspoon of cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg. Strain the soaked fruit and add this to the mixture. Fold in 2 and 1/2 cups of plain flour and 1 teaspoon of bicarb of soda. Keep folding till it all comes together. I added large tablespoon of natural yogurt and some more marmalade right at the end! Dollop into the pan and bake at 180c for 45 mins or until a knife comes out clean.
Serve warm with some jam or butter. Oh my goodness it's so good! Also have it toasted the next day, please.

Now, will you have another cup of tea, you will? Go on.. you will....

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Mother Knows Best

I'm sure you haven't forgotten it's Mother's Day on Sunday.. or maybe you have! If so, don't despair, The Golden Afternoon Tea Company has created a very special Mother's Day afternoon tea to save the day. Mothers are great aren't they? always there with pearls of wisdom and words of advice or offering tea and sympathy. I still think if I swallow chewing gum, it will stick to my heart! What words of wisdom did your mum pass on to you?

With this in mind, we give you the Mother Knows Best afternoon tea!


'Don't leave the crusts' afternoon tea cucumber sandwiches- we've left the crusts on to make sure our hair curls!

'An apple a day' cinnamon and apple scones with plum jam and clotted cream

And don't forget to Eat your Greens! a Golden Afternoon Tea Company speciality-
Courgette cake.. much nicer than spinach.

That should keep Mum happy..

Drop us a line if you need a helping hand spoiling your mother with our afternoon tea!

pic from here and here and here

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Something for the weekend- Bake.

Sachertorte and Lemon Tea

A fancy chocolate cake for afternoon tea? ooo yes, that will do nicely, thank you.
A couple of weeks ago it was my Granny's 99th birthday (look out for some pictures soon) and as I was doing the catering, I thought I would try my hand at baking a Sachertorte, seeing as it was one of my late grandfather's favourites. The picture above is a leftover slice!
Sachertorte is a crazy rich and intense chocolate cake covered in more chocolate and layered with apricot jam so it becomes more and more fudgey the longer you leave it. The cake was discovered by accident in 1832 in Vienna, Austria and as all these things the recipe is a closely guarded secret.. Luckily, as I didn't fancy put any pastry chefs into thumb screws, I just had a quick peruse on the interwebs and thought I would give Mary Berry's recipe a go as it did seem less complicated than others!

For the cake-
140g/5oz plain or dark chocolate (I used dark for even more of a chocolatey hit)
140g/5oz soft unsalted butter
115g/4oz caster sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
5 free range eggs, seperated
85g/3 oz ground almonds
55g/2oz plain flour

For the Ganache and filling:
6 tbsp apricot jam
140g/5oz plain or dark chocolate
200ml/7oz double cream
25g/1oz milk chocolate (or more plain chocolate if you don't have)

Preheat the oven to 180c and grease 23com/9 inch cake tin and line the base with baking paper.
Melt the chocolate by placing small pieces (or those handy chocolate dots) in a bowl placed over a pan of simmering hot water. Don't let the water boil too ferociously as this will do funny things to the chocolate. Stir it occasionally to speed up the melting. When this is done, pour the chocolate into another bowl to cool down. You can fill the sink with cold water and put it in there to speed the process up, or in the fridge. But don't forget it!
Whilst this is happening, cream the butter and sugar together in a processor or with a wooden spoon and elbow grease! When it's light and creamy (like clotted cream) add the cooled down chocolate and vanilla extract, and mix in. Separate your eggs, this is a messy job, I sloosh them between the shells so the whites drain away, fold the yolks into the mixture and then add the ground almonds and flour.
In another bowl, whisk up the whites till they are forming peaks and then add one third to the mixture. Stir this with wild abandon. And then with the rest of the eggs, fold in as gently and delicately as you can, it's all about keeping the air in apparently. It takes a fair bit of patience, but just look at it as meditation and be zen like!
Dollop the mixture into the tin, smooth the surface so it's evenly spread and pop it in the oven for 40/45 mins. Have a peek around the 35 minute mark and check it's done by seeing if you press down gently with your finger and it bounces back. The cake, not your finger.

