Warwickshire Chef Masterclass at Upton House

PUBLISHED: 22:55 07 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:06 20 February 2013

Sue Groom and Jane Roughley

Sue Groom and Jane Roughley

Cakes for afternoon tea at Upton House, Warwickshire.<br/>Photographs: Stuart Purfield.

One of the joys of an English summer afternoon is a gentle stroll around a beautiful house and garden followed by a nice cup of tea and a cake, or a fruit scone with jam and cream. Simple pleasures but so easy to get completely wrong! A soggy sponge cake, a stale scone, marg with your teacake - and you'd be put off afternoon tea for life. Thankfully the National Trust tends to do afternoon tea very well indeed so we asked the restaurant at Upton House, the 1930s mansion on the Stratford to Banbury Road, to show us how to make some perfect tea-time treats. Sue Groom, Upton's baker, has been at the house for two years: "On a busy Bank Holiday I probably make 200 scones a day. I make about 16 different varieties of cake and one of the most popular is our coffee and walnut. The lemon drizzle is very popular too." The National Trust has a policy of serving only British food in its restaurants and it has to be local wherever possible, says Upton's catering manager Jane Roughley. "We grow a lot of things in the garden here. At the moment we've got rhubarb, leeks, beetroot, and the broad beans will be ready next week." Sue is part of a kitchen team serving lunches, teas and light snacks during opening hours and on busy weekends the team is at full stretch. "If the queue is six deep we're OK. If it's to the door of the restaurant I tell the kitchen. If it's out the door and down to the gate, we panic! says Jane, laughing. It's clear why the food is so popular - these cakes really are as tasty as they look. If you have been asked to make a cake for a summer fete or you'd just like to make a delicious tea-time treat you won't go wrong with one of Sue's recipes.

SHORTBREAD
(makes 24)

3 x 8oz blocks of butter

12oz caster sugar

2lb plain flour

Splash of vanilla essence

Cream together butter and sugar until smooth

Add vanilla essence and then the flour to bind the mixture together.

Turn out onto floured table and roll out the biscuit mix.

Cut into the required size with cookie cutter (you should make around 24 biscuits using a 3 inch cutter)

Cook on baking tray for 15 minutes at 200C (gas mark 6).

Sprinkle with caster sugar while cooling.

SCONES
(makes 24)

1lb butter

lb caster sugar

4lb self-raising flour

1 pints milk

Cream the butter and sugar together.

Mix in the flour and then add the milk (the quantity of milk is a guide as sometimes less liquid is required)

Bring the dough together and knead lightly - if you are making fruit scones now is the time to add the fruit (sultanas, raisins or cherries). Add a couple of handfuls to taste.

Roll the dough out on a floured board to around 1 inch thickness.

Cut rounds of scones with a cutter and place on a floured baking tray.

Brush the tops of the scones with a beaten egg.

Cook for 10 minutes at 240C (gas mark 7) or until risen and slightly brown.

Serve with clotted cream and homemade strawberry jam.

COFFEE AND WALNUT CAKE

Ingredients

Sponge:

8oz self raising flour

8oz margarine

8oz caster sugar

4 eggs

1 tablespoon instant coffee mixed in a little hot water

Icing:

4oz butter

8oz icing sugar

1 teaspoon instant coffee mixed in a little hot water

1 tablespoon crushed walnuts

Topping:

Small amount of above icing, and some whole/halved walnuts

Method:

Cream together the margarine and sugar until the mixture looks 'white'

Mix in the beaten eggs

Fold in the flour, then add mixed coffee.

Put into 2 x 8"greased round trays, bake for 20 minutes at 200C (gas mark 6)

Filling:

Cream together butter and icing sugar then add mixed coffee and crushed walnuts.

Sandwich the cakes together with filling leaving a little to spread on top, then sprinkle with whole walnuts.



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