I’m a huge fan of a good afternoon tea, be it during those days when I have people over, or going out with a couple friends for a catch-up. There’s something special about it that I can’t really place my finger on, but I think it might evoke memories of our time in Surrey. Luckily, since moving back to Malta I found terrific places for tea alone or with friends. When I want to stay at home but still want to feel as if I’m in a quaint little tea house, in for example, places like Rye (in East Sussex), all I do is bake a couple of cakes and whip up some sandwiches, et voilà, I am there.
Because of what I do, I own loads of cookbooks and I’m grateful for it. However Afternoon Tea at Bramble Café is one of the first books I got in quite a while wholly dedicated to afternoon tea. What I can surely tell you is this: if you’re after a comprehensive recipe book about the subject matter, than this is definitely it. Mat Follas (Masterchef UK Winner in 2009) has come up with every recipe you truly need. Don’t let the Masterchef thing scare you. I know that the competition is synonymous with a tricky approach to food and one too many complicated dishes that are generally too time consuming and some even unrealistic for people like you and me. However this book is anything but complicated. They are beautiful, uncomplicated, special, varied, fun, well written, and accompanied by lovely photographs. I am keeping this one permanently on my kitchen shelves for whenever I need it.
This book has a good selection of everything you might need, from cakes and scones (including a recipe for a Swiss roll and one for lamingtons), slices and tarts (anything from chocolate brownies to shortbread, to flapjacks and rocky road, my favourite), biscuits and cookies (shortbread, rose thins and Venetian cookies with milk chocolate cream), dainties and patisserie (possets, mousses, verrines, tea cakes, macarons – I know!) Apart from those marvellous sweet treats there’s a chapter on savouries and sandwiches, plus another on preserves and cordials, including flavoured gin, fizzes and lemonade.
With just a little planning and prep, you have everything you need right here for creating the perfect afternoon tea party.
Afternoon Tea at Bramble Café by Mat Follas is published by Ryland, Peters & Small. Available from all good book retailers and online.
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