Black Forest Gateau: National British Cherry Day

Monday was National British Cherry Day. Intended to support the declining orchards of what was once a staple national fruit (we now import 95% of cherries!) this is one national awareness day that gets our undivided support. The obvious choice for our weekly recipe is the bakewell tart, which we shared a couple of months back: a true cherry classic!

But we’re going with a real winner here, just as delicious and definitely more spectacular, is the Black Forest Gateau. Viewed as dated by some, it was dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century by Heston Blumenthal, one of our Food Heroes. If you have three days to spare (seriously!) and a fully equipped kitchen-cum-laboratory, then here’s the recipe and a clip of the great man in action:

But we’re going with a simpler version, much more appropriate for the home cook. As with all our recipes, if you make this, let us know how you got on and send in your pics. And if you have any recipe suggestions or interesting alternatives, please do share!

Black Forest Gateau

NB. Click here for unit conversion.

1x25cm good quality, rich chocolate sponge, cut into 3 discs
250ml double cream
50g caster sugar
250g good quality dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces

For the filling
Approx 500g good quality bottled or canned morello cherries, drained and juice reserved
50ml kirsch
400ml double cream

To serve
Chocolate shavings


  • Bring the double cream to the boil then remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until dissolved. Leave to cool – but not harden.
  • Whip the cream with the caster sugar to form soft peaks. Lay the three discs of sponge on to a large tray or three plates.
  • Mix the cherry juice with the kirsch and brush generously on to the discs of sponge. Put one disc on a flat cake tray or cake board then spread with half the cream and cover it with half the cherries then lay the second disc on top and repeat with the rest of the cream and cherries. Place the third disc on top and smooth any excess cream around the edges with a spatula.
  • While the chocolate mixture is of a workable consistency, spread smoothly on the tops and sides of the gateau with a spatula, then scatter over chocolate shavings.
  • Leave in a cool place to set, but not the fridge, as the chocolate may pick up a little condensation and it will ruin the presentation. Serve within a few hours.

An Ode to Jam: Its History & A Simple Recipe

Getting caught up in all that cockney business a couple of weeks back meant we missed British Jam Week. To make up for it, we’re using today’s Thursday foodie slot for a little feature on fruit preserves and a classic recipe for strawberry jam. There’s little we love more than a thick slice of white toast, generously buttered with this spooned over the top – perfect with a cup of tea!

The dream team!

Jam appears in the very first known recipe back, “Of Culinary Matters”, penned by the great Roman gastronome Marcus Gavius Apicius in the first century AD. It’s thought to have taken off in Europe following the Spanish arrival in the West Indies, where fruit preservation had long existed.

A history of jamophiles: Marcus Gavius Apicius, Louis XIV, Henry VIII, and Mary Queen of Scots

They remained an aristocratic luxury for most of the remainder of the millennium, with Louis XIV a particular fan: he insisted that all banquets ended with fruit preserves served in silver dishes. Jams made their way to England in the Tudor period, with quince and medlar being too popular flavors. Sucket was a highly prized preserve that took things one step further, combining rich candied peel with jam.

Marmalade is jam of the orange variety and is a little more of an acquired taste. Sadly, its consumption is in drastic decline back in Britain. One explanation of the unusual name is that Mary Queen of Scots was served a rudimentary version to help overcome a crippling vitamin C deficiency. In this telling, the name is a shortened version of ‘Mary, my Lady’.

James Keiller makes our favorite jam. Luckily we sell it in-store, alongside a wide selection of Tiptree’s luxury jam.

When buying jam, the fruit content should be as high as possible, at least 55g per 100g. Our all-time favorite shop-bought jam is from Fortnum & Mason. Chunks of high-quality fruit that keep their dignity in a perfectly sweet liquor, just as it should be. Definitely worth a detour when next in London!

