As a kid, I always looked for doors into other worlds. I blame Narnia. In C.S. Lewis’ classic novel The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, four British children step through a magic wardrobe into Narnia, a world filled with talking animals and plenty of cozy British teas.
In Narnia, food is both solace and temptation. A cup of good tea braces the nerves. A box of enchanted candy elicits betrayal. As the children explore this unfamiliar world, filled with mythical creatures and ancient magic, food is also what links them to their home. They may be dining with a family of talking beavers, but these beavers have decidedly British taste in afternoon tea.
If you haven’t read it before, it’s the perfect novel to enjoy at Christmas — especially because Narnia exists in an eternal snowy winter. This holiday season, take a culinary journey through C.S. Lewis’ classic world. Our Narnia-inspired recipes can be enjoyed individually or combined into a delightful winter tea with friends.
Chamomile and Almond Cake
Lucy, the youngest child, is the first to discover snowy Narnia. When she steps through the wardrobe, a faun named Mr. Tumnus invites her to a "wonderful tea," mostly centered around simple dishes like toast drenched in honey and lightly boiled eggs. (If you’re feeling brave, you can follow the faun’s lead and serve sardine toast, too.)
The highlight of the tea is a special cake topped with sugar. You can bake your own version of Tumnus’ cake with this recipe, which pays homage to C.S. Lewis’ love for tea: ground-up chamomile tea leaves flavor the batter. Toasted almonds and powdered sugar adorn the top, making this an elegant dessert.
Spiked Coconut Vanilla Steamer
If your guests grow tired of tea, serve them the White Witch’s signature hot drink. We don’t know the ingredients, but Edmund describes the drink as "very sweet and foamy and creamy," with an ability to warm him "right down to his toes." Our version is an adults-only drink that combines spiced rum, coconut milk and vanilla into a frothy holiday treat. You don’t even need the Witch’s dark magic — it only takes five minutes to create.
Orange Marmalade Rolls
While Edmund travels to the Witch’s castle, his siblings shelter in the home of two talking beavers. Not only do animals talk in Narnia, they’re also great cooks. Mr. and Mrs. Beaver serve the children a very English meal of hot tea and "a great and gloriously sticky marmalade roll, steaming hot."
In honor of the beavers, try this recipe for marmalade rolls drenched in sweet orange icing. When you make the icing, you don’t have to use the recipe’s required amount of orange juice or milk: Just add enough until it becomes the consistency you like. The recipe makes 48 rolls, so you’ll have plenty to share — even if you, like the beavers, end up with unexpected guests.
Ham and Brie Tea Sandwiches
On Christmas morning, the children huddle in a cave, betrayed by their brother and pursued by the White Witch. It’s not much of a holiday — at least, not until Father Christmas appears, cheering them with a quintessential British gift. Can you guess what it is? Yes, a pot of hot tea. (Of course, he also gives them gold-hilted swords, enchanted ivory horns and magic cordials, but I suspect the tea is what really invigorates the kids.)
As a complement to the tea, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver slice cold ham for sandwiches. Since you probably aren’t on the run from an evil witch, you have time to make a fancier version of their hasty bread-and-ham. Try these ham and Brie sandwiches, garnished with sesame seeds and flavored with honey mustard. Serve with a cup of English breakfast tea for maximum comfort.
And if you ever do find that magic wardrobe? Be sure to invite me along.
Contact Emily Young at [email protected]