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
- 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.