Our Guide To Hosting The Perfect Summer Afternoon Tea Party
Our Guide To Hosting The Perfect Summer Afternoon Tea Party
Tea parties are great for many occasions, from bridal to baby showers, birthday celebrations to casual catch-ups with friends. If you’re planning your next get-together, leave the barbecue and burgers for another time and instead, organise a lovely afternoon tea party. Here’s our top tips on where to start:
Theme: Having a themed party allows you to have a bit of fun with the menu and dress code. Whether it’s Alice In Wonderland or Mary Poppins, make sure all elements of your party – namely the table setting, menu, and dress code – matches it.
Invitation: Once you have selected a date, try to get your invitations out as soon as possible. Include what time they should arrive, what they’ll be eating and drinking, the dress code and rain plans.
Table setting: Fine china, lovely silverware, crinkle-free linen cloth, three-tiered food stands, and gorgeous flower arrangements are essentials for any tea party. If you want to add a bit more fun, get creative with fairy lights, candles and ornaments. You want your table to look nice, but it shouldn’t be crowded with too much decoration.
The tea selection: A tea party calls for a wide variety of tea, from black and green teas to floral and fruity herbal variations. If you’re stuck on what teas to serve, match them to your menu. For example, Earl Grey is lovely with scones, cakes, and cookies. Also, don’t forget Iced Teas, especially if the weather calls for them. Whatever tea selection you choose, make sure to serve them with milk, cream, thin slices of lemon, sugar cubes and honey.
The food: While cucumber sandwiches and scones with clotted cream and jam are traditional tea party options, canapés, mini quiches, egg and bacon buns, hummus served with pittas and vegetables, macaroons, apple tarts and éclairs have become popular menu items. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different foods, especially if you’re having a themed party, but do make sure you serve finger foods or bite-size portions.
Now, here’s our guide to the perfect afternoon tea party:
Egg & Bacon Brioche Soldiers
4 large eggs
12 slices from a brioche loaf
A little bit of soft butter
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
55g crispy bacon
Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the eggs and set the timer for 9 minutes.
Meanwhile, lightly butter each slice of brioche on one seat and heat a griddle pan. Char the brioche on the hot pan until griddle lines appear, then flip and char the other side. Place the bread in a toast rack or on a wire rack to cool.
When the egg timer goes off, put the eggs in cold water for 10 minutes to cool. Peel, the mash the eggs with a little seasoning, and stir in the mayo. Chill the egg mayo and store the toasted bread in an airtight container until you’re ready to serve.
To assemble the sandwiches, cut off the crusts and cut each sandwich into 2 or 3 fingers. Pop a slice of crispy bacon into each finger, so it sticks out the ends a little. Serve immediately.
Mix the crab, mayo, lemon zest, a little juice, the chives and a good grind of black pepper in a bowl. Butter one side of each slice of bread.
Divide the crab mayo between 2 slices of bread, top each with another slice, butter-side up, then arrange the cucumber slices on top, season, and finally sandwich with the final pieces of bread, butter-side down. Cut off the crusts, then cut into little triangles.
1 tablespoon finely chopped sage, plus 8 small leaves
1 egg, beaten
Het oven to 200C. Mix the flour, mustard powder, ½ tablespoon salt and a grinding of black pepper in a large bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in half of the cheese and sage. Mix together the egg and buttermilk in a separate bowl.
Make a well in the centre of the flour mix and pour in all but ½ tablespoon of the buttermilk mix. Working quickly, stir until the mixture forms a soft, spongy dough. Tip onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly until the smooth. Roll out to a 3cm-thick square. Cut into quarters, then half each quarter diagonally, so you have 8 triangles. Place the scones on a floured baking tray, brush with the remaining buttermilk, sprinkle over the remaining cheese and top each with a sage leaf. Bake for 12 – 14 minutes until they are well risen, golden and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Freeze-dried raspberry pieces, to decorate (optional)
- For the chocolate biscuit bases
100g butter, softened
75g icing sugar
1 medium egg yolk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoon milk
175g plain flour
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
- For the marshmallow
3 gelatine leaves
3 medium egg whites
175g white caster sugar
First, make the chocolate biscuit bases. Put the butter and icing sugar in a large bowl, mash together with a wooden spoon then beat for 1-2 minutes or until smooth. Add the egg yolk, vanilla, milk, flour, cocoa and a pinch of salt, and mix again. Tip onto your work surface and knead briefly until evenly coloured. Wrap in cling film, pat into a disc and chill for 20 minutes.
