Michael Buerk is joined by chef Paul Ainsworth to look at food created for the Queen's favourite meal, afternoon tea.
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The Royal Family are steeped in tradition and, throughout history,
the Royal tables have showcased culinary excellence.
In celebration of royal food...
We know it's the Queen's recipe,
because we've got it in her own hand.
..from the present and the past...
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..we recreate old family favourites.
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What a mess!
We sample Royal eating alfresco...
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..and revisit the most extravagant times.
Pheasant, stag, turkey, salmon,
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This is Royal Recipes.
Hello, I'm Michael Buerk, and welcome to Royal Recipes.
This is Audley End, one of Britain's finest stately homes.
Built in the style of a royal palace and once owned by a king.
In the splendour of the gardens,
halls and kitchen of this grandest of country houses,
we'll be recreating the food served at the highest royal tables.
And it all starts here, with this gem -
a royal kitchen maid's cookbook.
The only surviving recipe book of its kind in the Royal Archive.
This is an exact copy of the original,
which is kept at Windsor Castle.
Inside, the recipes of Mildred Nicholls,
who worked at Buckingham Palace in the early 1900s.
And, for the first time in over 100 years,
we'll be bringing these recipes back to life.
This time, we're cooking food served for afternoon tea,
a favourite in the Royal Family for generations.
A great British mid-afternoon feast of sandwiches and cakes.
Today, in the Royal Recipes kitchen,
Michelin-starred chef Paul Ainsworth puts the Queen's favourite twist
on a classic bake.
The Queen, I think, likes a particular kind of scone, doesn't she?
She does. Go for it.
Historian Dr Annie Gray discovers how Queen Alexandra
treated thousands of poor maids in London to a tea party.
It was like society was turned topsy-turvy,
because ladies waited on them.
And Mich Turner recreates a miniature masterpiece
she made for the Queen.
And that is my afternoon tea crown cake.
What a perfect cool Britannia!
Here in this beautiful stately home,
we start with a quintessential afternoon tea treat -
a firm favourite of the Royals.
And we're here in the wonderful old kitchen.
It's all coppers, and ranges, and history,
and Michelin-starred chefs, like Paul here.
-How are you doing, Paul?
-What are you doing? It's afternoon tea today, isn't it?
-It's afternoon tea.
Now, widely reported, this is the Queen's favourite meal.
-So, what are you going to do?
-I'm going to do Battenberg cake.
-Yeah, a real old favourite.
-Yes, I used to have that when I was a kid.
-That's the one with the squares?
-That's it, the ones with the squares built up.
So what we've got here is two sponge mixtures, OK?
This one's vanilla, and this one has no vanilla in it
because this is going to become chocolate.
-So we're going to go straight in with our vanilla sponge.
And the important thing with this is making sure that we spread it
right to the edge of our baking tray,
but also as well that we've got no air trapped in there.
And I'll show you a way of how we can kind of get rid of that.
And what happens if you do get air trapped in there?
Well, you know when you see a sponge that's got pockets in it?
-Just sort of air pockets.
So that's what that's with.
If we just get rid of our bowl for that one.
We're just going to spread that mix right to the edges, like so.
It's wonderfully gooey, isn't it?
-I kind of like that stuff before you cook it.
I know! Do you know what?
-It's lovely raw.
-Yeah, yeah, it's the kid in me.
So, we've got our vanilla mixture in there.
You know I told you earlier about that scientific way of getting rid of the air?
-Yeah, very technical, you said.
-Very technical, I said, didn't I? Like this!
Talking about technical,
presumably it's important to get the two bits of cake looking the same?
Absolutely, Michael, and a nice little tip is,
rather than looking at your eggs by number, look at them by weight.
-So weigh the eggs.
-Yeah, they can vary sometimes.
Of course they can vary. You can have small eggs, large eggs.
So weigh the eggs,
and if you weigh it then you'll get your two sponges exactly the same.
Yeah, yeah, it'll look as if it's been cooked by a professional.
Instead of by you!
-Thank you. I love you, too, Michael.
-Yeah, I know, I know, I know!
-Do you know why they're called Battenberg cakes?
-No, neither do I, actually. But one theory...
One theory is there was a Prince Louis of Battenberg
who married Queen Victoria's granddaughter, also called Victoria,
-and that this cake was created for the wedding.
Actually, the Battenbergs,
in the First World War when people didn't like German names,
had to change their name.
It means "Mountbatten" in German. "Berg" means "mountain".
-And Prince Philip is a Mountbatten through his uncle.
Gosh, that looks good.
-No, no, I'm not going to.
-No, no, no.
It looks too tempting.
