Welcome to Mrs Simkins and Miss Windsor’s Summer Garden Party!

Thank you so much for calling in and welcome to this special web page. My friend Miss Windsor and I have chummed up and over the next few weeks will be bringing you our favourite tea-time recipes: perfect for a summer garden party and just in time for the 65th Anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation on June 2nd and National Cream Tea Day on June29th.

For two old-fashioned girls it’s strange that Miss Windsor and I met on twitter of all places! Synchronicity was at work and we followed each other at exactly the same moment after bonding over our shared love of Brown Betty teapots (we have quite a collection between us). We soon found we had very much more in common: cups of proper tea made in a pot (a brisk brew for Miss Windsor, Earl Grey for me) lovely food, traditional recipes and vintage tableware to name just a few things - oh, and talking! We can both talk for hours! Very soon we had become firm friends off-line as well as on. We also discovered we are both inspired by two of our grandmother’s and their cooking: Miss Windsor’s Grandmother Josie and my own Nana.

So stay tuned and find out what the Tea-Time Twosome have come up with for you over the coming weeks.

Follow Mrs Simkins on Twitter. @MrsSimkinsCooks



Miss Windsor: Bringing Food History Alive and Theatre to Your Table

Let me to introduce you to my friend Miss Windsor. Although now living in some style in London, Miss Windsor was brought up in the West Country and is still a country girl at heart.

Food played an especially memorable role in her childhood both in terms of eating and creating. She was inspired by two passionate cooks in particular: her Grandmother Josie and home-economics teacher, Miss Pepper, who both encouraged her natural talent for baking and food in general. If food memories from childhood give you a warm glow, and you enjoy traditional British recipes and food history with flair, you will love Miss Windsor.

In her own words:

“Well, darlings, in brief, I’m a theatrical food writer, culinary storyteller, and a budding food historian – Oh, and I absolutely adore cooking with rum, collecting vintage crockery/kitchenalia and royal memorabilia! Therefore, I employ my rather elaborate style of writing to compose articles, restaurant/afternoon tea and product reviews for the media – all pertinent to my theme of ‘food history’. I also revive rousing recipes from around the globe, with a bit of a Miss Windsor twist, of course!”

Visit her website and blogs to find out more: don’t miss her fantastic articles on Mrs Beeton and Mrs B’s American counterpart Fannie Merritt Farmer – absolutely brilliant!

Website: www.misswindsor.uk & Twitter/Facebook/Instagram @misswindsoruk

And there’s even more: you’ll be pleased to hear you can also watch Miss Windsor in action in her YouTube series Miss Windsor’s Delectables

https://www.youtube.com/c/misswindsoruk

ALL PHOTOS OF MISS WINDSOR BY DOMINIQUENOK.COM



Mrs Simkins: Royal Wedding Inspired Lemon and Elderflower Butterfly Cakes

Miss Windsor and I send our very best wishes to newly married royals Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. And what a fabulous wedding they had, so very moving and full of wonderful and lovely surprises. Their wedding cake looked absolutely glorious: simple at heart, yet gorgeous, lemon and elderflower sponge decorated with Swiss meringue buttercream frosting and 150 fresh flowers, including white peonies (Meghan’s favourite) and roses.

These delicate little butterflies are our tribute to them and their lovely cake and perfect for summer garden parties. You can bake these yourself at home and waft around your garden party carrying them on a romantically decorated tiered cake stand.

A food processor makes light work of the cake mix but use an electric mixer or whisk by hand if you prefer.

Makes 15-18 cakes

  • 175g salted butter, softened
  • 175g caster sugar (golden works well)
  • Finely grated zest of 2 large lemons
  • 175g plain flour
  • 1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 level teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 2 tablespoons elderflower cordial

Preheat oven to 160C (fan ovens) gas mark 4 or equivalent

You will need up to 18 paper cupcake set out in 2 x 12cup muffin tins (cupcake cases can vary in size slightly depending on brand)

Whiz butter and sugar together in the processor until creamed and fluffy. Add lemon zest just before the end and whiz in briefly.

Add raising agents to weighed flour.

Sieve some flour over the mix, add eggs then sieve remaining flour on top.

Whiz to combine. Add cordial and whiz until smooth and glossy.

(You will need to scrape the mixture down from the sides a couple of times with a flexible spatula.)

Divide mixture equally between paper cases: around a dessertspoonful for each case.

