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FOOD AND DRINK SPECIAL: MICHAEL WILSON

Queen and Country's master baker and resident foodie Michael Wilson this month shows us how to best put together a traditional afternoon tea with that colourful country twist. 

Having lived in the U.K. for most of my life, you’ll probably be surprised to hear that I didn’t have my first afternoon tea until a couple of years ago. Somehow this traditional English past-time missed my family, this may have something to do with my mother not even remotely liking anything dairy based and not particularly enjoying jam, even though she is a dab hand at making the stuff!

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My waist line is thankful, however I really have missed out on years of traditional tasty fare.  From the fancy little sandwiches, the lush thick clotted cream and jam you pile on your scones to the lovely cake at the end, there is nothing better.

As much as I appreciate a lovely prepared Afternoon Tea, I have discovered that spending the time putting one together for your family and friends is a real delight, even the dog gets involved. You can tailor the sandwiches filling to what you like, you can make the scones as big as you like and finish off with a really rich tasty fat cake.

Finger sandwiches

Roast Pesto Salmon, Cream Cheese tzatziki, Mixed Pepper and Feta

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I think as long as you have a bread that will hold its shape, you can pretty much use what you like. For my sandwiches I have used a whole grain sourdough cut loaf and rye bread.  For the fillings I have done a twist on the traditional fillings. One thing I think you can’t change is the size and cut of the sandwich, they need to be dainty and easy to eat. Nothing spoils an afternoon tea than having to ram a crunchy fist sized bap in your mouth.

Ingredients

Roast Pesto Salmon

Pepper and Feta cheese

1 fillet Salmon

Jar roasted peppers

1/2 The juice of a lemon

Feta Cheese

2tbsp of green Pesto

Salt and pepper

2tbsp olive oil

Cream Cheese Tzatziki

1/2 cucumber grated

150g cream cheese

1 clove garlic

3tbsp lemon juice

2tsp grated lemon zest

3tbsp Fresh Dill

Method

Roast Pesto Salmon

  1. Preheat over to 180 degrees Celsius

  2. Place the salmon fillet in a roasting pan

  3. Squeeze the lemon over the salmon fillet

  4. Spread the Pesto over the surface of the salmon

  5. Cook for 25min until the salmon is just cooked

  6. Leave to cool before breaking the salmon up into smaller pieces, spread over the surface of bread, sandwich and cut into inch wide finger shapes.

Cream Cheese Tzatziki

  1. Grate the cucumber and place onto a couple of sheets of kitchen roll. Squeeze the cucumber and get as much liquid out of the cucumber as possible. Place into a bowl.

  2. Add all the other ingredients and mix until combined

  3. I used the rye bread for this filling, the filling is quite heavy so the rye bread can withstand it.

Pepper and Feta cheese

  1. On a slice of bread, spread the pepper segments over the surface of the bread

  1. Season with salt and pepper

  2. Crumble the Feta cheese over the pepper, paying attention not add too much.

  3. Create the sandwich the same way as the Salmon sandwiches.

Orange and Cranberry Scones

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These light and tasty scones are so delicious and make a nice change from plain or sultana scones. The cranberries add a nice touch and the orange keeps it fresh and zingy. Cut the scones as big or as small as you like and remember to top the scones with the demerara sugar that gives the scones a nice slightly crunchy topping.

Ingredients

350g self raising flour

175g natural yogurt

85g caster sugar

Egg, to brush the top of scones before baking

85g butter

1-2 tbsp demerara sugar

Zest 1 orange

30g dried cranberries

Method

1. Heat oven 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Grease a large baking sheet.

2. Mix the sugar with the flour, then rub in the butter till mix resembles fine breadcrumbs.

3. Toss the cranberries and zest together with a small amount of flour and stir into the mix.

4. Make a well in the centre and tip in the yoghurt. Mix to form a soft dough then knead on floured surface briefly

5. Press or roll out the dough to a thickness of 2cm then cut into scones using a cutter. Dip the cutter briefly into flour to stop the dough sticking, then place on the baking sheet.

6. Mix one beaten egg with a splash of water to make an egg wash or just use milk alone, then brush the tops of the scones. Be careful not to let run over sides as this affects the scones rising. Sprinkle over the demerara sugar.

7. Bake in the centre of the over for about 15mins until golden brown and well risen. Leave to cool.

Cherry Cheesecake Cake

Cherries have a short growing season and can grow in most temperate latitudes.  Cherries blossom in April and the peak season for the cherry harvest is in the summer. In England this is mid-July to August. I’ve combined two of my favourite things, cheesecake and cake to create this lavish sweet cake, a perfect finale to an afternoon Tea.

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Ingredients

200g soft butter

1tsp baking powder

200g caster sugar

2 tbsp Vanilla bean paste

3 eggs

200g self raising four (sieved)

Method

The sponge

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and butter two metal sandwich tins.

2. In a mixer add the butter and sugar. Mix on hi spread until the sugar is totally combined and the butter is light and fluffy.

3. Turn the mixer to low and combine the beaten eggs, a small amount at a time so mixture doesn’t split. Once combined add the vanilla.

4. Fold in the dry ingredients, by hand making sure you combine them gently as to not beat the air out.

5. Split the mixture between the two tins and bake in the over for around 30 minutes or until the cakes are a pale golden colour and no mixture sticks to a cocktail stick when inserted into the centre of cake and pulled out.

6. Once cooked, leave to cool slightly for 10 minutes in the tin before tipping out onto a cooling rake and leave to cool completely.

Cheesecake filling and topping

200g Cream Cheese

1 jar cherry jam

100g soft unsalted butter

100g icing sugar

1 tbsp vanilla bean paste

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Ingredients

Method

1. Soften the butter in a microwave: you don't want it melted, but it does need to be very soft. Then whisk it or use electric beaters to get it to a very flexible and even consistency.

2. Add the lemon juice, vanilla and beat that in too. Then add the icing sugar and beat that into get a very soft buttercream icing.

3. Add the cream cheese in one go. It absolutely must be full fat and carefully blend this in. Do not beat it, just slowly mix it in with a wooden spoon.

4. Depending on how melted the butter was, you may want to put it in the fridge for 10 minutes at this point, but if it has gone a bit runny this will definitely firm it up again due to the amount of butter in the mix. However, it should be perfectly spreadable at this point, and will not run off the cake!

5. Spread a thin layer of jam and cheesecake filling on one side of the cake, sandwich the two parts together. Pile the remaining cheesecake filling on top of the cake.

 

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