Day Twenty-Four: What Mary Berry Would Eat If She Were Vegan
Today’s prompt is a fun one, and I’ve chosen British national treasure Mary Berry so I can take a break from breakfast and tie this in to my usual afternoon tea posts. For any Vegan MoFo newcomers to the blog, every month I write about an all-vegan afternoon tea I’ve had. I must not be derailed from my mission, and this prompt is perfect: Mary Berry spends a lot of time trying cake, she delights in all things quaint and “scrummy” and in free-from week on the Great British Bake-Off she seemed game to try anything. And I think she’d be pretty impressed by the sheer scale of this operation.
When I set my ‘one afternoon tea per month’ goal for this year, I wasn’t expecting quite so much variety. But so far, it’s been full of surprises and delights, little twists on the theme. And when I walked into Steel City Cakes in Sheffield for my afternoon tea, my mouth actually fell open in surprise at the sight that awaited me. What a spread!
At £25 for two, with free refills, I thought this was a real bargain, and a lovely special occasion. The cafe is in a nice part of Sheffield that reminded me of Chorlton in Manchester, with its abundance of nice independent eateries and vintage shops. There weren’t many customers on a Saturday afternoon, but there was a vegan hot dog and burger grill going on outside, and service was perfect: friendly, but unobtrusive. I sent them a message on Facebook to see if they could do a vegan afternoon tea, and they said they just needed a few days’ notice.
There were a lot of sandwiches, with two different fillings: cucumber and cream cheese, or salad. These were accompanied by some delicious sausage rolls, reminiscent of sage and onion stuffing, wrapped in lovely flaky pastry. We even got a hot dog from the grill thrown in as well! However, with so much food before us, we decided not to fill up on bread and only had a couple of sandwiches along with the pastry and hot dog. Let’s face it, the sandwiches were never intended to be the highlight of this feast.
The sight of this scone plate made me giddy. There are two big scones per person, one with raisins and the other with cherries, both topped in sugar which just makes them extra delicious. And then there are four tiny, non-sugary scones each as well – two cherry, the others a combination of chocolate, raisin and hazelnut. The scones weren’t very high (this is also my problem when making scones), but they were really good. They were served with spread and jam, though we only managed to eat the cherry ones in the cafe – the others were all taken home as leftovers.
And then the petit fours. The lemon tarts were a wee bit burnt, but were really zingy. The florentine-style tarts were full of sticky caramel and nuts – it was the first time I’d had anything like that, and I loved it. The lattice-topped tart was blueberry, and was also really delicious. The flapjack was really syrupy and firm, I loved it (flapjack is one of my greatest weaknesses), and the brownie looked like it might be a bit dry, but wasn’t. The real highlight was the millionaire’s shortbread, just because it’s such a novelty. I might grumble that the proportions weren’t quite ideal (too much biscuit, not enough caramel and chocolate), but good lord, it was good! There was a nice hint of coconut to it as well, which was unexpected.
And finally, the cake plate. The big one was vanilla, with really sweet icing on top of a layer of jam. The sponge was light and moist. It was delicious! I took the other ones home, as I couldn’t manage another bite in the cafe: there was raspberry, cherry, coffee and walnut, and chocolate. All of them were scrumptious!
All in all, it was a wonderful experience and I can’t recommend it enough. I’d never expected to get so much food, nor to have four boxes of treats to take home with me! It’s very rare that I am bested by a sweet dish, but this was one of the few occasions. My mum and I both loved it, and Dr HH was delighted when I returned home with a stack of leftovers. I think Mary Berry would be similarly happy if she could try this feast.