So, what I've got here
is the same sponge mixture, no vanilla, and we've got chocolate.
So we've done cocoa powder,
just mixed in with milk to make that lovely paste
and we've folded it in here, to our cake mixture.
Now we're going to do exactly the same,
this one being just ever so slightly...
It's smoother, isn't it? It's really gooey, isn't it?
And it's important, Michael, to make sure it's completely folded in.
-You can't do this with kids around, can you?
-No, you can't.
-Their fingers would be in it.
-Because they're going to be all over that.
-Or the corgis. You've got to keep the corgis at bay.
-Yeah, or the corgis!
So we just move... And same again, right to the corners.
-Quite a bit easier to work with, is the chocolate one.
Right to the corners, like that.
A little tap.
-And if I could give those to you to go put in the oven?
-I'll be very careful.
About 30 minutes at 160, please.
-How are they looking, Michael?
They'll take about 30 minutes, 160, gas mark sort of 4, 5.
They'll rise beautifully.
Great way to check them is just put a nice pastry needle in the middle,
take it back out, and if it's clean, the mix is beautifully cooked.
-Now we've got some marzipan.
-I love marzipan.
I think every kid loves marzipan, don't they? It's fantastic stuff.
We've just rolled that out in icing sugar, actually.
-Oh, it's not flour?
-No, it's not flour,
because we don't want that horrible taste of raw flour.
So we've got that lovely icing sugar. So, what I've got here...
I'll use our vanilla sponge and our chocolate sponge that's been cooked.
Now, just, so it's nice and neat,
I'm just going to whip off those ends, like that,
-for you to have a little sneaky taste.
-Oh, can I? Yep, yep, yep!
I can just feel, by running my knife through it,
-just how moist and beautiful it is.
These are the ones I made earlier.
So we're just cutting our sponges into these lovely strips.
So just straight down like that.
The ones I remember were pink.
Yeah, they were. And the ones I had were pink as well.
-So, maybe a bit more natural, this one.
I should think this is the one the Queen probably has, because she is
-particularly fond of chocolate, isn't she?
Mmm, that's nice, too.
Another nice little tip you could do as well,
if there were no kids having it, you could just soak these sponges,
-or brush them with some alcohol of your choice.
-So now I'm laying them out.
Can you see how they start to come together?
And, at this point, you want to be quite neat,
but remember you're going to fold up, you're going to cut those edges off.
-You're lucky they're not breaking.
Isn't that a bit of a danger when you pick them up like that?
Just be very careful. Just hold them just like that, in the middle.
I see what you mean about them having to be the same height.
-It would look a bit...
-It would look untidy otherwise.
Now, over here I've got some apricot jam on the stove.
It's great, isn't it? These royal recipes are fantastic.
I know, I've got my elastic belt on.
Right, now I'm just going to brush that over like so,
and then we're going tor carry the same procedure
all the way to the top.
-We want to put a little bit on the marzipan as well.
OK? And a bit that side. Right.
Next, we're going to swap it over.
We're going to go vanilla first this time.
Here we go, like that.
More of that lovely, delicious apricot jam.
And this is to make it stick together?
That's it. That's your binder, OK?
Up the sides, like that.
And then we go back and we repeat the process the same as the bottom.
You're an artist, really, aren't you?
Well, yes, I'd like to think so, Michael. Yes.
OK, now balance them up like that.
More of that lovely, delicious apricot jam.
I mean, look at this.
It's just lovely, isn't it?
It's great fun to make as well. Great fun.
Right. We've got that all up there.
-Now we're going to roll, OK?
So we're just going to pick that up like that.
-Keep it nice and tight.
Get your hands over, under like that. OK?
-Keep it nice and tight.
Don't worry about this stage.
It may look a bit messy, but it's about keeping it tight, OK?
And looking at it from this end...
Wipe your hands!
-Looking at it from this end, as you do it...
..it just shows you how...
I mean, a lot of people say it's nothing to do with German royal families or anything like that.
It's an old English recipe that used to be called church window cake,
because of those squares.
Oh, OK. Yeah, I see.
-Pays your money, takes your choice.
-Now, you see I've brushed a bit more jam?
Now I'm going to go right over and I'm just going to push that down,
like that, and that's our seal.
Cover our ends.
-Like that, and we do that to not let any air in.
Now, what you do is transfer that onto some grease-proof paper,
then onto clingfilm.
Roll it up to keep it nice and tight
and just let it sit in the fridge for an hour.
-That makes it solid?
-Solid. Nice and tight.
-So then... Are you ready?
-There we go.
-Oh, it's perfect, isn't it?
-Look at that!
Absolutely perfect. Geometric!
