Three Victorian tea party desserts. Sweets for the Five o’clock Tea

tea party desserts

Welcome to the Three Victorian tea party desserts sweets for the Five oclock Tea blog! This blog is dedicated to providing delicious and elegant desserts for your tea party. Our sweets will transport you back to the Victorian era, and will be the perfect ending to a delightful afternoon.

The best desserts from Queen Victoria’s reign for the five o’clock tea party. Gertrude in cream. Bakewell tart. Caramel oranges.

There probably isn’t a person today who hasn’t heard of the “Five o’clock” tradition that originated in Victorian England in the mid-19th century. The ancestor of the tea ceremony and a pleasant pastime was Anne Russell, Duchess of Bedford.

It was customary in aristocratic families to serve dinner rather late in the evening, around 7 or 8 o’clock. And after breakfast, albeit not the earliest, a serious sense of hunger appeared long before the evening meal.

The Duchess solved this problem in a most pleasant way by ordering the servants to set the table with light refreshments: freshly baked bread and butter, cookies, muffins, and tea. The Duchess’ friends appreciated her idea. Soon the fashionable innovation grew into a ceremony with its own rules and rituals.

The ceremony of five-hour tea-drinking with pleasant pastime, merry talk and even dancing at first was the privilege of a small stratum of the aristocracy. But over time it began to be arranged in the homes of the middle class. And closer to the beginning of the 20th century practically all Britain joined the five o’clock tea drinking with pleasure.

The widespread enthusiasm for the five o’clock tea party led to the development of a whole new trend. Specialized tea rooms were opened. In summer, vast tea gardens in the city were lined with well-dressed ladies and gallant gentlemen sitting at tables laid with fine china and silver.

Tea was served in the finest and most expensive varieties. The hors d’oeuvres, now iconic, were on special shelves in an unimaginable assortment. Chicken, ham, cucumber and cheese sandwiches, canapés and profiteroles with fillings. The number of dessert dishes was astounding. The buffets displayed dozens of jams, custards and caramel custards, cupcakes, pastries, a variety of cakes and whipped cream with berries.

London hotels immediately introduced a special tea menu and, at the beginning of the 20th century, combined the tea-drinking ceremony with the opportunity to dance and learn the Argentine tango, which was then in fashion.

In the middle of the last century, after the Second World War, interest in the five-hour tea-drinking ceremony waned. And today only in the most fashionable London hotels you can once again plunge into the atmosphere of Victorian times and fully appreciate all the delights of a five-hour tea party.

But today almost everyone has the opportunity to taste the real Victorian desserts. Recipes created in those blessed years have been recorded and preserved. And if anyone has the desire, they can make a delicious pastry or sweet dessert using them.

Here are three, in my opinion, of the most interesting and iconic desserts.

Gertrude’s cake in cream frosting

The exact date of the appearance of this recipe is not recorded, as beer biscuits have been baked in Britain for centuries. But the cake was first glazed with jam and decorated with whipped cream during the Victorian era.

Traditionally, Gertrude is lined with several kinds of jam and covered with a heavy cream or sour cream-based glaze. They let the cake infuse for a few hours and then serve it to the table fully soaked with cream and sweet layers.

The sponge cake gets its special caramel flavor from the dense dark beer. The biscuit crumb is rich and delicate, with a structure resembling a sponge. Thanks to the creamy frosting, the biscuit is almost permeable and becomes moist and incredibly tender.

To make it you will need:

  • Biscuit.
  • C0 egg – 4 pcs, sugar – 180 gr, flour – 180 gr, baking powder – 8 gr, butter – 50 gr, dark beer – 80 ml, ground cardamom/vanilla/cinnamon – 5 gr, lemon zest – 5 gr.
  • Prepare a biscuit tin with high sides, diameter 22 cm. Line the bottom with parchment, do not grease the sides.
  • Preheat the oven to 170 ºC.

Melt the butter and season with zest and spices and allow to cool to room temperature. Bring the beer back to room temperature. Mix the flour with the baking powder.

Beat the eggs and sugar until very stiff. Run your finger along the surface of the mass, the groove should not close immediately, but come together slowly.

Add beer and butter with the spices to the egg mixture. Then gently and quickly incorporate the flour.

Immediately place the biscuit mixture into a baking dish and place it in the preheated oven.

Bake for 35-40 minutes. Check the readiness with a toothpick, it should stay dry after piercing the biscuit.

Finished biscuit cool in the form for 10 minutes. Then gently loosen the cake and cool it on a wire rack. For better stabilization of the biscuit after cooling, it is recommended to wrap it in clingfilm and keep it in it for 4-12 hours. An aged biscuit does not crumble as much as a fresh biscuit and does not get soggy from soaking.

Creamy Cream:

  • Sour cream 20-30% or cream 33-35% – 500 ml, vanilla sugar – 20 g, powdered sugar – 120 g.
  • Cream or sour cream should be as cool as possible.

Beat them at first on a low speed, adding all the powdered sugar and vanilla sugar at once. Gradually increase the beating speed, but do not make it as fast as possible. It is not the speed that is important for cream, but the beating time. It should be beaten for quite a long time.

