The Great British Brew


Here in Britain we love a good cup of tea…but just how much do you really know about the humble brew? As a part of a campaign to explore the nation’s love affair with the cuppa, our tea drinking friends at Sykes Cottages created the most adorable tea themed infographic, illustrating our favourite ways to drink it, to what we call it and its role in our culture. So if you’re a fan of the great British brew, then keep reading to find out more about our favourite beverage and give yourself something to ponder over the next time you boil the kettle!

Infographic British Brew

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Time for Tea – An Infographic from Emma Bridgewater


Emma Bridgewater began making her unique pottery in 1985, and today runs the highly successful and much-loved company with her husband Matthew Rice.


Emma Bridgewater pottery

Emma Bridgewater pottery

Quintessentially British, their cosy, charming pottery is made in Stoke-on-Trent, the traditional home of British pottery. (The little blue & white teacup on the Tea in England banner represents the pottery-making heritage in Stoke.)

Recently, Emma and Co. sent me this Tea Infographic to share with you.  I must admit, I am a fan of infographics. I love bite-sized chunks of interesting facts and figures, and their Tea Infographic is full of them.

I especially like the ‘What kind of tea drinker are you?’ section. I am ‘The Escapist’. Which one are you?





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Reprise: The Brown Betty teapot (our most popular blog post)

Denise's Brown Betty Teapots

It is a known fact that the Brown Betty teapot brews tea better than any other teapot design. This is because of the shape of the pot which allows the tea leaves to be gently swirled around as the boiling water is added, and the special clay used in its manufacture that holds heat so well.

Why is it called a Brown Betty? Well…it is brown, thanks to a Rockingham Glaze. But why “Betty”?

In the 1800’s no self-respecting house in England was run without at least one servant. As “Elizabeth” was a very popular name at that time, odds were that you had a servant named Elizabeth. And Elizabeth – shortened to Betty – would have served the tea. Some believe that the special brown teapot came to be known as a “Betty” or a “Brown Betty“. But no one knows for sure.

Cauldon Ceramics in Stoke-on-Trent hold the exclusive design rights and are the sole producers of the Brown Betty teapot. They have been making Brown Betty‘s since the end of the 17th century. (Stoke-on-Trent is the historical home of English ceramics and features on the Tea in England banner.)

I have always owned a Brown Betty. At the moment, I have a 2-cup personal size, and a larger 6-cup size for when company visits. Based on my experience with a wide variety of teapot designs, I definitely believe the Brown Betty produces an excellent pot of tea – but the quality of the newer models by Cauldon are sometimes less than perfect.

Should you decide to buy your own Brown Betty, don’t be fooled by imitations! An authentic Brown Betty will have a small [removable] Union Jack sticker on it, and the bottom will be marked, “Cauldon, Made in England”. The newer ones are also stamped “©Original Betty”, and carry a swing card with the history of the Brown Betty.


Markings on bottom of Brown Betty teapot. Photo courtesy of




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Tea Revives the World – an illustrated poster from the 1940s

Tea Revives the World Poster 2

In the 1930s, to help promote the sale of empire goods, the International Tea Market Expansion Board was formed. Several colourful maps were commissioned by them from graphic designer cartographer, artist and architect MacDonald Gill to help illustrate the benefits of tea and tea drinking.

Gill was commissioned later on, too. His ‘Tea Revives the World’ map was produced as part of a campaign of reassurance that all would be well during the darkest days of the Second World War. Winston Churchill recognised that if supplies of tea did not reach servicemen and women fighting overseas and those at home working in factories and on the land, there would be a damaging loss of morale.  ‘Tea Revives the World’ implied a determination by the Allies to ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ and to remind people that their cuppa was secure.


Tea Revives the World section 1

With its mixture of quirky information and schoolboy humour and packed with details of the leaves’ journey from bush to pot, Gill’s poster was a cheering rallying cry in a time of conflict.  It also throws light on the extraordinary story of tea and shows us its origins, its culture but most of all it shows what fun the human race has had with the drink that is second only to water in worldwide popularity.