Here’s a very straightforward recipe from Angela Nilsen and the BBC Good Food Guide. And just you try and tell us that picture doesn’t make your mouth water:

Simple Strawberry Jam

900g fruit (blackberries, plums, raspberries or strawberries), prepared weight
900g golden granulated sugar
knob of butter

  • Put the fruit into a preserving pan or large heavy-based saucepan. For blackberries, add 50ml of water and 1½ tbsp of lemon juice; for plums (halved and stoned), use 150ml of water; for strawberries, add 3 tbsp of lemon juice (no water); and for raspberries, add nothing. Bring to the boil.
  • Lower the heat. For blackberries, simmer for 15 minutes; for plums, simmer for 30-40 minutes; for raspberries, simmer for 2 minutes; for strawberries, simmer for 5 minutes. The fruit should be soft.
  • Tip in the sugar, stir over a very low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. Raise the heat, bring to a full rolling boil, then rapidly boil blackberries for 10-12 minutes, plums for 10 minutes, raspberries for 5 minutes or strawberries for 20-25 minutes – don’t stir though – until the setting point of 105C is reached.
  • Remove from the heat, skim off any excess scum, then stir a knob of butter across the surface (this helps to dissolve any remaining scum). Leave for about 15 mins so the fruit can settle. Pour into sterilised jars, label and seal.

The Ivy’s Asparagus & Chervil Soup: A Taste of British Sprint

Here’s a soup that’s packed with British springtime flavors and in-season ingredients. What’s more this dish is served at The Ivy, the exceedingly glamourous celebrity hangout in the heart of London’s West End. We had many a good night there back in the nineties, oh the stories we could tell! But for now, soup.

Asparagus & Chervil Soup

Serves 4

“Many dishes only require the tips of asparagus, so a good spring asparagus soup is the ideal way to use the rest. Alternatively, this is a nice way of making use of the cheap asparagus you often see on market stalls.

It can be served hot or cold and you could add a spoonful of creamy goat’s cheese to it if you wish. As with most soups, it’s important not to cook the flavour out of it. The soup should be simmered for only as long it takes for the asparagus to become cooked enough to blend.”

2 medium leeks, roughly chopped and washed
500g asparagus with the woody stalk removed, roughly chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 litre vegetable stock (Marigold or a good quality cube)
1 tbsp chopped chervil
1 tbsp double cream or more if you wish

  • Gently cook the leeks in the olive oil in a covered pan for three to four minutes until soft.
  • Add the asparagus and vegetable stock, bring to the boil, lightly season with salt and pepper and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the asparagus is just soft enough to blend.
  • Blend until smooth in a liquidiser, then strain through a fine-meshed sieve.
  • Check the seasoning and add a little more salt and pepper if necessary.
  • Add the double cream and chervil, bring back to the boil and serve.
Originally published on The Independent online.

Jubilee Recipe: Coronation Chicken

Coronation chicken is the only recipe to share with you this week. We’ve been talking about sandwiches for the last few days and the Queen’s Jubilee is just a week away now. This dish was invented by chef Rosemary Hume to serve at the Queen’s coronation in 1953. It’s a firm favorite in the restaurant and while we strongly recommend you have it as a sandwich, it’s also a great accompaniment for a salad.

Coronation Chicken

Serves 6-8
Preparation Time:
 2 1/2 hours

2- to 4-lb whole chicken
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup curry powder
1/4 cup tomato puree
1/2 cup red wine
1 bay leaf
Juice of 1/2 lemon
4 cans of apricot halves, drained of their juice
1/4 cup mango chutney
Salt and pepper
1 cup mayonnaise

  •  Roast the chicken in a preheated 350F oven for 1 1/2-2 hours. Cover with foil so the chicken doesn’t dry out, and make sure the pan has been oiled.
  • Over medium heat, saute the onion in the butter. Add the curry powder, tomato puree, red wine, bay leaf, lemon juice, apricots and chutney and simmer until reduced to quite a thick consistency.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove and discard the bay leaf.
  • Cool down then stir in the mayonnaise.
  • Skin, bone, and chop the chicken. Cool and add to the mayonnaise mixture.
  • Make more spicy if you wish. Divine in sandwiches!

