Herbal tea and cake pairings for Afternoon tea week

We all know that you can't beat a classic Victoria sponge to accompany a good old cup of traditional black tea. But what about if your tea of choice is a herbal cuppa? In celebration of Afternoon tea week, 7th-13th August, here we bring you some delicious tea and cake pairings to try so you can enjoy your favourite Summerdown tea.

Peppermint tea and dark chocolate cake with pistachios

Dark and Sumptuous Chocolate Cake This dark chocolate and pistachio cake from Nigella Lawson pairs beautifully with our bright, intense peppermint tea. Ingredients For the cake
  • 225 grams plain flour
  • 1½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1½ teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 75 grams cocoa
  • 300 grams soft dark brown sugar
  • 90ml or 75 grams coconut oil or flavourless vegetable oil such as sunflower oil
  • 1½ teaspoons cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon edible rose petals
  • 1 tablespoon chopped pistachios
For the icing
  • 75 grams coconut butter (this is not the same as oil)
  • 50 grams soft dark sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 1½ tablespoons cocoa
  • 150 grams dark chocolate (min. 70% cocoa solids, see Intro), finely chopped
  1. You will need a 20cm/8in round springform cake tin.
  2. Start with the icing, though first preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/350°F/gas mark 4 and pop in a baking sheet at the same time. Put all of the icing ingredients except the chopped chocolate into a heavy-based saucepan, add 60ml/¼ cup cold water, and bring to the boil, making sure everything’s dissolved. Then turn off the heat — but leave the pan on the hob — then quickly add the finely chopped chocolate and swirl the pan so that it is all underwater, so to speak. Leave for a scant minute, then whisk until you have a darkly glossy icing, and leave to cool. I find this takes exactly the amount of time the cake takes to make, cook and cool. But do give the icing a stir with a spatula every now and again.
  3. Line the bottom of your springform cake tin (you will need a good, leakproof one as this is a very wet batter) with baking parchment
  4. Put the flour, bicarb, salt and instant espresso and cocoa in a bowl and fork to mix.
  5. Mix together the sugar, coconut oil, vinegar, and 375ml/1½ cups hot water from a recently boiled kettle, until the coconut oil has melted, and stir into the dry ingredients, then pour into the prepared tin and bake for 35 minutes. Though do check at the 30-minute mark to see if it is already done.
  6. When it's ready, the cake will be coming away from the edges of the tin and a cake tester will come out clean, apart from a few crumbs. This is a fudgy cake and you don't want to overdo it.
  7. Once the cake is cooked, transfer the tin to a wire rack and let the cake cool in its tin.
  8. Turn to your icing, and give it a good stir with a spatula to check it is at the right consistency. It needs to be runny enough to cover the cake, but thick enough to stay (mostly) on the top. So pour over the unmoulded cake, and use a spatula to ease the icing to the edges, if needed.
  9. If you wish to decorate, now is the time to do it. In which case, sprinkle joyously with rose petals and chopped pistachios or anything else that your heart desires; otherwise, leave it gleaming darkly and, indeed, sumptuously. Leave to stand for 30 minutes for the icing to set before slicing into the cake.
Photo by Keiko Oikawa from www.nigella.com

Camomile tea and a lemon drizzle

Everybody loves a lemon drizzle and you can't beat this lemon drizzle traybake from the Queen of baking, Mary Berry. Ingredients
  • 225g (8 oz) butter , softened
  • 225g (8 oz) caster sugar
  • 275g (10 oz) self-raising flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • finely grated rind of 2 lemons
Crunchy topping
  • 175g (6 oz) granulated sugar
  • juice of 2 lemons
Equipment A traybake or roasting tin 30 x 23 x 4 cm (12 x 9 x 1 ½ inches) Method Cuts into about 30 squares
  1. Cut a rectangle of non-stick baking parchment to fit the base and sides of a traybake tin or roasting tin, 30 x 23 x 4 cm (12 x 9 x 1 ½ inches). Grease the tin and then line with the paper, pushing it neatly into the corners of the tin. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas 3.
  2. Measure all the ingredients for the traybake into a large bowl and beat well for about 2 minutes until well blended, an electric mixer is best for this but of course you can also beat by hand with a wooden spoon. Turn the mixture into the prepared tin, scraping the sides of the bowl with a plastic spatula to remove all of the mixture. Level the top gently with the back of the spatula.
  3. Bake in the middle of the pre-heated oven for about 35-40 minutes or until the traybake springs back when pressed lightly with a finger in the centre and is beginning to shrink away from the sides of the tin.
  4. Allow the traybake to cool in the tin for a few minutes then lift the traybake out of the tin still in the lining paper. Carefully remove the paper and put the traybake onto a wire rack placed over a tray (to catch drips of the topping).
  5. To make the crunchy topping, mix the lemon juice and granulated sugar in a small bowl to give a runny consistency. Spoon this mixture evenly over the traybake whilst it is still just warm. Cut into about squares when cold.
Photo from www.maryberry.co.uk

Peppermint & Camomile tea and shortbread

Honeycomb shortbread cookies - Store Cupboard Baking Honey pairs beautifully with both camomile and mint, and shortbread is a lovely combination with any herbal tea, so why not try Bake off's Martha Collison's Honeycomb shortbread biscuits with just 4 ingredients? Martha adds melted chocolate to hers but this is optional. Ingredients
  • 225g plain flour
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 150g butter
  • 125g honeycomb
  1. Combine the flour, sugar and cubes of butter in a large bowl. Rub together, using your finger tips, as if you are making pastry. Once the mixture looks like breadcrumbs, set to one side.
  2. Chop the honeycomb into small pieces and tip into a small bowl. Taking handfuls, mix the larger pieces into the shortbread mixture.
  3. Use your hands to squeeze together the mixture, almost kneading it into a dough. If the mixture doesn't come together, add a small splash of milk to help. Tip the dough out onto a piece of clingfilm, roll up and shape into a log before chilling in the fridge for at least 1 hour, or the freezer for 15 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180oC and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Use a sharp knife to divide the log into pieces around 1cm thick. Arrange on the tray, leaving enough space for them to spread out, then bake for 10-12 minutes until a pale golden brown.
  5. Melt the dark chocolate in a bain marie or microwave. Allow the biscuits to cool completely, then dip in chocolate and sprinkle with the remaining honeycomb dust and allow to set.
Photo from www.bakingmartha.co.uk
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