When the mass becomes lush and stable stop beating.

Assembling the cake:

  • Any jam to your taste – 400 g (you can take several kinds of 100 g).
  • For decoration you can use berries, marzipan and dried fruits.

Cut the cake into 4 layers. Put the bottom tart on a serving plate and spread the jam. Cut a notch in the center of the remaining 3 shortcakes. The final shape should be a “bagel” with a hole in the middle. Each cake should have a hole in the middle with the same diameter.

Brush the cakes with jam and stack them on top of each other. When you assemble the cake it should have a “cup” shape notch in the middle.

Spoon some whipped cream on all sides of the cake. Fill the notch with the cream all the way to the top.

Allow the cake to stand for a couple of hours in the fridge and decorate with whipped cream swirls, marzipan, berries and bits of dried fruit before serving.

Bakewell tart

Bakewell tart is very popular in England. Many housewives bake it with various fillings. The most traditional filling is raspberry jam, but you can also find stuffing from cherries or red currants everywhere.

Tart was first baked in the kitchen of a hotel in Bakewell, Derbyshire. The pie was so well liked by the guests that the hotel kitchen did not have time to make it. Locals joined the production of the pie and began baking the pie in their own kitchens. Eventually the Bakewell Wilson family opened a bakery where anyone could buy their favorite pie and bring the famous pie as a gift to their loved ones.

To make it you will need:

  • Dough.
  • Butter – 100 gr, wheat flour – 200 gr, powdered sugar – 40 gr, hen egg yolk – 2 pieces, salt – a pinch.
  • Fruit layer.
  • Raspberry jam – 200 gr.
  • Tart mold with a diameter of 28 cm. Preheat the oven to 180 ºC.
  • You will need about 500-600 gr gr grits (peas, beans, rice) for baking.

Sift the flour with the powdered sugar and salt.

Grate the cold butter on a grater directly into the flour and grind with the flour until crumbly. Add yolks to the crumbs and knead the dough.

The dough doesn’t need to be kneaded for a long time, just gather it into a lump and put it in a bag. If the dough is very crumbly, add a teaspoon of water.

Chill the dough for 30 minutes in the refrigerator, then roll the dough into a layer between two sheets of parchment. Place the dough in a mold and form a crust with a 3-4 cm high rim.

Line the tart pastry with parchment and fill with the grits. Bake the cake for 15 minutes with the grits. Then remove the grits and parchment and bake the cake for 15 minutes more.

Remove the cake from the oven and immediately spread the raspberry jam on it. Set it aside for now.


  • Butter – 125 g, granulated sugar – 125 g, almonds – 125 g, C1 egg – 3 pcs, flour – 25 g, vanillin – 0.02 g, almond petals – 30 g.
  • Oven 180 ºC.

All the products must be at room temperature.

Crush the almonds to a very fine powder. Mix the butter with the sugar, vanilla and flour and whisk until white.

Into the butter mixture, one at a time, introduce the eggs and whisk everything until fluffy. Add the chopped almonds and mix everything until completely homogeneous.

Pour the almond frangipane over the jam and place in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.

Then decorate the surface of the tart with the almond petals and bake for another 20 minutes.

Cool the finished tart completely, otherwise it will fall apart when sliced.

Serve with whipped cream or a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

tea party desserts

Caramelized oranges

The recipe was published in 1861 in a major Victorian cookbook, Home Management, by Isabella Beaton. The dessert is capable of surprising even the most pretentious gourmets, although it is absolutely uncomplicated to make.

A juicy orange in caramel sauce, garnished with candied orange peel and flavored with bright spices is a real fruity delight. Serve it with a scoop of chocolate ice cream or whipped cream.

To make it you will need:

  • Oranges – 6 medium fruits, granulated sugar – 200 g, water – 60 ml, orange juice – 100 ml, ground cardamom – 3 g, cinnamon – 3 g, vanilla extract – 4 g, nutmeg – 1 g.

Cut the zest from the oranges in thin beautiful strips. Keep in mind that you only need to cut the orange part, the white pulp is bitter, so try to avoid getting it on the zest slices as much as possible.

Boil 300 ml of water in a saucepan and add 4 grams of salt. Place the zest in the boiling water and simmer for 1 minute. Then drain it in a sieve and dry as much as possible.

Peel the oranges gently, without damaging them. Put the oranges in a fireproof container, as you will be pouring them boiling caramel, glass and plastic will not withstand the temperature. Be sure to take this fact into account.

The bowl should not be too big. Oranges should be infused in the caramel, so place them not in a very wide pan or sauté pan.

Boil the syrup from the sugar and water and bring it to a bright golden color.

Bring the orange juice and spices to the boil.

Take the syrup off the heat and gently pour the orange juice into the syrup. Add the zest and put everything on low heat. You need to bring the mass to a boil and dissolve the resulting caramel clots (if any).

After the caramel comes to the boil, boil it for a minute and pour the caramel over the prepared oranges.

Allow the oranges to stand for about 3 hours and serve them in the sauce, garnished with the zest.