Heat the oven to180C and line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment. Dust the surface with a little flour, unwrap the dough and roll to the thickness of a coin. Use a 5cm cookie cutter to stamp out as many discs as you can, then re-roll the trimmings to cut out more – you should get about 35 in total. Place on the baking sheets and bake for 10 – 12 minutes, swapping the trays over halfway through. Cool on a wire rack.
Next, make the marshmallow filling. Put the gelatine in a bowl of cold water and set aside to soften. Put the egg whites, sugar, 1 tablespoon water and a good pinch of salt in a heatproof bowl. Place over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water, and whisk until thick and leaving a prominent trail from the beaters – this will take about 5 minutes. When the meringue is thick, remove the bowl from the heat and continue whisking while you add the gelatine leaves, one at a time. Keep whisking for another 3 – 5 minutes until the meringue has cooled slightly and is stiff. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large round nozzle.
Flip each biscuit over so the bottom is facing upwards. Spoon ½ teaspoon jam onto the middle of each biscuit. Holding the piping bag above the jam, pipe a blob of meringue to fill the surface of the biscuit, quickly pulling away to make a spike. Leave to set for 30 minutes.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave, stirring every 20 seconds or so to ensure it doesn’t burn. To cover the teacakes in chocolate, hold each one above the bowl at an angle and drizzle over the chocolate, letting it run back into the bowl, turning the teacake until completely covered.
Recipe via BBC Good Food.
Pistachio & Orange Madeleines
100g butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
85g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
25g crystallised orange peel or mixed peel
100g golden caster sugar
1 whole large egg, separated, plus 1 large egg white
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
Icing sugar, for dusting
Heat oven to 190C. Grease madeleine moulds (or tartlet tins), then sift over a light dusting of flour.
Tip the pistachios into a mini chopper or food processor and grind until fairly fine but with a bit of texture. Chop the orange peel finely.
Mix the flour, pistachios, orange peel and sugar in a large bowl and mix together with a fork.
Whisk the 2 egg whites in a clean bowl until they form soft peaks. Fold the butter mixture into dry ingredients, then fold in the egg whites using the whisk blades.
Carefully spoon the mixture into the prepared moulds and bake for 12-15 minutes until golden and firm to the touch. Cool for a few minutes in the tin, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Dust with icing sugar to serve.
The icing will need to chill in the fridge overnight, so make it the day before you want to serve the cakes. Sift the icing sugar and custard powder into a large bowl, add the vanilla extract and 4 tablespoons of the cream, then whisk until smooth.
Tip all but 2 tablespoons of the remaining cream into a medium saucepan and heat gently until small bubbles start to appear around the edges of the pan – the cream should be hot, but not boiling. Gradually pour this into the bowl with the custard powder mix, whisking all the time. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and return to the heat. Cook gently for 4-6 minutes, stirring all the time, until the mixture has thickened, and the custard powder has dissolved. Transfer to a bowl and cover the surface directly with cling film. Leave to cool, then chill overnight.
The next day, heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with muffin cases. Toss the apples and custard powder together in a bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together, using an electric whisk, until light and fluffy. Slowly add the eggs and vanilla extract, whisking well after each addition. Fold in the flour, then stir through the custard powder- coated apples. Divide the mixture between the muffin cases and bake for 18-20 mins until lightly golden, and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool on wire racks.
Blitz all the ingredients for the crumble together in a food processor until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Tip half the mixture onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment and bake for 5-10 minutes until lightly golden.
Continue to pulse the remaining half of the crumble topping mixture until it comes together to form a dough, adding 1-2 tsp of the reserved double cream to bind, if needed. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in cling film and chill for 30 mins, or until firm.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to the thickness of a £1 coin. Using an apple-shaped and a leaf-shaped cutter, or a sharp knife, cut out 12 apple shapes and leaves. Lift the shapes with a palette knife and transfer to a baking tray lined with parchment. Bake for 8-10 mins until lightly golden. Leave to cool for 5 mins, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Melt the chocolate in a small bowl over a pan of simmering water, or pop in the microwave for 5-10 second bursts. Dab each leaf biscuit with a little of the melted chocolate and fix it to an apple biscuit. Leave to set.
Whip the chilled custard cream icing to soft peaks, then transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large round nozzle. Pipe some icing onto each cupcake, then smooth the surface using a small metal spatula or the back of a spoon. Sprinkle over some crumble, then insert an apple biscuit into the top.