… as my dear readers know, my other life as an event producer at The Persuaders is full of fun and madness and our current project with benefit Cosmetics sees us on board the Good Ship Benefit. It’s still there folks, moored at Embankment on the River Thames and open for gorgeous food and divine cocktails and of course lots of stunning make-up, until the end of August. From next week, to celebrate the magical new brow collection from Benefit they are turning their regular afternoon tea into an illusionary afternoon tea. It’s an absolutely gorgeous idea with an unusual twist… all the cakes and brownies are savoury and all the sandwiches are in fact cakes. The head chef Glenn has done a brilliantly inventive job of creating this lovely afternoon tea and we’ve all worked together to produce what we think is a very special treat, served in the beautiful brow lounge on board the main deck of the good ship. So if you haven’t visited yet, do pop by and pay them a visit and tell them I sent you…
everyone loves a good old-fashioned Afternoon Tea and the summer months seem to be the most popular time of year to eat them… whether you’re throwing a street party, on a deck-chair at the glorious coast or on a rug in a park, these little gems are delicious but also have an amusing and slightly magical edge, looking like savoury sandwiches but they are in fact sweet cakes. Something I’m sure you’ll agree will go down well with all your guests be them young or old. Ive created 3 varieties to represent 3 types of sandwiches; a classic victoria sponge with jam and buttercream, a chocolate sponge with an apricot jam filling that looks like brown bread and smoked salmon and a carrot cake sponge with a cream-cheese and shredded carrot filling that looks just like granary bread with a coleslaw filling and will completely fool all everyone on the picnic rug.
for the classic sponge and chocolate sponge mix
6 large free-range eggs
450g self raising flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla paste
preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4/fan 160C.
grease and line two 2lb loaf tins
cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale and fluffy – a stand-mixer will make light work of this
add three eggs and half the flour and beat until smooth, then add the last three eggs and gthe rest of the flour and beat again until smooth and light, add the vanilla and beat one final time
now pour half the cake batter into one of the loaf tins and smooth off the top, then add the 2 tablespoons of cocoa to the remaining batter and beat well, then pour this into the second loaf tin
bake both cakes for 35-40 minutes until golden brown and a skewer inserted comes out clean, then set aside to cool
for the carrot cake mix
175g light muscovado sugar
175ml sunflower oil
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
140g grated carrot
grated zest of 1 large orange
175g self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4/fan 160C.
grease and line one2lb loaf tins
tip the sugar into a large mixing bowl, pour in the oil and add the eggs. Lightly mix with a wooden spoon. Stir in the grated carrots, raisins, poppyseeds and orange rind.
mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices, then sift into the bowl. Lightly mix all the ingredients – when everything is evenly amalgamated stop mixing. The mixture will be fairly soft and almost runny.
pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 40- 45 minutes, until it feels firm and springy when you press it in the centre. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn it out, peel off the paper and cool on a wire rack.
50g cream cheese
150g butter – room temperature
200g icing sugar
the zest of one lemon
half a carrot – peeled and finely grated
in a large bowl, whip the double cream to a very thick consistency, then divide it in half. To one half stir in the cream cheese, lemon zest and grated carrot and this will give you the carrot cake filling, set aside the rest of the double cream for the chocolate cake filling.
in another large bowl make a buttercream icing by beating the butter till soft and creamy then add the icing sugar and beat again till soft and smooth, this will give you the classic sponge filling.
now you have all your cakes you can begin to assemble the ‘sandwiches’. You should be able to slice your cakes with a bread knife and treat them just like a loaf of bread but it may help to pop the cakes into the fridge for an hour before doing this. Then you simply slice all the cakes and fill them like you would as if making a sandwich. I’ve cut them into triangles because I think they look so pretty like this but you could go for halves or even dainty fingers.