Tea Revives the World section 5

Packed with snippets of history and amusing quotations it is just the thing to explore as you wait for the kettle to boil.


Tea Revives the World section 4


And so it was that at the height of the London Blitz, the ‘Tea Revives the World’ poster echoed the very British belief that ‘a nice cuppa’ is the best thing to improve morale. The sentiment still holds true.


Enter to win your own copy of ‘Tea Revives the World’


 10 February 2014 – UPDATE: And the winner is: LaRue Barnes!

LaRue answered the question  ‘How does a cup of tea improve your morale?’ by saying that:

“The first cup is comfort in the morning starting the day with my hands around a hot mug. Swishing the tea bag,and stirring in a little sugar and squeezing the bag all part of the familiar ritual. Tea is just right.”

LaRue wins a copy of the 1940 ‘Tea Revives the World’ map.

Congratulations, LaRue!



I have a lovely copy of the 1940 ‘Tea Revives the World’ map to give away!

For your chance to win, please leave a comment below about how or why a cup of tea improves your morale.


1. Open to everyone – I will post anywhere in the world

2. One comment per person

3. You must leave an email address where you can be contacted should you win

4. Deadline to enter is 11.59GMT Sunday 09 February 2014

5. I will use a random number generator to pick a winner on Monday 10 February 2014

6. Winner will be notified by email on Tuesday 11 February 2014


Good luck and I look forward to reading your comments!



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Tetley Tea – Ahhh, that’s better!

Tetley 1

Tea drinking is a British institution, with over 165 million cups of tea drunk everyday. Yorkshire brothers Joseph and Edward Tetley founded Tetley Tea over 175 years ago – and it was Tetley who introduced tea bags to the UK back in the 1950s. They were the first to use perforated tissue for teabags in the 1960s, and in the 1980s, Tetley launched the first round tea bag. Today, a staggering 36 million cups of Tetley are drunk each day.


The Tetley Tea Folk

You can’t talk about Tetley Tea without talking about their iconic Tetley Tea Folk who have been lighting up UK screens since 1973. Since their inception over four decades ago, the Tetley Tea Folk have become a true British institution. Fun, friendly and down-to-earth, Gaffer, Sydney and Tina are the much-loved face of a quality cup of tea.

Tetley Tea Folk

It’s been 40 years since Gaffer first brewed up and charmed a generation with his gentle Northern humour, but the Tetley Tea Folk are back on the boil! This time, the much-loved animated characters have left their tea factory and will be unveiled to the nation as diplomatic heroes acting in the face of intergalactic tyranny when the new ad airs on Saturday 25th January, all part of a campaign designed to show the difference ‘a good brew’ can make.

The message is simple – in the midst of busy, often pressure filled lifestyles, it’s time for us all to stop and share a little quality time over a mug of the UK’s favourite hot drink. I couldn’t agree more – so here I am in my very own Gaffer hat!


   Denise drinking Tetley Tea 1          Denise drinking Tetley Tea 2          Denise drinking Tetley Tea 3

To mark the return of the Tetley Tea Folk this week-end, here are some significant numbers in the history of these adored characters.

1.   Over 34 billion – billion! – cups of tea are consumed in the UK every year

2.   Tetley tea is consumed in 10 million kitchens across Britain and 36 million cups of Tetley are drunk each day

3.   1973: Gaffer brews up for the first time on UK TV screens (that’s four decades ago!)

4.   67: the number of TV ads that the Tetley Tea Folk have starred in since 1973

5.   30m Tetley Tea Folk items sold to tea lovers… … in 5m homes around the world

6.   1990: an Elvis-inspired Gaffer celebrates the launch of the Round Bag!

7.   2001: The Tetley Tea Folk take a ‘tea break’ from our TV screens

8.   2010: Gaffers leads their return with a brand new look!

9.   100% Natural… Tetley tea leaves are simply picked, cut and dried – nothing is added and each blend is quality tested at least 8 times!

10.   175 years of Tetley Black / Original being one of the nation’s favourite great tasting cuppa’s


Tetley Teabags

 Have you had YOUR cup of tea today?

