Sunday, 15 January 2012

Afternoon Tea Cupcakes

Afternoon Tea. 

A quintessential British Institution.

I've no doubt the Battle of Waterloo was won following a satisfyingly filling Afternoon Tea for all the troops. William Renshaw, winner of no less than seven Wimbledon Tennis Championship titles must have celebrated with a spot of Afternoon Tea. And didn't Harry Potter come about while J K Rowling was enjoying afternoon tea? 

Along with the Royal Family, the Tower of London and Judi Dench, Afternoon Tea is, officially, a National Treasure.

By all accounts*, Afternoon Tea was created in the Nineteenth Century, when Anna, Duchess of Bedford  became a little peckish between lunch and supper, describing a 'sinking feeling' she would experience every day at four o clock. The solution were small cakes and tea sneakily bought to her boudoir by her ladies in waiting. But soon, realizing she'd stumbled upon a rather elegant and tasty way of preventing those Four O Clock tummy rumblings she began to invite along her friends and the tea moved from the boudoir to the drawing room. 

Henry James wrote, "There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as an afternoon tea." Henry, I couldn't agree more, but hows about an all-in-one afternoon tea?**

Yep, these cupcakes are infused by Earl Grey tea, providing a subtle bergamot flavour and topped with a mini Hob Nob.

Afternoon Tea Cupcakes
(Makes 6 cupcakes)


3 Earl Grey teabags
3 tbsps hot water
40g unsalted butter
140g golden caster sugar
120g plain flour
Half a tbsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
100ml whole milk
1 large egg

For the icing
3 Earl Grey teabags
250g icing sugar
130g unsalted butter
25ml whole milk
Pack of mini hobnobs

1.  To make the cake: Firstly, pop the teabags into a bowl and add the water, set aside to brew
2. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan/375F and line a cupcake tray with six cupcake cases. Beat together the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and salt until combined- the mixture will resemble fine breadcrumbs
3. Whisk (by hand) the milk and egg together in a separate bowl. Add the tea, squeezing the teabags to ensure every last drop of tea is added. 
4. Gradually add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients, beating together on a low speed until the misture resembles a smooth batter
5. Spoon the batter between the paper cases, filling each case approximately three quarters full. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the cupcakes are golden in colour and springy to touch
6. Allow to cool in the cases for a few minutes before removing onto a wire rack to cool completely
7. To make the topping: Place the fresh teabags in a small bowl with the milk and set aside to infuse.
8. Beat together the butter and icing sugar until combined. Pour in the infused milk and whisk until the icing is soft and fluffy
9. Pipe the icing onto each cupcake and decorate with the hobnobs

Baker's notes...
  • Course, any biscuit of choice can be used to decorate these
  • Best eaten within a couple of days although the uniced cupcakes will freeze
  • This recipe is inspired by the Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days recipe book, which suggests using peppermint or fruit teas instead of Earl Grey 

*Well, the one website I read
*Well, minus the scones and the sandwiches. Otherwise we'd end up with a creation worthy of Willy Wonka. 


  1. Such a cute representation of afternoon tea!

  2. They are gorgeous! So elegant x

  3. I've made these before and the bergamot is surprisingly yummy. Super cute idea to combine hobnobs, as usual, very creative Kate!

  4. I couldn't agree more. Long live the British Afternoon Tea! x

  5. They look lovely - I especially like the idea of the mini biscuit on the top!

    Did you think you could taste the tea? I made a recipe for Earl Grey tea cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery book where the tea bags were steeped in boiled milk. I felt that the flavour was subtle but there, but I think other people who didn't know what flavour they were supposed to be struggled to pick it up. Were yours strongly flavoured?

  6. I am a huge fan of afternoon's the skipping lunch and dinner to accommodate it that I struggle with!
    Cupcakes look so pretty with their little biscuit toppers

  7. Looks good =) I just posted a blog on afternoon tea too!

  8. Those cupcakes are simply gorgeous!


  9. Haha yeah I might have become a little obsessed with them! and they did still taste good despite the melting fondant! I love the mini hob nob on top of these cupcakes - what a great idea, so cute!

  10. I love earl grey cupcakes! I was surprised how well the bergamot went with the sponge when I made them. The addition of a hob nob is a stroke of genius. Perfect tea accompaniment.

  11. stunning... bloody stunning!... great photography and an excellent recipe... I love the inclusion of Earl Grey in the mix, they sound divine and fit for any army, although they maybe slightly camp for today's lot!... xx

  12. They look adorable, in the same vein Gizzi Erskine does a great earl grey chocolate cake, so yummy!!

  13. They are fantastic. Loving the flavours and the presentation is spot on.

  14. You cannot beat afternoon tea! I think afternoons were actually designed just for them. Fab cakes!


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