Afternoon Tea for Two: Mini Banoffee Pies

Welcome to the last afternoon tea for two recipe – and unlike the sticky toffee cupcakes that were a wee tricky, this is probably the easiest and quickest one! These (rather adorable) mini banoffee pies are also great for making ahead, as you can make the crust and caramel the day before you need them, and then you just need to assemble everything before you want to serve them/eat them all by yourself. If your caramel has cooled down, just pop it in the microwave for a few seconds to get it back to a nice spreadable consistency.

Mini Banoffee Pies
(adapted from this recipe from A Recipe for Aperture.)

For the crust
1 digestive (or about 12g graham crackers)
6g (1 1/4 tsp) butter or margarine, melted

For the caramel
10g (2 tsp) salted butter
10g (2 1/2 tsp) brown sugar
2 tbsp sweetened condensed milk

For assembling
2 slices of banana
A bit of whipped cream

1. Preheat your oven to 190°C. Pop your digestive into a plastic bag and smash it with a rolling pin or heavy objects of your choice to fine crumbs. Mix with the melted butter. Press firmly into two greased indents of a mini muffin tray. Bake for five minutes. Chill until firm.*
2. To make the caramel, melt butter in a small pot. Add brown sugar and stir until dissolved and the mixture is smooth (30 seconds to a minute). Add sweetened condensed milk. Bring to a low simmer and stir until golden and thick, about a minute. Set aside.
3. To assemble, fill each mini pie shell with caramel. Top with a banana slice and a bit of whipped cream each.

* I put a little circle of round baking paper at the bottom as well to help get the crust out of the tin more easily.

Afternoon Tea for Two: Sticky Toffee Pudding Cupcakes

Bit off a break in the Afternoon Tea for Two series – the last few weeks have been a tad busy for me – I do, however, still have two more recipes I wanted to share! Sticky toffee pudding is probably one of my favourite classic British desserts, so I wanted to make a tea treat version that features all the components – not only the cake part, but also the caramel syrup and custard it’s often served with. So there’s a date cupcake that soaked in maple syrup for extra stickiness, a caramel filling in the cake and some custard frosting on top. This is probably the longest recipe out of the series, but also probably my favourite one, so definitely worth the extra effort if you ask me.

Sticky Toffee Pudding Cupcakes
(Cupcakes based on this recipe from Oh She Glows, caramel adapted from this recipe.)

For the cupcakes
2 tbsp + 1 tsp milk
20g (1/8 cup) dates, chopped
5g (1 tsp) butter
7g (1 1/2 tsp) brown sugar
15g (1 tbsp) flour
1/8 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp chopped nuts
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 tsp maple syrup

For the caramel
5g (1 tsp) butter
5g (1 1/4 tsp) brown sugar
1 tbsp sweetened condensed milk

For the custard frosting
3g (1 tsp) custard powder
3g (1 tsp) sugar
2-3 tbsp milk
5g (1 tsp) butter
1/4 tsp icing sugar

To make the cupcakes:
1. Heat milk in a small bowl. Add chopped dates and microwave for 20 seconds. Stir well.
2. Whisk butter and sugar until creamy. Add milk and dates and stir to combine.
3. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nuts. Add to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Fill into two greased indents of a mini muffin tray.
4. Bake for 15 minutes. Once they are out of the oven but still warm, poke small holes into the top of the cakes with a skewer or toothpick. Pour about half a teaspoon maple syrup over each cake. Let cool completely.

To make the caramel:
1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add brown sugar and stir until mostly dissolved and smooth. (About 30 seconds to a minute.)
2. Add sweetened condensed milk and stir over a gentle simmer until golden brown in colour and thickened, about a minute. Remove from heat and pour into a small container.

To make the custard frosting:
1. Make a fairly thick custard out of the custard powder, sugar and milk. (Since it’s such a small amount of custard, I find mixing it together and microwaving it for 30-50 seconds the easiest.) Let cool completely.
2. Cream butter and icing sugar together until fluffy. Stir custard until smooth. Add the custard to the butter and whisk until incorporated.

To assemble:
1. Scoop a small hole out of the top of the cupcakes. Fill with the caramel. Fill the custard frosting into a piping bag and pipe a small swirl on top.

