Afternoon tea by the sea
PUBLISHED: 15:27 05 June 2017 | UPDATED: 15:27 05 June 2017
Charlotte Smith-Jarvis heads to the Suffolk coast for summer tea with distinctly local flavours. Photography: Sarah Lucy Brown
What comes to your mind when you think of the seaside? For me it’s pebbly beaches. Swirls of jaw-breaking rock. Cream teas. Samphire. Fish. Beach huts. Gin!
All of these things swirled in my head as I tried to conjure up these coastal treats. As part of a fancy weekend picnic, I can think of no better place to eat all of these things than our beautiful shoreline. Old Felixstowe perhaps? Or, my favourite, tucked into a sandy dune at Walberswick. Enjoy
Gooseberry and mackerel open sandwiches
Smoked mackerel, with its saline notes of oak and rich, oily flesh, sings of the sea and lends itself really well to picnics. These sandwiches are more of an assembly job. Have everything prepared to take with you and put together in situ. The sweet chutney, paired with the smoky fish and leaves in mustardy dressing are a delight.
4 slices thick bread from a whole loaf, toasted until golden, butter for spreading, 200g smoked mackerel (I used Pinneys), 4tbsps gooseberry chutney, 1 small bag watercress washed, 2tbsps rapeseed oil, pinch sugar, 1tsp English mustard, squeeze lemon juice, salt and pepper
Before you go mix the oil with the sugar, mustard, lemon juice and a bit of seasoning in a jam jar. Shake to combine and check the seasoning is to your liking.
When you get to your picnic site spread butter over each slice of bread. Rip over the smoked mackerel evenly. Dollop 1tbsp of chutney on each piece, distributing it well across each slice. Pour your dressing into the bag of salad and toss, then top each sandwich with a garnish.
Smoked salmon, dill, lemon and cracked black pepper scones
These are a bit of a depart from the usual sweet scones with cream and jam. But every good afternoon tea needs some interesting savoury elements, and scones are so easy to make. I’ve used Pinneys smoked salmon which has a beautifully delicate flavour that is perfect with the aniseedy notes of the dill and the brightness of lemon. The addition of cracked black pepper shouldn’t be missed as it really enhances the finished scone’s flavour. And using strong white bread flour will give them a great rise.
450g strong white bread flour, 2tbsps butter, 4tsps baking powder, large pinch salt, 300ml milk, 1tbsp vinegar, 100g smoked salmon shredded, 1tsp dried dill or 1tbsp finely chopped fresh dill, zest 1 lemon, 1tsp fresh cracked black pepper
Set the oven to 220C and line two trays. Mix the flour, salt, butter and baking powder until you have breadcrumbs and all the butter’s rubbed in. Make a well in the centre and pour in the milk and vinegar, dill, salmon, lemon zest and pepper. Combine until it comes together but don’t overmix or your scones will be heavy.
Leave to rest for 10 minutes. Now cut out using a 10cm scone cutter or do as I did, and cut them into sandwich shaped triangles. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. If they feel underdone, give them a couple more minutes.
Allow to cool, then fill with cream cheese and rocket.
Southwold beach huts
(makes at least 15)
The sight of a candy-coloured beach hut always puts a smile on my face. I just love them. Here I pay homage to the lovely (and expensive) huts in the north of the county. Underneath the stripy icing is a short, buttery Breton biscuit with a hint of salt.
200g unsalted butter, 120g caster sugar, 4 egg yolks, ½ to 1tsp salt (some people don’t like these too salty), 370g plain flour, 1 pack roll out white icing, food colouring, royal icing
Pre-heat the oven to 160C. Line two baking trays. In a food processor blend the butter, sugar, egg yolks and salt. Pour into a bowl and fold in the flour. Knead lightly into a dough and wrap. Place in the fridge for 20 minutes.
While the dough chills use a piece of cardboard (I used a bit of a cereal box) to make a beach hut shaped template (including a door).
Flour a surface and roll the dough to 4mm thick. Use your hut template to cut out the biscuits.
Place on the trays and bake for 12 to 15 minutes until just lightly golden. Cool completely.
Colour a quarter of the roll out icing whichever shade you like. Roll out and use your beach hut templates to cut it into the same shapes as your biscuits. Mix a little icing sugar with water and use this to ‘glue’ the icing to your biscuits.
Now mix some more icing sugar with colouring and a little water to make a very thick icing (thicker than whipped double cream). Pipe it in lines over the top of the biscuits. Roll out a little of the white icing and use the door templates you made earlier to cut out door shapes. Glue these to the biscuits and pipe a door handle with the coloured icing you piped stripes with.
