Hey everyone! It’s Debs from Salted Mint here for a super special post today. We’re talking all things royal wedding!!
It’s no secret that the world has fallen in love with Harry and Meghan and will be watching the captivating couple exchange vows this Saturday. So, we thought what better way to celebrate than to create an afternoon tea inspired by the royal wedding? We've pulled together a menu that's as thoughtful as the couple themselves, with nods to both their traditions and personalities.
Here in England, afternoon tea can still be very much a formal affair complete with tiered cake stands and white glove service. But this afternoon tea has been modernised to reflect our royal couple. They’re much more casual in their style and interactions with the public than any royal couple that has gone before them. So, we've made this tea modern in its presentation and its flavours, but with a nod to the classics.
Let's start with the cake, shall we?
In the British media we’ve gotten the low down on quite a few details of this wedding. One of the first details that was made public was the choice of cake. Claire Ptak from the Violet Bakery in London will be making the cake. The couple have chosen to go with lemon and elderflower. A classic combination, especially this time of year. We’re also fairly certain that the cake will be either a naked cake, or a cake with a fluffy buttercream frosting. Claire is known for her casual bohemian style, so we’re pretty sure this one will be chic but still unfussy.
Lemon & Elderflower Cake // Serves 12
- 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- pinch of salt
- ½ cup butter, at room temperature, cut into tablespoon sized pieces
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- ½ cup whole milk, at room temperature
- one 11oz jar lemon curd
For the Frosting
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- 4 large egg whites
- ¾ pound butter
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons elderflower cordial
- Pre-heat the oven to 350º. Spray two 6 inch cake pans with non stick spray and line with parchment paper.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream the butter until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat again until the butter and sugar are pale and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the vanilla.
- Beat the eggs in one at a time, scraping down after each addition and allowing each egg to be fully absorbed before adding the next one. Add the flour in 4 additions, alternating with the milk. Begin and end with the flour and beat briefly until smooth, after each addition.
- Divide the batter evenly between the pans and smooth the tops with a spatula. Bake in the pre heated oven for about 22 minutes, until a tooth pick comes out with only a couple of crumbs on it, but check after 18 minutes. The cake will be golden on top and just start to pull away from the sides.
- Cool the cake on wire racks for 5 minutes before turning out. Untold the cakes and peel off the parchment and allow cakes to cool completely before frosting.
To make the frosting:
- Place the sugar and water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil over a medium heat swirling occasionally to help dissolve the sugar. As soon as the sugar is dissolved turn the pan down to low.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form.
- Return the sugar water to a boil until it reaches 248º- 250º on a candy thermometer.
- Turn the mixer down to low and very gently pour the hot sugar syrup down the inside of the bowl into the mixer. Take care not to pour the syrup onto the whisk. This could splash you with hot sugar syrup.
- Turn the mixer back up to high and whip until the meringue is just barely warm and forms thick fluffy peaks. Once the mix is just warm start adding the butter a tablespoon at a time until it’s all incorporated. *It may look split, just keep adding the butter. And if the butter starts to melt as soon as you add it, then let the meringue cool a little more.
- As soon as the butter is fully incorporated, the frosting is ready to use.
To assemble the cake:
- Cut each cake layer in half horizontally so you now have 4 layers of sponge. Place the first layer on a cake plate and fill with lemon curd. Repeat with the next two layers and place the 4th layer on the top of the cake. Gently frost the top and sides of the cake scraping off any excess to reveal some of the sides and edges of the cake.
- Decorate with flowers! Lots of peonies. They’re apparently Meghan’s favourites. So, I’ve decorated the lemon and elderflower cake with one giant peony on the top and loaded the sides up with some fresh berries. Unfussy but still stylish.
Of course, it wouldn't be a proper tea party without the finger food. First up are mini chicken pot pies! Because the couple got engaged over an intimate roast chicken dinner, and pot pie is a such a British classic.
Mini Chicken Pot Pies// Makes 12
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 small carrot, diced
- 1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 2 chicken breasts, diced
- 1 ½ cups chicken broth
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon corn flour mixed with 2 tablespoons water
- 1 sheet puff pastry
- 1 sheet short crust pastry
To Top the Pot Pies
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 teaspoon black onion seeds
- 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
- In a medium sauce pot heat the olive oil and add the onions and garlic. Sweat for about 2 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the carrot, peas, thyme and basil, stir.
- Add the diced chicken and the chicken broth to the pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Once the chicken is cooked and the broth has reduced by about ¼, add the heavy cream. Bring to a simmer. The pie mixture should be the consistency of a chowder soup. If the mixture is too thin add the cornflour and water and bring to a boil for 1 minute. Set aside and leave to cool.
- While the filling is cooling, lightly grease a mini muffin pan (12 bun capacity). Using a round cutter, cut out the short crust pastry and line the muffin tins. Spoon the pie mixture into each tin, to the top. Use the same size round cutter to cut the puff pastry and top the pies. Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the thyme and onion seeds.
- Bake for about 20 minutes. Until the pastry is golden and the pie filling is hot.
Confession: I have been a huge Meghan fan for a few years and miss her blog “The Tig." But, from her blog I happen to know that she loves sushi and Japanese food, and during the week she enjoys lighter meals. And with Meghan being from California, she more than likely loves a little avocado toast. (Don't we all?!)
So, for this tea, I’ve created updated open finger sandwiches with California-inspired ingredients. The edible flowers are a really lovely way to be able to decorate the sandwiches to elevate them a bit for such an occasion!
California Finger Sandwiches // Makes 12
- 4 slices multi grain sandwich bread, crusts cut off
- 1 ½ cup cream cheese
- 4 ounces smoked salmon
- ½ cucumber, very thinly sliced
- ½ avocado, very thinly sliced
- micro greens
- black sesame seeds
- Cut the crusts of the bread and spread with the cream cheese. Cut the bread into squares roughly 2 inches x 2 inches.
- Lay a thin slice of smoked salmon over each piece of bread ensuring that it fits exactly on the bread with no overhang.
- Alternate topping the slices with thinly sliced avocado and cucumber.
- Garnish with a drop of olive oil and a sprinkle of sesame seeds and some micro greens or fresh violas.
And what afternoon tea would be complete without scones?! They're something that we British take very personally. And there is an art to making the perfect scone. A light touch and cold butter will ensure that your scones are tender with a good rise. The recipe I’m including in this post is about 90 years old and is the cornerstone of one of the oldest hotels in England. I’ve modernised it by making it in a food processor, to ensure that the dough doesn't get overworked. It’s also helpful for people who have hot hands!
Light and Fluffy British Scones // Makes 12
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ cup butter, chilled and cut into cubes
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup milk
- Preheat the oven to 425º. In a food processor pulse the flour, salt, baking powder and butter until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Beat the egg with the milk. With the processor running, add the milk and egg until the mixture just comes together to form a dough.
- Turn it out onto a lightly floured board and knead gently just to bring the dough together. Roll the dough out to roughly ¼ inch thick. Using a 2½ inch round cutter, cut the scones and place on a greased baking tray.
- Gather the trim into a ball and roll and cut more scones.
- Bake for about 10-12 minutes until the tops are golden brown and the scones have risen.
- Serve warm with jam and cream.
One last note about scones… they ALWAYS get served with proper clotted (Devon!) cream. Please, never whipped cream!
Now, I think it's safe to say that you are set for watching the wedding of the year! Go brew some tea, slice some cake, and dive into the fairy tale.