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Monthly Archives: July 2015

  • The Perfect Afternoon Tea: The Sweets

    The sweet part of an afternoon tea has always been my favourite. It’s just not afternoon tea without some scones and cake. So here are some recipes and ideas to help you fill the top tiers of your cake stand with something delicious.

    Scones

    Scones for afternoon tea

    Scones are one of the easiest things you could bake, and there’s really nothing more wonderfully British than a warm scone, smothered in clotted cream and strawberry jam.

    Our favourite recipe comes from Mary Berry. You don’t need any special equipment for it and it only takes around half an hour. You can make them in advance and even freeze them if you want to make a large batch.

    Victoria Sponge

    victoria sponge cake

    Classic Victoria sponge is the perfect teatime cake. It’s incredibly simple to make with an exceptionally forgiving recipe. Unlike other cakes, you don’t need perfectly level layers or lots of icing for a beautiful slice.

    Jamie Oliver’s recipe is fantastic, and even shows you how to make your own strawberry filling instead of jam so every single element is homemade. Of course, you can replace that bit with jam if you prefer.

    There’s a bit of an ongoing argument about whether you should have cream or buttercream as your filling. My perfect Victoria sponge has sweet buttercream to offset the tartness of the strawberries  - it also means it won’t fall apart too easily if you’re transporting the cake or eating it outside on a hot day.

    Pastries

    Pastries can be a bit intimidating and look extremely fiddly, but a lot of them are surprisingly easy to make. A few lighter baked goods just mean that you can add even more variety to your top tier.

    Mini Apple Rose Pies

    apple rose cakes afternoon tea

    Apple rose pies look so impressive but they’re very easy to make. Martha Stewart’s recipe is lovely, but if you don’t have a heart cutter you can just cut out circles for the base.

    Microwaving the apple slices really helps you roll them up, but make sure that you spread them out once they’re out of the microwave or they’ll keep heating up and go too floppy. The little roses actually hold together really well, and the mini pies are a lot easier to handle than one big one.

    White Chocolate and Blueberry Mini Tarts

    blueberry pastry afternoon tea

    Sweet, fresh, and ever so dainty, these bite-sized tarts are one of my favourite things to serve with tea. The recipe from What Megan’s Making so easy to follow and if you don’t have a mini tart pan you can just use a cupcake tin (make sure that you have baking paper circles under the pastry though!).

    Now your sweets are sorted, it’s time to think about the savouries – good thing it’s coming up in our next blog post!

  • The Perfect Afternoon Tea

    afternoon tea

    Afternoon tea dates back to the 1800s, when the Duchess of Bedford decided to take tea and snacks in the afternoon to keep her sated until dinner time. At first she took it as a private meal but later decided to invite friends to share with her every afternoon, and afternoon tea was born.

    There are a huge number of options for afternoon tea in restaurants, cafes, and hotels around London. A lot are indistinguishable from another and can be quite expensive – that’s why we’re putting together the perfect afternoon tea for you to make at home. Prices range from £25-£55+ per person for an afternoon tea in London, so throwing your own at home certainly looks like an attractive option. Especially when you can put on your perfect spread for a fraction of the cost.

    One of the major things that makes the difference between ‘just tea and a snack’ and ‘afternoon tea’ is the theme. You can create a classic afternoon tea or add a twist of your own to make it a little more interesting.

    Classic

    Classic afternoon tea is a theme in itself. There are items that you always associated with it; tiered cake stands, pastel shades, bunting, and a beautiful tea set.  To stay ‘on theme’ you would need to make sure that your menu only serves standard afternoon tea foods.

    A fantastic menu for your classic tea would be:

    Freshly prepared finger sandwiches;

    cucumber, egg mayonnaise, smoked salmon, coronation chicken, ham and mustard

    Warm scones with clotted cream and jam

    ...

    Homemade cakes and pasties;

    chocolate gateau, éclairs, Battenberg cake, Victoria sponge, or even a crème brûlée

    .

    As part of our tea series of blog posts, we’ll be posting recipes and matching ideas for your tea party menu so make sure you come back to find out how to make the perfect cucumber sandwich!

    Vintage Tea Party

    vintage tea party

    Vintage tea party menus have similar menus to classic tea parties, but the styling is different. A lot of tea partiers like to dress up in vintage clothing or even add vintage accessories to their home. Fascinators, retro curls, and lots of doilies are a fantastic way to add a vintage touch to your afternoon tea.

    Mad Hatter’s Tea Party

    mad hatter's tea party

    Literary influences, like Lewis Carrol’s Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland, have inspired a lot of afternoon tea establishments and even sparked a menu from Heston Blumenthal at the fat duck. While you may not have the time or patience to make pocket watch ‘tea’ or actual chocolate tea pots, you can live out your favourite tea party from literature or even combine your book club meeting with afternoon tea.

    Pocket watches, top hats, queens of hearts, and beautiful table linen are all must haves for a Mad Hatter’s tea.

    Picnic

    picnic tea party

    As it’s getting warmer, picnics are looking more and more attractive. A garden party or outdoor tea party is a fantastic way to spend a summer’s afternoon. You can dress it up with different blankets and cushions, and lay out your food and tea the same way you would on a table.

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