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How to create the perfect afternoon tea

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With more than 20 years of international experience, pastry chef Cherish Finden has helped establish The Langham as the top destination for afternoon tea in London. Her work at the hotel's Palm Court restaurant has ranged from creating irresistible menus inspired by the collections of top jewellery designers to developing magnificent showpieces, such as an entirely edible 1.5-metre tall Fabergé egg.

Here, Cherish shares her top tips on how to create the perfect pastries for a delicious afternoon tea...

1. Follow recipes exactly

Attention to detail is a crucial part of baking. For instance, at the Palm Court, we always ensure that a cake is removed from the oven the second the timer goes off. Factors like this may seem minor but they can make a world of difference to your final product.

2. Use sugar

I love using sugar because it reminds me of my childhood and I use quite a lot of it in my work. I find that you can use a variety of colours to enhance visual elements. For instance, I love layering different colours of sugar in a clear container, it adds a bit of fun to the plate.

3. Consider presentation

My mentor German Chef Peter Knipp taught me that presentation speaks for everything. I like to incorporate different levels to my work. For instance, lollipops and stacked macaroons can add height for a more interesting display. Consider what might be surprising and visually exciting for your guests.

4. Sign up for an art class

Pastry is an art and I’ve taken classes in sculpture, design – window display even! Pastry-making can be very dimensional and taking art classes inspire my work. If you’re serious about baking, I would recommend signing up for some art classes, or paying a visit to museums, for fresh ideas.

5. Gather inspiration from your surroundings

Give your pastries an innovative twist with inspiration from everyday surroundings. I am often inspired by everyday things, not just trends in the culinary world. For instance, I might spot some washing liquid and be inspired to incorporate some jewel tones into my pieces.

What do you think? What would be on the menu of your perfect afternoon tea? Tell us your thoughts on Twitter or in the comments section below.

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