Autumn is here and so is my newsletter - at very long last!
Grab a cuppa and have a read. I do hope to see you soon, whatever the event make sure there is cake at it!
Let me know what you think!
You might still like to grab a latte on your commute, but with the average UK resident drinking 876 cups of tea every year – enough to fill two bath tubs, it remains the nations favourite drink.
And that’s what is at the heart of what is seemingly the nations favourite pastime during lockdown, ordering afternoon tea deliveries.
It is no surprise then, that Room Forty have been inundated with orders for our 5 Star rated, award winning afternoon teas, and we're celebrating National Afternoon Tea week with a super special edition on 15 August, after a couple of weeks off with the family.
Covid has has a huge impact on our business, some good and some bad. For the first month we couldn't have worked if we had wanted to as there were no ingredients and of course we couldn't do all the weddings and events we were booked in to do.
What did happen though was an opportunity to do things differently and after I took a little time and found suppliers of ingredients and sustainable packaging I was able to restart in a different way, delivering afternoon tea in a box. Lots of people ordered them as gifts for people who were isolating or to celebrate their birthdays, anniversaries and even funerals, and many have already returned again and again - and for that we are delighted.
However, since the restaurants have reopened we have seen a significant drop in the number of box orders, but that balances with the fact that we’re able to hire our crockery again and we’re taking bookings to serve our afternoon teas again in people's gardens.
We are also looking forward to getting back into the community centre to restart our bread making workshops this autumn!
Afternoon tea week is the perfect excuse to book for your afternoon tea at home, with or without the crockery, it is a real tasty treat. Book on our website - use the tab across the top that says order, and we'll deliver Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Indulge yourself in a large home made scone with jam and clotted cream, plus an individual Victoria Sponge from the award winning Room Forty Afternoon Tea.
A perfect lockdown treat, a thank you gift or a corporate team reward.
Available to collect from our home in Woolston, Warrington
Book yours here
Bake – along Tuesday 9 June Vegan friendly meringues that are gluten free too!
Nothing says summer than a light fluffy cloud of meringue with strawberries and cream, preferably smashed up and served as a pile of Eton mess.
Traditionally made with whipped egg white and caster sugar, a vegan friendly version definitely didn’t seem possible so I was dubious to say the least.
But, amazingly it worked as well as ‘normal’ meringue AND it tastes delicious too, quite toffee- ish!
What’s the secret? Well, this is where it gets a bit weird. It is actually the water from a can of chickpeas. I told you it was weird, but don’t dismiss it because of that, you really will be wowed to try it!
I’ll be baking this week at the fabulous JD Kitchens showroom using their Neff slide and hide ovens, so do join me live at 12.00 noon via the Warrington Guardian Coronavirus Facebook page.
1 can of chickpeas (use the chickpeas to make hummus or throw in a chicken casserole or roast them for a snack!)
Caster sugar 300 g
Cream of tartar (not essential if you can’t get it)
You definitely need an electric whisk for this, some baking paper and a piping bag is useful, but you can do dollops with a spoon if you don’t want to pipe it.
This week in our Room Forty FREE Live Bake-along we’re making the nations favourite lockdown treat, banana bread, and it will be vegan friendly too.
It is an easy peasy recipe and a great store cupboard make, brilliant if you have some bananas that have seen better days! (I actually have had to hide my bananas from my family for 3 days or I wouldn’t have any to bake with!)
You can add nuts or fruit to it for additional texture, and it keeps beautifully, actually improving the next day.
If you would like to bake a long live we’re on the Warrington Guardian Coronavirus news Facebook page at 12 noon on Tuesday 2 June, and I will be live from JD Kitchens in Warrington for a nice change of scenery using their fabulous Neff slide and hide ovens!
3 large black bananas
75ml vegetable oil or sunflower oil, plus extra for the tin
100g brown sugar
225g plain flour (or use self-raising flour and reduce the baking powder to 2 heaped tsp)
3 heaped tsp baking powder
3 tsp cinnamon or mixed spice
50g dried fruit or nuts (optional)
1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.
2. Mash 3 large black peeled bananas with a fork, then mix well with 75g vegetable or sunflower oil and 100g brown sugar.
3. Add 225g plain flour, 3 heaped tsp baking powder and 3 tsp cinnamon or mixed spice, and combine well. Add 50g dried fruit or nuts, if using.
4. Bake in an oiled, lined 2lb loaf tin for 20 minutes. Check and cover with foil if the cake is browning.
5. Bake for another 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
6. Allow to cool a little before slicing.
For our next bakealong on Tuesday 26 May I thought we might give these a whirl.
Light, crumbly, buttery and utterly delicious, these are surprisingly easy to make. For added indulgence they can be sandwiched to make ‘kisses’ with a smear of jam and blob of buttercream, or you could half dip them in chocolate – or both!
