“Tiffin, the midday meal, was a welcome break in the long Indian day; the pause for sustenance and prelude to a siesta…Tiffin was a domestic meal, a chance for husbands and wives to eat together, if they wished. Children were seldom present at the table, taking their tiffin…in the nursery”
From Curries and Bugles: A Memoir and Cookbook of the British Raj (1990) Jennifer Brennan

How remarkably different that is from my own family’s everyday dining habits. When it comes to eating, our assembled table isn’t known for its observance of pauses and preludes, but delight is regularly evoked by the word; Tiffin (or Fridge Cake as it is better known).

In the Oxford Companion to Food (1999) Tiffin is “an Anglo-Indian term, used in India for lunch or a light snack in the middle of the day or the afternoon…the word, first recorded in the 19th century… may have its origin in a colloquial English word: tiffing…meaning eating or drinking out of meal-times”.

So although we don’t do “preludes”, we do occasionally warm to “eating out of mealtimes”. Reassuringly, it seems the second in line to the throne does too. He decreed that a ‘groom’s cake’ (known to the solitary male as fridge cake) be constructed for his wedding ceremony to Kate and served to their 600 well-heeled guests at a canapé reception.

No I’m really not kidding.

There are as many Tiffin recipes as there are chocolate bars and, more importantly, biscuit varieties therein – William chose Rich Tea. Although a commonly specified ingredient, it’s not the best gastronomic choice in my opinion, however it may conflate the casual wealth associated with his guests’ beverage consumption each afternoon.

When it comes to ingredients for our own homemade variety, I’ve opted for a far more select recipe from one of the world’s leading pastry chefs – Roger Pizey.

Not quite sure how one of our future monarchs’ managed to overlook him, but, shame that it is, it’ll now take a while before Roger’s Tiffin gets anywhere near the By Appointment gig. No just desserts there then.

Fridge Cake (Tiffin) from World’s Best Cakes (2013) Roger Pizey

120 g digestive biscuits
120 g chocolate digestive biscuits
150 g milk chocolate
150 g dark chocolate (minimum 55% cocoa solids)
100 g butter
150 g golden syrup
100 g dried apricots, chopped
50 g academia nuts, chopped
50 g cahew nuts toasted and chopped
75 g raisins

No baking is required for these yummie squares of chewiness. They just need to be set in the fridge, hence the name – although many know them as Tiffin.

You will need an 18 cm square tin
Place the biscuits in a plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin into small pieces
In a heatproof bowl, over a pan of simmering water, melt together the chocolate, butter and golden syrup, stirring consistently
Remove from the heat and add the biscuits, apricots, nuts and raisins, and mix well
Spoon the mixture into the tin, leave to cool a little and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours
Remove from the tin and cut into squares

Wine thoughts

A sweet (dessert) wine goes without saying. France’s finest are Barsac and Sauternes, both are from a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon grown just south of Bordeaux. Good ones are pricey, great ones end up in auctions. My choice would be a a sweet wine from further north, in the Loire valley, made entirely from Chenin such as Coteaux du Layon.The edgy balance of ripe peach, crystallised lemon and crisp apple, offer some welcome refreshment from your chocolate overdose.