That's just by rolling it in the parchment paper,
then the clingfilm, and just letting it set,
then the whole thing just tightens and becomes like that.
I'm going to cut you a slice. Would you like to pour the tea?
-I'm going to pour you a cup of tea.
-Here we go.
-Do you take it with milk?
Of course, you wouldn't have anything fattening, would you?
-No, not at all.
-Not at all.
No butter or anything like that all. Or cream. Or cake!
-There we are.
-There we go.
-It's that lovely apricot jam running through.
-Yeah, look at it.
I'm trying to do this with my little finger raised.
-I'll join you.
-There we go.
-That is absolutely delicious.
-Takes me back to my childhood.
But the ones I had in my childhood were nothing like as good as this.
-Do you know what? That flavour of childhood is the marzipan.
-Isn't it? Just straightaway.
A delicious chocolate version of this classic cake.
Perfect for a modern royal afternoon tea.
Do you know, the British habit of taking tea in the afternoon,
..started in the 17th century, and a lot to do with Audley End here.
-Because this was owned by Charles II,
and tea drinking was actually brought to this country,
at least in part, by his wife, Catherine of Braganza.
-She was Portuguese.
She came here from Portugal, had a really rough journey,
got off the boat and said,
"I want a cup of tea."
And all they had was beer, ale.
-She soon changed that.
-And that's where tea came from?
Yeah, she soon changed that.
And I suppose the natural step then was cake.
Yeah, because they used to have sugar in their tea.
Everyone had sugar in their tea then.
And then later, Queen Alexandra, she loved afternoon tea,
-but she thought the poor should have it as well.
And she reckoned that was the ideal thing for the poor maids of London.
As afternoon tea was very much an aristocratic affair at the time,
the then Princess Alexandra decided to play her part in trying to change this
by arranging a special tea party for some unsuspecting guests.
Historian Annie Gray is finding out more about this pioneering Royal.
Princess Alexandra was the beautiful and extremely fashionable wife
of Edward, Prince of Wales, Queen Victoria's eldest son.
However, married to a prince though she may have been,
her husband was known as Edward the Caresser.
So, I think it's fair to say she hadn't exactly drawn a long straw
when it came to her marriage.
Alexandra turned a blind eye to her husband's many mistresses,
and threw herself into charitable works,
quickly becoming one of the most popular Royals of the time.
Her other great passion in life was afternoon tea,
as described by a book written by a member of the Royal household at the time.
"The teas", the author said, "were held in a charming sitting room.
"Places were set all around the long table, and there is a seemingly
"inexhaustible supply of cakes,
"both hot and cold, sandwiches of all kinds, rolls and jams.
"But, when the weather was fine and the King and his guests were in the
"grounds, the Queen extended the hospitality of her beautiful tea room."
In 1902, in order to celebrate her husband's coronation,
Alexandra hit upon the bright idea of combining these two important
elements in her life - tea taking and charitable work.
She sponsored a whole series of teas for 10,000 maids of all work.
1,000 of them came here to Fulham Palace,
to have their tea in the Bishop of London's garden.
At this time, domestic service was the biggest source of employment for women.
Our own Mildred Nicholls was to go into service herself six years later
at Buckingham Palace.
These skivvies and grafters at the bottom of the food chain
were about to be given a taste of the high life.
-Hello, I'm Miranda.
-Welcome to Fulham Palace.
I'm Annie. This is... This is fab!
-Yeah, it is rather special, isn't it?
Miranda Poliakoff is curator at Fulham Palace,
home to the Bishop of London, where one of the charitable teas was held.
So, here we have my goodies that I've got out for you to see.
So, this invitation is very special to us.
It was for a Miss Ada Smith,
to tea at four o'clock on Tuesday July the 29th
to celebrate the coronation in 1902.
All the 10,000 maids who attended these teas were each given a brooch.
Ada was obviously a very careful lady,
and she left her brooch on her invitation.
It's such a remarkable thing to have.
And so what would the maids have been eating?
Well, we haven't got an exact description of what was served here,
but this cutting we have from the Daily Graphic says
that the tea was a substantial one, and much appreciated.
And this chap here seems to be serving...
Well, I imagine it's probably just bread and butter, isn't it?
But maybe they got white bread.
After all, that was supposed to be much better for you.
-I'm sure they would have had cake as well.
Sadly, the soon-to-be-crowned queen was unable to attend on the day
as the king was taken ill.
So the job of hosting 1,000 maids was left to the newly-appointed bishop.
He was very disappointed that the Queen actually didn't come on the day,
but he had his ladies.
He had a military band and he had a choir from the Chapel Royal.
So it really was all singing, all dancing, quite literally,
for all these sort of belaboured maids.