Will & Kate’s Wedding Cake Recipe

It’s wedding week, and time for our Thursday recipe. Any guesses what we might be sharing with you today? While the best man’s speech, the throwing of the bouquet and the inebriated uncle are all great, there’s one tradition that trumps the lot for us… the cake! And we feel we’ve outdone ourselves somewhat this week, by digging out THE recipe for Will & Kate’s wedding cake last year. It’s from the fantastic Phatfoodie blog, which is well worth a peruse, especially if hungry!

Will & Kate’s Royal Wedding Cake Recipe

Vintage Glamour Wedding Cake

served at Prince William’s and Princess Catherine’s Royal Wedding Reception, April 29, 2011

A Note From Pastry Chef Fiona Cairns:

A beautiful three-tiered timeless classic, this could take center stage at any wedding feast. It can be baked and decorated at least a month in advance and there are no colors to mix as the entire scheme is in ivory fondant with highlights of gold (you could also make this cake in white and gold.) If you break down each stage, giving yourself plenty of time, you may find it easier than you think.

Serves about 120-150 people

Ingredients for the Cake: One 6-inch square (3-inch deep) square cake pan

One 8-inch square (3-inch deep) square cake pan

One 10-inch square (3-inch deep) square cake pan

Double the recipe for Rich Tamarind Fruit Cake batter (recipe below)

6 tablespoons brandy, plus more to feed the cake

1 cup apricot jam, gently warmed and pushed through a sieve

6 3/4 pounds marzipan

confectioners’ sugar, for rolling

Sizes for Cake Boards and Drums:

One 8-inch square thin board

One 10-inch square thin board

One 12-inch square thin board

One 6-inch square (1/2-inch thick) cake drum

One 8-inch square (1/2-inch thick) cake drum

One 10-inch square (1/2-inch thick) cake drum

Preparing the Rich Tamarind Fruit Cake:

Single cake makes 25-30 slices

A Note from Fiona Cairns About the Recipe:

I started my business using this particularly moist, dark recipe as a Christmas cake, producing hundreds of miniatures cooked in baked bean cans from my kitchen table. It has been tweaked by adding tamarind — my husband’s bright idea. Make it up to three months in advance, or at least a week before you want it, to let it mature and absorb the brandy.

Ingredients for the Fruit Cake:

1 1/2 cups candied cherries

2 cups golden raisins

2 cups dark raisins, preferably Thompson

1 1/4 cups mixed candied citrus peel

2/3 cup chopped crystallized ginger

1/2 cup dried currants

3 tablespoons molasses

3 tablespoons bitter orange marmalade

1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate

finely grated zest of 1 organic orange

finely grated zest of 1 organic lemon

1 heaped tablespoon apple pie spice

6 tablespoons brandy, plus 3 tablespoons to feed the cake

1 cup walnuts

1/3 cup blanched almonds

1 1/4 cups self-rising flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

1 1/2 cups almond flour

5 large eggs, lightly beaten

Preparing the Fruit Cake Batter:

The day before, rinse the cherries, then dry them well with paper towels and cut each in half. Place the golden and dark raisins, mixed peel, ginger, currants, cherries, molasses, marmalade, tamarind paste, zests and spice into a large bowl. Pour in 6 tablespoons of brandy, stir well, cover with plastic wrap and let stand overnight.

The next day, preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Lightly butter a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom and sides with parchment paper. Wrap the outside of the pan with brown paper and tie with string, to protect the cake from scorching in the oven.

Spread the nuts on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes in the oven, shaking once. Cool slightly, chop coarsely and set aside.

Combining the Fruit Cake Ingredients

Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. In an electric mixer on high speed, beat the butter and sugar for at least 5 minutes until it turns pale and fluffy. Add the ground almonds, then very gradually the eggs, mixing well between each addition. Fold in the flour with a large metal spoon and then the soaked fruits (and any liquid) and nuts.

Spread the batter into the pan. Bake on an oven rack in the lower third of the oven for about 2 1/2-3 hours. If a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, it is ready. If it browns too much before it is fully cooked, make a circle of foil a bit larger than the cake, pierce a hole in the center and open it up, then place it over the pan.

