14 November 2014 at 5.18pm | Comment on this article
Featuring the knave’s stolen jam tarts, a blue caterpillar teacake, ‘Drink Me’ blackberry and apple lemonade, a Mad Hatter’s Teapot cake and more, the menu promises to delight the whole family and makes the ideal festive treat whether you have tickets for the ballet or not.
On Alice performance dates over the festive period, the Alice afternoon tea will be served in the plush surroundings of the Crush Room, where the traditional décor lends a cosy, Christmassy mood to the occasion. On non-performance dates the Alice tea will be served in the beautiful Paul Hamlyn Hall where the vaulted glass ceiling and elegant floral screens brighten the darkest winter afternoon.
To celebrate the launch of the Alice tea at the Royal Opera House, we have two Claire Clark recipes you can make at home. Knave’s stolen jam tarts are a fun twist on the ever-popular Jammy Dodger biscuit, while the ‘Eat Me’ cake is a simple Victoria sponge made special with miniature cake tins and elderflower-scented gooseberry compote.
Knave’s stolen jam tarts
You will need a set of smiley faces cookie cutters (we use heart-shaped ones but you can use whatever cookie cutters you have to hand). It’s important to use soft room-temperature butter when making this dough.
For the biscuits
440g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
150g caster sugar
300g soft unsalted butter
½ tsp vanilla extract
Icing sugar, for dusting
100g seedless raspberry jam
- Preheat the oven to 170°C (fan 150°C) and line a baking sheet with non-stick parchment.
- Sieve the flour into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the soft butter, sugar and vanilla and mix on a low speed with the paddle attachment until you have a firm, unsticky dough.
- Roll out the dough on a lightly floured worktop – not too thinly – and cut with the cutters, making sure you have an equal number of both tops and bases.
- Place the cut cookies on the lined baking tray and bake in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes or so, until lightly golden. Remove and leave the biscuits to cool on the tray.
- To decorate, spread the solid biscuit bases thickly with the jam, making sure the jam goes right to the edges of the cookie. Dust the tops of the smiley-face biscuits with a little icing sugar. Sandwich the two halves together and roll the edges in the sprinkles to finish.
Victoria sandwich cakes with gooseberry and elderflower compote
You will need two mini-muffin baking trays to make these individual cakes. For the gooseberry filling you can substitute tinned gooseberries if you can’t find frozen or fresh fruit. We decorate the cakes with small edible flowers and little flags with the instructions ‘Eat me’, just like the little cakes Alice finds in Wonderland.
For the cakes
200g softened butter
200g caster sugar
4 eggs, beaten
200g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp milk
Oil, for greasing
Icing sugar, for dusting
Small edible flowers such as violets and pansies (optional)
For the gooseberry-elderflower filling
200g fresh or frozen gooseberries, defrosted
30g caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour
5ml elderflower pressé
For the vanilla cream
150ml double cream
2 tsp icing sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 170°C (fan 150°C). Grease the cake tins and lightly dust them with flour.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the beaten eggs a little at a time, creaming well between each addition.
- Sieve the flour and baking powder together and fold into the butter mixture using a large metal spoon. Add the milk and gently fold to combine.
- Spoon or pipe the batter into the prepared tins so that it comes halfway up the sides.
- Bake in the centre of the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the cakes are risen and golden and spring back when lightly pressed in the centre. Leave the cakes to cool in the tins.
- To make the gooseberry filling, put the gooseberries and sugar in a small saucepan and slowly bring to the boil, stirring gently.
- Mix the cornflour with a little cold water to give a thin paste. Once the gooseberries are boiling, stir in the cornflour. Turn down the heat a little so that the fruit simmers and continue stirring for a minute to thicken the mixture.
- Remove from the heat and add the elderflower pressé. Allow to cool completely before filling the cakes.
- To make the vanilla cream, whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl until stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted from the cream. Cover and chill until needed.
- To assemble the cakes, remove the sponges from the tins and cut each one in half. Spread the bases with the cream and fruit, top with the lids and lightly dust with icing sugar.
- Decorate with fresh edible flowers such as violets and pansies and your ‘Eat Me’ flags, if using.