He wrote in his memoirs that everything went well,
except that the 1,000 maids insisted in all kissing the band,
but the band didn't seem to mind, so that was fine.
And he actually, also, in addition to the normal tea they were given,
he also provided grapes from the hothouse here.
These very special tea parties were a chance
for some of the lowest-paid workers in society
to have a rare day off,
and to toast the new king and queen.
It must have been very special.
I mean, even his own butler, by the look of it, standing here with teapots and tea urns.
It must have been amazing if you were a maid of all work,
used to being the lowest of the low,
to be invited here and sit on the lawn and be served by a butler.
Yes, and also, ladies...
It was like society was turned topsy-turvy,
because the ladies waited on them.
Here they were at this very special place that they would never think they would be invited,
and being waited on by people who would normally be their employers.
It's a lovely idea, though.
I mean, when you think under royal sponsorship as well,
to actually go out there and show that you're thinking of some of the poorest
and, I suppose, most looked- down-upon members of society.
Just 10,000 girls having a really special day.
That's just something really quite nice.
Two of the classics in the afternoon tea world,
and indeed favourites in the Royal household,
are scones and chocolate eclairs.
Now, for a really grand, Royal afternoon tea,
there are certain essential ingredients, aren't there, Paul?
-Scones. Scoh-nes? Scones.
And the Queen, I think, likes a particular kind of scone.
She does, orange, and it's absolutely delicious.
It really works. Bit different as well.
So in these, your typical scone recipe,
and we've got orange blossom water in there, and orange zest.
So it's quite fragrant.
-Would you like to try?
-Yeah, come on.
And what's also nice,
-to carry on that theme with the orange, is the marmalade.
-Now, do you put the marmalade on first, or the cream on first?
Of course, I'm from Cornwall.
-Oh, I see. Is that different?
-Absolutely, yeah. Very different.
-They do it the other way round, do they?
-In their benighted way.
-So, we're going to go on with our lovely jam first, OK?
-And then... Just a beautiful...
-Oh, just a small amount.
Just a small amount, Michael. Like that.
-Oh, this is going to be hell, isn't it?
-There you are.
-Look at that.
-Go for it.
You've got a bad hand.
-It's lovely in orange.
-Nice, aren't they? Delicious.
I can see what the Queen means now.
-And the other thing you need to do...
-That's what you're going to do now, isn't it?
So, very simple, eclairs.
They are choux pastry, and we are going to fill them with a lovely...
What the French call "Creme Chantilly".
So, basically, a vanilla cream with fresh vanilla and icing sugar.
So, just get your nozzle right in the end
and just literally keep filling it with cream
until it's, like, just bursting out the ends.
And you can feel it going all the way through, right to the bottom.
-You want them filled.
-All the way up.
Filled with cream, absolutely.
It's extraordinary how many of these dishes that are so familiar
actually come from the Royal Family, or Royal Family chefs.
-One of the Royal Family's early chefs, a man called Careme in the 1800s.
-He was famous, wasn't he?
-Yes, almost the first...
-One of your mob.
Anyway, Monsieur Careme is supposed to be the man who invented the eclair.
Did you know that?
I didn't know he invented the eclair, but whoever it invented it,
it's a true triumph because it's absolutely delicious.
Right, so we've just filled these right up with cream.
Just getting it all in so it's literally spurting out the edges.
Now, next, which I'm going to get you to help me with, is the fun bit.
So here we have chocolate glacage. Shiny, dark chocolate sauce.
So in there you've got golden syrup with cocoa powder, dark chocolate,
a little bit of glucose syrup, water, and you just bring those,
and some butter, and you just bring those ingredients to a simmer
and then just whisk it.
So you've got the glucose syrup, the butter, the golden syrup -
that's what gives it that lovely shine.
And that's the point, isn't it?
Because "eclair" means "lightning" in French.
-It's got to shine. It's got to sparkle.
So just dipping it into that sauce.
Now that's very clever. So you don't pour it over the top, as I would.
No, you don't pour it over the top.
And then just literally...
Like that, one by one.
You're being very precious about it, aren't you?
Just so it's down, and then just come up like that.
And then just pull it back, just gently over the surface,
-so you've got them like that.
-That's really good, isn't it?
-Like a go?
-Yeah, I would.
-Go for it.
Turn it upside down like that and away you go.
You know I was saying that so many of our familiar dishes seem to come
from the Royal family? Well, arguably,
the Royal family were involved in inventing afternoon tea itself
because it's supposed to be the Duchess of Bedford who was one of
Queen Victoria's ladies-in-waiting, or ladies of the bedchamber,
who invented it in the 1840s, I think, 1850s,
because dinner was getting later and later and they were getting hungry
in the afternoons. So she invented afternoon tea.
