Robert Irvine Loves Our Victoria Sponge Cake

Robert Irvine is a British celebrity chef and expat with a sweet tooth and a taste for delicious British cakes. He’s thankful to Tea & Sympathy for serving up a Victoria Sandwich Cake in New York City, “as good as it is back home.”

The camera crew for The Best Thing I Ever Ate came down to the restaurant, interviewed Nicky and tried our Victoria Sandwich, with delicious consequences. Thank You Robert Irvine!

Tea & Sympathy on the Food Network

We’ve previously blogged the recipe for our Victoria Sponge cake here, and you’ll also find it in our cookbook, which we sell in store. Our book makes the perfect Christmas gift, and Nicky will even sign copies now she’s such a big TV star!!!

Tea & Sympathy’s Queen’s Jubilee Menu

It is finally upon us! This weekend is the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee: a celebration of Elizabeth II’s 60th year on the throne that will go down in British history. We’ve put together a recommended menu to help you commemorate the event in truly regal style.

Feel free to give us a call (212-989-9735) if you’re planning a party and are looking for supplies – we have everything you need for an authentic British knees-up!

Coronation Chicken Finger Sandwiches

The perfect savory to serve at your party. Easy to make, easy to eat, and invented for the Queen’s coronation. A lightly spiced creamy chicken, coronation chicken hints at the Raj while finger sandwiches evoke a dainty English civility. Most importantly, these little morsels are utterly delicious.

Ingredients:
Makes about 10 sandwiches

Good quality, thinly sliced bread of your preference
Coronation chicken
Very thinly sliced peeled cucumber, tomato or lettuce (optional)
Salt and Pepper

  • Choose a selection of good-quality, thinly sliced white, wholewheat and seven-grain breads.
  • Peel the dark green skin from the outside of the cucumber with a vegetable peeler if using.
  • Spread a good amount of coronation chicken on to the bread, and add cucumber, lettuce or tomato if using. Season to taste
  • Top with a plain slice.
  • With a sharp knife, cut the crusts off of the bread and discard. Cut the sandwich diagonally into triangles or finger shapes.
  • Serve garnished with a sprig of fresh watercress.

Victoria Sponge

Named after the last monarch to spend 60 years on the throne. Queen Victoria favored a slice of sponge cake with her afternoon tea, and this is an especially decadent version: two layers filled with cream and jam and topped with confectioners’ sugar.


Serves 8-10
Preparation Time: 35-40 minutes

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
A few drops of pure vanilla extract
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder

  • Preheat  the oven to 350F
  • With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time , along with the vanilla.
  • With a spatula, fold in the flour and baking powder and mix until smooth.
  • Divide the batter between 2 buttered and floured 8-inch cake tins and smooth the surface by tapping gently on the side of the tins.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  • As with all cakes, the best way to make sure the cake is done is by inserting a thin knife or skewer into the center of the cake: if it comes out clean, then the cake is done. Turn out onto wire rack to cool.

Royal Chocolate Biscuit Cake

We originally featured this cake during last year’s Royal wedding. William selected this childhood favorite as his groom’s cake. According to royal chef Darren McGrady, it is also one of the Queen’s top picks. Daily Candy stopped by to film Nicky preparing the cake. As you can see, it’s extremely simple and my-oh-my is it yummy!

There are more recipe ideas here. Please send us pictures if you do have a party – and we hope you have a fantastic Jubilee weekend!

Happy Birthday Charles Dickens – 200 Today!

It seems like bumper season for big British events at the moment. Following Accession Day yesterday, it’s the 200th anniversary of one of Blighty’s greatest ever writers, Charles Dickens.

Dear old Mr. Dickens... Happy 200th!

The author of many fine novels (Tale of Two Cities is our favorite), Dickens had a larger impact on London’s image than Paul Auster, Martin Scorcese, Mark Rothko, or even Candice Busnhell did on that of New York. Think of spires, sooty streets, smoke, steam and the banks of the River Thames, and Dickens’ masterful words will have shaped those images.

Grey, grey, grey... The weather is definitely one thing we don't miss...