If not … make time, make Tetley!




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Top 3 Posts on Tea in England in 2013

2013 Tea in England Year in Review

I wish to thank all of my readers for their support, comments and friendly emails in 2013. Your enthusiasm is contagious and I appreciate your many kindnesses.

If you haven’t already, please do pop over to our Twitter and Facebook pages and join in with other Tea in England fans for a cuppa and a chin-wag.

In the meantime, here’s a round-up of the Top 3 Posts on Tea in England in 2013:


#3: Wartime Tea Making Tips, c.1941

Drinking a cup of tea in London during the Blitz




#2: A Potted History of the Brown Betty Teapot

Denise's Brown Betty Teapots





#1: London’s Cabbie Tea Huts

 Russell Square Cabbie Tea Hut




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The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea at the InterContinental London Park Lane

Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea. Intercontinental London Park Lane. Wellington Lounge.Musical note On the first day of Christmas Musical notemy true love gave to me Musical note a partridge in a pear tree ~ in the form of a partridge pie, washed down with a whiskey/pear/Champagne cocktail. Intrigued? I hope so, because I am about to tell you about a most fantastic Christmas Afternoon Tea in London.

In the past week alone, both Mr. Tea and I have been approached by people seeking a recommendation for Afternoon Tea in London. Without hesitation, we suggested (as we always do) the InterContinental London Park Lane. No surprise there, for readers of this blog already know how impressed I am with the service and tea food at the InterContinental, and I was very excited recently to be invited in to try their Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea. And, once again, the experience was flawless.

The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea

The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea at the InterContinental London Park Lane is the perfect holiday indulgence. The only non-indulgent thing about it is the price.

Executive Chef Paul Bates is a master at creating and crafting a sophisticated themed Afternoon Tea (check out the Wellington Afternoon Tea) and his Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea, based on the English Christmas carol, is an absolute delight!

Eleven Pipers Piping
It is, after all, the season to be merry, so what better way to start a Christmas Afternoon Tea in London than with a tall, elegant flute filled with good cheer and topped with a sprig of decorative winter holly.

The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea begins with a festive cocktail of Champagne very subtly flavoured with Glenmorangie Nectar D’Or Highland Single Malt Scotch Whiskey and Xanta Pear Liqueur (a nod to the pear tree where that partridge is hiding).

You may be asking yourself, as Mr. Tea and I did, “Whiskey and Champagne?” Trust me, it works and it works fabulously well. Splendid!

P.S. I like to think of the effervescent Champers bubbles as Nine Ladies Dancing:

Festive Champagne Cocktail. The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea. Intercontinental London Park Lane Wellington Lounge.

Partridge in a Pear Tree
Once all those pipers and dancing ladies have left the tea table, it is time for some of the rest of the pressies from your true love, and they arrive on a 3-tier server. The gift giving begins with a Mountbatten Estate partridge and morel mushroom pie. The melt-in-your mouth pastry was flaky and buttery, and the warm filling was rich and savory. A starter like this is perfect for a winter’s day Afternoon Tea:

Mountbatten Estate partridge and morel mushroom pie.The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea. Intercontinental London Park Lane. Wellington Lounge.

Tea Sandwiches

The tea sandwiches in The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea have been cleverly devised.  To make the most of all those lovely flavours found in tea sandwiches, it is best to eat them in order from mildest to strongest, and it did not escape me that the tea sandwiches here were plated in just that order. It is precisely little things like this that set Afternoon Tea at the InterContinental London Park Lane apart:

