Thursday, 9 June 2011

Afternoon tea bake off challenge!!

Take one tiny condo kitchen with a temperamental oven & one over-enthusiastic home baker and what do you get?

Answer: The challenge of creating a homemade afternoon tea for 80+ people at my office last week.

It all started with an idea of having an office afternoon tea to celebrate a work initiative. I immediately put my hand up to help arrange all the food. Very exciting!! I started checking out caterers' websites and came up with a recurring thought as I browsed through their offerings - "I can do this better/cheaper/yummier/cooler/more awesome!"

So out came the cookbooks and here is the menu I came up with - all handmade with love over a series of 4 days.

Carrot Cake (not the Asian turnip kind!) with maple cream cheese frosting
Tropical chai pineapple cake
Mocca Swirl loaf with expresso icing
No bake chocolate, macadamia & fig slice
Really lemony gluten free cake
Pecan cheesecake swirl brownie
Mini lemon mascarpone cups with ginger nut cookies
Vanilla cupcakes with Nutella frosting, topped with fresh strawberries
Lemon drizzle coconut cupcakes
Apple, rum & raisin cupcakes topped with a cinnamon icing & orange zest
Two types of finger sandwiches - egg mayo with cucumber & coronation chicken (diced chicken breast mixed with mayo, curry powder, apple and raisins.

For this mammoth task, I created a detailed Excel spreadsheet shopping list - I am renowned for my love of Microsoft Excel! Once I had typed in all the ingredients for each recipe it showed me I needed a diet busting 2.75kg sugar, 1.9kg butter, 50 eggs and host of other yummy ingredients. A major shopping trip (or 4) was required!! I also set up a spreadsheet timetable showing me what I needed to be mixing/baking/frosting/packing at a given point in time leading up to the event. Some may scoff but this spreadsheet enabled military precision baking execution! I kid not.

Two lovely ladies from Gryphon tea (, a fantastic local Singaporean specialist tea purveyor, provide 6 different types of tea to complement the food.  

I must admit I was really happy with the results and thrilled with the amazing comments I received from my fellow work colleagues. (Special thanks to Michael Kane for the great photos!) Whilst a totally exhausting experience, I loved every minute of it & felt extremely proud of my handiwork. I definitely learnt a lot from this as well. Things to note for next time: 1. Not a great idea to try out new recipes when preparing for a big event (stress levels = HIGH!) 2. Gluten free recipes are a disaster waiting to happen (just kidding - but the lemon one I made was pretty weird with a massive air bubble in the middle of it).

The most popular treat turned out to be the carrot cake with maple cream cheese frosting - a real crowd pleaser! It is a brilliant recipe from a cookbook written by Yottam Ottolenghi from the famous cafe/bakery of the same name in London. I made the same cake for Hubby Chief taste tester's & my wedding cake so it always brings back lovely memories when I make it....

By the way, I have my first trial run Brunch & Co "Brunch Event" this coming Sunday - all spaces have been snapped up. I'll be posting up the results early next week. Wish me luck!

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