Or that's what all the dictionaries say, anyway.
I don't know how true it is.
I made a bit of a horlicks of that, didn't I?
Hopefully you didn't see but you obviously have -
I've moved it over to there so it's not near mine!
-Can I have another go?
-Go for it!
I've made a complete shambles of that.
-What do you do...?
-Just push it down a bit more.
-That's it, push it down a bit more.
Now take it and then just drag the excess off.
-Yeah, like that.
-That's it, lovely!
Lovely. Ooh, I like the line you've got going down the middle.
It's called feathering, that is.
-It's better than yours!
-It is, much better.
Naturally! Right, in we go.
Now, you could take these to the fridge or you could put them in
-a sort of a cool place and let them set.
But do you know what? I think that's...
-Why would you?
-That's an absolute waste of time.
-Let's get stuck in.
-Yeah, let's do it. Let's do it.
-Here we go.
-Warm chocolate, cold cream...
-..and that lovely choux pastry exterior.
-Oh, hang on.
Let's have another go.
-How good are they?
-They're not bad, actually.
-They're not, are they?
They're not bad. PAUL CHUCKLES
When it comes to afternoon tea, pastry and scones are a must-have.
There's only one thing missing...jam.
Jam is the unsung hero of any afternoon tea.
You can't have a scone without a generous dollop
of your favourite preserve.
Wilkin and Sons have been making jam in the Essex town of Tiptree since
afternoon tea became popular in the late 19th century.
To celebrate their 125th anniversary,
the Queen came for a factory tour.
The day the Queen came... Oh, it was just out of this world.
Just amazing, really was.
The whole of the village had come out, literally,
outside of the factory, to see her. It was amazing.
In charge of Her Majesty's tour was Walter Scott,
joint MD of the company and a jam connoisseur for over 30 years.
She was jolly interested in everything.
She obviously knew all about the jams and marmalades
and did actually say
that she remembers the name Tiptree from the time she was a little girl.
Which was quite a thing really.
The company has a long association with the Royal family.
It's held a Royal warrant for over 100 years.
These are given as a mark of recognition for producers who supply
the household for more than five years.
This is our Bible of labels, really,
of the history of the company right from the beginning.
We've had the warrant since around 1911
but it changes with every monarch.
So, only three monarchs in that time.
We've got one here by appointment to King George V.
We've gone from King George V there
to King George VI here and then to...
this one is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.
Oh, it's a really important thing for us.
We're so proud to have it.
A passion for preserve kept the company going through two world wars
and tough economic times and their traditional methods are at the heart
This is where all the fruit, from whichever source, is sorted.
It comes from our own farms, it comes from abroad.
Copper boiling pans are used which heat the fruit up faster,
allowing the sugars to caramelise.
This ensures a perfect, jammy flavour.
We've got 14 boiling pans, each producing about 70 kilos of jam or
marmalade every 10-15 minutes.
As much of the fruit as possible is grown on-site,
where the company have been farming for 300 years.
Today, farm director Chris Newenham blends old methods with new.
We are a very traditional business and we cling on to the best of those
traditions. You know, something like Little Scarlet strawberries,
it's a strawberry variety that we've grown for 120 years and there is
nothing to beat it, so when we have a situation like that,
-we'll carry on with it.
-But the way they grow fruit is changing.
The company has increased the number of plants by filling their tunnels
with rotating tiers.
It's a great way of coping with the local weather as well.
Well, one of the great challenges that we face in this part of
the world is that we're farming in the driest part of the driest county
so water is a real issue for us and it's a great limitation on growth.
One of the beauties of a system like this is that we've got gutters on
the roofs so we are able to harvest all the rainwater
that falls on the tunnels.
This is a brand-new system and it's already leading to a huge increase
in fruit production.
And that's just as well as these jam makers have noticed
that afternoon tea is becoming more and more popular.
We export a good proportion of our production,
probably more than any other UK food company.
You're proud of the whole thing, you're proud of the name,
but what's inside the pot is important to me and afternoon tea
seems to be coming back. There's a bit of a resurgence.
With scones and cream and Little Scarlet jam on top.
One organisation that knows more about afternoon tea than most
is the Women's Institute.
And I'm here in the Grand Library of the house with Yvonne Brown, who's
chairwoman of the Sandringham WI and has had afternoon tea with the Queen
-loads of times.
-I have, yes.
I've been a member for 25 years and the Queen's been coming to every
meeting since 1943.
So, I've enjoyed many a nice afternoon tea with her.