But let’s not get too cerebral about the old man. While you’re having a celebratory cup of birthday cake (Historically speaking, Victoria Sponge would be perfect, as would anything from Mrs. Beeton), here’s a trailer from the BBC’s Christmas version of ‘Great Expectation’. Beautifully shot and styled, it still had its critics. There were accusations of dumbing down, complaints that Gillian Anderson was too young to play Miss Havisham while some even said that ex-Burberry model Douglas Booth was just too damn hot to play Pip. We’ll let you decide that one for yourself….

Next up, the Diamond Jubilee & the London Olypmics… Bring on summer!

Tea & Sympathy’s Tea Guide

As the name suggests, tea is what we’re all about. There is no underestimating how central this brewed beverage is to the British way of life. 120,000,000 cups are drunk in the UK every day, while “Fancy a cuppa?” and “I’ll put the kettle on” must be two of the nation’s most spoken phrases.

Continuing our campaign to get you lovely yanks taking Afternoon Tea, here’s the first instalment of our Tea Guide. Originally published in our cookbook ‘Tea & Sympathy: The Life of an English Teashop in New York‘, it gives the lowdown on all the major brews.

Along with last week’s guide to making the perfect cuppa, and our recipes for finger sandwiches, scones and Victoria sponge, you have no excuse not to start taking British Afternoon Tea! So wherever you are, make sure you have a kettle and (at the very least) a couple of scones to hand come 4pm!

And if you don’t feel like making it all at home, have it in our restaurant – or we’ll deliver to your door! Give us a call on 212-989-9735 if you’d like to order, or if you have any questions at all.

ASSAM - This is a rich, full-bodied pungent tea that is a perfect all-occasion drinking tea. It is grown in the Assam region of northeastern India, where it was discovered growing wild in the 1830s by the Scotsman Robert Bruce. Prior to his discovery, all teas came to the West from China.

DARJEELING - Grown in the high Himalayan foothills of India, this black tea is considered one of the world's finest, and accordingly a quality example can be quite expensive. The delicate flavor is among the most subtle of the black teas, and connoisseurs describe it as having a hint of blackcurrant.

EARL GREY - This flavored black tea originally from China is said to have been brought back to England by the Second Earl Grey in the 1830s. It is actually a blend of black teas that are flavored with oil of bergamot, and Italian citrus fruit. This is an ideal afternoon tea, which can be served with or without milk or sugar to taste.

ENGLISH BREAKFAST - A blend of Assam and Ceylon tea. As its name implies, it is a perfect tea for mornings, and its full, well-rounded flavor stands up well to bold foods - like the classic British fried breakfast.

LAPSANG SOUCHONG - This black Chinese tea has a very distinctive smokey taste and aroma. The "souchong" refers to the leaf size, meaning the third leaf down from the top of the plant. Some people fin the smokiness a little bit of an acquired taste, but we recommend it as a very elegant tea that is better sipped and enjoyed rather than gulped from a mug.

Victoria Sponge: Getting NYC on Afternoon Tea!

Continuing our campaign for 2012 to get New York City taking afternoon tea, today we’re sharing the recipe for our most popular cake. Victoria sponge is named after Queen Victoria, is a great afternoon caked, as it is easy to make and nice and light to eat. A perfect late-in-the-day break from your busy schedule.

A splendid legacy: Ruled Britain for over 80 years, and has a fantastic cake named after her!

 

Victoria Sponge

Serves 8-10
Preparation Time:
35-40 minutes

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
A few drops of pure vanilla extract
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder

  • Preheat  the oven to 350F
  • With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time , along with the vanilla.
  • With a spatula, fold in the flour and baking powder and mix until smooth.
  • Divide the batter between 2 buttered and floured 8-inch cake tins and smooth the surface by tapping gently on the side of the tins.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  • As with all cakes, the best way to make sure the cake is done is by inserting a thin knife or skewer into the center of the cake: if it comes out clean, then the cake is done. Turn out onto wire rack to cool.

Butter Cream Icing
1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups of confectioners’s sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk

  • In an electric mixer beat the butter until light and creamy, then add the vanilla.
  • Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar.
  • Add just enough milk to make the mixture soft and spreadable.

To assemble
Raspberry jam
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

  • Once the cake has cooled, spread one half of the cake evenly with the butter cream. Spread the other half with raspberry jam.
  • Put the two halves together, with the cream facing the jam, and place on a cake plate. Dust lightly with confectioners’ sugar.