Tea Sandwiches. The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea. Intercontinental London Park Lane. Wellington Lounge.
Three French Hens
The sandwich course begins with a French hens egg mayonnaise and cucumber in wholemeal bread sandwich. The light, delicate egg mayonnaise was a nice contrast to the crunch of the thinly sliced (but not too thin) cucumber.
Two Turtle Doves
A squab and wood pigeon white bread sandwich is next. I had never eaten squab or wood pigeon before, and found it reminiscent of chicken – but with much more complexity and flavour. It was really, really good and now I wish I had ordered seconds! (Seconds are encouraged by the Intercontinental at teatime.)
Ten Lords a-Leaping
No Afternoon Tea is complete without a salmon sandwich, and The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea version is a Speyside Scottish salmon with ‘Lord of the Hundreds’ cheese in granary bread sandwich. The combination is lovely, the salmon being nicely lifted by the strong, almost Parmesan-tasting cheese. (The unusual name of this cheese, which is made in a village dairy in Sussex, refers to tax collectors who worked on behalf of the local Lords who, during Saxon times, would oversee a region consisting of 100 Shires.)



Your true love has definitely saved the best gifts for last:

Desserts. The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea. Intercontinental London Park Lane. Wellington Lounge.Twelve Drummers Drumming
Dark chocolate torte drum, rolled in crushed walnuts and complete with mini drumsticks:
Dark Chocolate Torte Drum. The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea. Intercontinental London Park Lane. Wellington Lounge.Eight Maids a-Milking
A three-milk flan, cranberry and mandarin compote:
Three-Milk Cranberry and Mandarin Flan. The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea. Intercontinental London Park Lane. Wellington Lounge.Seven Swans a-Swimming
Swan shaped choux bun filled with Strawberry Chantilly and sprinkled with air dried raspberry:
Strawberry-filled Swan-shaped Choux Buns with air-dried Raspberry. The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea. Intercontinental London Park Lane. Wellington Lounge
Five Golden Rings
Treacle tart decorated with gold leaf and topped with a sugar-spun spiral of five rings:

Treacle Tart with Gold Leaf and Five Gold Rings.The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea. Intercontinental London Park Lane. Wellington Lounge.

Tea and Scones

We did of course also have [numerous!] pots of tea, and scones.

The tea menu at InterContinental London Park Lane is extensive, but we opted for their Wellington Blend tea because we fell in love with it during our last visit and, well, there was just no question about not having it again. It’s a delicious blend of Assam, China Black, and Earl Grey tea, softened by English cornflowers and mallow blossoms.

The scones, warm and homemade, are served with Devonshire clotted cream and Chef Bates’ renowned Kentish strawberry jam. I am so glad that they continue to use this particular scone recipe. These scones are flawless, the best I have ever had. Anywhere. You can read why I think these are the best scones in London.


Service with a smile

As with the last time we visited, the service we received throughout the tea was impeccable. This time, it was the lovely Indre taking care of us. She was warm, friendly and super-efficient and not only explained the nuances of the food to us, but also kept us updated on what was coming up next. She kept us happy with fresh pots of tea, and provided clean plates between some of the courses. She knew the details of everything, from beverage to the food, and although she had other patrons to look after, managed to make us feel as if we were the only ones in the room. Thank you, Indre – it was lovely meeting and speaking with you!

Team leader Linesh also stopped by our table to say hello and check on us. He, too, was so nice and took time out to explain the creative process behind the crafting of this themed tea. It was very interesting. Pleasure to meet you, Linesh.



The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea at InterContinental London Park Lane is an exceptionally superior Christmas Afternoon Tea. Food presentation, taste and quality; service; value for money; atmosphere – it simply cannot be beat.

I highly recommend this tea during the holiday season, and urge you to make a reservation as soon as you can. (You could even make it an extra special holiday afternoon by walking over to the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park after you finish with tea, which is what we did.)


Booking details

The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea InterContinental London Park Lane is available 1pm to 5pm, seven days a week between 29th November 2013 to 6th January 2014. The price is £38 per person. It could be the best £38 you will spend this Christmas.

Denise LeCroy. The Tea in England blog. The Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea. Intercontinental London Park Lane. Wellington Lounge

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3 Whittard Teas That I Really Like

Pouring tea

I’m a fan of Whittard Tea (I’ve written about them before) – not just for their tea (oh, and the attractive packaging), but for their retail shops too, which are brilliant. If you’ve never been to one, I urge you to pop by for a visit. You will find them in shopping malls and in cities and towns from Basingstoke to York.