Let cool in the pan. Pierce all over with a wooden toothpick and evenly sprinkle over the remaining 3 tablespoons brandy. Remove from the pan and discard the paper. Wrap in fresh parchment paper, then aluminum foil, and let stand for a week or up to three months. Unwrap and sprinkle with with 1 tablespoon more brandy every other week, if you like, for extra succulence and booziness!

Preparing the Wedding Cake Boards and Pans:

Thin cake boards are used only while you are assembling the cakes, and really serve to save your work surfaces. You can use any board you have, even plywood. Thick cake drums are used to support each tier of the finished cake, so must be bought for this purpose.

Prepare the cake pans and batter (see above). Divide the batter between the pans, filling each to the same depth. The smallest cake will take about 1 hour and 45 minutes, the medium 2 1/2-3 hours and the largest about 3 hours: if a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, it is ready. Let cool in the pans. When cooled, pierce all over with a fine wooden skewer and sprinkle with the brandy. Wrap in fresh parchment paper, then aluminum foil, until ready to use. You can continue to feed the cakes with 1-2 tablespoons brandy every other week, for a month or two.

Using Marzipan for the Cakes:

Take the 8-inch thin board and place the 6-inch drum on it. Brush 1 tablespoon apricot jam into the center, then place the 6-inch cake on top, upside down so the flat bottom forms the surface. If it is slightly smaller than the drum, make a strip of marzipan as wide as the side of the cake and the same circumference, and stick it to the edge. Similarly, all cakes should be the same height. If not, apply an extra-thin marzipan layer to the top of the shallow cake (use the pan as a guide). Repeat for the other cakes, placing the 8-inch cake on the same-size drum and 10-inch board, and the 10-inch cake on the same-size drum and 12-inch board.

Brush the 6-inch cake with jam. Knead 1 3/4 pounds of marzipan until pliable. Sprinkle a work surface and rolling pin with confectioners’ sugar, and roll out into a rough square slightly larger than the top and sides of the cake and drum and about 1/4-inch thick. Lift on to the cake and drum, smooth all over and cut away any excess. Cover the other two cakes, using 2 1/4 pounds marzipan each. Leave overnight to firm up.

Assembling the Wedding Cake:

Items Needed for Cake Construction:

12-inch square (1/2-inch thick) cake drum and eight wooden dowels

Ingredients for Covering the Cake:

Confectioners sugar, for rolling

9 pounds ivory fondant

2 tablespoons brandy or boiled water

2/3 cup royal icing in a parchment paper cone

Preparing the Base Drum:

Dust the 12-inch drum with confectioners sugar and sprinkle with a small amount of water. Knead 2 1/4 pounds of the fondant until pliable, then sprinkle a work surface and rolling pin with confectioners sugar and roll it into a rough square slightly larger than the top of the drum and about 1/8-inch thick. Wrap it loosely around the rolling pin and lift on to the drum. Smooth with your hands and trim away any excess. Replace the excess in a plastic bag and seal. Let dry overnight.

Preparing the Icing Cover for the Cake:

The 6-inch cake will need about 1 3/4 pounds of fondant, and the two larger cakes about 2 1/4 pounds each. Work on just one cake at a time.

For each cake, brush brandy all over the marzipan. This helps the fondant to stick and is an antiseptic. Lightly dust a clean surface with confectioners’ sugar and roll out the fondant into a rough square about 1/4-inch thick and slightly larger than the diameter of the cakes, their sides, and the drums.

Lift the fondant with your hands, place it over the cake and gently smooth, covering the cake and drum. Do not stretch, and work as quickly as you can, before it dries. Cut away any excess, provided it is still clean, and seal in a plastic bag. Let the three cakes stand overnight.

Building the Cake:

Spread 1-2 tablespoons royal icing into the center of the base drum. Gently ease away the largest cake and drum from its board using an icing spatula and place it exactly in the middle of the base drum.