Bake for around 15-20 minutes until risen and golden and springy to touch: a skewer inserted should come out clean.

Leave to settle for a few moments then remove from tins and cool on a wire rack.

Once cakes are cool slice a circle from the top of each.

Spoon a little dollop of buttercream onto each cake. Cut each cut-off top in half to make wings and arrange on top of the buttercream.

Dust with icing sugar just before serving.

Tip: if you prefer to make a sponge sandwich cake, divide the mix between 2 18cm (7inch) loose-bottomed sandwich tins and bake for 18-20 minutes at 160C as before.

Lemon Buttercream

  • 110g salted butter, softened
  • 225g sieved icing sugar
  • 2½ -3 tablespoons lemon juice

Beat the butter until creamy in a roomy bowl. Add the icing sugar, a little at a time and stir vigorously to combine. Finally, stir in the lemon juice to loosen the mixture to spreadable consistency.

Alternatively, for even faster easier icing, whiz the butter and icing sugar together in the clean dry processor bowl. Add lemon juice through spout and whiz until smooth and glossy.

Follow Mrs Simkins on Twitter. @MrsSimkinsCooks

Brian Whittaker says:

Hello. I like this recipe very much. I think I could make these. Very nice photos. Thank you.

Mrs Simkins replies:

Bless you, Brian! Thank you very much indeed for your kind comment. Honestly, they are so easy. Tip: use a proper cook's measure tea spoon to measure raising agents for complete accuracy.




Tea Review by Miss Windsor: Fortnum and Mason’s Wedding Bouquet Blend

Hello, darlings!

Mrs Simkins and I have joined together in ‘matrimony’ – Ha, ha, got you there! Of course, I meant to say the beauteous Meghan (real name: Rachel!) and dashing Harry (real name: Henry!) exchanged vows on Saturday 19th May 2018 and became the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – curtsy, please! Indeed, I wish them every happiness in their covenant of LOVE.

Moving on gracefully to my collaboration with Mrs Simkins! You see, to complement her scrumptious Lemon and Elderflower Butterfly Cakes, which tastefully mirror the married couple’s glorious wedding cake of lemon and elderflower sponge decorated with Swiss meringue. I sourced an extra special tea created by Fortnum and Mason of London – The Wedding Bouquet Blend – which commemorates the marriage of Miss Windsor’s royalcounterparts! 

Darlings, this rather interesting blend of tea that looks awfully like ‘potpourri’; yet quite astoundingly smells like a packet of Rowntree’s Polos! comprises of Green Jasmine Tea, peppermint, rose petals and blue cornflower petals. Yet interestingly, Fortnum and Mason carried out a ceremony of their very own and married off the English and American-grown ‘mint’ with Jasmine Green Tea – Well, so it says on the tin! 

Of course, and it goes without saying, I prepared this creative concoction using my prizedBrown Betty teapot. I dare say Brown Betty really enjoyed being part of the gaiety and revelled in the experience to brew a royal blend in her magnificent trunk – Oh, how lucky of her! 

Ok, let’s get down to business! I know you’re dying to find out about the taste, and if Miss Windsor deems it an appropriate choice of tea for ‘tying the knot’, so to speak! Well, once brewed for approximately 2-3 minutes I poured myself a generous cup. I say it looked slightly yellowy/beige in colour, which I thought would perfectly work well with Mrs Simkins fluttery Lemon and Elderflower Butterfly Cakes – visually a great match! 

Darlings, as I gently took a sip I noted how extremely smooth it was delivered, and settled upon one’s refined palate with such ease and grace – Well, what else would one expect from London’s finest – Fortnum and Mason! I was then greeted by an explosion of flavours, yet I quickly realised that the newly-weds - Green Jasmine Tea and peppermint were definitely competing for my attention!

First off, I was mesmerised by the mellow yet tangy taste of the Green Jasmine Tea, which I hoped to be accompanied by a touch of English rose – but unfortunately, that didn’t quite occur! Therefore, I do wonder if the addition of rose petals, just like the blue cornflower type were merely for decorative purposes? If so they certainly added charm to an English country garden version of potpourri, or according to Fortnum and Mason – a wedding bouquet – Hmmm? 

I must say, for a scanty while my taste buds swarmed with sheer delight, until smack, bang, wallop, I was hit by an intensely refreshing dose of peppermint! However, although it was pleasingly vibrant; this particular ingredient was somewhat overwhelming, and with great annoyance lingered in one’s throat – I say, it was rather like the sensation of ‘toothpaste’!

