I like to daydream. I especially like to daydream about food. Add a Royal celebration to the mix and I’m one very happy daydreamer. Of late I’ve been slightly obsessed with what I might serve the Queen and her entourage if they were to pop by for a Diamond Jubilee tea party. Though this is highly unlikely, I still like to be prepared. They are on tour after all. I think everyone needs, at the very least, a plan.
So I’ve thought it through and I know what I’m doing. I even have a corner of my cupboard dedicated to it. You can keep your cucumber sandwiches and your dainty petit fours adorned with sugarpaste Union Jacks. You can keep your miniature scones served with cream, strawberry jam and a heavy dose of bunting. My Diamond Jubilee tea party would be as British as Colonel Mustard. Scrap that, it’d be as British as preferring your pets to your family.
We’d start with a nice cup of tea and a biscuit. I’d most likely serve quintessentially British Garibaldis, a distant cousin of the Eccles cake. I’ve always thought these are a biscuit for people with substance. Sweet, crunchy and with a wholesome, means-business centre. I’d be watching to see if her Majesty referred to them as Garibaldis or squashed fly biscuits of course. Only the British would affectionately nickname a biscuit after a dead insect.
On the savoury front I’d offer two sandwich choices, no-nonsense cheese and pickle and of course Marmite. All served on soft white bread with a chewy crust, sliced not-too-thinly and spread with salted butter. There is no greater sandwich joy than discovering salted butter rather than margarine. As for the controversial choice of Marmite as a filling, Her Majesty might be a lover, she might be a hater, but it’d be good to know wouldn’t it? Everyone has an opinion on Marmite after all.
To finish I’d serve my mint thin cupcakes. The chocolatey-ist cake topped with a refreshing white chocolate peppermint ganache and adorned with a mint thin; so very British. Even The Queen must pass around a box of mint thins after a particularly elegant dinner party. I think she’d be relieved to see a good sized cupcake offered to her on a plate. Those tiny petit fours are mighty pretty but you can’t really go on tour on them can you? A woman needs fuel to greet her public.
And like every good host I’d bestow on my guests a present for the journey home; why a Tunnock’s Tea Cake and a can of cream soda of course. I have it on good authority that Her Majesty always orders this on The Royal Train.
12 mint thins/After Eights
100g dark muscovado sugar
100g plain flour
2 large eggs at room temperature
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
20g cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
25g Greek yoghurt
50mls double cream
1/2 tsp peppermint essence
100g white chocolate, broken into squares
Preheat the oven to Gas 4/160C. Pop some cupcake cases into a cupcake tray. Check the rack is in the centre of the oven. Cream together the sugar and butter/margarine until light and fluffy. I use an electric hand mixer for this.
Scrape down the bowl and add in the flour, eggs, bicarb of soda, cream of tartar, cocoa powder, vanilla extract and Greek yoghurt. Whizz up for about 4 minutes with the handheld mixer until all combined, light and fluffy. Divide the mixture between the cupcake cases. Bake for 20 – 24 minutes until the cakes are well risen and a toothpick comes out of the centre of the middle cakes clean. Remove from the tin and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Start to make the chocolate ganache as soon as the cakes are in the oven. Put the cream into a small saucepan and heat until it starts to bubble, remove from the heat, then add the white chocolate and stir, stir, stir until the mixture is completely molten and without any chocolate lumps showing. The mixture may look a little yellow from the white chocolate. If this offends you, you could add some gel food colouring at this point. A little green might be nice. Leave to cool until the mixture has re-thickened almost completely – this takes about 45 minutes. Then spoon a little onto each cupcake and decorate with mint thins. The ganache will need to set before you serve these cupcakes or it’ll be one messy eating experience.
Serve after Marmite sandwiches with large mugs of steaming tea to your very own Royal Family.
I’m a mum of 3 boys, a cookbook writer and also a finalist on the 2011 Great British Bake Off.
I’ve decided to record the recipes I use, partly to save them somewhere and partly in case someone else might like to use them...