Whittard Tea Shop

Whittard shops are filled with the most wonderful tea (and coffee) as well as a fab selection of mugs, teapots, tins, tea accessories, and loads of other goodies.  Their customer service is fantastic, and every Whittard shop I have ever been in is always fully stocked and just an all around enjoyable experience.  Tip: There are usually free samples available towards the back of the store.


Recently, I had a chance to try some of Whittard’s tea pyramids – triangular tea bags made from sheer bio-degradable mesh and filled with whole leaves (or fruit) to infuse perfectly in your cup. These mesh tea bags are beautiful – they look and feel like silk.


Tea pyramid by Whittard

Tea pyramid by Whittard


Times have changed, tea lovers! Do not be fooled by the old ‘all tea bags contain inferior tea’ blah blah blah. Yes, this may be still be the case with some tea vendors, but we are now seeing more and more leading-edge tea companies (like Whittard) using full leaf tea in quality tea bags that are roomy enough to allow those leaves to fully unfurl, releasing all that tea glory!


I must say it was almost impossible to narrow down my list of the teas I wanted to review. Whittard offers black tea, white tea, green tea, yellow tea, Oolong tea, Pu-erh tea, Rooibos, single estate tea, flavoured tea, fruit & herbal infusions, and artisan tea. I mean, how in the world does one choose?

But choose I did and because autumn is my most favourite time of year, I decided to go for 3 blends that sounded comforting and autumnal:

Baked AppleMasala ChaiTruffle Praline

The first was Baked Apple which is actually an infusion and not tea (it’s only ‘tea’ if it contains tea leaves). Whittard’s Baked Apple is a delicious mixture of apples blended together with almond, cinnamon, hazelnut and cream flavours.

The scent alone is worth your trying this tea, but honestly, it was lovely. I expected it to taste similar to other apple flavoured ‘teas’ but this one had a pleasing, distinctive, more authentic apple taste than previous ones I have tried. (And the cinnamon is not overpowering as sometimes can be the case when paired with apple.) I sampled this tea straight up, with no milk or sugar.


Next, I tried the Masala Chai black tea with spices. Masala Chai, or mixed spice tea, originates from India. Recipes vary from family to family but the inspiration stays the same.

Enticingly aromatic and beautifully warming, I sampled this tea with generous lashings of milk and sugar to evoke a traditional Masala Chai. If there was ever comfort in a cup, Whittard Masala Chai is it.


Truffle Praline was the final tea I tasted – a black tea with white chocolate pieces, rose petals and flavouring.

Again, oh my, the aroma was amazing. This is a light tea but with a very decadent taste. The small pieces of white chocolate (I promise you will be tempted to pick them out and eat them on their own!) add just the right amount of chocolate flavour, and the praline pulls it all together to form a truly rich tasting cup of tea. I sampled this tea with just a hint of sugar. If I had to pick a favourite of all 3, this one – Whittard’s Truffle Praline Tea – was it.

But don’t take my word for it – try these teas for yourself!

Whittard logo


Visit your nearest Whittard store, or better yet, place your order online. (Pssst…the Whittard Christmas shop is now open!)

And don’t forget to check out the Whittard Facebook page, the Whittard Twitter page, and Whittard’s Pinterest boards.

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Must Visit Destinations in England For Tea Lovers

Afternoon Tea on a train in England

Britain is well known for its love of tea, so unsurprisingly there are a wide range of great places to visit where you can relax with a cuppa and maybe even learn something new about our favourite hot drink.

The English capital is jam packed with fab places to see, so why not consider booking trains to London to check them out? The world famous Ritz London is a must-do for lovers of Afternoon Tea but due to its popularity should be booked well in advance. There you’ll be able to enjoy a wide selection of sandwiches and cakes, as well as some of the finest teas around, for around £45 per person.

While you’re in town you could also head to see the last of the tea clippers – the Cutty Sark, where you can walk the deck and follow in the footsteps of those who sailed her to collect that precious cargo – TEA – many years ago. There’s a café onboard too, so it’s a great place to stop for a bite to eat.

