We all love the luxury of going out for afternoon tea don’t we? But you can just as easily create afternoon tea yourself at home. BBC Good Food magazine recently asked me for my top shopping tips that will help you make afternoon tea at home to celebrate Afternoon Tea week (14-20 August).
This is my version of afternoon tea together with links to easy recipes, we enjoyed ours to celebrate my eldest daughters birthday recently.
So what did we have? Firstly I steered clear of the standard sandwich offerings, the closest I got were salmon and cream cheese pin wheels made using large flour tortillas spread with cream cheese layered up with smoked salmon then rolled tightly. I popped them in the fridge for half an hour to set firm before slicing into ‘wheels’. Perfect bite size and lighter than a traditional sandwich.
My family love a sausage roll and these ones using caramelised onion sausages and ready made puff pastry were done in no time, remember to roll the pastry thinly, cut with a sharp knife and glaze with egg before baking.
Next on the savoury front were some goats cheese and sticky onion squares. Again using shop bought puff pastry, some simple caramelised red onion and soft goats cheese. I based my recipe on this BBC Good Food one, just making one whole tart (half a packet of puff pastry) which I cut into squares.
The focaccia is my own basic focaccia recipe, topped with black olives, sunblush tomatoes and crumbled feta just before it goes in the oven.
300g Strong bread flour
5 g salt
7g sachet fast action yeast
1tbsp olive oil , plus extra for kneading
240ml tepid water
Black Olives, sunblush tomatoes, feta
Weigh the strong flour into a large bowl, on one side place the yeast on the other place the salt. Don’t mix until you have everything else ready.
Stir in the tepid water. You can tell if the water is the right temperature as you will not be able to feel it being either warmer or cooler than your finger!
Add the 1 tbsp of olive oil and stir in well. You should have have a very sticky dough, add a little more water if it isn’t sticking to your hands!
Drizzle some oil onto your work bench and your hands then using a dough scraper empty the dough onto the worktop.
Knead with one hand for 10 minutes (set yourself a timer its longer than you think!!)
The dough will be very wet so keep scraping back into the centre and from your hand using the dough scraper. I find a circular motion works well for such a wet dough.
Return to an oiled bowl for 1 hour to prove.
When doubled in size, preheat the oven to 220C.
Turn the dough into an oiled tray (18X 30cm). Do this by using the scraper and ‘pour’ the dough into the tin.
With wet fingers ease the dough to the shape of the tin, trying not to knock out too much of the air.
Leave to rise for a 45mins.
When doubled in size again, using and oiled finger make indentations in the dough in lines to get the traditional focaccia dimples.
Cut the olives in half and chop up the tomatoes, sprinkle over the top and finish with some crumbled feta. Drizzle with olive oil from the sunblush tomato pot.
Reduce the oven temperature to 210C and bake for 20 – 30mins until risen and golden
When cooked remove and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
Drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle with a little more salt to taste.
For the cakey offerings, we had meringue kisses which I make following the Meringue girls recipe.
Honey and rose madeleines made from the lovely book by Jill Colonna called Teatime in Paris. The book has lovely simple recipes like these madeleines as well as more complex french patisserie such as choux and macarons.
The cupcakes were a Mary Berry recipe, just a standard vanilla cake really, but I filled them with a chocolate ganache using my Lakeland cupcake corer
and topped with butter icing swirls using Sugar and Crumbs strawberry milkshake flavour icing sugar. I use and open star nozzle to achieve this look.
Finished with a bit more chocolate ganache and some sprinkles. the overall effect was like a neopolitan ice cream, perfect for a summers day.
The two big cakes were both lemon and elderflower flavour, both lemon cake with elderflower icing, again using the Sugar and Crumbs flavoured icing sugar, one in buttercream and the other in drizzle icing.
The large tiered cake is a semi-naked one, following the method in my How I make a Naked Cake blog post. Decorated simply using fresh edible flowers and meringues. Nationwide access to edible flowers can be found online via Maddocks Farm Organics, they will advise you of flowers in season and which varieties are safe to use on a cake. I would advise against using supermarket or florist flowers even if they are edible varieties, unless they are being sold specifically as edible in the grocery sections. My flowers this week are from a local grower There May be Bugs who uses organic techniques and is a fabulous source for me if I only need a few blooms.
The Bundt cake followed the Build a Bundt, recipe by the queen of bundt’s Dolly Bakes. I added the zest of a lemon to the mix then once cooked I soaked it in lemon syrup. The drizzle was made with the Elderflower natural icing sugar from Sugar and Crumbs and the crystallised flowers were from the Edible Botanist and give a fab alternative to fresh flowers as they last longer on the cake but still look and taste great. A bundt tin is a great way to add style to an otherwise quite plain cake, the tins by Nordicware are amazing quality and well worth the extra that they cost. Be careful though their pretty designs can become quite addictive. Try John Lewis for the latest designs or TK Maxx for a bargain.
No afternoon tea is complete of course without scones and clotted cream, we had ours with homemade strawberry and prosecco jam too! The clotted cream naturally has to be British family brand Roddas, and once again Mary Berry wins the day with her recipe for Devonshire scones
This was such a lovely opportunity to get out all the best tea china and my pretty cake stands that we will definitely do it again, although I think I need to invite more people next time as we had enough food to feed the whole street!
Don’t forget to get the August issue of BBC Good Food magazine to see my article!
A final thank you to Birgit Mons Photography for turning a rather reluctant model into some fabulous headshots for the magazine article – you really worked wonders!
All the items and suppliers I have recommended are ones I use regularly in my kitchen. I have not received any payment or goods in lieu of endorsement.