The branch was actually started by Queen Mary, wasn't it,
-after the First World War?
-It was started by Queen Mary, yes.
-And she used to come along every year.
-She was the first president.
-And she really joined in?
Yes, she used to like to take tea with the ladies and they even
played musical chairs.
But, I have to say, we don't do that now.
The present Queen has been coming since 1943, you say?
She became a member in 1943.
She came with her mother and Princess Margaret.
And how often does she come now?
Once a year to the January meeting and that coincides with the Queen's
-break at Sandringham.
-So, you know she's coming...
-What preparations do you make?
Well, we, you know,
get out the best china and the best tablecloths and the floral
arrangements to make the room look pretty
and we make - I make lots of different cakes and things.
Is that different from the normal meeting?
Well, normally we just have a tea and a biscuit.
So, how does it work?
Well, the Queen arrives, usually at three o'clock,
and we sing the national anthem.
We sing Jerusalem.
-And she joins in?
-She does, yes.
And then the Queen'll give us a short resume of what she's been
doing over the past year and then she takes tea with three ladies.
-So, she doesn't sit with all of you?
-No, no, no, no. No.
-It wouldn't work.
-The same three ladies?
No, not at all. No, this is done in strict rotation.
How many years you've been a member and how many attendances you've had
-through the year.
-Oh, it's an incentive scheme?
-Oh, absolutely, yes.
-And what do you serve her?
-We serve a selection of cheese scones and
assorted sponge cakes and eclairs and things.
And this year, because it was the Queen's 90th birthday,
I made a very special fruitcake for her, which I know she likes,
and we were one of the first people...
I think we were THE first people
to actually serve the Queen with a birthday cake.
And I've actually brought you one.
-I thought, you know, you might like to sample one.
Better not in the library here.
-No, no, no.
-So, what do you talk about?
Um...the Queen, when she's sat with the three ladies,
she talks about almost anything, you know,
obviously there's a lot of horses and things at Sandringham
and she talks about the horses.
She'll talk to people about their families,
especially some of the people that she's known a long time
because bearing in mind she has been coming such a long time
and so have a lot of the ladies so she does...
-She probably knows them of old.
-Yes, yes, she does.
Gosh! What do you think she gets out of it?
I think she gets a really nice, relaxing afternoon.
It's something completely different from her everyday life,
where she's sort of taken round and visiting different places,
where she can come there and completely relax.
A chance to be ordinary, perhaps?
-Or as far as the Queen can be.
As far as the Queen can be ordinary, yes.
And what about you ladies?
-What do you get out of it?
-Well, we get enormous...
I mean, we're so honoured and privileged that the Queen
is our president.
It's just a wonderful day.
The highlight of our year, it has to be said.
And then next week it's back to tea and biscuits.
The Queen must be something of a connoisseur of fruitcake.
So much so that Royal cake-makers would go to extreme lengths
to create the perfect cake for a regal afternoon tea.
Baker Mich Turner knows exactly what to do.
Mich Turner has created cakes for many A-list celebrations.
Often described as the queen of couture cakes,
she's also baked for numerous members of the Royal family.
In 2010, Mich
was awarded an MBE for services to the catering industry.
The recipe I'm going to show you this afternoon is exactly the same
as the cake that I made for a larger celebration cake
for Her Majesty the Queen.
But today, we're going to make it as an afternoon tea cake.
For me, afternoon tea wouldn't be afternoon tea without a traditional,
I'm starting with melted butter and sugar and I'm going to add a big
tablespoon of treacle.
People often ask me - do I feel under pressure,
having baked for members of the Royal family?
Having the opportunity to celebrate cakes with
members of the Royal family has been wonderful.
You know, I've made a cake for Prince Charles for his birthday.
We painted his coat of arms on the side of the cake and we wrote in
English and in Welsh "Happy birthday, Prince of Wales"
and for Her Majesty the Queen I've made a number of
cakes, but particularly most memorable for me was
the diamond wedding anniversary cake that I made for a private Royal
family Christmas lunch.
And then Queen took the top tier with her to Sandringham to enjoy
over Christmas. So this fruitcake really has stood the test of time.
Mich now stirs in eggs and vanilla extract, then sieves flour,
adds a raising agent and a combination of spices.
I was really honoured to receive an MBE in 2010 for my services to the
catering industry. It's one of those most truly wonderful accolades that
you can't apply for, enter for, even know that it's going to happen.
I was truly, truly overcome.
It was a fabulous day to go to Buckingham Palace
and receive my MBE.
I do wear it with pride and the main benefits are that my children and my
grandchildren can be married and christened in St Paul's Cathedral,
which is pretty lovely.