Darlings, I believe this tea is of an acquired taste, and to be frank, it struggled to get me in the mood for wedding bells. However, saying that, I believe it’s the ultimate tonic to be quaffed before you walk down the aisle and prepare for your wedding kiss, as it will freshen one’s breath and clear one’s nose – Oh, yes, the incredible power of dual action! 

I do hope you royally enjoyed my ‘tea-tastic’ review!

Until next time,



Letter from Mrs Simkins to Miss Windsor on her Wedding Bouquet Blend Tea Review

May 25th 2018

“My dear, I have finally found a moment to try the wedding tea you so kindly sent me. It’s odd, but possibly the other way round from you, although I thought it looked so pretty, I was expecting not to actually like it very much! But I did! In fact I loved it!”

As you know, I’m not a great one for herbal and flower teas, but I do quite like mint tea, and one of my favourite teas of all time is Lady Grey blend from Northern Teas, a gorgeous Earl Grey with blue cornflowers

Anyway, I brewed my wedding tea in my 2 cup Cornishware blue betty – just the right size, I thought - using 3 heaped teaspoons and boiling water to the top. I waited 3 minutes and poured. I debated using a tea strainer but decided against it, the leaves fall to the bottom anyway leaving the tea clear. I took some fresh dry rose petals and cornflower petals from the jar and floated them on top. I love the way the cornflowers unfold in the hot liquid: it’s the same with the Lady Grey blend.

I let it cool for while and took a sip. My dear, I know exactly what you mean: but I found it mellow and refreshing, I liked the mint tempered with the Green Jasmine and I loved the floating petals. My pot ran to 2 ½ dainty tea cups and I drank it all!

It’s fascinating isn’t it? How different all our palates are? And how our preconceived expectations as to whether we will like something or not are constantly being challenged!

Really, my dear, if you aren’t keen, send it over to me, I’ll have it! Bless you and thank you again.”

Follow Mrs Simkins on Twitter. @MrsSimkinsCooks

Brian Whittaker says:

Hello, I really enjoyed this super-duper post. Funny and interesting. Looking forward to more of your collaboration with Mrs S. Cheers.

Mrs Simkins replies:

Thank you Brian, bless you. Miss Windsor and I make a great team!

Elizabeth J Duncan says:

Although I am not a fan of peppermint tea, I adored this sparkling review!

Mrs Simkins replies:

Thank you so much Elizabeth! I know what you mean about peppermint but, for me, the Green Jasmine really softened it.




Mrs Simkins: The Queen's Favourite Chocolate Cake

June 2nd is the 65th Anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation

Miss Windsor and I can scarcely believe our Queen has now been on the throne for 65 years. It’s a whole lifetime! She is our longest reigning monarch, Queen Victoria ruled for 63 years, seven months and two days, in case you are wondering!

The Queen loves afternoon tea and there are several cakes she particularly enjoys: Dundee cake, ginger cake, sponge cake filled with jam and maybe cream, possibly Battenberg, but her favourite cake of all is chocolate biscuit cake.

She loves this cake so much, apparently, if it appears on the royal table one day she asks for it to be kept for her and brought back to her tea table every day until it has all gone. If it appears on the tea table on Thursdays, and the Queen is going to Windsor Castle for the weekend, it has to be wrapped up and sent over. I believe it’s carried over by hand.

With any other cake, incidentally, as soon as tea is over the Queen is quite happy for any leftovers to go to the staff dining room for their tea the next day. But not when it’s Chocolate biscuit cake! You may remember, it’s Prince William’s favourite too and he had a super-size version as his ‘groom’s cake’ at his and Kate’s wedding back in 2011.

The royal chocolate tiffin is made with dark chocolate, granulated sugar, butter, egg and Rich Tea biscuits and is covered with more dark chocolate. There may be glace cherries and nuts. Made in a round cake tin, it’s completely covered in chocolate and decorated.

What better cake to make in honour Her Majesty’s 65 year reign? Here’s a similar mini version made in a pudding basin. Providing you can keep them cool you could make several for your garden party.

