Afternoon tea review: Dean Street Town House Hotel

Afternoon tea at Dean Street Townhouse Hotel by Naomi Longworth

Yesterday I went for afternoon tea at the Dean Street Town House Hotel for my friend’s birthday. It’s a great location for a winter afternoon tea as the low lighting and cosy furnishings are perfect for hiding away on a cold winter’s day. They were incredibly busy and we had to wait for our reserved table so we were offered a free glass of champagne at the bar which cheered us up. We were then seated at a big table by the window on low green armchairs and comfy cushions. We did have to wait quite a while before our order was taken and the afternoon tea came a lot later than our teas and coffees. However, the food was very good – the sandwiches were very fresh and tasty – egg and cucumber which was subtle and delicious, ham and mustard – again very tasty and the mustard wasn’t too overpowering and smoked salmon and cream cheese. As you can see, we gobbled the sandwiches down before I remembered to take a photo! We opted for one afternoon tea between the two of us which costs £16.75. Depending on how hungry you are, this is about the right size but you probably need to order another set of sandwiches as you only get three sarnies each time.

We then started on the plate of fancies – a cake with thin layers of choc sponge and choc coating – it tasted divine, a lemon macaron which was zingy and had the right amount of crunch and chew and then a fairy cake with cream piped on top which was average and not as adventurous. Finally, we tucked into scones which were very fresh and slightly warm, followed by homemade strawberry and raspberry jam and clotted cream. It tasted delicious and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’d recommend the afternoon tea but the service was slow so bear that in mind.

How to make Vanilla Extract

How to make vanilla extract on the Cake takes the biscuit blog

For Christmas pressies, I decided to make homemade vanilla extract. I can now write about them since I have given the pressies away 🙂 I was given a jar by my sister-in-law as a present last year and I thought it would be a great gift idea for me to replicate as I use the jar all the time! It’s super easy and is a nice pressie that is practical and will last for ages. I bought my little jars from a shop called Tiger. The only ingredients you need is vodka – I used Smirnoff – you don’t need anything too fancy plus high quality vanilla pods – 1 per jar. I had good customer service from Vanilla Mart and you can buy the pods in all sorts of different types and quantities.

  • Cut lengthways down the vanilla pod, leaving 1 inch connected at one end.
  •  Put the vanilla pod in a preserving jar – it needs to have a tight fitting lid.
  • Cover with the vodka to the top of the jar and give it a shake.
  • Store in a cupboard for 2 months and hey presto you have your own vanilla extract for baking with!
  • The vanilla extract lasts for years – you just keep topping it off with the vodka.

I got some good tips from this recipe on Simply Recipes. I was intrigued to learn that each vanilla pod comes from an orchid that has been pollinated by hand. Once the vanilla seed pod has developed, it must be hand picked as well. Who knew!

Nigella’s New Year Chocolate Cookies

Nigella Christmas chocolate cookies with chocolate glaze and sprinkles made by Naomi LongworthAfter Christmas I caught up on lots of Christmas cookery programmes like Nigella and Nigel Slater. I thought Nigella’s Christmas chocolate cookies looked yummy so I wanted to try them out. It turned out the programme was a repeat from 2008 and took me a while to find the recipe online – thanks to Living in the Kitchen with Puppies for this link. It was only in American units so I had to convert it. I’ve shared the recipe below which I also had to tweak a little bit (for the chocolate glaze). If you ever need to convert weights from US to UK for different ingredients then this is a useful site – Recipes4Us. The cookies should be baked at 160 degrees for a fan oven, 180 degrees for a normal oven.  Nigella can show you how to make the cookies far better than I can – here’s the YouTube clip.

The cookies turned out well if a bit crumbly so if you make bigger cookies I’d cook them for a bit longer than 15mins. And don’t bother cutting out nice Christmas shapes like I did originally – the cookies just expand and pretty much develop into circles whatever you do! I had fun choosing mini Christmas tree sprinkles and edible gold stars (part of my Christmas pressie!) to decorate the cookies over the chocolate glaze. For the first time, I took these photographs outside and I do think the light looks really good on them (thanks to Jonathan Pollock). More to come on food photography outside! BTW, the boyfriend loved the cookies and kept stealing them when I wasn’t looking (note the lesser number of cookies in the second picture) and they went down well with work colleagues although I ruined their healthy eating regimes on day 1. Whoops!

New Year cookies by Naomi Longworth

Cookie dough

260g butter (2 1/4 sticks)

170g caster sugar (3/4 cup)

33g cocoa powder (1/3 cup)

250 g flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Chocolate glaze

170g icing sugar (1 1/2 cup)

2 fl. oz of boiling water (1/4 cup)

1 tsp of vanilla extract

Christmas sprinkles

%d bloggers like this: