We all love a tea break, but what if you could raise money for an important cause at the same time?
Every year, NHS Charities Together encourages the country to host an afternoon tea party to raise money for healthcare workers, patients and volunteers.
This year, after 15 months of pandemic living that has left few unscathed, a tea party celebrating our tireless NHS heroes seems more important than ever, especially as they continue to battle the Covid crisis and start down the long road to recovery.
“The past year has been a tough one for the nation and especially for our amazing NHS staff, who have been working so hard to look after us all,” says Nadiya Hussain, who has joined forces with NHS Charities Together to come up with some delicious, easy recipes perfect for the party. “The NHS Big Tea is the perfect opportunity for us all to come together with friends and family and raise money to support NHS staff as they keep battling for us.”
She adds: “What better excuse is there to combine our love of the NHS and baking? It will be great to unite over a cup of tea and a slice of cake or two to show our thanks.”
In the time it takes you to brew your morning tea, you can sign up to host a tea party for your friends, family or colleagues on the NHS’s birthday, 5 July, here.
So whether you’ll be raising a cuppa in the office, over Zoom or during a picnic in the park, let’s celebrate 73 years of our health service with these delicious recipes from the Bake Off winner.
Chicken, brie, cranberry and pink pepper pithivier
A French classic, this beautifully scored, round, puff pastry pie can be filled with all manner of ingredients, sweet or savoury. With such a reliable exterior, the inside is all to play for. I’ve filled mine with chicken that’s spiced and sweetened with pink peppercorns and cranberries, around a delicious centre of melted brie.
Prep time: 30 mins, plus chilling | Cook time: 50 mins
Can be assembled up to 1 day in advance and then baked to serve.
2 x 500g blocks of puff pastry
3 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp pink peppercorns, crushed
300g chicken thighs, cut into cubes
100g dried cranberries
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1. Line two baking trays with baking paper.
2. Take the puff pastry blocks and roll them one by one on a floured surface. Roll to a 5mm thickness and cut using a 25cm round, then cut another circle to a 30cm round. Leave both to chill on a tray while you make the filling.
3. Add oil to a non-stick pan. Blitz the garlic and onion to a smooth paste.
4. Add the paste to the hot oil and cook till the mixture is thick and brown – this should take about 10 minutes over a medium heat. Now add the salt and peppercorns and mix.
5. Add the chicken along with the cranberries, and mix and cook till you have a dry chicken mix and the chicken is cooked through, which should take around 7 minutes at most. Take off the heat and leave to cool completely.
6. Take the smaller round and lightly brush the edges with egg yolk.
7. Carefully slice off the top and base of the brie, just to make it shorter. Pop the brie in the centre of the round and then add the chicken all around the edge and over the top of the brie, patting it into a mound and avoiding the brushed egg yolk edge.
8. Take the second, larger circle and place on top. Push down over the filling, easing out any air bubbles as you go and sealing all around the edges firmly. Brush the top with the egg yolk and pop into the fridge for 30 minutes.
9. Preheat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6 and put a tray in the oven to heat up.
10. Flute the edge using the back of a knife to create a scalloped edge, and score the top. Brush the egg yolk again and bake for 25-30 minutes. If the pastry is looking very dark after 20 minutes, cover loosely with foil and reduce the oven temperature to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Serve straight from the oven.
Ginger and almond florentines
These are delicious to have lying about the house for a sweet treat, but even better wrapped and given away as a present. Laced with chopped crystallised ginger, sliced almonds and a hint of orange zest, they’re finally dipped in chocolate to add to the party in your mouth!
Prep time: 25 minutes, plus setting
Cook time: 15 minutes
50g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing the trays
50g soft brown sugar
50g golden syrup
50g plain flour
75g crystallised ginger, finely chopped
50g sliced almonds
1 orange, zest only
200g dark chocolate
65g white chocolate
1. Start by preheating the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Line and very lightly grease three baking trays.
2. To make the florentines (and these are so easy I think you will be making them again), place the butter and sugar in a medium pan along with the golden syrup and heat until the sugar has dissolved and there are no more granules.
