Will Torrent: Afternoon Tea at Home

Will Torrent

Missing Downton Abbeya?

Wishing you were celebrating the Queen’s 90th with President Obama at Windsor Castle?

What you need is Will Torrent’s Afternoon Tea at Home: Deliciously Indulgent Recipes for Sandwiches, Savouries, Scones, Cakes and Other Fancies (Ryland Peters and SmallIf you flip to the back of this handsome book, Will provides menus for special occasions.
Here is the Birthday Party menu:
“Coronation” chicken sandwiches with pickled red onion (p. 63)
The Ritz Fruit Scones (p. 25)
Raspberry and Rose Party Hearts (p. 42)
Jam and Coconut Cake (p. 108)
Cherry and Almond Bakewell Tarts (p. 30)
Passionfruit Meringue Tarts (p. 49)
Victoria Sponge with Strawberry jam and vanilla Buttercream (p. 34)

This is a menu fit for the Queen, including recipes from the far-flung corners of the former empire.

Coronation chicken was invented to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 and to update it I’ve used tikka curry paste to form the base of my filling and added pickled red onions, fresh coriander/cilantro and black onion sees for a curry twist. You could go one step further and serve in mini naan breads. I like to soak the sultana/golden raisins in lager for an hour or so before using them to add another level of flavor. (p. 63)

In other words, this isn’t the same-old-chicken salad – it is the Indian sub-content in miniature.

Though Will includes several scone recipes in this collection – what would tea be without scones – he chose The Ritz Fruit Scones for the birthday tea. These elegant little round cakes are rich enough to stand up to clotted cream and jam. Each recipe lists both US and UK terminology as in strong or bread flour, double or heavy cream, or caster or granulated sugar. The Bakewell tarts, a version of which can be found all over the UK, include cherries, almonds, and frangipane. Bakewell is the name of a town in Derbyshire, but Wikipedia says that the tart didn’t originate there. The version that Will includes layers flavor – cherry and amaretto jam, almond flavored icing, and glace cherry – to intensify the tiny tart.

The Jam and Coconut Cakes are Will’s version of Lamington Cakes from Australia that are typically chocolate covered sponge cakes dusted with coconut. His version is coated with raspberry jam that makes them just a bit more regal. Finally, the Victoria Sponge is final nod to Elizabeth II’s predecessor. “Words cannot express my love for his most British of cakes! Names after Queen Victoria, it simply is one of the UK’s most loved cakes baked for many years by families up and down the country. (p. 34).

The photographs by Matt Russell will make you want to cook everything in this book. The recipes are arranged by season, but you could pick and choose depending on whether you are making dessert or a proper tea. Have fun and make more than one recipe – tea should be a glorious, though proper affair

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