  • 3 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 75g butter, diced
  • Approximately150g Rich Tea biscuits broken into small pieces
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 50g dried cherries

Plus:

  • 100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 15g butter, diced
  • Decorations of your choice

You will need a lightly greased 1 pint pudding basin, lined with cling film: leave enough over-hang to take hold of easily

Melt golden syrup gently in a pan and stir in butter. Once butter has melted, stir in biscuits, cocoa powder and cherries. Pile into basin and smooth down evenly with the back of a dampened metal spoon. Make sure the bottom is level as this will be the base of the cake.

Chill for 3 hours. 

To cover the cake: microwave chocolate in a heatproof bowl on High, in 30 second bursts: it will take a couple of minutes or so in all.

(Alternatively, melt chocolate in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water: choose a bowl that will fit comfortably in the top of the saucepan but without the bottom touching the hot water.)

Stir in butter towards the end of melting time. 

Loosen cake with a small palette knife and ease out of basin. Stand it, flat side down, on greaseproof paper. Remove cling film. Pour chocolate over the top smoothing it down the sides. 

Position decorations before chocolate sets. Trim away excess chocolate from the bottom with a sharp knife and peel off the paper. Keep cool and covered until ready to serve.

Cut the cake at the table, in slices crossways rather than wedges, with a sharp knife dipped in boiling water.

Congratulations Ma’am!

Follow Mrs Simkins on Twitter. @MrsSimkinsCooks




Miss Windsor’s Spiffing Fit for a Queen Chocolate Cream Roll

Hello, darlings!

I say, my royal counterparts are really putting on a jolly good show this year – Bravo! 

Not only were we treated to a beautiful wedding as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle become the Duke and Duchess of Sussex - Oh, how spiffing! Then on Saturday 2nd June, we joined the gaiety as HM Queen Elizabeth II celebrated 65 glorious years on the throne – Well done your grace!

You see, my darling Mrs Simkins and fellow collaborator – to commemorate the anniversary of the coronation rustled up her majesty’s most favourite tea-time dessert - Chocolate Biscuit Cake. I say, and following such merriment we now prepare for our next royal ‘kneesup’ – the Queen’s official birthday of Trooping the Colour which takes on June 9th (2018). 

Darlings, our beloved sovereign is a ‘chocoholic’ of the incredibly ardent and incurable kind! So, with this in mind, and with a bit of an orange twist, I re-created the frightfully fabulous Chocolate Cream Roll which I discovered in my 1935 edition of The Radiation Cookery book. 

Of course, for her majesty’s official birthday Miss Windsor wished to ‘tickle one’s fancy’- Oh, I say! with a slice or two of Chocolate Orange Cream Roll - a light, tangy, incredibly moist, devilishly chocolatey, mouth-watering delight; slathered with a luxurious layer of Orange Butter Cream – and best enjoyed with a cup of your favourite Rosie Lee!

Now darlings, once you’ve laid your table fit for a QUEEN with all your finery, one may treatoneself to a pre-party drinkie! May I suggest, the Queen’s favourite tipple of gin and Dubonnet? - to be supped from a crystal glass tumbler, of course!

However, I must admit I'm not really in the mood for an alcoholic beverage, as my thirst yearns for a good old-fashioned cup of tea and a slice of cake.

Oh, and what a splendid way to ‘toast’ her majesty’s official birthday! 

God Save The Queen!

Preparation time: 20 mins / Cooking time: 10 mins

Serves: 8 delightful guests

Sponge Ingredients

  • 2 eggs 120g (just under 3/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 80g (3/4 cup) plain flour
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of orange extract
  • 1/4 heaped teaspoon of baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh orange juice
  • sprinkling of brown sugar
  • orange slices to garnish

Orange Butter Cream Ingredients

  • 85g (just over 1/3 cup or 3/8 cup) unsalted butter
  • 180g (1 & 3/4 cup) finely sifted icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract or orange liqueur (add more to taste!) 
  • grated orange zest
  • roughly chopped dark chocolate chips

Equipage

  • electric hand-whisk
  • shallow baking tin – 9 x 13 inches or 23 x 33 cm (approx.)

