Afternoon Tea, #ChallengeMark, Courgette & Chocolate Cake


No matter how many Courgettes you add to a cake mixture, you still won’t be able to taste them. This I found out when I made 2 x 6 ins cakes the other day. I used my guests at The Secret Tea Room yesterday as guinea pigs. I used 2 medium Courgettes with some cocoa, covered the cake with chocolate Ganache and coated the outside with crushed Nuts. The result was a moist chocolate cake, with no taste of  Courgette. I was hoping for a cake similar to a Carrot cake in appearance, but carrots have that wonderful Orange colour that stands out from the vanilla sponge but Courgettes, unless you leave the skins on, are really colourless. Yet they do add lots of moisture to a cake, so when in season why not add a couple to your cake mixture, no one need know. When I text my daughter to say I’d made a couple of Courgette and Chocolate Cakes, her reply was ‘Are you mad’ no I’m not and in fact many people bake cakes with courgettes in them. If you’ve never tried it, I suggest you give it a go while they are in season.

Combined with yesterdays Afternoon Tea, Mark O’Brien was working his way through August by visiting places suggested by readers of Culture Vulture and twitter. I was asked if there was a place for afternoon Tea, but as I was full, I suggested Mark work front of house, serving the tea as a way of earning some Tea and Cake. He did a grand job, greeting guests, hanging coats up, taking the Tea Orders and generally chatting to guests about what his #ChallengeMark was all about. He also did a great job keeping two pretty young ladies company in my front room who found themselves on their own due to some guests not showing up – an email stuck in their ‘out box’ meant I never got the cancellation. These things happen but I’m sure Mark had a lovely time talking to these young ladies and getting to know further places to travel in August.One of my guests, from Dinner at the Manor, a new Supperclub in Leeds, brought me some Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb and Stem Ginger Jam. This I have to try. Rhubarb and Ginger are some of the best combinations of flavours. Apart from enjoying this on toast for breakfast, I can see  it also being used as a filling for a future sponge cake. I can’t wait to visit their first Supperclub event in October.

Celebrations were also the order of the day as some guests did a BYO.

As is the order of the day, guests get to take cake home and I took my spare Courgette and Chocolate cake up to a friend’s house, to find that she was having guests later that evening so the gift of a cake was, I hope, a nice surprise for them.

My next Afternoon Tea isn’t until Sept 17th and with a few Clandestine Cake Club events in between, plus a few a few ‘close to my chest’ projects, I’m still going to be kept busy.

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Tea & Cake Journey Day 4 -The Secret Tea Cup


A trip to the Yorkshire Dales was on the cards for this little adventure and after nearly a 2hr journey from home we arrived at a remote Farm House on the edge of the Dales. It was a lovely scenic drive to The Secret Tea Cup and well worth the journey.

Rachelle, an avid craft sewer since the age of 8, and her family haven’t lived very long in this wonderful very old 1729 Farm House, yet it was fitting, I think, for an Underground Tea Room.

With evidence of her Crockery Collection and  Craft work every where, including our Napkins, often made from Vintage fabric, we sat at one of two large tables by this wonderful old stone fireplace.

With a lovely menu of Sandwiches and Cake assortments along with a lovely selection of teas to accompany them, we began with a refreshing St Clements drink make by Rachelle. It was lovely to see guests at the table from one of my own Afternoon Teas. I often don’t get time to chat much to my guests so it was really nice to see them again.

Very Berry Layer Cake – part of our Five a day.

Lovely individual Summer Triffles

Rachelle serving us the Very Berry Layer Cake in front of the 1729 stone fireplace.

Mini Bakewell Tarts with one of a selection of Rachelle’s Teas

Hot from my Tea Masterclass I loved the way Rachelle brewed her Tea. I chose a Darjeeling tea and loved the way the leaves were brewed, then removed from the tea pot to prevent over brewing. This tea was really nice and I persuaded the guest next to me to try it without milk. Later Rachelle recommended a Russian Caravan Tea (Smoked Lapsang Shousong) to aid with the fullness we were beginning to feel by this time.

Before we left, we were given the option of choosing a tea sample from the Tea Experience in Doncaster and I chose Chinese Sencha – Green Tea, which I made 2 brewing’s from this morning. It was lovely.

My thanks go to Rachelle and her sister for all their hard work.