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Food: Royal tea rules

By Mark Flanagan & Kathryn Cuthbertson
Quintessentially British teatime classics, traditional treats and fresh delights from Buckingham Palace. Bake your own garden party.


Individual lemon drizzle cakes







170g unsalted butter, softened

2 large free-range eggs

170g unrefined caster sugar

A pinch of salt

170g self-raising flour

Zest from 2 unwaxed lemons (reserve juice for the drizzle)




Juice of the 2 lemons

90g icing sugar, sieved




Individual paper loaf moulds, available from all good supermarkets and online


Electric mixer

1. Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/gas 3.

2. Place the individual loaf moulds on a flat, heavy-duty baking tray and leave to one side until required.

3. Place the softened butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the remaining cake ingredients to the bowl and mix for three minutes until all the ingredients are fully incorporated and aerated. Divide evenly among the loaf moulds.

4. Place on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until the sponge turns golden brown and springs back when touched.

5. While the cakes are baking, make the drizzle. Place the lemon juice and the sieved icing sugar in a pan and simmer for a couple of minutes or until translucent. Brush over the lemon cakes as soon as they come out of the oven, dividing the drizzle among them, so that the liquid soaks evenly through the cakes.


Buttermilk and blood orange panna cotta



Blood oranges are in season from December to May. If blood oranges are unavailable, any sweet orange can be used, although the colour will be less pink.



1½ leaves gelatine

250ml double cream

75g unrefined caster sugar

1 vanilla pod, split, and seeds

250ml buttermilk

3 blood oranges (or see recipe intro)




4 small glass yoghurt pots or similar vessels

1. Soak the gelatine leaves in a bowl of ice-cold water, making sure they are completely submerged.

2. Place the double cream, sugar and split vanilla pod and seeds in a saucepan and gently bring to the boil. Remove from the heat. Once the gelatine is soft, drain and squeeze to remove any excess water. Add to the cream and stir gently until completely dissolved.

3. Strain the cream and gelatine mixture over the buttermilk and stir gently. Place in a jug and keep to one side at room temperature.

4. Peel and segment two blood oranges, and juice the third, reserving the juice. Carefully place four blood orange segments at the bottom of each glass pot. Slowly divide the buttermilk panna cotta among the glass pots. Place in the fridge to set, ideally for two hours.

5 Sit the glass pots on side plates or saucers with teaspoons on the side and pour some of the reserved blood orange juice on to the top of the panna cottas. Serve chilled.


Asparagus with sauce gribiche



The royal kitchens always try to use natural, local ingredients, tailoring menus to follow the seasons. In spring this means young green asparagus served with a simple sauce to complement the subtle flavour of the elegant spears.



20 spears of English asparagus, medium to large grade



4 freshly cooked hard-boiled large free-range eggs

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

250ml groundnut or sunflower oil

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons small capers, drained and chopped

2 tablespoons cornichons, finely chopped

2 tablespoons soft herbs (chives, tarragon and parsley), chopped

salt and pepper

1. Peel or trim any small leaves from the asparagus and snap off the woody ends.

2. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil. Carefully add the asparagus spears, bring back to the boil and simmer until just tender (3-4 minutes). Remove the asparagus, refresh in ice water and drain on a clean towel.

3. For the sauce gribiche, separate the hard-boiled egg whites and yolks. Chop two of the whites (save the remainder for another use). Put the yolks, mustard and a little salt and pepper in a mortar and crush with the pestle into a smooth paste. Transfer to a bowl. Trickle in the oil, mixing as you go and taking care that it amalgamates thoroughly. Add the vinegar in the same way. Add the chopped egg whites and the remaining ingredients. Adjust the seasoning.

4. Serve the asparagus with about 200ml of the sauce gribiche (save any leftover for another use).


Cardamom and orange shortbread



Cardamom adds an unusual citrus flavour to this delicate shortbread, and so combines beautifully with the orange zest.



240g unsalted butter, softened

135g unrefined caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

zest of 1 unwaxed orange

10g (1 tablespoon) ground cardamom

330g plain flour, sieved

30g (3 tablespoons) rice flour, sieved




Plain biscuit cutters or traditional shortbread mould if available (see picture right)


1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4.

2. Place the softened butter and sugar in a bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Add the orange zest and ground cardamom before carefully folding through and incorporating the sieved flours to achieve a dough. Allow to rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour or until firm before rolling out on a lightly floured surface to 5mm thick. Cut out biscuits with your chosen cutter and gently place on trays lined with baking paper.

