What’s more perfect than spending an afternoon indulging in afternoon tea? This is perhaps classed as one of the most English traditions introduced in England by the seventh Duchess of Bedford in 1840. Around 4 o’clock, the Duchess would ask for a tray of tea with sandwiches be brought up to her room during the later afternoon between 4 and 5 o’clock. She frequently invited friends to join her. This was the perfect solution to her long wait from lunch to dinner.
This occasion became a social event and during the late 19th century which saw the wealthy upper-class changing into suitable attire especially for their afternoon tea.
Although tradition has somewhat changed since the 19th century, even we, can appreciate something as small as a biscuit with a cup of tea around 4pm.
Try hosting your very own afternoon tea. Invite some friends and a nice big pot of tea. You’ll need some accompaniments:
Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Swiss Roll only takes 8 minutes to bake. Simple yet so effective, this recipe will be fun to make and impress your friends.
Sandwiches with a twist; the bread features a delicately infused Twining’s English Breakfast Tea to give it a light and delicious flavour.
Ever thought about combining afternoon tea scones with tea? We have. Try our easy to follow recipe:
Want to pull all the stops out and really have your friends talking? Try making our macaroons infused with Nielsen Massey’s lemon and vanilla extract. Not only do these have a 5 star rating, but the recipe was also featured in The Good Housekeeping Christmas Cookbook 2010.
To help celebrate Afternoon Tea Week this August 2016, we’re giving you the opportunity to win a voucher for afternoon tea for 2 people courtesy of ‘Afternoon Tea‘. To find out more about our competition, head to our ‘Featured Competition’ section in our ‘members area’. Terms and conditions apply:
If you’re at home surrounded by a seasonal glut of fruit which will soon peak, you might want to start thinking about how to preserve the rich and sweet taste of your summer bounty. What better way is there than making your own delicious home made jams and preserves? We’ve got the know how, top tips and recipes to help you on your way.
First things first. Ever wondered why you’ve lost colour or flavour when making jam previously? It’s probably all down to your pectins. Depending the level of pectin in your fruits will depend on which sugar type is best to use to get the optimum flavour for your preserves. Sound confusing? Silver Spoon have taken the stress out and developed 2 key sugars especially.
The large sugar crystals dissolve slowly and reduce the risk of burning or the need for stirring and skimming. Silver Spoon Preserving Sugar also produces less froth, which helps create a clearer preserve.
Use with fruits such as plums, redcurrants, blackcurrants, gooseberries, greengages, damsons and Seville oranges.
Containing the right amount of natural pectin that certain fruits lack, it helps ensure the jam or jelly sets quickly and retains its fresh fruity flavour and natural colour.
Use with fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, apricots, blueberries, cherries, pears, peaches, rhubarb and loganberries.
Here are 3 of our most popular recipes, all rated 5 stars:
Raspberry jam. With raspberries in season from June to October. Get yourselves outside and foraging for big juicy berries.
Tinned fruit? This Crushed peach preserve recipe uses tinned peaches, which are available all year round and great value for money.
Blackcurrants are usually quite sharp in taste, making it the perfect base for a jam.
Want to know more? Head to our Frequently Asked Questions where we have lots of jam related answers:
It’s the summer holidays and you’re at home entertaining the kids. The question is, how to keep them entertained without resorting to game consoles and TV?
2. Rainbow meringues. Not as difficult as you think. These colourful individual meringues will ensure your children don’t over indulge. Try mixing colours together for a fun science experiment. Perfect for the up-and-coming scientists in the family.
3. Cake balls! These are easy to make. If your kids can’t agree which flavour to choose, not a problem, separate the ingredients and add whatever flavour you like before rolling into balls. We personally love the Nielson Massey Rose water extract.
4. One of our quickest and most popular recipe to make with children is pancakes! Try our chocolate pancakes with banana. These are delicious. Fussy eaters won’t eat bananas? Substitute with strawberries. These are sure to be a hit in the kitchen.
5. Fairy friendly cake recipe. We promise no fairies were harmed during the recipe creation! This simple batter recipe will bake in 15 minutes. Not too long to wait, but can they wait long enough to ice them? That’s the tricky bit!
6. Close the back door when you’re making this one, you don’t want the cookie monster to turn up. This recipe makes 16 cookies. Perfect for sleepovers!
7. There’s nothing better than the idea of a barbecue. These Allinson bread rolls are easy to make and are the perfect accompaniment to hot dogs. With a 20 minute baking time, it would be rude not to.