Now insert four dowels into the large cake, spacing them to form the corners of a square just within where the 8-inch cake will sit. Push down each stick until it hits the drum, and mark with a pen about 1/8-inch above the surface. Remove each stick, score with a knife at the mark, snap (or saw) and discard the excess. Replace each in its hole.

Spread a spoonful of royal icing into the center of the largest cake, remove the 8-inch cake and drum from its thin board and center on top of the larger cake, resting the drum on the hidden dowels. Repeat the dowel placing process with this middle tier to add the top cake, again using a spoonful of royal icing to keep it steady.

Preparing the Decorations for the Cake

Ingredients for the Adornments:

Confectioners sugar, for rolling

Set of 3 blossom plunger cutters (1/4-inch, 1/2-inch and 5/8-inch)

1 1/4-inch butterfly cutter

2 tablespoons royal icing in a parchment paper cone

100 small gold dragees in 2 sizes (optional); I used 50 medium and 50 small gold dragees

1 small paint brush

1 large egg white, lightly beaten (or 2 teaspoons dried egg white mixed with water until frothy)

Edible gold glitter

Two small artificial ivory or white doves (or other birds)

For the Top Tier: 2 feet long, 1 1/2-inch wide vintage gold ribbon

For the Middle Tier: Cream organza about 1 yard long, 1 1/2-inch wide and gold ribbon 6 1/4 feet long and 1/4-inch wide.

For the Bottom Tier: Gold bejewelled ribbon about 4 feet long and 2 1/2-inch wide.

For the Base Drum: One roll double-sided sticky tape and ivory ribbon about 4 1/2 feet long, 1/2-inch wide.

Instructions for Making Butterflies and Blossoms:

You will need about 12-15 butterflies and about 100 blossoms in three sizes (I made 25 tiny 1/4-inch blossoms, 25 medium 1/2-inch blossoms and 50 large 5/8-inch blossoms).

The decorations are applied randomly, so this is just a guide. Knead some of the fondant left over from covering the cakes and drums until pliable, and roll out thinly (no more than 1/8-inch thick) on a board sprinkled with a little confectioners’ sugar. Stamp out the blossoms and butterflies and allow to dry for a few hours, preferably overnight. I lay them out as I make them in boxes interleaved with parchment paper. Prop up the butterflies’ wings between two sticks (you could use spare dowels), so the wings will dry as if in flight.

If you like, pipe the centers of the blossoms with a tiny dot of royal icing and then press on a gold dragee. If you prefer, just pipe a dot for the centers. Once the butterflies are dry, paint the edges of the wings with egg white and dip into the glitter.

To finish the cake, apply the ribbons by sticking them at the back of each cake using a little royal icing. On the middle tier, overlay the wide organza ribbon with two bands of narrow gold ribbon. Wrap the base drum with the double-sided sticky tape, then stick on its ribbon.

Casual, informal designs do have one huge advantage: any blemishes or marks in the icing can be covered by a decoration! Randomly apply the butterflies and little blossoms all over the three-tiered cake, sticking on with the royal icing. As a final touch, place the two doves in the center of the top tier.


Sweet Pastry

It is very important when making pastry that before rolling it out you chill it for at least half an hour – an hour or two is even better. When you roll it, try to handle it as little as possible.

4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
A pinch of salt
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs

  • Combine the flour and salt in a bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  • In another bowl, beat the sugar and eggs until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the egg mixture; stir with a knife until you have a stiff dough.
  • Roll the pastry into a ball and wrap in cling wrap; refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour before using.
  • Take the pastry out of the refrigerator about 10 minutes before you use it, so that it doesn’t crumble when you roll it.

The Brits invented Apple Pie!

We love Momma’s ol’ fashioned, home-baked, US apple pie as much as the next person, but we couldn’t keep this to ourselves. While digging around for some British baking inspiration, we came across a revelatory discovery: the Brits invented apple pie! It turns out the first reference to the irresistible combination of sugared pastry and apples was by Geoffrey Chaucer in 1381:

Chaucer was a poet in the Middle Ages, better known for his somewhat salacious accounts of British life, but it seems he was also a dab hand in the kitchen.

