“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” – Henry James
Afternoon tea is the best! Dainty sandwiches, scones and cakes. And if you’re really lucky, some fizz. What’s not to love? Have you ever thought about giving it a go at home? Read on for my guide to DIY afternoon tea.
Plan the décor for your afternoon tea; some bunting, a table cloth and some gorgeous fresh flowers will really help to set the scene.
A cute idea is to decorate some plain teacups and saucers with the names of your guests. I did this using fine permanent markers. The result is dry to the touch but will wash off with warm soapy water.
In terms of sandwich fillings, have a think about what your guests would like most. Are they into classics like smoked salmon, cucumber and ham and mustard? Or how about something alternative like pulled pork or cranberry and brie? Choose good quality bread and always butter before adding filling to your sandwich as the butter acts as a barrier to stop the bread getting soggy. Of course, make sure you trim the crusts off and serve everything on a tiered cake stand.
Whilst it’s great if some of your offerings are homemade, it’s totally acceptable not to bake all of the cakes yourself. You don’t want to have to spend three days in the kitchen beforehand! Focus on what you’re good at. If cupcakes are your forte make them; the rest can be bought in. Some of my favourite cakes to see at afternoon tea are Battenberg, choux buns or profiteroles, cupcakes, individual cheesecakes, mini Victoria sponges, custard tarts, chocolate brownies, macaroons and fondant fancies.
Scones are a must at afternoon tea (especially with clotted cream and jam!). Here’s my failsafe scone recipe:
225g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
25g caster sugar
50g slightly softened butter
1 beaten egg
- Pre-heat your oven to 220C.
- Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Stir in the sugar and salt.
- Add the butter and rub into the flour, creating a fine breadcrumb consistency.
- Add the milk, a bit at a time and work with your hands until it forms a smooth dough. You might not need all of the milk.
- Put the dough in the fridge for 15 minutes.
- Lightly flour your worktop and roll out the dough to about 2cm thick. Cut out your scones with a round cutter size of your choice. Press the cutter straight down, don’t twist or wiggle it as this will make the scone rise unevenly.
- Place the scones on a greased baking tray and brush the tops with the beaten egg.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden-brown.
I’d love to see some pictures of your DIY Afternoon Tea, you can tweet them to me @girlversusfood