3. Place on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 8 minutes. The shortbread will turn a light sandy colour when baked; do not allow it to become any darker. Remove from the oven and carefully place the shortbread on a wire rack to cool, sprinkling with caster sugar immediately.



Traditional scones with jam



Scones are best served on the day of baking, with homemade jam and self-indulgent thick clotted cream. A teatime classic.



250g plain flour

a pinch of salt

45g unrefined caster sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

50g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes

70ml buttermilk

1 large free-range egg



1 extra egg yolk

Pinch of salt


Homemade jam (for recipe, see below) and clotted cream



5cm plain round cutter

1. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/gas 7.

2. Sift the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Add the chilled, diced butter and gently rub into the dry ingredients using your fingertips. Once the butter has been incorporated, gently stir the buttermilk and egg into the dry ingredients until a soft, slightly sticky dough is achieved.

3. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured work surface. The dough must be handled carefully at this stage so that it isn’t overworked. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough to an even thickness of 2cm, ensuring that the dough comes off the work surface easily.

4. Dip the cutter into some flour before cutting out as many scones as you can, spacing them evenly on a greased baking tray. If you invert the scones as you place them on the tray they will rise more evenly during baking. Brush the scones with the egg wash, being careful to brush only the tops and not the sides of the scones.

5. Place on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Once baked remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.



There is something very satisfying in making jam – preserving the beautiful flavours of summer’s bounty to be enjoyed throughout the year ahead. Home-made jams if produced correctly have a shelf life of up to 12 months. Once opened, store in the fridge.

675g sugar

675g dry, fresh, barely ripe strawberries

juice of ½ unwaxed lemon



Jam thermometer

Preserving pan

Sterilised glass jam jars and lids

1. Hull the strawberries and layer with the sugar in a clean bowl. Cover and leave at room temperature for at least 24 hours. This will encourage the sugar to dissolve and the strawberry juices to escape.

2. Transfer the strawberries and their juice to a preserving pan if you have one; if not, a flat-bottomed saucepan will be fine. Ensure the contents of the bowl are thoroughly scraped into the pan. Add the lemon juice, then slowly bring the contents of the pan to a boil and allow to simmer gently for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover and leave at room temperature for a further 48 hours.

3. Return the pan to the heat and bring the contents to a rolling boil. Boil for about 10-15 minutes until a setting point is reached. (To check, see note below). Remove from the heat, skim off any scum, and allow to cool slightly before carefully pouring into your clean, sterilised jam jars. Immediately put the lids on, creating an airtight seal. Once cool, date and label for future reference.



If using a sugar thermometer, the jam must reach 104°C/220°F to achieve setting point. If you don’t have a thermometer to hand, you can always place a couple of teaspoons of jam on a cold saucer. Allow it to cool and if the jam wrinkles as you push your finger through it, then setting point has been achieved. If not, return the pan to the heat and boil for a further 5 minutes and then try the saucer test again.


Tea bread



Tea bread can be enjoyed as it is, but is equally moreish with jam or even cheese.



150ml boiling water

2 Earl Grey teabags

120g soft brown sugar

250g mixed dried fruit (golden sultanas, chopped dried apricots, raisins and currants)

Butter, for greasing

180g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground mixed spice

2 medium free-range eggs

Warmed honey, to glaze



900g (2lb) loaf tin

1. Pour the boiling water over the teabags and allow to infuse for 10 minutes. Remove the teabags and add the sugar and the dried fruit. Leave to soak, ideally for 12 hours.

2. Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/gas 3.

3. Prepare the metal loaf tin by greasing with butter and lining the bottom and sides with baking paper. Place the tin on a flat, heavy-duty baking tray and leave to one side until required.

4. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl, then add the eggs and soaked fruit. Once all the ingredients are fully combined, spoon into the prepared loaf tin. Place on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the loaf turns a golden brown colour. When the loaf is almost baked, remove from the oven and liberally brush the top with warm honey. Return to the oven for a further 10 minutes until a golden, glossy appearance is achieved. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before removing from the loaf tin.



Today’s recipes are from Royal Teas: Seasonal Recipes from Buckingham Palace by Mark Flanagan and Kathryn Cuthbertson, to be published tomorrow by Royal Collection Trust, price £14.95. 

To order a copy for £11.21 (a 25 per cent discount) until 21 May, visit or call 0844 571 0640; p&p is free on orders over £15.



  • Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017 
  • Styling: Cynthia Inions