SIPPING tea from vintage fine bone china while nibbling on a delectable array of mini cakes, I decided this was the kind of genteel afternoon tea break that should be compulsory every day.
It was an unexpected treat served up by Christy Collins, who had made all of the cupcakes, macaroons and scones laid out on a tray before me.
The 26-year-old mum has just set up The Swoon Bakery in Retford and afternoon teas are one of her specialities.
Christy, of Trent Street, Retford, is studying patisserie and confectionery at New College, Nottingham.
She said: “I’m really excited about it because it’s a prestigious course and people travel from all over the country to do it.”
“We’ve been making all sorts of stuff like Danish pastries and plaited loaves, Battenburg cake, tarts and artisan bread.”
“Eventually I would like to open my own patisserie cafe selling cakes and bread, where people could sit and have afternoon tea.”
Christy creates cakes for special occasions, like weddings and birthdays, and bespoke biscuits.
The afternoon tea crockery is borrowed from her mum Lesley, who runs a vintage china hire service.
“A lot of people like afternoon teas for a special event because they can have a choice of different cakes and, because they are mini, people can enjoy trying them all.”
A patisserie is a French bakery specialising in pastries and sweets and Christy has spent hours in the kitchen producing eye-catching designs, such as a tiered sponge covered in white chocolate roses, and a chocolate ganache cake topped with fresh strawberries dipped in chocolate.
She has two young daughters, Georgia, five, and Ruby, four, who enjoy taste testing.
“They want to bake with me, so I set separate baking days for them. They always expect to find nice cakes in the kitchen now and are disappointed when I haven’t made any,” laughed Christy.
She has enjoyed baking for years and in April this year decided to go into business for herself.
“I’ve just graduated from the Open University with a degree in the history of fine art but it’s very difficult to get jobs in that area.”
“It was when I went to visit a friend in London that I went into a French patisserie and really liked the macaroons they had.”
“I bought a book on how to make them and it just went on from there. I’ve been obsessed with baking and I want to learn the fancier techniques.”
It’s no surprise that the Great British Bake Off is one of Christy’s favourite TV programmes
“I keep researching lots of ideas, my favourite patissier is Peggy Porshen whose book I have. A lot of it is about the look of it, as well as the taste.”
“I went to Paris this year and saw some of the things they were doing there.”
Christy’s sister Samantha Brown is getting married next year and Christy is planning to produce a dessert table for the reception, filled with a variety of goodies such as a macaroon tower and a cupcake tower.
“I’ve always been creative and I like a challenge, I will always try to create what a customer wants.”
For more information go to www.theswoonbakery.co.uk.