Tea Time Treats
Miss Hope lover of afternoon tea and purveyor of splendid confectionery, reveals her sweet shop secrets and two of her favourite recipes for you to try...
Miss Hope is one delightful half of the sweetie-shop sensation that is Hope and Greenwood. Having just launched her new book Miss Hope's Tea Time Treats we pinned her down for some confectionary chatter (and a cup or two of Darjeeling Gin Fizz)...
So Miss Hope, the inspiration behind your book?
My mum. My mum is a real old hero cook. In the days when she used to cook she'd do a full Sunday lunch and then there would still a tea after- I just think that’s astounding especially as she worked full time as well.
She was an amazing woman and an early pioneer really for women who do it all. And you would have a proper pudding after lunch and then there would be scones and proper cake.
My dad liked to bake as well. Considering he was very old school, he did make bread and cakes. He was brought up with my aunty Mary who is a great inspiration in my life, she spent a lot of time in my house with my mum and they used to sit at the table gossiping. And I’d spend a lot of time under the table, the little girl listening. I loved listening to them and she would always bring the latest biscuits she had made or cakes - a slice of this or a bit of that. And it was as much about sharing food as it was gossip...
What is appeal of sweets to people today?
I think everyone wants a bit of yesterday, a little bit of their childhood when things seemed perhaps a little bit more simple, funny and less fraught. Of the people who come into the shop every single one has a memory attached to a sweet and it’s always a happy memory, I’ve never heard of a sad one, ever.
It’s a very simple treat that’s totally cost effective and just makes you smile so there’s no guilt attached, it’s just such a lovely way to have a little moment of happiness.
Your favourite sweet?
Well I’ve been around a lot (oh that's slightly unfortunate turn of phrase there!) I’d say something really chocolatey. I'd have to say the Cherry Bakewell is everyone’s favourite at the moment. It’s just to die for; it really is lovely so I’m very into that at the moment. I always have a Chocolate Brazil though
Your favourite tea time treat?
It’s quite seasonal, I was skimming through the book earlier trying to work out what my favourite is. Most of them are very close to my heart so they really remind me of dinner parties my mum had when I was a little girl and me and my sister would come down at six o'clock in the morning and eat whatever was left. I think the Italian recipes in there are really nice. And I’m very fond of my fruitcake too; it’s a very nice one. And the chocolate truffle cake. I wanted it to me the most chocolateyest cake in the whole world and there was no expense spared on the amount of chocolate that went into that cake, including all the truffles on the top. I just think if it’s going to be a chocolate cake it’s got to be full on and it really is.
What is the most popular treat you sell?
The actual number one sweet is a milk bottle, isn’t that funny? It’s our number one seller. Chocolate bananas are pretty high up there too...
What one thing do you think people need more of in their lives?
Cuddles. I’m a mega hugger, big into the hugging. No one goes by without a cuddle. And I don’t care how important they are.
Are there any sweets that have gone out of fashion which you would love to see make a comeback?
Spangles. Spangles for God' sake, and the English ones which were aniseed flavour. There was also a sweet we had in the noughties that no one else had called Big One - it sticks out a mile! It was like a very long bar of nougat chocolate in a stripy wrapper.
Things in this country are often influenced by our geography. So if you’re in Newcastle would have things you would never have in London and it would not cross over. Big One was one of those things. Wispa’s were launched in Sunderland as well; hilariously the ones in Sunderland were much larger. I kid you not.
What sweet or treat would you give someone to cheer them up?
I’d give them a Toffee Shock. It’s a toffee that’s really, really, REALLY buttery and soft - like a Rolo - almost covered in chocolate and then in the chocolate there is popping candies. They’re not on the shelf yet but they will be in a minute - I’m just working on them now.
What’s your pet hate when it comes to sweets?
I hate people that talk about e-numbers who don’t actually know what an e-number is. When people say it’s got e4111… and I say it’s just beetroot, or actually I think you will find that’s caramel. The e stands for European. And I find that a little frustrating that people don’t understand that most e numbers aren’t bad for you. There are more numbers in a Sainsbury’s lasagne than there is in your sweets. Although largely these days we’re all natural in store so it doesn’t apply to us anyway.
Who are the greediest, men or women?
I think women are worse but I think men lie to themselves.
Are there any sweets or treat that you would refuse to sell?
We do sell sugar free, but I’m always uncomfortable with sugar free. I think you should eat a little bit of something naughty rather than something with a substitute which is not terribly good for you.
If you could make a bag of pick a mix for anyone who would you choose?