Those with train tickets to London can also brush up on their history and pick up some souvenirs at the Twinings Tea Shop and Museum at 216 Strand, while others will no doubt be keen to attend the 2014 European Tea Expo, which will take place from April 24th to 26th.

But it’s not just London where you can experience tea, as Bedfordshire’s Woburn Abbey is said to be the place where the idea of Afternoon Tea was first conceived.

Although England has a long association with the beverage, the only tea grown in the country is at Tregothnan in Cornwall, and nearby Devon is known for its cream teas, so why not visit both places for a cup of English grown tea and a traditional Devon cream tea?

Great tea calls for a proper teapot and Teapot Island in Yalding, Kent is home to more than 6,700 of them, with many having unusual designs. You can even get a little hands-on and paint your own pottery to take home with you.

Speaking of teapots, you’ll find around 3,000 of them in the Twining Teapot Gallery at Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery, with some dating back to the 1730s. Or how about a visit to Stoke-on-Trent, known as the home of British pottery? You can learn more about all things ceramic there at the Gladstone Pottery Museum and The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery.

And last but not least, if you happen to be a little further north in Yorkshire, be sure to stop off at one of the six Bettys Cafés located across the region in places including Harrogate and York.


This is a featured post.


The 5 Most Popular National Trust Tearoom Cakes

A Cream Tea at a National Trust Tearoom

Visiting National Trust properties is not only enjoyable because of their beauty and history, but also because most of them have excellent tearooms. Some are quite unique – for example housed in old stables, like the tearooms at Osterley House not far from where I live – and others may be located within the house itself or in an outbuilding on the property. All are worth a visit for their welcoming atmosphere and delicious food, but it is their reputation for yummy cakes that draws people to a National Trust tearoom.

When talking about the popularity of National Trust tearoom cakes, the proof is in the pudding. Collectively, over half a million slices of it are served every year – together with 22,000 cups of tea and 15,000 scones!

You will always find a plentiful variety of lovely cakes on offer at a National Trust tearoom, and here is a list of their most popular ones:


The 5 Most Popular National Trust Tearoom Cakes


Lemon Drizzle Cake

#5 Lemon Drizzle Cake – 52,000 slices served per year

A French recipe from the 1930s, Lemon Drizzle Cake is a long-standing teatime favourite that, traditionally, contains a wee bit of rum. I love this Lemon Drizzle Cake recipe from The Tea Rooms in London.




Carrot Cake

#4 Carrot Cake – 96,000 slices served per year

Carrots have been used in cakes since medieval times, when sweeteners were expensive and scarce; they contain more sugar than any other vegetable besides the sugar beet. During World War II, Carrot Cake became immensely popular in England due to sugar rationing. Here’s an article from The Guardian on how to cook perfect carrot cake.




Coffee and  Walnut Cake

#3 Coffee & Walnut Cake – 102,000 slices served per year

Ancient Romans considered walnut the fruit of the gods, possibly for its promise of virility. Compared to certain other nuts, such as almonds, peanuts and hazelnuts, walnuts contain the highest total level of antioxidants. Nigella Lawson’s Coffee and Walnut Cake recipe sounds (and looks) scrumptious.




Chocolate Sponge Cake

#2 Chocolate Sponge Cake – 108,000 slices served per year

This recipe goes back to 1764 when Dr. James Baker ground cocoa beans between a millstone to create baking chocolate. If you are American, you are no doubt familiar with Baker’s Chocolate.




Victoria Sandwich

#1 Victoria Sandwich – 171,000 slices served per year

The quintessentially English of all English cakes, the Victoria Sandwich was named for Queen Victoria. Apparently, it was her favourite cake, and it’s my favourite as well. This is usually the one I choose when visiting a National Trust tearoom. The Victoria Sandwich is a sponge cake, and is sometimes also referred to as a Victoria Sponge. It is a tearoom classic, and quite easy to make. I had rather good success with this Victoria Sandwich recipe from Betty magazine.


What about you?

Are any of these 5 cakes a favourite of yours? What other cake recipes are you fond of?