It’s time to whisk some magic in the form of these extravagant tea delights
by Chef Rakhee Vaswani
After a kind dose of Pound Cakes, we are now going to switch over to tea time delicacies tea time or more like TV time these days, is the same, specially for the young ones. These are sweet morsels of pleasure, easy to bake after a busy day at work or to linger over the weekend at an afternoon-tea with friends. I personally prefer to get the kids to bake along, giving them a sense of responsibility while at the same time massaging my hidden leadership qualities. Before I let you drool over the recipes, why not awaken the history nerds within ourselves?
It’s a no-brainer that afternoon tea is a British ritual. Reinstating our conventional British roots of ‘Would you like some tea? And some cookies to go with it?’ Afternoon tea is actually a ritual that originated from the seventh Duchess of Bedford’s habit of eating in between meals as the dinner was served at 9pm. Soon, women started dressing up and spending their afternoons like the Duchess. To the surprise of many people, ‘low tea’ is actually a classier ritual than ‘high tea’ in the truest sense. Low tea is ideally enjoyed by aristocrats as it is served on low lounge chairs and sofas. Whereas, high tea is a working class ritual for an ‘end of the day’ meal including copious amounts of tea along with cold meat, pickles, bread and butter among other things. Did not see that coming, did you?
What I absolutely love about this tradition is the common root Indians share with it. A traditional afternoon tea for example, is a series accompanied with tea starting with sandwiches, followed by scones and of course, cakes making it very similar to our habits and rituals. What better way to enjoy monsoons in Mumbai, winters in North India or basically any weather across our country than a hot cup of tea/coffee accompanied with some Bun Maska, Sandwich, Loaf Cake among other quick snacks during late afternoons? High tea doesn’t seem so foreign now, does it?
Having recognised that, it’s time to put on that apron and whisk some magic in the form of these extravagant tea delights.
Baking blues, sorry what?
Almond blueberry cake
150g castor sugar
20g cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp vanilla essence
20g fresh blueberry
10g almond slices
1 Sieve flour with cocoa powder and baking powder. Keep aside.
2 Cream the sugar and the butter till its light and fluffy.
3 Add the eggs, one at a time. Alternating it with 1 tbsp of flour each time. Add vanilla extract.
4 Fold in the rest of the flour into it.
5 Fold in the blueberries. Pour the batter into a rectangle 7-inch grease-lined tin, garnish with almond slices and bake at 170C for 35-40 minutes. Alternatively, check with a toothpick inserted in the centre, if it comes out clean, it’s ready to eat!
Fig and caramel cake
200g melted butter
1/2 tsp baking powder
20g chopped figs
1 Sieve flour with baking powder. Keep aside.
2 Beat egg, vanilla and sugar until its fluffy.
3 Fold flour and figs. Mix well.
4 Pour melted butter and caramel into the batter. Mix well.
5 Pour the batter into the mould and bake at 170C for 20-25 mins.
6 Garnish with butter icing and caramel on top.
Alternatively, for a high-tea, feel free to make dainty little bites by pouring the batter into a swiss roll tin.
What went wrong?
A poorly structured cake is probably due to the lack of protein in the recipe. Use eggs or egg replacers available in the market for a perfect cake.
A dome shaped cake with a slight tear on top is the most normal outcome for a perfect tea-time cake contradictory to what it might come across as.
A sunken cake with a soapy taste is probably due to extra sugar or baking powder in the recipe.
A cake shrunk from the sides is usually a result of too much liquid in the recipe.
WHAT NOT TO DO
Do not fall prey to fancy recipes and buy unsalted butter. These recipes additionally use a pinch of salt to bring out the sweetness. Instead, stick to our very own local butter and cut out the salt bit in the recipe and voila, you are ready to bake!
Do not hesitate from using castor sugar as it is super fine making it easier to dissolve into the batter while creaming the fat and sugar.
Do not hesitate from using honey by half the ratio instead of normal sugar. After all, we need our sugar dose for a nice crust colour, flavour and enhanced shelf life.
Rakhee Vaswani is a culinary expert and a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef who is successfully leading Palate Culinary Studio and Academy, an international state-of-the-art culinary entrepreneurial center. She has hosted a variety of TV shows and has also published her first successful cookbook called Picky Eaters.