One of my favorite parts of our trip was afternoon tea in London. I have shared with you my love for tea and things that are generally served with tea. I’ve dabbled in scone baking, like these dark chocolate strawberry scones and these currant cream scones. In London, they take their tea very seriously ~ which means loose leaf tea and fancy tea pots that keep the tea hot for a record-setting amount of time (where can I get one??). It also means some divine accompaniments. You could really treat it like a meal, in fact. Just check out this fabulous spread from our tea at The Goring Hotel.
The savory to sweet progression begins at the bottom with the delicious crustless finger sandwiches. Here, we have egg salad, chicken salad, ham and cheese and cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches. The egg salad and chicken salad weren’t of the mayonnaise-laden variety that you typically find here in the states ~ they were light and delicious. In the middle, we have traditional scones and raisin scones, with clotted cream and lots of un-pictured jams! The scones are not very sweet ~ you traditionally eat them with cream and jam.
One thing that we noticed was how slowly everyone else in the room lingered over their food. They would have a few bites, take a few sips of tea and then chat for a while before trying something else. We felt like we had to make a conscious attempt to slow down (which is extra tough when all of this deliciousness is sitting in front of you). This “taking it slow” approach to meals was something that we observed when we were in Paris as well. Often times we feel like we put all of this effort into making something and then the meal is over in 10 minutes. It is tough, but we are trying to adopt more of this eating-slowly-and-enjoying-each-other’s-company approach.
And then on top are the sweets (and they even made Richard his own nut-free plate!). Two of my favorite bites in London were the strawberry macaroon on the right and the coffee cake mini muffin on the left. The strawberry macaroon was slightly sweet and really just melted in your mouth. Prior to this moment, I hadn’t really understood the macaroon hype, but now I may be a believer. The coffee cake mini muffin had a surprise hidden cranberry jam filling and a perfect crumbly topping. When we returned home, I immediately set to work to recreate it. (Let’s be honest ~ macaroons are a little ambitious at this point 🙂 )
I know you may be thinking that these muffins have a lot going on at once, but they pack a lot of flavor into a few little bites. They are sweet enough to be a dessert, but light enough to be a snack or breakfast. The buttery crust gives them a decadent feel and the gooey center is a welcome jammy surprise.
I started with this recipe for mini coffee cake muffins from Martha Stewart. I used cake flour instead of all purpose flour for the muffin because I think it gives the muffin a fluffier texture. The second time I tested these, I ramped up the jam quotient a little bit in each muffin, which you could do depending on how jammy you want these to be. However, I would be wary of putting too much jam in each muffin, because if you overdo it, they will start to fall apart on you. I also found that the topping turned out better when you put it in the refrigerator for a few minutes after you assemble it to keep the butter cold. If you aren’t a fan of raspberry jam, I am positive that your favorite jam would work here too!
For the Topping:
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
pinch of salt
pinch of ground cinnamon
3 tbsp. butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
For the Batter:
1 cup cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tbsp. of your favorite raspberry jam
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. To make the topping, combine all of the ingredients except for the butter in a small bowl. Using a fork or your fingers (I find a fork works better), work in the pieces of butter until most of the flour and sugar clings to the butter pieces. Put back into the refrigerator to chill until you are ready to use.
2. To make the batter, first whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, beat the softened butter and sugar together until light and airy. Add the egg and vanilla and continue to beat until just combined. Alternate adding the sour cream and dry ingredients until combined.
3. Spray eighteen of the mini muffin tins with cooking spray. Wipe the excess cooking spray from the tins with a paper towel. Put a small amount of batter into each cup ~ filling only about 1/4 way. Place a small amount of jam on top of the batter. Cover with remaining batter and crumble topping. Note ~ if you have tiny serving spoons, they are very useful for this part! Bake for 12 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. If a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, they are done. Be very wary of overbaking these since they are so small!
I hope you consider giving these a try. Maybe it will even motivate you to have your own afternoon tea extravaganza. I’ll be back soon with the rest of our pictures from London. I hope you all have a great weekend!