We don’t mean to gloat (we realise we’re in the minority here) and to claim apple pie as our own would be madness: it is more American than a cowboy in a KFC. Rather, we see this as a celebration of our shared history and culture. Brits and Americans after all are cousins, and it makes sense that we have the same good taste, whether it be for apple pie, or Shepherd’s!

Could you make room for a Union Jack in there?

Now, who remembers the controversy we caused with the baseball allegations?

Short Crust Pastry

Yield: 1 Pie Crust
Preparation Time: 20 minutes

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/2 cup lard or solid shortening
5 1/2 tablespoons iced water
1 teaspoon salt

  • Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Rub in the butter and shortening until the mixture resembles bread crumbs.
  • Make a well in the center of the mixture and gradually add the water.
  • Mix with a palette knife until you have a firm dough and all the crumbs in the bottom of the bowl have been incorporated. Then roll the pastry into a ball, making sure it all sticks together properly. Handle the pastry as little as possible.
  • Wrap the dough in cling wrap and refrigerate for at least a half hour before using.
  • Take the pastry out of the refrigerator about 10 minutes before you roll it, so that it doesn’t crumble.

When rolling out pastry put plenty of flour on the surface and rolling pin to prevent sticking.
Roll as little as possible; the less you handle the pastry, the better it will be.
When making savoury pies, brush the top with a little beaten egg before baking.
When using sweet pastry, brush with a little milk and sprinkle with sugar.

Steak & Guinness Pie: Something for the Lent Weekend

While you might be giving it up for Lent, there’s no reason you can’t put it in a pie….

Steak & Guinness Pie

Serve with mash and peas! Beautiful photo courtesy of

Serves 6
Preparation Time: 3 1/2 hours

2 1/2 lbs steak, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 large onions, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons tomato puree
2 1/2 cups Guinness
2 1/2 cups beef stock
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons dried mixed herbs or 1 bouquet garni
Salt and pepper
Short crust pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Over high heat, sear the meat in the butter and oil in batches until the meat has turned borwn, about 5 minutes. Remove the meat from the pan and put it to one side.
  • In the pan juices, cook the onions and garlic over medium heat until soft.
  • Return the meat to the pan and add the flour, paprika and brown sugar; stir to combine, then add the tomato puree. Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat, making sure the flour has been completely incorporated.
  • Add the Guinness and stock, then add the bay leaves and herbs. Simmer very gently, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 – 2 hours. Make sure that the meat is tender before removing it from the heat.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste and turn the mixture into a 10-inch pie dish.
  • Cover the pie with the short crust pastry and brush it with a little beaten egg.
  • Cut a 1/4 inch slit in the middle and bake 35-40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
  • Serve straight from the oven with mashed potatoes and your favorite veg – we recommend peas!

All recipes on the blog are taken from our cookbook ‘Tea & Sympathy: The Life of an English Teashop in New York’, available in-store. Please email us at:, or call on: 212-989-9735, if you’re interested in purchasing a copy.

Chocolate Cake Breakfast Could Help You Lose Weight!

Good Morning New York, and what a fantastic morning it is. Snow may be threatening, you may not have bagged that front row NYFW seat you were after, and the world of coffee may have just taken a turn for the worst (yet another reason to drink tea), but we awake to news of, quite possibly, the most significant scientific breakthrough of our lifetimes.

Brew-me-o & Perculate... Leo launches a coffee brand?! Apologies for the pun, it's still early...

Scientists at Tel Aviv University have found that a slice of chocolate cake may be the perfect way to start the day for those wanting to lose weight. After a 32-week study on 193 people, it was found that those eating a balanced 600-calorie breakfast, including the gateux, lost more weight than those who took a 300 calorie, low-carb diet.

Eat me... and lose weight?!

The brainbox in charge concluded that, “the participants in the low-carbohydrate diet group had less satisfaction and felt that they were not full.” Read the rest of the article here. Then, get out of your pyjamas and get down to Greenwich Avenue; we’re serving our famous chocolate cake from 9.30am!