Celebrate Harry and Meghan with the queen’s favorite treats
OK, so somehow your invitation to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s May 19 wedding got lost in the mail. No need to fret. You can watch the royal nups on TV from the comfort of your couch or bed and prepare a proper, traditional cream tea — as well as Queen Elizabeth’s favorite cake. The English do have their tea in the afternoon, but although the wedding ceremony begins at 7 a.m. in New York, it will be noon in the UK.
We asked Edd Kimber, the inaugural winner of BBC’s “The Great British Bake Off,” for some help.
Kimber first fell in love with baking as a child in Yorkshire, making scones and pies with his mother. He went on to become a debt collector before realizing his dream via the hit TV competition in 2010. Since then he has become known as “the boy who bakes,” having appeared on numerous TV shows and written three cookbooks.
Now living in London, Kimber, 32, recently acted as the guest editor of a British edition of Bake From Scratch magazine (BakeFromScratch.com) — a publication which also features contributions from royal wedding-cake baker Claire Ptak.
As a reflection of the bride’s California style, the wedding cake will not follow the British tradition of a wedding fruit cake. Baker Ptak, also originally from California, is creating a lemon elderflower cake covered with buttercream and decorated with fresh flowers. No word yet if the newlyweds will follow the ceremony with a traditional English afternoon tea, but it’s a perfect and simple at-home treat for royal wedding watching parties.
“British baking is often thought of as being very old-fashioned,” says Kimber. “But in the same way that the British culinary scene has evolved, so baking has changed.” Still, he’s happy to share the traditional fare.
The Britsh tea consists of scones, jam and thick Devonshire clotted cream ($7.95 from Tea & Sympathy, 108 Greenwich Ave.; 212-807-8329).
The correct way to serve is to spread the thick cream over the sliced scones and top with a generous dollop of strawberry jam, accompanied by, of course, a pot of tea.
Kimber recommends “Yorkshire tea — builder’s tea,” which means it has been well-steeped so that it’s strong, “with milk and no sugar.” (Taylors of Harrogate Yorkshire Gold or Yorkshire Red tea bags, both $7.49, are available at Empire Coffee and Tea Co. Inc., 568 Ninth Ave.; 212-268-1220.)
For those who want something with a bit more kick, Kimber suggests serving English sparkling wine. Due to climate change, Champagne grapes have taken off as an English crop, with the wine emerging as a top European award winner over the course of the last 10 years, beating French Champagne in some blind taste tests.
Chapel Down from Kent ($39.99 at Union Square Wines and Spirits, 140 Fourth Ave.; 212-675-8100), which Prince Charles has reportedly ordered by the crate-load to serve at the wedding breakfast, is the perfect British bubbly for a toast to the royal British and American couple.
Kimber’s recipe for the traditional tea accompaniment comes by way of legendary French chef Raymond Blanc.
“He called me an hour after I won the baking show,” says Kimber, who went on to work with Raymond. “He taught me this refined version [that’s] more like a hotel tea scone.”
In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Using a pastry blender or your fingertips, cut in ¼ cup unsalted butter, cubed, until mixture is crumbly. Stir in ½ cup granulated sugar (preferably superfine sugar, known as caster sugar in the UK).
Soak ½ cup raisins in hot water for 10 minutes and drain. In a small bowl, combine raisins, ⅓ 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk, and 2 eggs.
Make a well in center of dry ingredients. Add raisin-milk mixture, and using a knife, stir together just until a soft, wet dough forms.
Turn out dough onto a heavily floured surface. Gently knead dough, being careful not to overwork it, until it is smooth and springs back slightly when pressed.
Roll out dough so that it’s 1 inch thick. Cut out scones using a 3-inch round cutter, re-rolling scraps as needed.
Place scones on parchment-lined baking sheet. Let rest for 1 hour. (Resting gives the scones a more refined, less rustic look. The baking powder gets to work, and the dough will puff out slightly, giving a slightly wider base, which, when baked, looks more like something you’d get at a hotel afternoon tea.)
Preheat oven to 390 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush a beaten egg over the top of the scones, avoiding the sides.
Bake until golden brown on top, about 12 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving with cream and jam. Makes 8 scones.
Chocolate Biscuit Cake
The Queen’s favorite dessert is this addictive chocolate biscuit cake. It’s “probably the only [cake] that is sent into the royal dining room again and again until it has all gone,” chef Darren McGrady, who was the personal chef to Queen Elizabeth II for 15 years, told Today.com.
Line a 9-inch round cake pan with plastic wrap.
Take one 10.5-ounce package McVitie’s rich tea biscuits (or graham crackers) and break cookies into 1- to 2-inch pieces. Set aside.
Place 5 ¾ cups milk-chocolate morsels in a heatproof bowl.
In a medium saucepan, heat 2 cups heavy whipping cream, 3 tablespoons unsalted butter and 1 teaspoon kosher salt over medium heat, stirring frequently, just until bubbles form around edges of pan (do not boil). Remove from heat, and pour mixture over chocolate. Let stand for 5 minutes, stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
Pour enough melted chocolate into prepared pan to cover bottom of pan. Place a layer of biscuit pieces over chocolate layer. Repeat, alternating layers until pan is full. Refrigerate until chocolate is hardened, about 4 hours. Invert cake onto a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet.
Make the milk-chocolate ganache. In a medium saucepan, heat ²/₃ cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream over medium heat, stirring frequently, just until bubbles form around edges of pan. Remove from heat, and pour over 2 cups milk-chocolate morsels in a heatproof bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes, then stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Immediately pour ganache over cake, letting it drip down sides. Using an offset spatula, smooth ganache over sides of cake. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 8 hours or overnight. Makes one 9-inch cake.
Up your royal decor with these wedding goodies
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