Where to find the best tea and cakes
PUBLISHED: 17:04 20 December 2010 | UPDATED: 17:23 20 February 2013
Martin Griffiths recommends visiting Herefordshire's teashops this summer and suggests some recipes that will put classic cakes back on your table
Time for tea
Martin Griffiths recommends visiting Herefordshires teashops this summer and suggests some recipes that will put classic cakes back on your table
Summer is the perfect time to explore the towns and villages of the Herefordshire countryside and among the delights are the many teashops serving delicious homemade cakes. There can be few more pleasurable and refreshing summertime experiences than tea served in a fine china cup accompanied by a slice of Victoria Sandwich filled with fresh cream and raspberry jam.
A great Victoria Sandwich, when made with the best local ingredients, is a thing of true culinary beauty. It is, quintessentially, the queen of cakes. One of my favourites is made at the Courtyard Gallery in Herefords Edgar Street where cakemaker extraordinaire Jan Pitts runs the caf bar that last year picked up a first prize at the Flavours of Herefordshire awards night. They are also open these days on a Sunday morning, I popped in last week and it makes a pretty cool place to hang out and enjoy a scrummy brunch or elevenses.
There are some exquisite tearooms around the county and one of my best is Mrs Muffins, a short walk down Church Lane in Ledbury. The cakes here are legendary and owner Leanne Rex takes great pride in sourcing her produce locally and using the very best seasonal fruits.
The caf at Broadfield Court, a few miles south of Leominster is always worth a visit. Here you can enjoy a stroll around the gloriously picturesque walled gardens and take time to sit out on the lawns and enjoy tea in the garden. With the fragrance of sun-warmed, summer flowers wafting around you and one of their delectable cakes in front of you, you really will have found a small piece of an essentially English heaven.
Reassuringly, there are also new tearooms opening around the county. At Ross,Truffles Delicatessen is developing a growing reputation for supplying fine foods and especially great chocolate brownies, while a short walk down the hill youll find several fine cafs, including Hunky Dory where Sally Ann Bailey makes a tempting array of cakes including her wonderful Humming Bird Cake made with carrots and bananas.
Out at Presteigne Tony Cox is starting up a new caf this summer called the Mistletoe Tearooms. The Monkland Cheese Dairy Caf near Leominster and the Caf @ All Saints in central Hereford are regularly excellent as are the Walford Court Tearoom and Guesthouse at Leintwardine, the Old Apple Store in Bromyard, Abbey Dore Court Stables and The Granary at Collington.
Of course, many of our major tourist attractions also offer great teas so look out for The Garden at The Bannut at Bringsty, the Hampton Court Orangery Caf and the Westbury Water Gardens Caf at Pembridge to name just a few.
If you love a fine homemade cake its always worth exploring whats going on in your own little patch of Herefordshire this summer. There are village fetes, flower festivals and food fairs where the tea tent should be one of your priorities.
At one recent event I found myself drawn back to the charming stall run by Tracy Duncan. Tracy runs her cake-making business from near Hay-on-Wye and calls it, appropriately, Love Patisserie. Using the best local ingredients Tracy makes all the pastry bases by hand and the butter/egg/flour combination gives the highest quality results. If the almond and rhubarb tart I sampled is anything to go by then shes certainly right to carry on investing in the best. You can find Love Patisserie at many of the areas main food festivals and farmers markets as well as Shepherds Ice Cream Parlour in Hay where you can enjoy cake and their great ice-cream.
For a great cup of tea I use a range of teas supplied by Claire Trumper of Trumpers Tea. Not only are her teas sourced through the Fair Trade scheme, they also taste fantastic. The UK Tea Council runs a web page dedicated to promoting the benefits of tea and recently published a book called Afternoon Tea Perfect Places for Afternoon Tea.
Or just follow my advice and visit the teashops of Herefordshire.
Traditional Butter Sponge Cake
A classic which reminds me of the cakes my mother used to bake, for all those village fetes and fairs she used to run
175g caster sugar
3 free range eggs
175g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon milk
Icing/caster sugar to sprinkle on
300ml whipping cream
2x18cm (7inch) baking tins
1. Lightly grease the tins with butter, dust with flour and line the bases with greaseproof paper
2. Cream the butter and gradually whisk in the sugar until a soft cream
3. Add one egg at a time and whisk in thoroughly
4. Add the sieved flour and baking powder and stir in gently
5. Add a little milk to moisten the mixture
6. Divide the mixture between the two tins and place in a preheated oven at 190oc/gas mark 5
7. Bake for 20-25 minutes
8. When an inserted skewer comes out clean and the mixture has shrunk a little from the edge remove from the oven and turn out onto a wire tray to cool
9. Assemble the two halves with copious amounts of cream and jam so that it oozes out of the middle
10. Serve on a bone china plate with a paper doily for the full effect
The Jackson Five Savoury Scone
Inspired by chef Phillip Jackson this recipe offers a savoury twist to the classic scone and is especially tasty when served with smoked salmon and cream cheese
225g self raising flour
1pinch of salt and big pinch of baking powder
1 egg made up to 5 fl oz with milk
Phils five savoury additions:
150g grated cheese
100g sun-dried tomatoes
Big pinch of mustard powder
Big pinch of cayenne pepper
A handful of chopped fresh basil
1. Put the flour, baking powder, cayenne pepper, mustard powder, tomatoes, basil and salt into a bowl
2. Break the egg into a measuring jug and make up to 5 fl oz
3. Stir the egg/milk into the bowl and mix all the ingredients into a soft dough before turning out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently
4. Roll out and cut out six round scones
5. Brush with a little milk before baking in a pre-heated 200oc/gas mark 6 for around 15 minutes
Classic Coffee and Almond Cake
This recipe makes a three-decker butter cream-filled delight that is always a popular option at my local horticultural show and is at its best when served after a long walk with the dog. (To burn off the calories)
165g caster sugar
125g plain flour
85g ground almonds
1.5 teaspoons of baking powder
3 teaspoons of instant coffee dissolved in 3 tablespoons ofhot water
Small pinch of salt
110g unsalted butter
220g icing sugar
1 tablespoon of instant coffee
dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water
1. Line 3 baking tins with greaseproof paper
2. Cream margarine until soft then add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy
3. Beat eggs together then gradually add to margarine sugar mixture
4. Mix together flour, almonds, baking powder and salt and fold into mixture
5. Stir in the coffee
6. Divide mixture between the prepared tins and bake in a pre-heated oven, 180oc/gas mark 4 for 20-25 minutes. Cakes should be firm and golden brown
7. Turn out cakes onto a wire tray and allow to cool
8. Make the filling by beating together the butter and sugar and then adding the coffee
9. Sandwich the cake layers together with the butter cream and dust the top with icing sugar
10. When the cake has cooled make a pot of tea and serve in the garden on your best plates and in china cups
Sponge Hearts (with a chocolate topping)
Based on Cousin Lillians plain cake ideals this simple recipe is an ideal way to encourage children to start cooking
55g caster sugar
55g self raising flour
1. Cream together the margarine and sugar
2. Beat in the egg, fold in the flour
3. Divide the mixture into individual cooking tins about one dessert spoon per cake and bake in a preheated, 180oc/gas mark 4 for 20-25 minutes
4. Allow to cool before topping with a chocolate sauce and sweets for a kiddies party treat