9. No bake chocolate cake. These bars are great. It’s easy to make substitutions if the fussy eaters don’t want things like glace cherries.
10. After all this hard work, you’ll all be quite thirsty. Just like the old days, you can reminisce with your children about how freshly homemade lemonade was the ultimate thirst quencher and how it still is now!
This will take no more than 10 minutes to make and involves no baking. Perfect for the younger ones who want to be involved.
Whichever side of the Atlantic you’re on, we can all appreciate what the USA has to offer us in terms of bakes. With a whole host of American cakes on our website, we’re counting down from 5 so join us for some lip smacking American favourites.
5- New York Baked Cheesecake
Recipes vary, but the key ingredient to this dessert is no surprise: cheese. Our New York version uses cream cheese with Allinson plain white flour, Billington’s Unrefined golden caster sugar and Nielsen Massey Vanilla bean paste amongst many other ingredients. Other types of cheesecake are topped with or contain fruits, chocolate, or pretty much any other decadent ingredient that you can imagine.
If you’re looking for a dessert fix but don’t want an entire cake. This is the perfect solution. Thanks to the American love affair, the cupcake has grown in popularity both sides of the pond. Surprisingly, we found pretzels and cupcakes make a delicious marriage in crunch and sweetness. Try making our Chocolate cupcakes with pretzel decorations.
3- Simple Key Lime Pie
Head south to the Florida Keys. This is where the key lime pie originated. We’ve whipped up a miniature American classic using a much simpler recipe which only takes 20 minutes to prepare.
The campfire hit! Don’t worry, you don’t need to wait for a campfire to make these little beauties. Wondering what a s’more is? Essentially a marshmallow and chocolate sandwiched between 2 biscuits. What’s not to love?
1- Peanut butter and jelly cupcakes
Jelly or Jello? That is the question. Jelly in America refers to jam, and jello- is what us Brits call jelly. These cupcakes feature a spot of jam. If you’re feeling like an accomplished baker, why not make the jam as well?
For a tasty raspberry jam, try this:
There are many reasons you may opt to plan a BIY wedding. Perhaps you want to showcase your hobby and make truly delicious treats for all your guests. Maybe you want to keep yourself occupied and banish any over-thinking ‘did I sit my Aunty and her sister together? They really don’t get along!’
Here are some ideas and advice for you.
Keep it Simple:
Don’t think that just because it’s your wedding you need to create something elaborate. If you’re not an accomplished baker, sometimes it’s best to keep it simple. Maybe you want to go for a classic 3 tiered shape or a trendy naked cake – it’s easier that you think! Watch this step by step tutorial video by Juliet Sear for everything you need to know.
Don’t leave shopping for your ingredients to the day of the bake, have as much as possible prepped in advance. Even if your chosen recipe is tried and tested, if you’ve never made it in such a large quantity, make sure you do at least one trial run.
If you’re nervous that your cake (or anything else you’re planning on making) will look amateur, remember that the key is in the decoration. Once you’ve added your final touches, it will look the part. If you make a mistake, remember decoration can hide a multitude of sins! Try making these sugar roses, our simple video tutorial will help you create them.
What can you make to keep everyone happy? Something that doesn’t conflict with the cake they’ll have later? Why not try this?
Customise your own doughnuts with a variety of toppings, you can cater even for the fussy eaters.
Follow this simple salted caramel doughnut recipe for the ultimate tasty dessert.
Go for something like fruit cakes, biscuits or fudge. These can often last longer so you can bake these several days before your wedding.
Why not try these delicious wedding biscuit favours
The most important piece of advice we could give to you, is don’t panic! Only take on as much as you realistically have time to accomplish – baking should be fun not a chore. Remember to take time to relax and enjoy the build up to your wedding.
Having to plan a hen party is a personal and intimate experience. This may be something that the bride to be has dreamt of since she was a little girl, and if you’re the maid of honour, that’s quite some pressure on your shoulders to make sure you get it just right.
Fear not! Here is a list of tips from party games to guest favours to make sure the party is a success.
Break the ice
You could be in a new place with new people, so it’s always good to have a welcome drink to introduce everyone and make people feel at ease. Why not welcome everyone in with a glass of bubbly and a naughty alcoholic cupcake? Our mojito cupcake recipe and Caipirinha Cocktail could do just the trick.
