“Under certain circumstances there are few hours more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady
Afternoon tea is a light meal typically eaten around 5 o’clock. The custom originated from the wealthy classes in the 19. century. Anna Russell, Duchess of Bedford” is know as the one transforming afternoon tea in England into a late-afternoon meal whilst visiting Belvoir Castle. Charles II of England’s wife, Catherine of Braganza is often credited with introducing tea to the court upon her arrival to England in 1662. By the end of the nineteenth century, afternoon tea developed to its current form and was enjoyed by both the upper and middle classes: “the table was laid … there were the best things with a fat pink rose on the side of each cup; hearts of lettuce, thin bread and butter, and the crisp little cakes that had been baked in readiness that morning.”
This cupcake is worthy of a traditional, memory-filled, posh afternoon tea.
For the cake
150 g margarine
150 gcaster sugar
3 free-range eggs
150 g self-raising flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
75 g ground walnuts
few drops vanilla extract
4 tsp cream
2 1/2 tsp instant coffee powder
40 g shelled walnuts, chopped (possibly dipped in caramel)
For the coffee butter icing
200 g icing sugar
80 g butter, softened
1 tsp instant coffee powder
3 tsp milk
To decorate the cupcakes
About 300 g white marzipan
12 small walnut pieces
For the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 170 degrees C and prepare a 12 -hole muffin tin.
Beat the margarine, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder and ground almonds in a large bowl for about 2-3 minutes, or until smooth and light. Spoon slightly more than half the mixture into a separate bowl and stir in the vanilla extract and 2 tbsp cream. Set aside. Mix the coffee in the remaining 2 teaspoons of cream, stirring until it has dissolved , then add it into the other bowl of mixture along with the chopped walnuts. Pipe the mixtures into the cupcake cases to create a checkerboard effect. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until well risen, springy to the touch. Cool on a wire rack.
For the butter icing, sift the icing sugar into a medium bowl. Add the butter. Mix the coffee and milk together until the coffee has dissolved, and pour into the bowl. Beat everything together with a wooden spoon until soft and smooth and pipe it onto the cupcakes. Roll the marzipan out, on a work surface lightly dusted with sifted icing sugar and cut circles. Lay them on the cupcakes. While the marzipan is still soft, crimp the edges by pinching the marzipan between your thumb and first finger at a slight angle and at regular intervals. Score the top of the cupcakes with long diagonal lines using a sharp knife, then lay the caramel covered walnut pieces down the center, securing with the reserved butter icing or caramel.
“There is only one difference between a long life and a good dinner: that, in the dinner, the sweets come last.” Robert Louis Stevenson