Afternoon Tea - 4:00 pm
Afternoon tea, considered a quintessentially English custom, is surprisingly a relatively new tradition, introduced by the seventh Duchess of Bedford in 1840. The pause for tea became a fashionable social event in the 1880’s when society ladies would change into long gowns, gloves and hats for afternoon tea, usually served in the drawing room between four and five o’clock.
We can all have a lot of fun with this aspect of this special day. You can dress up for the occasion – formal or fancy dress, the choice is yours – and take tea at home, in the garden, on the balcony of a high rise flat, on the village green, in the town or village hall, on a boat, in a museum or up a mountain.
There’s a £1,000 prize on offer for the group that goes the extra mile and takes tea in the wackiest location. Carters of Suffolk who produce a wonderful array of high quality handmade teapots have made two unique designs of teapots for this element of Afternoon Tea. One to be given to the winner, with the other design for second and third position. Could that be you? The Norfolk Tank Museum has already taken up the challenge and has started rehearsals for it on their World War I tank. See picture below.
The WI have kindly created a special easy-to-make cake recipe and would like all those taking part to cut their cake together at 4pm making this the largest single cake-cutting ceremony the world has ever seen celebrating the 73rd birthday of the NHS. The recipe has been created by WI member Kelly Mauger (pictured below)
Combining a traditional vanilla sponge which is synonymous with the WI with a contemporary decorating style, this drip cake is set to turn heads at your Afternoon Teas with NHS themed decorations of a blue colour scheme, rainbow sprinkles and NHS Logo and Scrubs washing line decoration.
240g baking margarine
240g caster sugar
4 medium eggs
240g self-raising flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tbsp milk – optional if the mixture is a little thick
100g strawberry jam
250g unsalted butter – room temperature
500g icing sugar
1-2 tbsp cooled boiled water – optional
Blue gel or paste food colouring
100g dark chocolate
100ml double cream
100s & 1000s/decorative sprinkles
Optional ‘NHS Scrubs’ washing line – instructions at the bottom of the recipe
7 inch cake tin
Utensils – spatula, spoons, palate knife, serrated knife
Cake board or serving plate
Cake turntable – helpful but not essential
2 Piping bags and 1 star nozzle
For the Vanilla Sponge:
- Line cake tin with baking parchment and preheat oven to 160C Fan / 180C/350F / Gas Mark 4.
- Place the baking margarine and caster sugar into a mixing bowl and cream together until pale and fluffy in consistency.
- Incorporate the eggs one at a time into the mixture and continue to mix thoroughly.
- Add the self-raising flour and fold through until completely incorporated.
- Add the vanilla extract and the optional extra milk (if you think the mixture is a little on the thick side – add 1 tbsp and add a second if necessary) your ideal texture should be a good dropping consistency.
- Place mixture into the prepared baking tin and bake for up to 60 minutes, until the cake has risen, has a golden brown top and a skewer can be inserted into the centre of the cake and be removed cleanly. If your cake needs to cook for longer, check it every 5 minutes and cover with some extra parchment or foil if you don’t wish for it to brown any further.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes before removing and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack.
For the Butter Icing:
- Beat the butter with the icing sugar until fully incorporated and pale in colour.
- The butter icing needs to be a spreadable consistency, so add a little cooled boiled water to the mixture if needed to slacken it down slightly.
- Split the butter icing between 4 bowls. Leave one bowl plain and then colour the other 3 bowls with varying shades of blue gel or paste food colouring.
- Split the sponge twice and spread the jam evenly between the layers.
- If the cake is mounded from baking, trim to make it flatter.
- Place the cake onto a cake board or serving plate upside down to give a nice flat finish to the presentation side of the cake.
- Using the bowl of uncoloured plain butter icing, ‘crumb coat’ the outside of the cake by applying a thin smooth layer of butter icing over the whole of the outside of the cake with a palate knife. This will capture any crumbs and prevent them from displaying in the outer butter icing effect.
- Place the cake in the fridge to firm up the crumb coat for at least 15 minutes.
- If you have a cake turn table, place the cake onto it and liberally dot all around the outside of the cake with random splodges of the 3 different shades of blue icing. Please note you do not need to coat the top, a crumb coat is sufficient.
- Once the outside of the cake has been roughly covered in splodges, take a long palate knife and smooth the outside of the icing to create a beautifully marbled colour effect with the 3 shades of blue icing.
- To smooth the icing further, heat your palate knife and lightly smooth over.
- Tidy up the top edge of the cake and remove any excess icing from the cake board or serving plate using a damp piece of kitchen roll.
- Place back into the fridge to firm up.
- Reserve any left over coloured icing and place into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle.
For the Chocolate Ganache:
- Break the chocolate up and place into a bowl or jug.
- Pour the double cream over the chocolate and place in the microwave. Set the timer of 30 seconds on full power and stir.
- Place the ganache mixture back into the microwave and set the timer again for 30 seconds on full power and stir.
- The chocolate should have melted into the cream and become smooth and glossy. You may need to repeat this step a third time if it is still lumpy.
- Place the ganache into a disposable piping bag. Do not snip the end until ready to use. The ganache still needs to be a little warm for the drips to cascade nicely down the sides of the cake.
- Snip the end of the ganache piping bag with a hole approx. 3mm wide.
- Place the cake back onto your turn table of using and hover the piping bag over the edge of the cake and squeeze a little ganache out of it so that it starts to drip down the outside. Work your way around the outside of the cake squeezing slightly different quantities so the drips vary in length.
- Once you have gone all the way around the cake, fill in the top with the remaining ganache and leave to set.
- Using your left over butter icing in the prepared piping bag with the star nozzle, squeeze little dollops on the top around the outside.
- Finally finish with a flourish of 100s & 1000s or sprinkles
WI member Kelly Mauger trained as a pastry chef specialising in patisserie and confectionery. She has run her own pastry section and been a head chef. Kelly has worked at the WI Cookery School since 2013 becoming the Chef Manager in 2015. She has also been lucky enough to work alongside several well-known and celebrated chefs including Raymond Blanc, Jean-Christophe Novelli and Mary Berry. More recently, she featured on the 2018 series of Bake Off: The Professionals on Channel 4 where she and fellow Denman cookery tutor Katie Churchyard represented the WI Cookery School. She is now running cook-along sessions for Denman At Home from her own kitchen during lockdown. For more information about Denman At Home and to sign up to one of the courses on offer, please see www.denman.org.uk