Just under a fortnight ago, we opened the doors to the Manor for our first afternoon tea since January and we were super excited! Using the beautiful Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh book, Sweet as our inspiration, we took really went to town and whipped up eight sweet treats for our guests. Needless to say we did offer up boxes to take away the uneaten cakes…
Our guests were offered a welcome drink of pomegranate tea fizz – this was deliciously sweet and fruity pomegranate tea from T2, combined with sparkling prosecco. The combo really worked and could be a great alternative to bucks fizz at Christmas!
We didn’t avoid savoury dishes completely – instead offering up a smaller selection to whet the appetite. These included some pan fried corn cakes, topped with tomato salsa and a fried egg. A spicy, tangy mouthful which was brought together nicely by the soft egg yolk. The next savoury wasn’t actually Ottolenghi inspired, but more Nigella with our brie, fig and Parma Ham toastie. A delightful combination of creamy, salty and sweet!
Our final savoury was a beautiful aubergine tart that Dan’s made before and couldn’t resist whipping up again as it’s so reliable and tasty. Homemade puff pastry encased baba ghanoush, griddled rounds of aubergine, roasted wedges of aubergine, halloumi cheese and a drizzle of mint, honey, preserved lemons, chilli and walnut syrup – literally all the flavours in one tart!
So, onto the onslaught of sweet delights! First up were some smaller bites, starting with little rhubarb and custard yo-yos, which were basically custard powder shortbreads with a sweet rhubarb butter cream. Homemade flaky pastry cases filled with a chai custard and topped with a burnt sugar brulee. And an off-menu extra of tahini and halva brownies – all gooey and not overly sweet due to the nuttiness of the sesame paste.
Next up were little palate cleansers – servings of kafir lime possets topped with a papaya salad. These weren’t as sharp as a traditional posset but the tropical salad worked well to cut through the cream.
Moving onto the “cake” menu were a trio of bakes, starting with some naughty banana cakes topped with a rum caramel. These pretty little bundts were basically a cross between banana bread and sticky toffee pudding. We added a bit of butter to the caramel sauce to make it even more luxurious.
Next were the Persian Love Cakes – legend has it that a young woman was madly in love with a Persian prince and in an attempt to win his love, made him a cake packed with magical love powers. Now we can’t say there was any love in the room that afternoon, but the cakes, heavy with nutmeg and almonds did bring some joy to our guests!
The last in the trio of cakes were little hazelnut, ricotta and chocolate cakes. Individual baked cheesecakes of ricotta, ground hazelnuts and chocolate, topped with a shiny chocolate glaze and roasted hazelnuts. Nutella fans will love this one!
If this wasn’t enough, then our finale was a massive blackberry and peach meringue roulade! A crispy yet pillowy and chewy meringue, slathered in cream and fruit and then rolled and covered in more cream and fruit. A brilliant take on a classic dessert.
Safe to say our guests were full and happy. We may have tipped them over the edge a little, but our motto has always been it’s better looking at it than for it!
Our next events are in just over a weeks’ time, where we’ve improved our theme from Rick Stein’s Mexico to a more festive Nigel Slater’s Christmas Chronicles. We’ve picked the menu which we’ll be sharing very soon and all we can say is, it’s going to be a good one!