Enjoying a biscuit with a cup of tea is a tradition that began in London in the 1800s, transcending time to become a daily ritual for people the world over.
Paying homage to this vintage tradition, The Table Bay’s pastry chef Lee-Andra Govender has ensured that biscuits take pride of place in the hotel’s sumptuous High Tea spread.
“There is something comforting about sinking into a chair and dipping a biscuit into a cup of tea. It is a simple pleasure for everyone of all ages and in all seasons,” says Govender, adding that the humble biscuit has evolved over time, from the hard, dry and unsweetened varieties of the 1500s.
As the refinement and supply of sugar and flour increased, so did the ability to sample more luxurious foodstuffs, including sweet biscuits. Biscuits today can be savoury or sweet, and come in an array of shapes and sizes, including the sandwich types with a filling.
Diverse as the choices of biscuits might be, it takes something special to be selected for The Table Bay’s High Tea. Macarons, a lavish French take on the ‘cookie’, are dainty and chic little delicacies that Govender believes have that X-factor.
“The macaron is a sweet meringue-based confection made with egg white, icing sugar, granulated sugar, and almond powder or ground almond. As they are made primarily with almond flour and sugar, they are naturally gluten free.
"They can be fickle to make though, you have to get everything right. So the mix is pivotal. If you put too much sugar in, they will be crispy and if you don’t get the mix of almond flour right, they will be too cake like. But, once you get it right, there is possibly no more rewarding a cookie to have with your tea,” says Govender.
Govender invites guests to dabble in the therapeutic art of macaron making and shares her recipe.
“When you get it right, it will be worth the effort,” she says.
- Macaron Shells
- 300g icing sugar
- 500g ground almonds
- 200g large egg whites
- 1ml cream of tartar
- 200g castor sugar
- 1g pink and purple powder food colouring
- Strawberry Chocolate Ganache
- 180g dark chocolate discs
- 180g fresh cream
- 125g unsalted butter
- 20g strawberry paste
1. For the ganache, place dark chocolate discs, cream and butter into a bowl. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to melt completely. Add strawberry paste and mix until emulsified. Allow to cool at room temperature and store in a piping bag.
2. Preheat the oven to 1300C. Sift the icing sugar and ground almonds together in one bowl.
3. In another bowl, whisk together egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric mixer until the egg whites reach the soft peak stage.
4. Add castor sugar in three batches and whisk until thick and glossy.
5. Fold the almond mix and food colouring gently into the egg whites and scrape into a piping bag.
6. Prepare a piping bag with a 1cm nozzle. Pipe evenly spaced blobs out onto a tray prepared with silicon paper. Tap three times, and allow to dry and rest for 20 minutes. The surface of the macarons will become smooth and shiny.
7. Bake for 16 minutes. Gently remove from the oven and transfer the silicon paper onto a wire rack. Cool the macaron shells completely before attempting to remove them.
8. Sandwich the macaron shells together with ganache.
High tea is from Monday to Sunday in The Table Bay’s maritime-themed Lounge. The price for the full high tea experience is R395 per person. The Sinful Delight option is priced at R240, offering guests the choice of sweets and cakes from the dessert buffet only. A High Tea with three treats is R100 per person.