Afternoon Tea Chez Epi

EpicureanPiranha | May 28th, 2010 - 01:09
Petits Gâteaux aux Agrumes

These sinfully delicious ‘petits gâteaux aux agrumes’ are perfect for ‘afternoon tea’, or just to spoil yourself or a loved one!

One of my favourite English traditions is an elegant afternoon tea, where fine English tea is served in the best porcelain cups, accompanied by tiny finger sandwiches and dainty, buttery pastries. Sadly, although many cafes and tea shops throughout the U.K. have afternoon tea listed on their menu, their versions rarely have anything in common with the wonderful afternoon teas of yesteryear…

Nowadays, to experience the ultimate pleasures of this quintessential British ritual, you must reserve in London’s finest grand hotels such as the Ritz or Claridge’s in Mayfair , both famous for the refinement of their afternoon teas. My personal favorite is Claridge’s for its stunning Art Deco luxury.

Less grand but every bit as charming are the small, quaint tea shops you can still find in tiny villages dotted around England – in Yorkshire, Devonshire, and several other counties – but research is in order! Despite finding some wonderful gems, I’ve also been sorely deceived too many times. I’ll be writing about the history of traditional British teas and be providing a small list of some of the best addresses on a few weeks from now.

Petits gateaux aux agrumes

Light, buttery cake flavoured with lime zest, and a large rosette of lime & Cointreau meringue buttercream … heavenly!

But why not recreate the experience at home? Take out your best china and polish your silverware! Decorate your table with fresh flowers, and prepare a special treat for yourself and your loved ones or a few special friends

The recipe for these heavenly petits gâteaux [ie: small cakes] is from Claire Belanger’s and Christine Mitton’s small but perfectly delicious cookbook, Cupcakes”. These two friends set up a small cupcake shop in Montreal, aptly called Petits Gâteaux , along with their French trained pastry chef, Julien Guillegault. It soon became known as one of the very best cupcake shops in Montreal, and for good reason!

Petits gateaux aux agrumes

Mini version of ‘petits gateaux aux agrumes’ – so you can allow yourself to be tempted to eat more than one!

I chose to make them in a mini-cupcake version, because I love their dainty look.  Ok, I must admit there is another reason – this way you can eat several without feeling too guilty! “Agrumes” translates to citrus in English, so you can flavour them with lemons, oranges, or limes. I made these with fresh limes.

Cupcakes aux agrumes


45 ml (3 Tbs) buttermilk
90 ml (1/3 c) 35% cream
30 ml (2 Tbs) fresh citrus zest ~ orange, lemon or lime
90 g (1/3 c) butter
290 g (1 1/3 c) sugar
4 large eggs
230 g (1 2/3 c) plain [all purpose] flour
2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) baking soda
7.5 ml (1 ½ tsp) baking powder
2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) salt

  • Preheat the oven to 190C (375F)*. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.
  • Heat the buttermilk and cream in a small saucepan, add citrus zest and allow to infuse 15 to 20 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, beat butter until pale and fluffy, adding sugar gradually.
  • Add eggs one at a time beating after each.
  • Combine dry ingredients and fold into butter mixture. Gently incorporate liquid, beating well. Allow batter to rest in fridge for 1 hour.
  • Fill pastry bag fitted with large round nozzle, and fill lined cupcake tins ¾ full. Bake 20 – 25 minutes.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream


52.5 ml (3 ½ Tbs) water
200 g (1 c) granulated sugar
3 – 4 large egg whites
180 g (1 c) cold butter§
10 – 15 drops pure citrus extract
A few drops of food colour

  • Add water and 180g (3/4 c) sugar to a small saucepan and heat to 125C (225F).
  • In a medium sized bowl, beat egg whites until firm on med-speed, adding remaining sugar.
  • As soon as sugar syrup has reached desired temperature, add it in a thin stream to beaten egg whites while beating constantly. Once all the syrup is incorporated, beat on high speed until cool.
  • Add the butter small cubes at a time, beating well after each.
  • Add flavouring and colour.


  • * If baking in mini muffin tins, bake at (325F) for 13 – 14 min. The recipe yields 50 – 54 mini muffins.
  • § I prefer, and used, sweet (unsalted) butter in this recipe.
  • ♦  I added 15 ml (1 Tbs) fresh lime juice and 30 ml (2 Tbs) Cointreau as flavourings, and did not add any food colour in my version, which I decorated with candied violets.

3 Responses to “Afternoon Tea Chez Epi”

  1. mdaignault says:

    Marie nous en a fait goûter plusieurs et ils fondaient dans la bouche…

  2. dubonnet says:

    Irresistible! Especially in a special setting such as this! Resistance is futile, lol!

    • Hi Sharon – these are irresistible! And when I was making them, I had some buttercream leftover [I made one and a half times the recipe!!!] and ate a few tablespoonfuls – it was really hard to stop LOL

      Have a great week and thanks so much for visiting :->

      ~ Epi

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