The perfect afternoon tea at home
What could be more British than afternoon tea? Even better, you don't even need to leave the house to enjoy this classic luxury. Throwing an afternoon tea at home is a fantastic way to reconnect with friends or loved-ones you might not have been able to see for a while and what could be a better way to brighten up a Spring afternoon (even if it is raining) than a decadent English spread? Get the oven on and the kettle brewing as we have some top tips to share with you to recreate the perfect afternoon tea party at home. It's bound to brighten your weekend or make a thoughtful surprise for your next gathering.
Where did afternoon tea start?
It is believed that afternoon tea was first introduced in England around 1840 by the Duchess of Bedford and has been enjoyed by many ever since. Invented originally as a 'small bite' to be served to the upper-classes, it has now evolved into a complete afternoon activity involving delicious indulgent quality foods enjoyed all over the world.
How is it enjoyed now?
Afternoon tea is a classic and elegant tradition that can be enjoyed in the grandest of settings or quite simply in the comfort of your own home while still feeling like a special event. Think freshly brewed tea, tiny sandwiches and the all important scones with jam and cream (or cream and jam, we won't judge). If you are feeling extra special, pop some bubbles for an added treat!
Setting the scene
Best enjoyed somewhere that you can comfortably sit for a couple of hours, ideally at a table big enough to seat your guests and also show off your best tablecloth and place settings. Add a touch of sophistication with some fresh flowers as a stunning centrepiece. Dig out your best crockery, the all important cake stand and the occasion is almost certainly going to be all the more special.
What's on the menu?
You can't have an afternoon tea without a good selection of teas, such as English Breakfast, Darjeeling, Assam and Earl Grey. Add a couple of herbal options such as lemon and ginger or fresh mint to mix it up.
The world's your oyster here so feel free to go as simple of as fancy as you like. Smoked salmon, cucumber and cream cheese or egg and cress are simple classics. For something more decadent go for thinly sliced beef fillet and mustard, or crab salad.
Now for the main event. Some like them plain and some like them fruity, but as long as they are served warm, with a selection of jam and the all important clotted cream, no one will be complaining! Even better, they are so easy and quick to make! Heaven!
225g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
1tsp baking powder
50g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
50g caster sugar
150ml whole milk (or buttermilk)
Handful of currants or sultanas (optional)
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
Put the flour, baking powder and sugar in a mixing bowl and add the butter. Add the butter and rub it in with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs. You don't want to overwork this.
Crack in the egg and add the milk gradually to bring the mixture together. You might not need all of the milk. Mix until you have a soft sticky dough.
Tip the mixture onto a floured surface and very gently knead and add the fruit if using.
Roll into a rectangle and cut into rounds using a cutter. Make sure you don't twist the cutter as this will stop the scones from rising in the oven.
Pop on a baking tray and brush the top with any of the leftover milk and bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, or until the scones are risen and a nice pale, golden colour.
Leave them to cool slightly on a wire rack.
Grab the jam and cream and dig in!
Some of the images on this page have been shot and edited by @mrs.barnes