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Since February we've been collecting votes for the Great Cake Places of Britain. From all across the country people have told us who they love.

Here are the Top Ten (in alphabetical order):

And The Dish Ran Away From The Spoon
Crumbs Cupcakery
Earsham Street Cafe
Harry Gow
Poppy's Tea Room
Sugar Therapy
Sweet As

Congratulations to them all!  Please let us know what you think in the comments below!

Cuppalicious in Haywards Heath originally made the Top 10 but sadly closed in May.  We hope the bakers keep baking!

Posted: 18/09/2013 12:06:26

I’d looked quite thoroughly and closely at the pictures of The Pheasant Hotel on their website.  Arriving for afternoon tea I realised that they didn’t, and probably couldn’t, do it justice.  It’s tastefully decorated like an old hunting lodge with a cosy bar area and drawing room, both with low couches and large coffee tables to relax over your afternoon tea.  Big fires sit ready to light and roar to warm away a frosty winter.  There are games – giant naughts and crosses and dominoes – to make it feel like an extension of your own home, only one where charming staff bring you to tea and cake and clean away the plates.
 Pheasant Hotel
There is also a more formal dining room that opens onto the terrace and a huge conservatory.  It’s the largest of the public spaces and bright and welcoming for breakfast and lunch.
Pheasant Hotel
 Afternoon tea is just £16 per person and includes a round of sandwiches, a giant fruit scone with clotted cream and homemade strawberry jam, three little sweet treats and endless tea.  Rather than a selection of sandwiches you choose your preference from five options.  This makes a lot of sense, the sandwiches are made fresh and you get your favourite rather than dividing up the selection based on preferences.  This freshness made a big difference, being some of the best sandwiches I’d tried in my afternoon cake adventures.  Simple sliced bread, but the combination of cheese and shallot chutney was perfectly balanced and the green leaves and lemon addition to the hopingly fresh smoked salmon with cream cheese was excellent.
 Pheasant Hotel afternoon tea
The scone was perfectly light and eggwashed to a crisp perfection on top.  The sweet treats, in our case a lemon and raspberry tart, a carrot cake with macadameias and salted caramel icing and a chocolate torte were faultless.  The pastry on the tart was incredibly thin and crisp and the salted caramel topping to the carrot cake was so light and smooth it almost seemed not to exist at all.
We peeked at the hotel rooms and pool before we left.  With just 16 rooms it looks like another one of those gorgeous country hotels that make you feel like you’ve been away weeks after just a weekend.  The perfect base for walking in the Yorkshire Moors.

Posted: 09/07/2013 14:23:55

Chewton Glen hotel and spa
If you’ve never been to a Relais et Chateaux hotel then one of the most affordable ways to experience them is to enjoy a meal there.  And, if you’re on this site, I’m sure you’ll agree, what better meal than afternoon tea?
At Chewton Glen afternoon tea is taken in the lounge, alongside hotel guests who may just be enjoying a cup of tea or reading one of the house books or magazines.  It’s a sumptuous way to immerse yourself into a life of luxury, if only for an afternoon.  Staff are incredibly professional, charming and courteous and on hand to help but so discreetly that it never interferes with your conversation.  The lounge overlooks beautiful grounds and a patio.  In the Summer you can take tea on one of the outdoor tables, in Winter you might want to cosy yourself into one of the comfortable sofas near a fire.  It’s almost worth planning your visit for Winter just so you are more inclined to take hot chocolate with your afternoon tea – as if it wasn’t decadent enough!  This house-made indulgent beverage is made with Valrhona chocolate and topped with lashings of cream.
Chewton Glen afternoon tea 
Each afternoon tea comes with both a plain scone and a raisin one.  Sandwiches are traditional: ham, salmon, egg & cress and cucumber.   All sandwiches were superbly made; the quality of salmon was outstanding.  The real treat of afternoon tea here is the large range of mini desserts all expertly made by the in-house pastry team.  Oh, to have again the rhubarb jelly topped with a lemongrass and ginger yoghurt, the blood orange macaron, the multi-layered passionfruit sponge, the lemon and green tea cupcake and the chocolate truffle cake topped with a chocolate brandy glaze.  It defeated us.  Fortunately the hotel is used to this occurring and packaged our uneaten treats for us to take away.
 Chewton Glen Hotel & Spa afternoon tea
If you do make it to Chewton Glen for the afternoon tea, I would highly recommend combining it with a visit to their award-winning spa.  The hydrotherapy pools are quite amazing.  We chose to extend our visit into a mini-holiday and paid to stay the night.   We were there just 24 hours but it felt like a week away.

Chewton Glen is on the edge of the New Forest, near Bournemouth.  There are plenty of beautiful walks nearby and the sea is just a pretty fifteen minute walk away.  Last year they opened new rooms, the treehouses, which are at tree height and overlook the lawns with hot tubs on the balconies.  They’ve won awards for their design.  They are set away from the rest of the building and include sofas, books and games and are a perfect country escape for a family with small children or a romantic weekend away.  James Martin is a longtime friend of the head chef and so occasionally visits for special events.  Keep an eye on their website for these and other exciting activities.

The recipe for the chocolate truffle cake, if you would like to make it yourself, is here.  Bon appétit!

Posted: 27/06/2013 11:12:03

If you ever want to transport yourself to a completely different world and forget the rest of your life, I can highly recommend Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa.

Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa

The hotel feels like it is miles from anywhere, though it is only 20 minutes from Bath.  Along country lanes and then a very long and beautiful driveway, this is a majestic house from another era; with every modern convenience.  Like many of Britain's beautiful hotels this was once a stately home.  It was only converted into a hotel relatively recently, in 1997, but no expense has been spared in making it completely luxurious.  We had a tour of the estate after our tea and the spa was just so hard to leave and we were only viewing it from the edge.  The pool starts indoors but allows guests to open the glass panel at the end and go outside, too.  At night fires line it making it possibly the most romantic place to swim indoors in England.

The drawing room, where we enjoyed our afternoon, is stunning: a high ceiling, beautiful comfortable furniture, fireplaces, large windows and views onto unbroken green fields and forest.  Next door to this were more guests in the library, surrounded by bookshelves from floor to very-high-ceiling.  A ladder contraption on wheels was present to access the upper shelves.

In the pictures the food might not look much different from any other afternoon tea but every item is exceptionally well made, fresh and using the highest quality ingredients.  Each bite was a delight.  It’s little wonder to the quality when Lucknam also offer a cookery school.  I already want to go back.

Lucknam Park drawing room

Lucknam Park afternoon tea 2013 Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa
Lucknam Park afternoon teaLucknam Park Chocolate Tart
This divine chocolate tart had a perfectly even centre of Yuzu mousse and jelly, surrounded by the chocolate ganache.

Posted: 09/05/2013 12:03:30

Mad Hatter's Menu

We have featured the Sanderson in our London Great Cake Places guide, but the menu is always evolving so we were invited back to sample it again.  Lucky us!
Now, I know that this review should all be about the cake, but what I came away wanting most from the Sanderson’s Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea, was the gorgeous bespoke china.  The china is part of the Luna & Curious’ specially-handmade contribution to the collaborative tea.  Luna & Curious is a design collective with a beautiful boutique in Shoreditch.  The whimsical offerings from this band of geniuses fits perfectly with the Mad Hatter theme of the tea and the china is some of the most unique and creative I’ve come across.  One day I might be able to justify having the range in my own house.

Sanderson luna & Curious crockery 

From the outside, the Sanderson barely distinguishes itself from an office block or old council  building, but step through the doors held open by the handsome butler and it’s all glamour.  There are some distinctly creative furniture pieces in the lobby, the bar is stunning and popular with local offices after work and even more attractive is the conservatory space, filled with trees, fountains, colourful comfortable benches and marble tables.
We enjoyed our afternoon tea in a quiet corner of the main restaurant overlooking the bar.  The menu arrived hidden inside an old book (we checked the other tables and they had different books) and upon opening the pretty box on the table we were twinkled at by a rotating ballerina floating above the sugar cubes filling her jewellery box.  There are four teas created especially for the theme and they appeared immediately within little glass vials for us to smell first to help us make our selection.  The rhubarb and custard, based on Rooibos and Vanilla, was delicate and a charming accompaniment.
Never have I seen quite such a fascinating tower of afternoon tea offerings.  Sandwiches were spirals of different flavoured breads filled with the traditional fillings, so much more interesting and flavoursome than regular sandwiches and accompanied by the even more delicious mini quiches and herbed scones, still warm and offered with a divine herb butter as well.  At the top of the tower were the toadstools, actually strawberries and cream marshmallows, sat alongside a mini plant pot of pea shoots hiding carrot meringues (nicer tasting than they might sound!).

sugar boxSanderson teateas 

My favourite sweet item from the tea came inside a minature bottle tied with a hand-drawn tag, inviting “drink me”.  This was a creation of several layers including passionfruit and coconut foam.  I didn’t shrink, but it did make the world feel like a better place.  The main event of cakes included a chocolate tea cup filled with a moreish white chocolate and matcha mousse, a teardrop of mango cheesecake bound by a rainbow coloured white chocolate wall (we were helpfully instructed to use a spoon to stir inside the shell to mix with mango coulis with the cheesecake) and a Tick Tock clock face atop a mini Victoria

drink me

As if this wasn’t all enough, a trolley of fruit jelly is available to take your fill.  Beautifully coloured semi-translucent shapes created from Victorian jelly moulds wobble gently and enticingly to try them all.
One of the greatest features of this afternoon tea is it’s offered into the evening so it works as an early dinner as well.

The Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea is £35 per person or £45 per person with a glass of champagne.

Posted: 03/05/2013 16:33:41

Great Cake Places Blog

Jennifer Earle

Welcome to the Great Cake Places blog. I'm Jennifer Earle, the Content Director for Allegra Publications. I love cake. All kinds of cake. Lemon drizzle, coffee & walnut, chocolate, ginger, carrot… I love trying new cakes and baking them too. I’'m particularly obsessed with chocolate and quite partial to cheese scones, straight from the oven, spread with real butter. This job makes me a very happy girl. Please do register for access to discounts we’'ll be adding and say hi in the comments of the blog!

A little about us

Right now we'’re travelling the country researching our new book, Great Cake Places Britain.  We will be updating this blog every few weeks with new pictures, recipes, shop openings and general cake-related news.  If you would like to write a guest post, please get in touch.

If you know a great cake place or own a great cake place, please tell us about it here.

You can also find out more about us by liking us on Facebook or following us on Twitter.

Recent posts

Cake lovers' votes are in!

Afternoon Tea at the Pheasant Hotel in Yorkshire

Afternoon Tea at Chewton Glen

Afternoon Tea at Lucknam Park

Mad Hatter's afternoon tea at the Sanderson Hotel

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Blog history

September 2013(1)
July 2013(1)
June 2013(1)
May 2013(2)
April 2013(4)
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February 2013(3)
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