Once everyone has arrived, your next step is to get everyone feeling in the party spirit. Here are some fun games you’d might like to try;
Dress the bride Split your team into equal groups (no smaller than 3s). Give each team a toilet roll. It is then their task to create a dress using the toilet roll on a member of the team in 8 minutes. This usually ends with some fabulous creations!
Hen Party Pinata: Perfect for any size of group. Fill the piñata with individually wrapped sweet treats so there’s a little prize for everyone once the piñata has been opened. If you are feeling particularly creative make your own sweets – our white chocolate mice filled with raspberry ganache are a delicious retro favourite.
Truth or dare
This is perfect for letting your imagination run wild. Why not scrum up a few of these maple bacon cupcakes to pose as dares? These will be sure to challenge the fussy eaters.
It’s especially important if you are out for the whole day or weekend, you don’t want the bride or anyone else feeling too tipsy and unable to enjoy the rest of the evening. Make sure you have frequent snacks and factor in some down time to eat and re-hydrate with soft drinks. What goes better with a group of lovely ladies than a slice of chocolate cake with a cup of tea?
When it’s all over
A little momentuo of the event?
Wedding themed biscuits. These are quick and easy to bake, and with a long shelf life, you can make these up to a week beforehand to give you lots of time to focus on the rest of your planning.
(Image courtesy of DrPrem.com)
Having a baby is one of the most special moments in a lifetime and should be celebrated in style. It’s is becoming increasingly popular for expectant Mummies to celebrate the pending arrival of their new bundle of joy with a baby shower hosted by their nearest and dearest. But don’t panic if you have offered to host the shower it doesn’t have to be as complicated as you think, we have put together a simple guide of great ways to pull off a beautiful and memorable shower.
Make your own food
Ask the guests if they wouldn’t mind bringing along some nibbles for you all to enjoy to help with the catering. Perhaps find out what the mummy to be has been craving to make sure that her pregnant desires are being catered for (unless of course it is something obscure like coal!)
Cake glorious cake
What is a party without cake? Why not try recreating our beautiful yet simple baby shower cake. A delicious sponge cake covered in blue sugar paste icing and decorated with white clouds and an adorable baby ornament which also acts as a lovely gift for Mum. (We purchased a pack of 5 fluffy cloud cutters from Hobbycraft and the ornament from The Craft Company online)
Don’t forget refreshments!
Whilst it is lovely to celebrate with bubbles, don’t forget that the star of the show will be steering clear of alcohol. Whip up a scumptious batch of refreshing cloudy lemonade and you will be on to a winner. These also look really cute served in mini milk bottles or jam jars with bright and colourful straws to tie in with the theme of the baby shower; i.e blue for boy, pink for girl or neutral.
After showering Mummy with gifts for the new arrival it is fun to get everyone involved with some quirky baby shower games. Collect baby photos in advance from your guests and get everyone to correctly identify who is who? This game is always guaranteed to bring lots of laugh and a few cringes too!
Why not blindfold Mummy for a baby food taste test to see how many she can identify? Or if you wanted to save a few pennies create your own baby food by blitzing various foods to a purée and serving in jam jars i.e apple, carrot etc.
But most of all…it’s important to relax and enjoy the shower. With many of these suggestions being able to be prepped in advance this will save you lots of time on the day and prevent you running around getting your nappy in a twist.
For our full baby shower recipe collection, click here.
By Eric Lanlard
Did you know that tea is the second most widely consumed drink after water? No surprise there – after all the UK is a nation of tea lovers.
It all starts with the water – your ingredients are secondary; it doesn’t matter if you use a tea bag or loose leaf tea, a horrible taste like chlorine, iron or sulphur can damage the taste and aroma of your tea. Fill a kettle with cold mineral or filtered water – do not use pre-boiled or distilled water, as the more oxygen there is in the water, the better your tea will taste.
Bring fresh water to the boil. Immediately fill your empty cup or teapot and leave for 5 minutes to warm.
Fine china is a great insulator of heat that will keep your tea warmer for longer. Empty the water from your cup or teapot and refill with very hot (but not boiling) water. If the water is boiling or too hot you could destroy some of the complex flavours from the tea leaves. If using a cup, leave some space for the milk (if liked).
If using a tea bag, leave it to infuse for 3–5 minutes depending on the type of tea and how strong you like it, then remove the tea bag using a spoon. There is always an argument about when to add the milk (if using), but it has been proven that tea will infuse more effectively in just hot water rather than a mix of milk and water.
If using loose leaf tea, add one teaspoon of tea per person to the tea pot, plus one extra (this is the same if using a infuser).
