October has been a busy month, with the onset of Spring there has been a flurry of activity in the garden as we make the most of the sunshine and warmer weather. As we lurch closer to Christmas, my mind turns to end of year parties, nibbles and drinks as well as small gifts for friends to show my appreciation for their ongoing support and friendship during what has been a particularly difficult 12 months. High Tea is a wonderful way to celebrate and catch up with friends, it is at once laid back and just a little bit regal. Paired with some bubbles it is all just a little bit posh.
Interestingly, High Tea, despite its now regal and elegant identity, was not always so posh and the dainty meal we are used to these days actually comes from very humble origins. High tea as we know it now actually refers to the very English tradition of Afternoon Tea. It is believed to have started in the 1800s when after the invention of kerosene lamps it became fashionable to take dinner much later in the day. While men often enjoyed long, lavish lunches where business and politics were discussed at length, women were left waiting for long periods between meals. It is said that the Duchess of Bedford started the trend which grew to become an important social and cultural event in British society. As the day wore on the Duchess complained of a sinking, weary feeling at the onset of the afternoon which could only be abated by a light snack; the Duchess invited other women over to ‘take tea’ and discuss ‘tea business’ during which delicate sandwiches and cakes were served. It became a highly fashionable form of entertaining that provided an important social outlet for Britain’s society ladies.
For the working class members of English society however, such a dainty afternoon ritual was not possible, financially or otherwise. Most members of the working class worked long days in heavy labouring roles, leaving in the early hours of the morning and returning home in the evening, hungry and tired. High Tea, or dinner as we might now know it, was served shortly after the workers returned home and is described as a heavy meal consisting of substantial foods such as steak and kidney pie, breads, roast vegetables and, of course, tea. It was called High Tea because it was taken at a dining table rather than afternoon (or ‘low tea’) which was taken in a much more relaxed setting, usually a sitting room.
But this heavy meal is of course not the High Tea that we know now, in fact when one mentions high tea we think of fine bone china, dainty cakes, cucumber sandwiches and sweet, bubbly champagne. This month’s theme for the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop is High Tea and is hosted by Jennifer from le Delicieux. In keeping with the theme I decided to make some cute little choc-banana bundt cakes that are both gluten-free and low fat as they are made without the use of butter or oil. This recipe is great because it can be made in a food processor and uses a few simple ingredients, I first came across it a couple of years ago via Honest Fare and use it whenever I have some bananas browning on the bench. The batter, basically ground almonds, banana and eggs, lends itself to a range of flavours and options and in this case I added some shredded coconut and cocoa and the resulting texture reminds me a lot of coconut rough. This batter can also be made into a larger cake if you prefer, just double the cooking time and maybe pop some foil over the top at the halfway point to avoid burning.
- 255g whole almonds
- 3 really ripe bananas
- 2 eggs
- 80g raw sugar
- 2 tbspns cocoa
- ½ tspn mixed spice
- ½ tspn baking powder
- ¼ cup + 2 tbspns shredded coconut
- 1 tspn sea salt
- 1-2 tbspns drinking chocolate (for dusting)
- Heat the oven to 150 degrees centigrade.
- Grease a 12 cup mini bundt pan with butter and then dust lightly with cocoa.
- Blend the almonds to a fine powder in your food processor.
- Pour the almonds out into a mixing bowl.
- Add the bananas and eggs to the food processor and blend until smooth and a little bit fluffy.
- Add the sugar, cocoa, mixed spice and baking powder and blend again for a minute or so.
- Pour the mixture into the mixing bowl with the almonds and add the coconut.
- Stir gently with a spatula until all combined.
- Sprinkle a little coconut and sea salt into the bottom of each cake tin.
- Spoon batter into the cake tin and tap the pan gently a couple of times on the counter to level off the batter.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until set in the centre.
- Remove from the oven, allow to cool for 5-10 minutes and then gently lever out of the pan with a knife.
- Dust with drinking chocolate.
Can be made in a food processor.
To make a full-sized cake double the cooking time.