This is the hardest question! My immediate answer would be Collin Filth [Firth] as I like to call him. But I’d only put Dib Dabs in it, and that’s all I’m prepared to say on that. And I’d watch…
What sweet would you give to the Queen?
We are just making Gin and Tonic sweets and I know she's a Gin and Dubonnet girl...
Miss Hope's Tea Time Treats (Ebury Press, £12.99) is out now
Makes around 8 pimped biscuits.
Take 45 minutes to make; plus chilling, and it only takes 2 minutes to hoover the living room, Mr. Greenwood!
- 125g (4½oz) softened unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
- 125g (4½oz) golden caster sugar
- 1 medium egg, beaten, plus an egg white for glazing
- 225g (8oz) plain flour, sifted, plus extra to dust
- 2 tsp baking powder
- Pink-coloured sugar, for sprinkling
For the filling:
- 25g (1oz) softened unsalted butter
- 75g (3oz) golden icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Splash of milk
- 8 generous tsp seedless strawberry jam
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Generously grease two baking sheets.
2. Beat the butter and sugar in a bowl with a wooden spoon until the mixture looks pale, soft and creamy. Gradually add the egg and beat until the mixture looks soft and whipped.
3. Add the flour and baking powder and work it into the butter mixture. Bring together with your hands and knead into a dough.
4. Knead the dough briefly, then shape into a disc, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 15 minutes. Roll out the chilled dough on a lightly floured board to about 5mm (¼in) thickness. Cut out 16 hearts using an 8cm (3in) cutter then cut out a small heart from the middle of 8 hearts using a 4cm (1½in) cutter (for both cutters, this is measuring from the point of the top of the heart to the bottom point). These will be the tops of the biscuit and the uncut hearts will be the bases. You may need to re-roll the dough once or twice.
5. Brush each heart biscuit with egg white, then sprinkle them with coloured sugar. Put on two baking sheets, spaced well apart, and chill for 15 minutes. Once chilled, bake in the oven for 12 minutes until just golden. You may need to cook the dough in two batches. Cool on a wire rack.
6. Make the buttercream filling. Beat the butter in a bowl until soft. Sift over half the icing sugar and vanilla extract and work the icing sugar into the butter with a spoon. Continue to add the remaining icing sugar, a little at a time, then stir in a splash of milk to make the mixture soft and creamy.
7. When the biscuits are completely cool, put a small spoonful of jam in the middle of each base, spread out with a knife over just half the biscuit. Cover the other half with a little buttercream. Top with a heart biscuit top. Repeat until you fill and top all the biscuits. These can be stored in an airtight container, unfilled, for up to three days. Once filled, they’ll need to be exterminated within a day.
English Mini Muffins with ‘M’ and ‘X’ (pictured top)
Makes 24 mufties
Take 40 minutes to make and overnight to crease your trousers
- 40g (1½oz) salted butter, melted and cooled, plus extra for greasing
- 225g (8oz) self-raising flour
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground white pepper
- 100g (4oz) finely chopped ham
- 20g (¾oz) Cheddar, finely grated
- 1 tsp English mustard powder
- 1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
- 150ml (5fl oz) natural yoghurt
- 1 large egg
- 100ml (4fl oz) milk
For the filling:
- 60g (2½oz) softened salted butter
- A couple of dashes of cayenne pepper
- A box of cress
- 24-hole mini-muffin tin
- Piping bag and star nozzle
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C /400°F/Gas 6. Grease the mini-muffin tin generously with butter.
2. Sift the flour into a medium bowl. Add the salt and pepper, ham, cheese, mustard powder and parsley. Toss everything together. Steady on, old man; watch the mustard on the waistcoat.
3. Mix the cooled, melted butter, yoghurt, egg and milk together in a bowl. Beat the blighter. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in the wet mixture. Use firm, fast strokes with a large metal spoon to bring the two mixtures together – don’t worry if there are a few floury matches, matron will clean them up.
4. Spoon the mixture equally among the greased tin holes and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Leave to cool for a minute or two, then use a spatula to gently prise them out of the tin, and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
5. Beat together the butter and cayenne pepper.
6. Slice the top off each mini-muffin and set the tops aside. Pipe a rose of cayenne butter on top of each muffin, or spread the butter on with a knife, then top the butter with cress and replace the muffin hat – gentlemen should always wear hats. Serve immediately.
Daily tip from the lady archive
“HEAVEN forbid that we should go back to the days when beauty was under suspicion and plain girls were assumed to have angelic natures.”The Lady. With Prejudice. 28th April 1938