At The Rubens at the Palace, we are committed to sustainability – and we have been actioning real changes within our hotel to honour this commitment over the past few years. For example, we have removed single use plastic bottles from our hotel, replacing them with glass Kingsdown Water bottles. In 2022, we are continuing our efforts to do more for the planet, working to reduce food waste and develop exciting plant-based menus in each of our dining spaces. 

borough market vegetable stall

More people than ever are taking part in ‘Veganuary’, a yearly, month-long commitment to veganism. Therefore, we are starting 2022 with a fresh renewal of our Vegan Afternoon Tea menu, to reaffirm our commitment to offering delicious plant-based alternatives. The new menu has been designed by our talented pastry chef Sarah Houghting (who you might recognise from Channel 4’s Bake Off: The Professionals) with the aim of not just tasting great, but of going the extra mile to incorporate fresh fruit and vegetables.

palace lounge the rubens at the palace

Our new Vegan Afternoon Tea pays respect to the age-old tradition of afternoon tea, providing the same special experience whilst incorporating innovative, fresh twists along the way. The clever substitutions Sarah has made make our Vegan Afternoon Tea both a more sustainable choice for the planet and a better choice for your health. We spoke with Sarah about her inspiration for each new vegan pastry she created, and how the ingredients work together to incorporate nourishment and taste.

What was your inspiration for this new Vegan Afternoon Tea? 

The tea was designed not only to be vegan friendly but also to incorporate fresh fruit and vegetables and use unrefined sugar. I wanted the pastries to taste good but to offer a better choice for your health. In January we often aim for “new year, new me” and by day three 98% of people have given this up in place of indulging in their favourite snack. This tea gives you a little something sweet without being sickly and incorporates a few veggies, which we all know are good for us but we don’t always eat.

Finally, I wanted the tea to be something that was not just vegan but also tasty and creative. You often see vegan menus filled with plain, unimaginative sponges, so these cakes were created with innovation in mind. It’s important that our vegan guests don’t have to compromise on flavour or experience when coming in for an Afternoon Tea.  

Could you talk us through the vegan pastries you created for the new menu? 

The swede and ginger cake is a light and airy sponge cake which uses Kamut flour - this is an ancient grain and is very easy on your gut, too. The ginger brings a little heat to the sponge and the swede adds a beautiful moistness. You can’t taste the swede, so this is a great cake to hide veggies in, for those who don’t like them usually.

The parsnip and passionfruit cake has a delicious tang to it. I chose to use brown rice flour for this cake, which is also gut friendly as it is gluten-free. Unlike white rice flour, you don’t have a gritty texture, which makes this flour perfect for someone who loves the spongy texture of traditional flour cakes but can’t eat gluten. This cake is topped off with a passion fruit curd drizzle; the sweetness of the cake mixed with the tangy passionfruit makes for a delightful combination. It also makes the cake so moist it's hard not to love!  

The pistachio and raspberry tart makes the most of a nut and fruit combination that's stood the test of time. Here, I also incorporated a bit of coconut cream to give the nutty pistachio flavour some softness. The cream also cuts the sharpness of the raspberries as these can be very tart, creating a flavour combination that’s a really refreshing hit to the palette.

Last but certainly not least is the chai latte cheesecake. This, for me, is gorgeous. The spicy notes of chai with the creamy coconut cheese means it’s definitely my favourite. The base is made with oats, which is again kind to the gut. I added roasted almonds and desiccated coconut and mixed that with coconut sugar and coconut oil, which works beautifully with the spices you find in a chai latte. The apple compote cuts through the rich flavours and brings a sense of freshness to the cheesecake. This one is great after a stressful day! 

Finally, could you tell us about your inspiration for the matcha scones? 

I wanted the matcha flavour to really stand out and I also wanted to make the most of the beautiful green colour that matcha carries. I added a small amount of spirulina powder - which really brought out the matcha flavour - and golden caster sugar. This gave the scones a lovely deep flavour, which is not too sweet. These scones pair well with our current seasonal preserve of apple and bitter orange.  

Reserve your table

Arrange a time and date to enjoy the new Vegan Afternoon Tea at The Rubens at the Palace.