Afternoon Tea for Two: Victoria Sponge Slices

I think a Victoria sponge cake is about as British as it gets with cake – so much that my work lunch buddy even labeled it ‘boring’ when I mentioned that my friend Mark requested one as his birthday cake two years ago. It’s a pretty straight forward affair really – two round sponges, sandwiched together with jam and something creamy (I’ve used whipped cream before as well) and dusted with a bit of icing sugar.

But it’s still tasty – I don’t think anyone turned a slice down when we had this at Mark’s post-hangover birthday coffee. This small scale version is a bit different in that it doesn’t use eggs in the sponge (because I hate having half an egg left over) and is presented as sandwich style slices rather than a round cake. I also stuffed some fresh berries into the jam (because tasty!), but it still works just as well without them.

Victoria Sponge Slices
(Sponge based on this recipe.)

For the sponge
25g (9 1/2 tsp) flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
35g (5 1/2 tsp) condensed milk
10g (2 tsp) butter, melted
Drop of almond or vanilla extract
3 tsp water

For the buttercream
10g (2tsp) butter
15g (1 1/2 tbsp + a tsp) icing sugar

For the jam layer
10g (1 tbsp) jam
4-5 raspberries

Make the sponge:
1. Preheat oven to 180°C. In a bowl, mix flour and baking powder.
2. Add condensed milk, melted butter, almond extract and water to the flour mix. Beat well.
3. Pour dough into a greased and floured mini loaf pan (mine is 14.5×7.5cm or 5 3/4×3 in).
4. Bake for 15 minutes until golden and springy to the touch.
5. Leave the cake in the pan for about a minute, then remove and let it cool on a wire rack.

Make the buttercream:
1. Beat the butter until creamy. Slowly beat in icing sugar.

Make the jam layer:
1. Heat jam in microwave for a few seconds and stir.
2. Roughly squash the raspberries and mix into the jam.

To assemble:
1. Trim your sponge into a neat rectangle. Cut it in half vertically, then cut each slice in half horizontally as well.
2. Spread the buttercream onto the two bottom pieces of cake. Top with jam-raspberry mixture.
3. Top with the two left over sponge slices. Dust with icing sugar.

Afternoon Tea for Two: Mini Bakewell Tarts

When our new department boss asked me a few days ago how I felt about the company induction I attended a while back, I almost answered “Great, they had fantastic cake!” Don’t get me wrong, the day was also very informative and so on, but getting free lunch with half a bakewell tart as dessert was definitely one of the highlights of the whole thing. And it seemingly made such an impression on me that when I started thinking about the whole afternoon tea for two idea, I immediately set out to make a mini version.

*IMG_3225

This recipe took a little bit of fine tuning until I got the quantities quite right to make just two (as you can see from the first picture, my first try actually yielded three with lots of frangipane left over, and unfortunately I had to eat all of it), but they turned out really well in the end. Top two things I’ve learned while baking them:
1. Don’t skimp on the jam – having not enough jam in there is more disappointing than having it bubble over a bit.
2. Don’t overbake them – otherwise your frangipane layer will end up too firm and dry.

Mini Bakewell Tarts
(adapted from this lovely recipe from Emily Cooks Vegan)

For the pastry
18g (7 tsp) flour
9g (2 tsp) butter or margarine (cold)
Cold water

For the frangipane
8g (1 tbsp) flour
8g (4 tsp) ground almonds
8g (1/2 tbsp) sugar
A generous pinch of baking powder
A drop of almond extract
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp water

2 tsp jam
1 tsp flaked almonds

1. Preheat your oven to 190°C. Rub the butter into the flour until they resemble breadcrumbs (or use a pastry cutter.) Add a little bit of cold water until it comes together as a dough. Roll the dough out and cut out two circles. Transfer to a greased mini muffin tray and line two of the indents with it. Use a fork to prick the dough a few times. Bake for 5 minutes.
2. In the meantime, combine flour, ground almonds, sugar and baking powder. Add almond extract, oil and water and mix together. (Texture-wise, this should be somewhat runny.)
3. Remove your tart shells from the oven, fill each with a layer of jam and top with your frangipane mixture. Sprinkle the flaked almonds on top. Lower your temperature to 180°C and bake for around 15 minutes.