Method

  1. Prepare one’s hands for your royal creation! Toddle off to the sink, and scrub- up well!
  2. Pre-heat your oven to 220 *C / 200 Fan / 425 *F / gas mark 7.
  3. To your mixing bowl add the eggs and whisk for a few minutes until pale– Ta very muchly!
  4. Add the caster sugar and whisk together for 5 minutes.
  5. With a steady hand stir in the sifted flour, chocolate powder, baking powder, orange extract, and fresh orange juice.
  6. Prepare your tin with greaseproof paper, then gently pour in the mixture and smooth over with a palette knife.
  7. Bake for approximately 8 to 10 minutes.
  8. Darlings, with great care, dampen a cloth with boiling water (I recommend an old tea towel) then place a piece of greaseproof paper over the top and sprinkle with brown sugar.
  9. Turn out your creation onto the sugared paper; remove the cooked paper from the sponge, then roll up!
  10. Allow to cool.
  11. Once cooled, it’s time to time to whip-up the Orange Butter Cream filling! So using a wooden spoon, simply beat together the butter and sugar to a cream, then add the orange extract or use a drop of orange liqueur.
  12. Darlings, now this step requires the aid of light hands! Carefully unroll the sponge and spread with the filling, then scatter with grated orange zest and a handful of roughly chopped chocolate chips.
  13. Stand for a few hours. When ready to serve cut into equal portions, then present on a pretty plate and garnish with a slice of fresh orange – Voila!
  14. Serve to your delightful guests with a cup of tea, by royal appointment of course!

Enjoy!






Mrs Simkins: Dainty Tea-Time Sandwiches

Lovely as cakes are, you can’t have a tea party without a savoury element to begin with, including some delicate little sandwiches: “Sandwiches before cake,” as my mum used to say and I know Miss Windsor agrees wholeheartedly with this sentiment!

Here are some sandwich suggestions to start you off: several based around cucumber (essential for keeping your cool in summer) and some tips for the perfect egg mayonnaise filling.

Don’t forget to cut the crusts off all your sandwiches and cut into dainty fingers or triangles.

They are called finger sandwiches, by the way, because you eat them with your fingers.

Classic Cucumber

Cucumber sandwiches are the classic afternoon tea sandwich. Prepare the cucumber in the traditional way by peeling it and cutting it into wafer thin slices. Lay the slices on a double thickness of kitchen paper and sprinkle lightly with salt – a light grinding of Maldon salt is perfect. Lay a couple more layers of kitchen paper on top and leave for 10-20 minutes. This draws out excess moisture from the cucumber and deepens the flavour.

Sprinkle the cucumber lightly with ground white pepper and sandwich between thin slices of premium quality white bread, spread with a softened creamy unsalted butter to balance the cool, salted cucumber. Remove crusts and cut sandwiches into dainty triangles.

Cucumber and Cress

Prepare this Victorian favourite as above but turn up the heat with some peppery snipped mustard cress.

Cucumber and Soft Cheese

Prepare cucumber as before, spread thinly-cut brown or white bread with a thin layer of unsalted butter and a more lavish one of soft cheese. Scatter with freshly ground black pepper and lay cucumber over.

Cucumber and Cheese Mayonnaise in Malted Granary Bread

This is so delicious, rich and satisfying: I’d say it was my own invention but someone else somewhere is bound to have thought of it too! Using 2 dinner forks, combine mature grated cheese with enough mayonnaise to bind and season with cayenne pepper. Sandwich between malted brown bread and include cucumber as before.

The Perfect Egg Mayonnaise

The classic egg mayonnaise sandwich is always popular.

Here are a few tips for the best ones ever.

  1. Use eggs that are several days old for hard-boiling: very fresh eggs are a nightmare to peel - you’ll find yourself pulling away chunks of white with the shell.
  2. To hard-boil: bring water to a fast boil and add eggs once water is boiling, Set a timer and boil for seven to eight minutes only depending on size. Longer than this and they can become bouncy and rubbery and start to smell a little bit sulphurous!
  3. Remove from heat immediately the time is up and plunge into cold water. Once cold, roll eggs briskly on a flat surface and peel off shell. Those nasty dark rings round the yolks can develop otherwise.
  4. Chop roughly with a sharp knife and then mash finely with a dinner fork. Add just enough mayonnaise to bind.
  5. Lightly spread brown or bread with softened butter and then with the egg mixture.
  6. Arrange on serving plate scattered with snipped cress.

Extra Tips

Don’t go too mad with the filling as an overstuffed egg sandwich can be disastrous for garden party clothes and tablecloths.

You might find it easier to mash and mix the eggs on a board rather than in a dish: you can get a better angle with the fork on a board and it’s a lot simpler.

Follow Mrs Simkins on Twitter. @MrsSimkinsCooks