Mich combines the batter with sultanas, currants,
raisins, glace cherries and ginger,
which have all been soaked in brandy for 48 hours.
Quite often you can have a fruitcake that has a lot of cake with very
little fruit in it, whereas mine's the alternative.
It's a lot of fruit that's wrapped up in a little bit of cake.
Mich transfers the batter to a lined tin and pops it in the oven.
And then, after two and three quarters hours,
the cake is ready to mould into afternoon-tea-sized portions.
The cake is baked and it's cooled.
So, starting right at the edge of the cake,
I'm going to take that cutter
and press really evenly all the way down.
The top tip for cutting these out is to ensure that your cutter is nice
and clean. If it starts to stick a little bit, you can dip it in some
icing sugar. But if the cake is chilled beforehand,
that will really, really help.
Once divided, Mich brushes her cake with apricot jam
and is ready to apply a base layer of marzipan.
Lay that over the surface.
The marzipan itself will help to lock in all the moisture inside the
cake. Cup it all the way around, down to the base.
Cut that out, pop it through
and that is the fruitcake ready to have its top coat of icing.
Brushing the cake with brandy before icing will not only add flavour,
it'll also create an antiseptic barrier that will help preserve the
-So, that's brushed, lift the icing up
over the surface
and once I get right the way down to the base,
take the larger-sized cutter, press down.
And that's the cake.
You use smoothers around the edge and on the top to ensure that you've
got the perfect finish.
And then, at this stage,
I'm going to put it straight on to a little disc before decoration.
Now for the intricate process of decorating the teacakes.
I've made these little afternoon tea cool Britannias
for Her Majesty the Queen. As you can see, a labour of love,
but certainly worth the effort
to show that you've really thought about making that person feel
Making these individual crown cakes is so labour-intensive
that it can take Mich up to three days to produce 100.
I'm going to use this to pipe three leaves.
As I start piping the leaf,
I can give it a little wiggle to bring in the texture.
Release and lift up and that creates the first leaf.
Turn to pipe the second and then the third one here.
And what this will do is create three beautiful leaves
that cover where the candy stripes started.
But, most importantly,
give me the anchor so that I can bring my red rose into position
on to the top of the cake. And that is my afternoon tea crown cake.
The rich fruitcake I made for Her Majesty the Queen
on a perfect cool Britannia.
Fruitcake can be rich and sometimes a plainer bun goes down better in
the afternoon. At the time of Buckingham Palace kitchen maid
Mildred Nicholls, the Queen sent down a request to the kitchen.
It was a recipe for Bath buns.
100 years and more ago, our kitchen maid,
our Buckingham Palace kitchen maid, Mildred Nicholls,
seemed to spend most of her time doing puddings and desserts
if her recipe book is anything to go by.
And look at this, Paul. This is really fascinating because
a loose leaf in the recipe book is a recipe actually sent down
by the Queen to the kitchens -
-a recipe for Bath buns.
-So, the Queen sent this recipe down?
-Yep, to her.
-She's got it in here.
-There's a recipe, though, for Bath buns.
It's a very simple recipe and actually, no disrespect,
quite a plain thing, a Bath bun.
It is a very simple recipe, as you've pointed out,
but what makes its special is this here.
And this is what we now know as a ferment, a starter,
when you're making bread. They would call it a sponge and in there,
Michael, is fresh yeast, milk, warmed - not to kill the yeast,
just warmed - sugar and flour and that there's like a really sour,
yoghurty kind of like... It's just fermenting.
It's really delicious.
And this is Mildred's recipe on the instructions from the Queen.
Absolutely. Absolutely, which is brilliant.
-It's quite a thought.
-So we've got our sugar, our eggs and some butter.
This is simply known as creaming.
So we're just going to pop that down there and start it off nice and
slowly. Once it starts coming together, we can just take
that speed up slightly.
It's taking off.
Mildred, presumably, would've done this with elbow power.
-Would it have taken a lot longer?
-OK. Next bit...
We are now just going to change our paddle for a dough hook
cos now we don't want to beat air into it, Michael,
-we just want to form a dough.
So I'm just going to pop that in there like that.
-In with our flour.
OK? So just plain flour.
-Now we're going to very gently...
You see it's just rising and rising in the basin?
-I'm just going to pop that in there and it's important to get all of this in.
-Get all of that in.
I don't know if you can smell it, it smells like beer.
Yeah, it does actually. Quite exciting.
OK, down... And this bit just gently...
What this is going to do now is knead.
That'll take a couple of minutes,
but what it will also do is work the gluten in the flour cos we don't
want to just bind it together, we now need to kind of slowly
knock it, what we call knocking it. We work that gluten.