For the biscuits you’ll need:
Now, at this stage you could make a brew and scoff the lot, or you could melt some chocolate and half dip them.
Alternatively you could half dip them before you sandwich them. Or just dip the flat bottomed side in melted chocolate and let them dry top side down. You could just eat them like that OR sandwich them as above. Choice is yours! Decisions, decisions!
A couple of weeks ago on our Facebook page @roomfortyvintage, I put out a plea for suggestions as to what people would next like to bake in our bake–along sessions on the Warrington Guardian Coronavirus Facebook page and the response was, as usual, fantastic.
Top of the list was the classic Bakewell Tart. And I can well understand why.
The Bakewell Tart is one of my favourite flavour combinations. There is something immensely satisfying about the texture of a Bakewell too; the sponginess of the almond frangipane perhaps topped with icing or flaked almonds, the sticky sweet and slight tartness of the raspberry jam and then the buttery crunch of the pastry. Delicious.
So next week on TUESDAY 19 May at noon we’ll be mastering the classic Bakewell Tart together. Please make a note that each Tuesday at noon will now be our new regular bake-along slot. Ask Alexa to set a reminder! Prior to that I’m planning to film a demo as to how to blind bake a pastry case, which will be up – I hope – on the Room Forty Facebook page later this week.
You’ll need a pastry case for the tart prior to the bake-along. In the pre-recorded demo I’ll show how to make one by making your own pastry BUT you could buy shop bought pastry if you don’t feel ambitious enough or – shhh! You could buy a pre-baked pastry case if you can find one in the supermarket. You’ll need a fluted 8 inch loose bottomed tart tin or pre-made pastry case.
Apologies for being absent the last couple of weeks and having to change the bake- along day. I’ve had to change the day because my kitchen is immersed in a cloud of flour and icing sugar on Fridays prepping for the Room Forty boxed afternoon tea deliveries which have been an amazing success – thank you all. And, truth be told, my trusty oven gave up the ghost last week. Every baker’s nightmare – particularly one who uses theirs to earn a living!
Here’s the recipe for Classic Bakewell Tart.
For the Pastry (if you decide to pre-make and bake your own)
· 200 g plain flour
· Pinch of salt
· 50 g butter cold cut into cubes
· 50 g Trex or Lard cold cut into cubes (or 50g butter or baking margarine)
· 50 g cold water
· 1 egg
For the Filling.
· 120 g butter softened
· 120 g caster sugar
· 120 g ground almonds
· 50 g plain flour
· 2 eggs lightly beaten
· A few drops of almond extract
· ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
· Zest 1 small lemon
· 3 tablespoons raspberry jam (you don’t have to use raspberry, you can use any, but raspberry is the classic)
Icing and Topping
· 120 g icing sugar
· 2 teaspoons of very hot water
· 25 g toasted flaked almonds
Instructions (to make the pastry case)
· Grease a 20cm 8 inch fluted loose bottomed tart tin
If you choose to make the Pastry
· Place the Flour, Butter, Trex and salt into a food processor and blitz until you have fine breadcrumbs. If you don’t have one use your fingers rubbing the mix to fine breadcrumbs.
· Add the water. Blitz again until the pastry dough comes together into a ball or use your hands.
· Wrap the pastry in baking parchment or cling film. Flatten it out a little onto a rough disc. Place in the fridge for at least 30 mins to rest. Note: You can prepare the pastry dough the night before and leave it wrapped in the fridge.
How to Line a Tart Tin with Pastry (whether your own or shop bought)
Make the Frangipane Filling
1. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and smooth.
2. In a small bowl mix together the eggs, Almond Extract and Vanilla Extract. This ensures all the almond and vanilla flavours disperse evenly in the Frangipane Filling.
3. Add the egg mixture and the flour to the Butter and Sugar. Mix until well combined.
4. Add the ground Almonds and mix until well combined.
5. Add the lemon zest. Mix with a spatula
6. Cover the bottom of the pastry tart with a thin layer of jam.
7. Add the Almond Frangipane filling to a piping bag. Beginning at the inside edge. Carefully pipe the filling over the top of the jam. Using a small spatula. Evenly spread out the filling.
8. Bake for 30 – 35 mins until lightly golden and slightly risen. Testing the centre of the tart with a skewer until it comes out clean. Note. It’s normal to see a few specks of ground almond on your skewer.
9. Take out of the oven and leave in the tin to cool completely.
Make the icing topping
1. Mix the icing sugar with the very hot water. One Teaspoon at a time. Until you have a very thick, but slightly runny consistency.
2. Spread the water icing over the top of the tart. Before the icing sets. Top with toasted flaked almonds.
This week we’re making Oat cookies for our bakealong. A healthier bake, as the oats release energy slowly throughout the day.
Jen Perry; loves discovering beautiful vintage china, eating cake and drinking proper tea.