Once the cake is cold, slice in half and spread with the apricot jam between the layers, spread the rest of the jam over the entire surface and sides of the cake. Leave this to set while you make the ganache.
Heat the cream in a pan until it's hot but not boiling, again break the chocolate into small pieces and place into the bowl and stir until gooey chocolate loveliness. Leave it to cool, but make sure it is still pourable.
To coat the cake, pour the ganache on to the centre of the cake, it should run nicely and then smooth it over the entire cake. Leave it to set.

If you want to decorate use, melted white chocolate and write Sacher for an authentic touch, or just swirl it around a bit.. Or place fresh raspberries on top.. the world is your lobster. We don't advise using shellfish.

The cake is AMAZING the next day, and even better the day after as the cake become super moist and fudgey as it soaks up all the jam. Serious yums..So if you bake it today, it will be perfect for Sunday afternoon tea.

A cup of fresh lemon tea compliments the rich chocolate hit.. Use a light tea with slices of lemon in. If you want to serve it like the Hotel Sacher, squidge a dollop of cream on the side (none of that aerosol stuff, mind).. Imagine you are in Vienna and about to go waltzing..

(picture from here and vintage postcard here)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

He said YES - a leap year proposal and afternoon tea in the woods!

Yesterday, the 29th of February was just the most exciting day chez Golden Afternoon Tea Company- we actually pulled off the Marry Me special leap year proposal afternoon tea ! Well, I didn't do the proposing, that fell to the lovely Kim! I received an email from her, after having been told about this blogpost by a friend who knew she might be proposing to her beau. Luckily, as it was all organised at the last minute and leap day was almost upon us,she didn't have time to change her mind and took the leap.
Here is an excerpt of their story as sent to me by Kim-
'So, the story is that we've been together 11 and a half years and almost 7 years ago we were going to get married but lost momentum. We were living in Greece and didn't want to cause a minor climate catastrophe in the name of our marriage getting everyone out to Greece. What was meant to be 1 year in Greece turned into 6 so the wedding just never quite happened. Now we have beautiful baby alice and we're back living in the UK so i have been pestering him to get married, but he now claims that it's cool to have a kid out of wedlock and he has jokingly said that i would need to ask him to marry him since he's already done it (because of the cold feet last time). So we'll see. If he says no, it will still be a nice way to show him i think he's great, but he might well say yes.. whatever the outcome, it will be fun, a 'will you marry? tea' in the woods'

Absolutely thrilled to get involved(just call me cupid!) I packed up the van with cakes and tables and teacups and off I set to woods very near their home and set up the proposal tea table in a secluded spot surrounded by silver birches. It's a favourite part of their walk, as Kim told me the late afternoon sun always catches the trees beautifully. I was just hoping the sun would put in an appearance in time for the proposal!

Kim and I were full of excitement, laughing away at the crazy goings on as we set everything up, at one point she turned to me and said 'what am I doing?!' But there was no going back now!!
Also present overseeing her mum's big moment was Kim and Tim's gorgeous little girl, Alice.. a serious contender for cutest baby ever! Here they are just before Tim arrived.

Once I had set the tea up, I lurked in the bushes to make sure there were no last minute visits from any passing dogs, Kim went off to meet Tim. I had a tummy full of butterflies so can't imagine how she was feeling.. Tim's laughter filled the air as he came round the corner ( I knew I should have brought my false beard, still hiding in the undergrowth at this point) it was wonderful to hear. Off I snuck, leaving them to it!

Dear reader, he said YES! Apparently he was thrilled and shocked and stunned, there were even a few tears!

Kim and Tim are just the loveliest couple, it was all terrific fun, and such a privilege to be involved in a momentous event such as this! When I rejoined them, they were both beaming with joy..

I love this one, my camera was being rubbish- so is terribly blurry but here is the whole family, Alice and Festi the dog included!

The afternoon tea menu included mini heart shaped victoria sponges, passionfruit cupcakes, scones and cucumber, smoked salmon, brie and cranberry finger sandwiches, all served with teapots brimming with earl grey and peppermint tea for mummy Kim! Even Festi got a sandwich.

So if this has inspired you to take the plunge and propose, don't wait another 4 years - just do it! Or any fella who needs a hand in planning a proposal, drop us a line!

This song was playing on the radio as I drove home, and was the perfect soundtrack to the day!
Wishing you lots of happiness Kim, Tim and Alice.. CONGRATULATIONS!

Thanks to Kim for some of the pics and also Anna and the Ring for her blog post.