Using a preheated spoon, swirl the leaves in the water and leave to infuse for:
The taste and flavours of loose tea leaves is incomparable to tea bags, even expensive brands. In the Far East, the traditional way to use loose tea leaves is to add them first to very hot water to remove any impurities, and then infuse them in slightly cooler freshly drawn hot water.
Add sugar or honey to sweeten your tea, and what we call in France ‘un nuage de lait’ (a cloud of milk) if you want, too. Sit back, relax and savour the moment with your perfect cup of tea.
The ideal accompaniment to the perfectly made cup of tea is a slice of tasty cake.
My new Afternoon Tea book is filled with cakes and perfect bakes to accompany a well made cup of tea. Enjoy!
Find Eric’s new ‘Afternoon Tea’ book for sale here
Award-winning master chocolatier and chocolate guru, Paul A. Young, has kindly shared with us his fantastic recipe to create your own homemade Easter egg. In addition to this Paul has also shared with us his top tips to mastering the art of chocolate tempering and a few different methods that you can try at home.
Firstly, what does tempering mean?
Tempering chocolate is an important technique to ensure that your finished chocolate has a satin, glossy shine and a good ‘snap.’ There are two methods for this; seeding or marble slab.
Paul A. Young recommends that you try this method first as it requires no special equipment at all and it’s also very clean, no pouring chocolate onto your kitchen counter. Once you have mastered this technique there will be no stopping your creative urges to produce amazing chocolate bars, truffles and other yummy goodies.
For this method you will require the following equipment:
Glass or stainless steel mixing bowl
• Place two thirds of your required amount of chocolate into a mixing bowl.
• Fill the pan with water until just below the bottom of the bowl when sat on top of the saucepan.
• Place on a medium heat and allow the water to become hot but do not allow to boil as this can burn the chocolate and it will become grainy and ruined. So take care.
• Allow the chocolate to melt for at least one hour. The temperature of the chocolate should be at 55°C. Once fully melted, remove the bowl from the sauce pan and place on a towel or cloth.
• Now while mixing vigorously, add the remaining one third of chocolate in small pieces. Keep mixing until fully melted and until the chocolate cools to 27-28°C, this is when the chocolate begins to crystallise.
• At this point place the bowl back onto the heat until the temperature reached 31-32°C, this is the working temperature and the chocolate is now ready to use.
• Dip the end of a knife or spatula in to the chocolate and allow to set. If the chocolate is smooth, glossy and brittle when set then you have mastered seeding tempering.
Marble slab tempering
For this method you will require the following equipment:
Digital thermometer (optional)
• Over a bain marie melt at least 1kg of chocolate to a maximum temperature of 55°C. Do not let the water boil or simmer but keep hot and allow the chocolate to melt for at least two hours. This will ensure that all the fats, sugars and crystals have melted evenly.
• Pour two thirds of the chocolate onto the marble slab. Spread evenly over the slab with the palette knife and scrape back together with the triangle scraper. Repeat this action until the chocolate cools to 27-28°C which is when the chocolate begins to crystallise and harden.
• You can check this temperature by using a digital thermometer or by touching some chocolate with a separate palette knife on to your bottom lip. The chocolate should feel neither cold nor warm but at body temperature. Practice is the best policy here and soon you will be able to determine the right temperature. (This is Paul’s preferred method.)
• Now scrape the cool chocolate in to the warm chocolate at 55°C and mix very well until fully incorporated. Be vigorous and confident working smoothly at this stage.
• Mixing is very important and lots of it to bring the temperature even throughout the chocolate. The temperature should now be 31-32°C; this is called the working temperature.
• To check if the chocolate is tempered, dip the end of your palette knife into the chocolate and place aside to set. If the chocolate sets with a shine and is crisp then you have tempered your chocolate perfectly.
• If the chocolate is streaky, grainy or dull then there are a few ways to determine what has happened. The temperature of the chocolate may still be too high and you may need to re-temper on the marble slab briefly.
• You may need to continue mixing to emulsify the chocolate together or you may have not melted your chocolate sufficiently at the beginning.
• Once you have your bowl of tempered chocolate it is ready to use but you must maintain the working temperature by warming briefly on the bain marie.
Tempering with different types of chocolate
You will need to adapt your tempering temperatures depending on the type of chocolate that you are using.
The guide below will help you adapt your tempering method to suit different chocolate types:
Or alternatively visit one of Paul’s shops in London for an indulgent chocolate fix (http://www.paulayoung.co.uk/).