Afternoon Tea for Two: Scones

The first time I remember eating scones was during a week long trip to Ireland to visit my cousin Kerstin who was spending six month as an au pair there, looking after three chaotic yet charming children. (They were one, two and three years old respectively, so there was probably as much order as you can expect.) I have lots of hilarious memories from this trip – like when we took a bus tour in the rain and tried to balance our coffee cups and cameras and umbrellas at the same time which resulted in us laughing so hard that we were almost beheaded by some power lines, or the time we were on a ferry to a tiny island (population: 20, and every single one was in the pub once it started raining) and Kerstin got sea sick and the captain randomly started singing German folk songs over the speakers.

There was also lots of Guinness and hilariously-terrible tv and scones. Despite the fact that I love scones, I’ve never actually made them myself. I did a bit of research and found a variety of recipes out there – some with eggs, some without, so I picked one that looked easy to scale down and gave it a try – I’m happy to report that I turned out really well! Which is good since scones are obviously best fresh from the oven and not so good days later after they’re stale. (P.S.: In case you have three chaotic yet charming children, follow the BBC recipe link for a bigger batch recipe.)

Scones (for two)
(adapted from this BBC recipe)

45g (5 1/2 tbsp) flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
5g (1 tsp) sugar
Pinch of salt
10g (1 tsp) cold butter
3 tbsp milk

1. Preheat oven to 220°C (425°F). Combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a bowl.
2. Cut cold butter into small pieces and add to the flour mixture. Incorporate the butter with a pastry cutter or rub the mix between your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs.
3. Add the milk and stir together. Knead everything lightly until a dough forms.
4. Roll out the dough about 2cm (3/4 inch) thick. With a round cookie cutter (about 5cm or 2 inches in diameter) cut out two scones.
5. Place on a baking tray, brush with a little milk and bake for about 12-15 minutes, until golden. Leave to cool for about 5 minutes. Serve with butter, clotted or whipped cream and jam.

Afternoon Tea for Two: Smoked Salmon & Lemon Butter Tea Sandwich

I’m not great at making decisions sometimes – both small (I’m the kind of person who stands at the open fridge door for ten minutes trying to decide what I want for dinner ) and large ones – don’t even get me started on choosing a uni for my master’s. Or going to a nice café with my mum and having to decide on a piece of cake when there are twenty different ones and they all look awesome. That’s why I think afternoon tea has a fantastic concept – everything is cute and small and you get to eat a little bit of everything – no hard decision making!

So I’ve been working on a little project to come up with some afternoon tea recipes – for two. Because sometimes you just want to have a friend over to catch up and eat lots of tasty things, and be able to have a little bit of everything without absolutely massive amounts of time and work involved.

And while it’s probably still a bit of effort, all in all I think it’s quite manageable because you can do stuff ahead and no one’s telling you to make all of it (though it’s all really tasty.) Today I’m starting off with a tea sandwich recipe and there will be scones and a few British inspired tea treats as well over the next weeks. (So keep checking back or subscribe via the handy little button to your right if you want.)

When I think of quintessentially British tea sandwiches, the first two that pop into my head are cucumber and smoked salmon. Since I think cucumbers are okay (though really not that exciting taste wise) and smoked salmon is basically the best thing since sliced bread, you can guess which one I went for.
The classic combo seems to be smoked salmon and cream cheese – I have to admit that while I don’t dislike it, I actually prefer just a bit of butter, lemon and pepper. (I think it’s because I massively love smoked salmon and the cream cheese can sometimes overpower it a bit, where as this humble arrangement makes the salmon the star of the show.) Also living in Edinburgh has made me a proper smoked salmon snob. So I would recommend Scottish salmon, but whatever you like/can find, obviously.

Smoked Salmon & Lemon Butter Tea Sandwich

2 slices malted grain bread
40g smoked salmon
1 tsp salted butter or margarine, room temperature & spreadable
lemon juice
pepper

1. Take your two slices of bread and cut the crust off (if you want to be all posh) – or leave them on (if you’re not that bothered).
2. Mix the butter with a dash of lemon juice and a bit of pepper. Spread on one slice of the bread.
3. Arrange the smoked salmon on top of the buttered bread. Sprinkle with a little more lemon juice and pepper.
4. Top with your unbuttered slice of bread and cut in half.