Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Tea at Fortnum & Mason



I'm not much of a coffee drinker. I love a good, strong cup of tea. No sugar, just a little milk. What goes well with a nice brew? You got it cake fans. A slab of something sweet. Since going to T & Cake in February, I've been frequenting tea rooms at every given opportunity. 

When it comes to tea, Fortnum and Mason know their stuff. For three centuries, they have sourced the best teas from across the globe. This book will teach you all about tea and its colourful history, but also gives recipes for sweet and savoury goodies that are the perfect match.

The book starts with a little history... I was supposed to be looking at recipes, but instead found myself absolutely fascinated with the origins of the company, the original advertising and the history of the shop. The business was set up in 1707 by a livery stables owner and a royal footman, and was originally a grocers and tea merchant. Tea was an expensive luxury item due to the time and expense it took to ship the goods to England.  However, by 1707, the demand for tea had meant there was a thriving black market meaning tea was mixed with all sorts of nasties. You could say that it was the common drug of the day! Those who visited Fortnum & Mason were guaranteed a pure (and legal) brew.

I am tempted here to give you a full tea history lesson (frustrated history teacher...). However, I will refrain for two reasons; I do not wish to bore your pants off and the book does it better than I can. I tend to go a bit ranty when it comes to history... 

So we come onto the home made delights. Yes there are scones and shortbread, but this little book gets a bit more creative. It got lots of 'ooooohs' when I read through it for the first time! It includes one of my favourite desserts ever... the Financier. I once had a pistachio version at Pollen St Social, which remains one of my favourite cakes ever. I chickened out of making it, just in case it wasn't as good as the one I have locked in my memory...

So I decided to make something that would complement my Easter baking. I had made Hot Cross Buns on Easter Saturday so decided on lemon curd. I've never made curd before, so it also fit in well with this year's challenge to make new things. 

I've had a bit of a bee in my bonnet about lemon curd since our February Bolton Clandestine Cake Club. One of the ladies made a ginger cake which was accompanied by a tub of home made curd. I convinced myself it must be terribly difficult to make. I had a chat with Susan from A Little Bit of Heaven on a Plate at the last South Lancashire Clandestine Cake Club. She reassured me that it was quite simple, and managed to calm my OCD. Again.

So off I trot. Lemons in hand, I followed the recipe in this lovely little book. It took about 30 minutes from start to finish. Utterly heavenly. Zesty yet sweet. 'Someone' was a right piglet and ate loads of it...
This little book is any tea lover's pocket compendium. Perfect for anyone planning a tea party over the spring or  summer months.

Tea at Fortnum & Mason
Publisher: Ebury Press, 2010
Hardback, £10.00
Disclaimer: I reviewed this book because I like a brew with a piece of cake. I received no payment from the publisher for doing so.
Read more about the authors at Ebury Press.

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