Let’s talk tea cakes!!
The first tea cake I encountered was a very sweet marshmallow treat covered in dark chocolate with a cake base. There were no good impressions, this was a dessert that entered the forgotten and turned down desserts. Other than this encounter I never came across it again working in fine dining restaurants and establishments.
On my latest Afternoon tea assignment it emerged as one of the options, as one of the traditional options that it should be on the menu of a modern restaurant in Manchester.
The good news was that this was open to interpretation. I took each element and I striped it into sections. Base, filing, coating, then I decided that it can be more than just that.
To start with the flavour profiles that I was asked to use were thyme, honey, rosemary and gin amongst others that were the flavours of its matching cocktail.
I decided to have a financier sponge for a base, for the reason of giving texture and body to the overall product. Normally tea cakes come with a fairly fluffy sponge, closer to what a pain d’espagne is and, this creates a product that has no mouth lasting experience, or as I often describe no chew longevity :)
So financier it was in which I added thyme, finely chopped into the mix then left to rest for 2 days to allow the thyme to do it’s magic. Indeed the thyme was very pronounced once the sponge was baked, so pronounced that the financier on it’s own was too strong to have.
The marshmallow conception was easy, it had to be a honey marshmallow with a bit of vanilla. I took my favorite marshmallow recipe and I tweaked the sugar quantity to have enough body and a pronounced honey taste. I also found out that you cannot make a honey only marshmallow as honey is an inverted sugar and with that technical problems occur.
Then I needed the wow effect, a liquid centre. So far I had almonds, honey and thyme. Milk chocolate was the best choice and I made up my mind that milk chocolate would also be covering the tea cake. I made a very simple, milk chocolate and honey ganache to inject in the centre of the marshmallow.
Cherry on the cake was the addition of a milk crumble coated in milk chocolate instead of white. Tiny little clusters next to the financier sponge, like a too-too around the final treat.
That was a 2019 hit for me and definitely something
Marshmallows are fun and are part of my childhood and, from what I notice it also is for many cultures. What I love about this is that people usually expect to taste and feel the same taste, texture and mouthful of what they remember, a factory made dense and chemically flavoured marshmallow, but in this case always (always), people are so positively surprised by what is a homemade artisanal version of what they remember, maybe a more ‘adult’ and sophisticated version which, I think, is a great way to taste and progress foods in life.
We surely are more equipped later in life to savour and comprehend flavours and textures than when we were children.
And all these make the challenge worthwhile, it is amazing how memories can shift what one thinks of a dessert and its impact to make it memorable.
Saying that, my tea cake was bang on awesome ;)