Allow to set for 10 minutes then make another small batch of very thick white icing and pipe over the edges of the beach huts at the tops for the roof.
Allow to set completely before packing into airtight containers.
Strawberry cream tea roll
This cake combines two things I love about the seaside – cream teas and rock. Cream teas laden with jam and clotted cream remind me of childhood holidays in Devon and Cornwall. While the latter (rock) brings back ‘kiss me quick’ days out in Great Yarmouth, visiting the Docwras rock factory and being fascinated by the lengths of sugar being pulled and stretched into candy at the back of the shop. To bring the two together I’ve made a stripy swiss roll, filled with a tea-flavoured buttercream and nuggets of strawberry jelly.
For the jelly: 300g fresh strawberries, hulled, 2 leaves platinum gelatine, 1tbsp caster sugar
For the buttercream: 1 Earl Grey teabag, 50ml milk, 60g unsalted butter, 250g icing sugar
For the cake: 3 large eggs, 125 caster sugar, 125g plain flour, pink or red food colouring gel
Make the jelly first as it needs to set overnight. Blitz the strawberries in a food processor then sieve the juice into a bowl. You should get about 160ml of juice. Add the sugar. Soak the gelatine in water for 10 minutes. Place the strawberry juice in a small pan and heat gently but don’t allow to boil. Squeeze out the gelatine and add to the strawberry juice. Stir to melt and combine. Pour into a lined, shallow container and place into the fridge overnight.
To make the buttercream soak the teabag in the milk in a cup for 30 minutes then squeeze the bag into the milk. Cut the bag open and spoon 1tsp of the tea leaves into the milk. Place this and the butter and icing sugar in a food processor (or in a bowl with a hand whisk) and mix until smooth and creamy.
For the cake, line a Swiss roll tin. Whisk the eggs and sugar for about 10 minutes with an electric mixer until it triples in volume and is very very thick. Sift and fold in the flour in batches. Remove a fifth of the mixture and colour it with your food colouring gel (it needs to be quite bright so it shows up). Spoon into a piping bag and pipe thin stripes with a plain nozzle across your lined tray in a diagonal pattern. Place the whole tray in the freezer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 200C.
Take the tray out of the freezer and spoon over the rest of the cake mix evenly. Bake for 12 minutes until firm and just starting to go golden.
Place a damp teatowel on a surface and tip out the cake. Peel off the greaseproof paper to reveal your pattern and carefully flip the cake over so the pattern is on the outside. Place the greaseproof on top and, with the tea towel, roll the whole thing up.
Allow to cool. Carefully unwrap and spread with the buttercream. Chop the jelly into small pieces and scatter over then roll up and cut into pieces.
I piped each of mine with fresh cream and finished with a fresh Suffolk strawberry.
Adnams gin and lemon macarons
(makes at least 15)
Macarons look tricky. But if you can use a whisk, and are prepared to sift your ingredients, you really can make them at home. Adnams award-winning gin has become world renowned – and it’s made by the coast. So it makes the ideal filling, with some Sicilian lemon extract, inside these golden, crisp macaron shells. They are even better a couple of days after baking, when the filling has completely melded with the outer layer.
For the macarons: 175g icing sugar, 125g ground almonds, 3 large egg whites, 75g caster sugar, 1tsp lemon extract, green or yellow gel food colouring
For the filling: 60g unsalted butter, 250g icing sugar, 1tsp Sicilian lemon extract, juice half a lemon, 50ml Adnams gin
Blitz the icing sugar and almonds in a food processor for a few minutes until it’s very very fine. Sift into a bowl. In a large, clean bowl whisk the egg whites to peaks then add the caster sugar and whisk to stiff peaks. Add half the icing sugar/almond mix and fold in until it disappears. Add the rest of the mix and repeat.
Spoon into a piping bag with a plain nozzle.
Line two baking sheets and draw (I used a cookie cutter) 3cm circles on the greaseproof paper. Turn the paper over so the pen is on the opposite side, and secure the paper to the trays with a little of the macaron mix.
Pipe the mix into the centre of each circle, allowing out just enough mixture to fill each one. Tap the trays hard on a surface and leave for 15 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 160C.
Bake the macaron for 12 minutes.
Allow to cool.
For the filling, combine all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Place about 1tsp of filling on a macaron and top with another macaron. Continue until they are all paired.
Cups, bowls plates napkins are from the latest collections at Snape Maltings. Marriages flour, Marybelle milk and cream, Anchor Bakery bread, Pinneys smoked fish, Lindsey Lodge strawberries all from the East of England Co-op Sourced Locally range.