Time For Tea – An Essential Guide To This British Tradition
Due, in part, to the popularity of the Great British Bake off, the Institution of Afternoon tea has seen a resurgence in popularity. What can be more delicious and dainty afternoon tea? If you fancy having a go at this yourself, read on for some guidance and recipes to get you started.
A traditional afternoon tea starts with sandwiches, but we are not talking great big door stops here. Delicacy is the name of the game. The most famous afternoon teas sandwich is properly cucumber. This is when very thin slices of cucumber are sandwiched between one slice of white and one slice of brown.
Other fillings that are also popular are cream cheese and smoked salmon, and egg mayonnaise. When making your sandwiches, try to go for something that is luxurious, remember it is a treat.
The great debate is over how the sandwiches should be cut. Is the horizontal finger style sandwich the best? Or should they be served in triangles by cutting twice diagonally across the sandwich? The finger style is more elegant, but you do get 4 triangles out of every round with the diagonals so it depends if you are going for quality or quantity.
One of the integral parts of an afternoon tea in the inclusion of scones. Scones are sweet bread-like treats that are served with butter, cream, and jam. Scones can be plain, raisin or flavoured with seasonal ingredients like cranberry and orange.
Making a good scone is akin to an art form. They should be a light brown on the outside, with a delicate crust, While the inside should be light and fluffy. The trick is to keep the mix as wet as possible.
Som reserved whipped cream with scones, but the best afternoon teas use clotted cream for extra richness and luxury.
Despite the fact that afternoon tea is only meant to be a light bite, there is another course to come. This course is made up of sweets treats, cakes, and pastries.
You can choose a selection of your favourite items, but traditionally the cakes on an afternoon tea are small bite sized morsels. Items like biscuits and macarons work well, as do Mini Victoria Sponges.
If the thought of baking your own macarons fills you will dread then, you’ll be pleased to know that buying a silicon mat can make it a lot easier.
Mini sponges aren’t as hard as they sound either. Just bake a large rectangular tin of your traditional sponge mix, allow it to cool and use a round cookie cutter to cut out discs. Then stack the discs with jam and piped buttercream in between, and finish off with a sprinkle of icing sugar.
If you adore the idea of afternoon tea, but all that baking sounds a bit much for you, why not let one of the UK’s best hotels make it for you? The Ritz and the Mandarin Oriental, and the Dorset in London are well known for serving this treat. Click the link for more info.
Lastly, don’t forget the tea itself. It must be perfect too. It should be loose leaf and added to the pot once it has been warmed with hot water. Choose from blends such as Assam, Earl Grey or Darjeeling.