If anyone ever asks me what is my favourite genre of book, or asks me as a writer which genre I prefer to write, I will never hesitate to say ‘children’s’. I could go onto lengthy descriptions of exactly why the genre (which is more of an age range than a genre, since it contains many other genres within it) is so special to me. I could fill a book with ideas and thoughts on how the most secretive, mad and special genre manages to make me entertain and question everything.
But what can I say that can’t be understood by reading a masterpiece like Lewis Carroll’s famously mad-adventure ‘Alice in Wonderland’? And that is how you do a sly, but unsuccessful segue into the dish of the day: welcome my ‘Alice and Wonderland’ inspired Afternoon Tea.
When I decided to do an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ dish I knew straight away that it had to be tea-related. I mean, is there any scene that epitomises ‘Wonderland’ more than the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party?
Well, yes, there’s actually plenty of famous scenes from ‘Alice in Wonderland’, and from ‘Alice through the Looking Glass too’ and with the Afternoon Tea I’ve managed to capture just a small few of the magical things inside the book.
The favourite of the day was an award won by the ‘Time/Thyme’ Scones and ‘White Rabbit’s’ carrot spread, made with very few ingredients but extraordinarily tasty. My only advice to myself when making them again would be to choose the softer parts of the thyme stem for clock handles, as the hard ones are a smidgen too difficult to chew.
The Mushroom Caterpillars were especially fun to make, and with a seat of buttery cooked chestnut mushrooms they were the perfect filling edition to the savoury platform. Although, as tasty as they were they were easily beaten by the Duchess’ tasty ‘baby’ in a blanket. The scene when the baby turned into a pig in a blanket (already a good dish in its own right) will forever be a memorable one and I hope to have elevated a great joke (and a great accompaniment) to an Afternoon tea delight, with the addition of a wholemeal ‘mattress’, a blue cheese ‘sheet’ and a little ‘baby’ lettuce cover. It was all a tasty treat and, by far one of the easiest things to make and enjoy.
That brings us on to the puddings, a much harder fete as I had to think of any scene where there was a crazy enough idea to represent the sheer creativity of Wonderland. Jam and rose sandwiches were a must to celebrate the Queen of Hearts and her deck of Playing Cards. Keep painting those roses, guys!
The Cheshire Cat’s smile is iconic and referenced all throughout many art works post ‘Wonderland’. With a crispy cinnamon base, a chantilly cream cover and large floral-milk jelly teeth I think this Cat will need to see a dentist pretty soon (especially if those biscuits don’t stop being as delicious as they are).
And last but certainly no less delicious, my salt and pepper madeleines, inspired by the poem ‘The Walrus and the Carpenter’. It may be a slightly dark tale (although no darker than other fairy tales and poetry for children at the time) but salted caramel and peppercorns go really well with the sweet vanilla and caramel sponge. If these things walked out of the sea and I was feeling as hungry as the Carpenter I’d be tempted to trick the young ones into following me too (wait, was this poem meant to be about the farming/fishing industry? Hmmm… That’s worth considering).
Overall I hope that this Afternoon Tea was a good tribute to one of my favourite books, and one of the favourite books of many other people. ‘Alice in Wonderland’ is as timeless as a vanilla sponge, as fun as a scone with clock hands and as crazy as a mushroom mousse stuffed choux caterpillar.
Thank you for reading and the recipes will be posted soon for the Sea Salt and Pepper ‘Oysters’ and the ‘White Rabbit’s’ carrot spread .