This is a lovely book from Jane Pettigrew and The National Trust. It draws on Jane’s expertise as a tea expert (nice choice of words, huh?) and presents what must be one of the finest collections of traditional recipes for afternoon tea goodies.
The British are known to be big tea drinkers but we are in fact only third in the world for tea consumption after Ireland and the Arab States. We have, however, cultivated tea drinking into a cross between the formality of the Japanese Tea Ceremony and the informality of a children’s picnic. There are rules about how to make a “nice cup of tea” and even the use of forks for cake-eating. The fun aspect is that you do get to eat cakes and tarts and biscuits and buns….
Traditional Teatime Recipes is a book full of the most delightful sweet things that we (well, anyone of my age and older) will remember from Sunday teas at auntie’s, tea rooms and smart hotels on rainy afternoons. These are truly the cakes that we ate, and the same cakes that some of us were taught to make in cooking lessons…when there were cooking lessons!
What could be nicer than an afternoon at one of the The National Trust’s wonderful properties? These days there are welcoming and comfortable cafés which will be happy to ply you with some teatime favourites. Have a sit down, a cup of tea and a slice or two of, say, Orange Gingerbread or Chocolate Rum Cake, even a couple of Yorkshire Curd Tarts (those are to die for)!
Each recipe has a little history, and they tell us that, yes, we have been baking delicious cakes for centuries. The recipes are easy to follow and would hold no terrors for even a novice cook. The ingredients are not expensive or exotic, but you will find the finished articles to be scrumptious and irresistible.
It’s good to see that the art of Afternoon Tea is enjoying something of a renaissance. There is a lot of interest in tea generally, now that its health benefits have been publicised. Jane has suggested various types of tea to drink with the cakes. For Petworth Pudding, Jane advises Kenyan or China Yunnan; Fat Rascals, that’s the name of these fruity buns, would be best served with Yorkshire tea.
Afternoon tea is a very agreeable way to pass some time. A chance to relax, enjoy a cup of reviving Earl Grey and a munch on a little bit of tradition. There is everything in this book you would need to host an authentic tea party, or why not just put your feet up and pamper yourself!
Traditional Teatime Recipes
Author: Jane Pettigrew
Published by: The National Trust, Anova Books
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018