Cake Couture - Afternoon Tea
The Fashion Tea
If you consider yourself a fashionista than there is one clear choice for your next high tea. Named Prêt-à-Portea, their cake and pastry options bring a twist to the traditional English high tea programme. Taking inspiration from the latest fashion shows, the Berkeley’s pastry chefs create delicate treats to reflect the season’s latest looks. For instance a Prada dress made of papaya, red currant and blueberry mousse topped with pate de frui, a Roger Vivier black and white chocolate striped ‘belle de Nuit’ high-heeled shoe or a Tory Burch strawberry and rhubarb bavarois dress with gold button detailing. Also on offer is a gourmet selection of savouries and tea. To complete the couture-tea, everything is served on gorgeous Paul Smith china in The Caramel Room. Afternoon tea is held every day from 1-6p.m. priced at £36.50 per person.
The Berkeley, Wilton Place, London Tel. +44 (0)20 7235 6000
A High Tea with the Highest Accolade
How can you go wrong with UK’s first and most respected tea sommelier Karl Kessab and Tal Hausen, the Craft Guild "Best Pastry Chef Of The Year" as the hands and hearts behind the whole high-tea operation at The Lanesborough? Served daily at 4 p.m., 4.30 p.m. and 5 p.m. the afternoon tea includes home-made English scones with thick clotted Devonshire cream and home-made fruit preserves, sandwiches, pastries and toasted teacakes. Here you will find London’s absolute best selection of tea. Highlights in the menu include Red Amaranth Flower, 1990 Wild Tuo Cha (aged 17 years), Cinnamon star and Doomur Dullung Estate White Assam. For £35.00 per person receive your tea of choice and a selection of sweet and savoury delicacies or for £45.00 enjoy all this plus a glass of Taittinger Champagne or Laurent Perrier Rose Champagne for £50.00.
The Lanesborough, Hyde Park Corner, London Tel. +44 (0)20 7259 5599
From the Dior-clad ladies lining the counters of Harrods to the butler discreetly collecting the bright pink box emerging from the cake van, to power brokers meeting furtively in the Hummingbird Bakery (we don’t feel it necessary to point out here that children go wild for the stuff), a highly addictive secret is sweeping London: the cupcake. From chocolate sponges filled with oozing morello cherry and brandy preserve at Fortnum’s, to the dozen or so Willy Wonka style bakeries who deliver to department stores, society salons and, natch, to your door and the dedicated tearooms specialising in these highly addictive delicacies, the popularity is as much about social change as cake innovation – they are instant pick-me-ups in a bite and the most moreish food fad to emerge this millennium. Overleaf, we give you the ingredients to delight your friends, and then on the following pages we showcase two teas dedicated to sartorial style.
47 Old Brompton Road, London SW7 3JP.
Tel: +44 (0)20 7584 0055
The New Business Lunch
An afternoon tea at Claridge’s hotel has become the new business lunch for londoners and travelers alike. You will often find corporate men and woman from the arts, fashion and media scene, meeting in the stunning hotel foyer. Having received an award for ‘The Tea Guild’s Top London Afternoon Tea 2011’, it is praised for it’s tasteful surroundings, excellent selection of food including raisin and apple scones served with tea-infused jam and Devonshire clotted cream, finger sandwiches and sweet pastries as well as 30 different varieties of tea itself. Knowledgeable staff are able to advise guests on a choice of blends and serve each cup with perfect technique. Served daily from 3 p.m., 3.30 p.m., 5 p.m. and 5.30 p.m., prices range from £35, £45 for a Champagne Afternoon tea, and £55 for the Rosé Champagne Afternoon tea.
Claridge’s, Brook Street, London Tel. +44 (0)20 7629 8860
A Parisian Affair
Bringing the flavours of Paris to the English High Tea, afternoon tea in the Martini Library is an intimate affair. Amidst the room’s period stone fireplaces and collection of books, relax in the plush chairs as you begin with some of the unique choices on offer such as Jasmine chicken and cranberry on sourdough and William pear and blackstick blue cheese éclairs. In between savoury and sweet order a martini with the simple press of a service button. Make sure you don’t fill up before you get to the sweets as the menu is simply delectable with Honey and orange blossom mousse macaroons with fresh raspberries, Strawberry and Veuve Clicquot éclairs and Toffee and mint éclairs, to name a few. Held every day until 6p.m., book a High Tea for £24.00, £35.75 with a glass of Veuve Clicquot Yellow label or £40.50 with a glass of Veuve Clicquot Rose.
The Arch London, 50 Great Cumberland Place, London Tel. +44 (0)20 7724 4700
A Tea Escape
The afternoon tea at Blake’s hotel is a delight to the senses. Served in one of two sensuous settings, the first a Chinese Room filled with luxurious furnishings and the second a tranquil Japanese garden; a conservatory of comfortable seating and luscious greenery. In true high tea style the menu includes finger sandwiches with fillings such as beef and chilli horseradish and smoked salmon and freshly baked scones served with fresh strawberries and cream. To accompany these as well as other delicious pastries and treats, Blake’s offer a great selection of teas from a simple English Breakfast to Lapsang Suchong. As well, each guest will receive a complimentary glass of champagne. Held everyday from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m. the full afternoon tea is priced at £19.00 per person and £26.00 for the Champagne afternoon tea.
Blakes Hotel, 33 Roland Gardens, London Tel. +44 (0)20 7370 6701
Let Them Eat Cake
Simon Aquilina, head chef at The Hempel, devises a Cointreau cupcake recipe exclusively for Luxos London.
Ready: Makes 14 cupcakes
50g whipping cream, 100g Lindt Dark Chocolate, 2 oranges, 20ml water, 230g caster sugar, 110g butter, 2 eggs, 1 tbsp milk, 110g self-raising flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 60ml Cointreau, 1 whole lemon, 100g icing sugar
Steady: Bring the whipping cream to the boil, then stir in the chocolate until smooth. Refrigerate.
Peel long strips from the skin of the oranges and blanch them until all the bitterness has gone. Pour the water over 120g caster sugar and bring to the boil. Add the orange strips and simmer on a low heat for 40 minutes to create an orange confit. Drain, then roughly chop the orange strips.
Cream the butter with the remaining caster sugar, then beat in the eggs, one at a time, until you are left with a smooth paste. Add the milk, flour, baking powder, confit and 50ml Cointreau, and gently mix to a thick paste.
Fill the cake tray compartments up to the three-quarter level.
Take the cream and chocolate mixture from the fridge and roll into small balls, placing one in the middle of each cake, then cover with the remaining mix.
Cook: Bake the cakes at 190ºC for around 10 minutes. While they’re cooking, squeeze the juice of the lemon and the rest of the Cointreau into the icing sugar, and stir until smooth. Remove the cakes from the oven and top with the icing. Leave to cool on a rack. Bon Appétit!