Head of Pastry at the Queens Hotel, Southsea Chloe Barter loves the alchemy that results from mixing simple ingredients to create mouth-watering teatime treats.
“Afternoon tea is the perfect meal. It’s fancy but not too over the top,” confided Chloe.
”It’s something you can look forward to and a great excuse to get together with friends and family.
“It’s very British and the perfect mix of sweet and savoury.”
Since she joined the team at the Queens Hotel, her afternoon tea has earned multiple plaudits and ecstatic reviews on Favourite Table and Tripadvisor. Every element of the tea is created from scratch, with only the clotted cream and jam being bought in.
“And I’m looking at making my own jam too. I love that everything is baked here and you can taste the freshness,” explained Chloe.
The Queens Hotel is sponsoring the #SouthseaFoodFestival July 16/17 and visitors to the hotel’s stand will be able to sample our ‘afternoon tea in a box’.
Chloe explained: “We wanted to give visitors to the Southsea Food Festival a taster of what our afternoon tea is all about and I’m hoping to spend some time on the stand too.”
Her passion for pastry is palpable – and when you ask her to explain, the reason becomes clear.
“I love the fact you can take simple ingredients like milk, butter and flour and depending on the way you mix them you can create so many different things – I love the variables.
“To me choux pastry is a beautiful thing – and then there’s a macaron. Simple ingredients and together they make something incredible,” she declared.
As a child growing-up she learned to love baking, largely as a result of watching her Mum create extraordinary celebration cakes for family and friends.
Skills she learned at home were further honed over three years studying at Highbury College in Portsmouth specialising in pastry, before she bagged a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work on an all-expenses paid year in America.
“It was the most extraordinary year – I spent four months in Nantucket and then the next eight months in Florida working in the restaurant of a country club.
“I really learned my trade and learned everything from bread-making and confectionery to desserts and cakes.
“We even got to do sugar-sculpting which was amazing. The display I worked on had a sea theme and I got to make a rainbow parrot fish just like the ones I saw when I went snorkelling,” she said.
Her love for baking runs so strong, Chloe even boasts a cupcake tattoo as the ultimate illustration of her love for baking.
Looking to the future, Chloe has just put the finishing touches to a festive afternoon tea offering that will take Christmas to a whole other level.
And she’s working on a strawberry custard tart that promises to be a pink perfection on the plate.
“The colour is so beautiful and it tastes sublime,” she added.
Afternoon Tea Top Tips
Chloe’s favourite Victoria Sponge recipe
8oz butter or Stork margarine
8oz caster sugar
4 medium eggs
1 teaspoon of good quality vanilla extract or paste
8oz self-raising flour
3 splashes of milk (tablespoons)
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