Afternoon tea revisited

Afternoon teas are very popular at the moment – as can be seen by the number of venues offering them on their menus. Afternoon tea actually began in 19th century when dinner might have been eaten quite late in the evening, so a light meal, a ‘tea’, was served in the afternoon to keep the ladies and gentleman going until the main meal.

The classic afternoon tea is as follows:

  • sandwiches with a selection of fillings
  • scones, jam and cream
  • large cake and/or fancies (small cakes)

Other options include savoury scones, tea cakes, crumpets, muffins, fruit tarts.

I thought I would like to host an afternoon tea as an alternative to a dinner party and so invited some friends round for Sunday tea.  It gave me the opportunity to do some baking, get out some of my mother’s tea service (which is barely used as it isn’t dishwasher safe) and set the table with a white embroidered  tablecloth. I was aiming for the refined, dainty look!

Best China for afternoon tea

To start off the afternoon tea, I began with a selection of sandwiches. I used a mixture of white and brown bread, crusts cut off, of course! I kept the fillings simple; egg, prawn mayonnaise, smoked salmon, beef and tomato.

Sandwiches for afternoon tea

Hot sausage rolls were also on offer. (I confess that I didn’t actually make these – but I did put them in the oven to warm up!)

Afternoon tea savoury

Hot sausage rolls

Followed by homemade scones, clotted cream and strawberry jam – the jam was also homemade, courtesy of last year’s strawberry crop.

Afternoon tea scones

Scones, clotted cream and jam

Then the cakes! This is a family favourite – chocolate cake.

Cake for afternoon tea

Family favourite

Also a fruit cake.

Fruit cake

Fruit cake

And finally some cakes my friend brought, as well as my own blackcurrant cup cakes, again using some of the blackcurrants still in the freezer from last year’s harvest. I loved using my mum’s cake stand – I’ve no idea how old it is, but so pleased it’s back in fashion.

Afternoon tea fancies

Afternoon tea fancies

There’s the table ready for guests to sit down and enjoy a good old-fashioned afternoon tea! The essential component is missing from the photo – the pot of tea! I made gallons of this!

Table set for afternoon tea

Table set for afternoon tea

Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and it was a very relaxed tea party. I have to admit that I originally thought that preparing afternoon tea would be easier than cooking for a dinner party, but I’m not so sure that I was correct. However it might not have been less ‘work’ but it did seem less stressful as there was not so much last minute cooking to be done or worrying about timings. Certainly it’s a good way to entertain families as it’s much more informal and even ‘picky’ guests will find something they would like to eat! Plus there’s always left overs to eat up!

Inspired? Have a go at hosting your own afternoon tea, it’s a great opportunity to show off your baking skills and use your best china!





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