It's quite interesting, the social history of all this
because this recipe came at a time when the Royal family
were getting a bit more austere, you know.
Some of the extravagance was being put behind them.
-And Queen Mary, in particular,
she was a real stickler and she would measure out the tea leaves
for the cups of tea for her afternoon tea
and she'd insist on doing it herself.
And that, Michael, is our dough.
As Mildred would've made it.
-She must have spent, you know,
most of her working life doing afternoon tea for Queen Mary,
the wife of King George V.
She wasn't always appreciative, you know?
She was that stickler and we've actually got a note from her sent
down to the kitchens, not necessarily to Mildred,
and about Bath buns.
She says here, "The Bath buns were very good when sent to Windsor last
"Friday, but yesterday they were, again, not good.
"They tasted too much of brioche, not bread."
In other words, too fancy French and not enough plain English,
do you think? Not a very nice note for Mildred to get if it was aimed
Well, do you know what? I think it probably does resemble more towards
a brioche then it does a bread anyway.
You'd have got the same sort of note, would you?
I would've got the same note. I'm with Mildred.
Right, here we go. So we've got this.
So, we're just going to knead it now, just gently knead it,
like that, like so.
-Do that for about a couple of minutes.
Into a nice circle.
-Straight into our bowl.
And, over here...
-Tea towel or clingfilm over the top.
And over here,
it's now doubled in size.
-And how long does it take you to do that?
That will take about half an hour.
So you've just got this kind of
beautiful dough that's increased in size.
What we do is pull it out gently onto the board like that, OK?
And again, we knock it, what we call knocking it back, again.
What's that for? What are you biffing it around for?
You're taking the air out so it's basically rising
again, rising again.
OK? Now, if you just grab about that much...
-..and then roll that into a little...
Just perfectly like that, just nice and round.
Keep it nice and tight in your palm.
Queen Mary would like mine.
Not sure about yours. Oh, look!
She wasn't that fussy, was she?
Look, mine's so much better than yours.
-You put them on here?
-Pop them onto the tray.
-There we go.
No, a bit more space apart because they're going to prove again.
-Oh, they're going to expand.
-And the reason we do that, Michael,
is so that the dough isn't chewy.
OK. So this will go into the oven for 15 minutes at 200 degrees.
-Quite a hot heat so they bake quickly.
-Then...you have these.
-Look at those!
-Look how they've puffed up.
Light, sweet, delicious.
-They're ready to serve now?
-No, we just need to glaze them now.
So over here we have some golden syrup that we've just let down
with a little bit of water.
It's a Mildred recipe! THEY CHUCKLE
-So, literally, Michael, just dab it over...
-Just dab it on the top.
Absolutely, yeah. All over our buns, like so.
-Bit of shine on the top of the thing.
-And it also...
I was about to say spice up,
but sweetens up what is otherwise a relatively plain...
It is quite plain but, like I say,
the secret is in that lovely ferment that's in these buns and that...
Almost that kind of sweet-sour note with the yeast.
Really good for a lighter afternoon tea.
I think, like you say, it's interesting, isn't it,
how the tastes kind of almost got simpler or not so extravagant
-as time went on.
-So we've got out last one here.
-There we go.
-They look rather marvellous, don't they?
-They do, don't they?
They look absolutely gorgeous.
-So what's next?
-Basically like little crunchy icing sugar.
And then straight on like that.
-Don't they look fabulous?
Also gives a nice texture because you've got that nice soft bun...
Yes, because everything else is soft and this'll be a crispy crust to it.
Absolutely. That lovely sticky glaze.
Right, can we now...
-Look at those!
-..have an afternoon nibble?
-Go for it. Get stuck in.
-No, after you this time.
-Go on, then.
All right. Which one? This one here?
-Yeah, OK, I'll take this one to keep it neat.
-Look at that.
-There we go.
I'm going to...
-How good are those?
Hang on, you've got a moustache!
Thank you, Paul. Another fine mess you've got me into.
That's all from our celebration of afternoon tea.
See you next time.
I'm going to have another go.
Michael Buerk is joined by chef Paul Ainsworth to look at food created for the Queen's favourite meal, afternoon tea. Paul starts with a Battenburg with a twist, creating a chocolate and vanilla version of a royal favourite. He also tries a recipe for Bath buns, which was discovered tucked into the recipe book of a Buckingham Palace kitchen maid in the early 20th century. Historian Dr Annie Gray tells the story of the charitable Queen Alexandra, wife of Edward VII, who chose to treat all the poorest maids in London to a grand tea party at a bishop's palace. Plus, royal cakemaker Mich Turner recreates a masterpiece she made for the Queen, but this time in miniature.