Royal-teas-seasonal-recipes-from-buckingham-palace

Victoria Day is the perfect excuse to indulge your royal fantasies.  Why not start with new cookbook Royal Teas: Seasonal Recipes from Buckingham Palace.

The tradition of tea-time (invented by the Duchess of Bedford,  Queen Victoria’s Lady of the Bedchamber) started when fashionably later dinners became all the rage in the 1840s.  Royal Teas: Seasonal Recipes from Buckingham Palace is a testament to England’s affection for the charming ritual.

Royal Chef Mark Flanagan shares his recipes for treats like sweet and savory pastries, cookies, and cakes that span the seasons:  springtime picnics,  summer garden parties and festive Christmas teas are all covered.  The book also offers a look at the Royal Kitchens’ commitment to using local ingredients like the mulberry trees in the Palace Gardens and the Royal beehives that provide honey year-round.

The first official tea-time cookbook from the Palace also includes some intriguing historical tidbits.  Did you know that Her Majesty’s method of making drop scones was given to US President Dwight D Eisenhower in 1960 after a stay at Balmoral?

So break out the teapot, forget brunch and give afternoon tea a whirl with this recipe for Victoria Sponge.  Named in honour of Queen Victoria, who started the whole royal garden party thing in the 1860s, it’s as quintessentially English as an over-the-top summer wedding.

Victoria Sponge

Ingredients

For the Victoria sponge
3 free-range eggs
150 g (3/4 cup) unrefined castor sugar
150 g (2/3 cup) unsalted butter, softened
150 g (1 1/4 cups) self-rising flour, sieved
1/2 tsp. of vanilla essence

For the vanilla buttercream
150 g (2/3 cup) unsalted butter, softened
220 g (1 3/4 cups) icing sugar, sieved
1/3 split vanilla pod

Homemade Strawberry (or other)Jam

Equipment
Two 20-cm or 8-inch Victoria sponge cake tins

 To make the Victoria sponge
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit, gas mark 4).

  2. Prepare the cake tins by greasing with butter and lining the bottom with a circular piece of baking paper. Leave to one side until required.

  3. Cream together the castor sugar, vanilla essence, and softened butter in a bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten eggs, a little at a time to avoid the mixture curdling. Finally, fold in the sieved flour until all the ingredients are perfectly combined.

  4. Divide the cake mix evenly between the two prepared cake tins and carefully smooth the mix to create two level layers. Place on the middle shelf of the preheated oven and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until the cake appears golden brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Once baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before turning the cakes out onto a wire rack.

To make the buttercream
Cream the softened butter with the sieved icing sugar and the seeds from the split vanilla pod. The buttercream will become pale and fluffy with little flecks of vanilla seeds throughout.

To assemble the Victoria sponge

  1. Once the cakes have completely cooled, carefully and evenly spread a layer of buttercream on top of the first cake. Next add a thick layer of your homemade jam, before carefully placing the second cake on top of the jam and very gently pressing down. Finally, dust the top of the cake with icing sugar.

Royal Teas: Seasonal Recipes from Buckingham Palace is available June 15 at Indigo.

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