3. Take off the heat and add the flour, ginger, almonds and zest and mix to thoroughly combine.
4. Take teaspoons of the mixture and pop six equal mounds on each tray, leaving plenty of room for them to spread. Bake for 8 minutes. As soon as they are light golden in the centre and just slightly darker on the outside, they are ready to take out. They are still fragile when very hot, so will need to rest for about 5 minutes before you even think about moving them.
5. Have a cooling rack ready and gently, using a palette knife, take them one by one to cool on the rack. Once they have cooled completely they are ready to dip.
6. Now, traditionally they have one side covered in chocolate, but that doesn’t agree with me – where am I supposed to hold it without getting melted chocolate all over my fingers? So I like to half-dip. No messy fingers and I get to taste the florentines two different ways. So, melt the chocolates in separate bowls. Make sure to put the dark chocolate in a bowl deep enough for dipping the florentines.
7. Add the melted white chocolate directly on top of the melted dark chocolate, then use a skewer to create swirls.
8. Take each round and dip half in, then pop out and leave to set on the tray with the baking paper that they baked on initially. Leave the chocolate to set and they are ready to eat!
Mango and coconut yoghurt cake with German buttercream
These flavours are as traditional as they get for me. They’re the flavours I grew up with, though while mango was cooked in curries, dried, or eaten in the sun under the shade of the tree, it was never put in a cake! The same went for coconut. If it wasn’t being eaten dry, it was being stewed or eaten early – drinking its sweet water and scooping out its young flesh – but it was never ever put in a cake. So, let’s fix that, and put all that wonderful stuff straight into a cake, shall we?
Prep time: 35 mins, plus chilling | Cook time: 45 mins
For the cake:
Butter, for greasing the tins
50g desiccated coconut
1 mango, peeled and thinly sliced lengthways
400g Greek yoghurt
300g caster sugar
7 medium eggs, lightly beaten
400g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
For the German buttercream:
150ml whole milk
100g caster sugar
3 egg yolks
1 tbsp cornflour
350g unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ tsp vanilla extract
For the decoration:
25g coconut chips or desiccated coconut, toasted
150g mango pulp
Greek yoghurt and extra mango pulp
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Line the bases and grease two 20cm deep round cake tins.
2. Toast the coconut in a small pan until it is golden and sprinkle into the bases of the cake tins, making sure to evenly distribute it. Toasting it will enhance the flavour (untoasted coconut tastes no different to the wood-chip shavings I lay out for my rabbit). Add the mango in some sort of orderly fashion, straight on top of the coconut.
3. The cake is an all-in-one method, so really easy. Pop the yoghurt into a large mixing bowl along with the sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder and salt, and mix until you have a smooth, shiny cake batter. Pour the mixture into the tins and tap them a few times on the work surface to level off the top.
4. Bake for 40-45 minutes until golden, and a skewer, when inserted, comes out clean. Take the cakes out and leave in the tins to cool for 15 minutes, then turn out and leave to cool completely.
5. Meanwhile, make the buttercream by adding the milk to a saucepan with the sugar. As soon as it has come to the boil, take off the heat and mix, making sure the sugar has melted.
6. Now add the egg yolks to a bowl with the cornflour and whisk. In a steady stream, pour in the hot milk mixture, making sure to stir all the time.
7. Pour the mixture back into the pan and heat gently until it all thickens into a really thick custard that coats the back of the spoon. Transfer to a large bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to cool, then chill in the fridge.
8. When chilled, whisk the custard mix, then add a good tablespoon of butter at a time, whisking after each addition. Keep whisking until you have a really stiff, pipeable buttercream. Pop into a piping bag.
9. Take the first cake, with the fruit side facing upwards, and arrange on a serving dish. Pipe swirls of the buttercream all around the edge and then in the centre, covering the top of the cake. Pop the other cake on top and make the same swirls around the edge, avoiding the middle and leaving gaps between the swirls.
10. Pour the mango pulp into the centre, allowing it to drip down the sides. Sprinkle it with the toasted coconut and serve the cake with Greek yoghurt.