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Afternoon tea

Discussion in 'Cookery' started by anteater, Jun 3, 2012.

  1. anteater

    anteater New commenter

    We're shortly going to be having an international evening at school, part of which is food from lots of different countries.
    I have been given England, with a specific request to do "afternoon tea" (A bit of a relief, as providing fish and chips and steak and kidney pudding would have been a bit tricky).
    Now I have to keep it simple - it starts about three hours after school finishes. Most of the people doing the different countries will be working away all day to provide amazing delicacies from their own countries. I have no intention of trying to "compete" with them, anyway - but what should I have on my table that won't look too shabby compared to the rest?
    I've only once been for "posh" afternoon tea. So far I'm thinking some very tiny (possibly open) sandwiches: smoked salmon and cucumber, egg and cress. I know there should be scones, but I'm not really sure it is worth making them, as people won't want to fill up on them and not leave any room for the delicacies around the room.
    Now cakes I CAN do: I thought some Victoria sponges, chocolate cake, lemon cake, and some nicely decorated fairy cakes (not over the top half a pound of fancy icing on every one as is the new style)
    Any other thoughts? What should I be making, given limited time and a plethora of lovely food from every corner of the globe? What is the quintessential thing about "afternoon tea"? Over to the experts! [​IMG]
     
  2. anteater

    anteater New commenter

    We're shortly going to be having an international evening at school, part of which is food from lots of different countries.
    I have been given England, with a specific request to do "afternoon tea" (A bit of a relief, as providing fish and chips and steak and kidney pudding would have been a bit tricky).
    Now I have to keep it simple - it starts about three hours after school finishes. Most of the people doing the different countries will be working away all day to provide amazing delicacies from their own countries. I have no intention of trying to "compete" with them, anyway - but what should I have on my table that won't look too shabby compared to the rest?
    I've only once been for "posh" afternoon tea. So far I'm thinking some very tiny (possibly open) sandwiches: smoked salmon and cucumber, egg and cress. I know there should be scones, but I'm not really sure it is worth making them, as people won't want to fill up on them and not leave any room for the delicacies around the room.
    Now cakes I CAN do: I thought some Victoria sponges, chocolate cake, lemon cake, and some nicely decorated fairy cakes (not over the top half a pound of fancy icing on every one as is the new style)
    Any other thoughts? What should I be making, given limited time and a plethora of lovely food from every corner of the globe? What is the quintessential thing about "afternoon tea"? Over to the experts! [​IMG]
     
  3. Bethannie

    Bethannie New commenter

    You have to have scones! You can't have afternoon tea and not have scones!
    People will not 'fill-up' on scones. Scones should be light. No need for thick clotted cream at afternoon tea...a little butter (not vegie oil healthy spread.....not 'low-fat' butter...not 'I can't believe anyone honestly mistakes this for butter'....but BUTTER) and some really good jam.
    How about a tea-bread....again go for something lightish and provide BUTTER!!!!
    A plain cake, a jam sponge, and a light fruit cake perhaps.
    And tea! From a pot. Good and strong!
     
  4. anteater

    anteater New commenter

    I have no control over the drinks - I think they will come from a central place. No kettle on my little trestle table.
    Perhaps I should practise making scones this afternoon. I don't ever make them! Maybe I could make mini ones? Do they have to have fruit in them?
     
  5. I agree with Beth. Scones are de rigueur - with butter and good jam.. You could make mini ones which wouldn't be too filling. Fruit cake is another "must"
     
  6. No chocolate cake - that isn't the done thing, apparently - unless it is on an eclair. Though I was offered a chocolate fancy and a very moist chocolate cake last summer. Battenberg, Viccy sponge, light fruit cake and even tarts, custard, lemon and Yorkshire curd are the usual.
    Coronation chicken is in, and egg and cress, or cucumber, fish paste too!
    The idea is it is all easy to pick up, won't slop and can be eaten one handed whilst holding the plate!
    Perhaps you could a sweet version, just the cakes and a cuppa in lieu of pud?
     
  7. lapinrose

    lapinrose Star commenter

    I would do cucumber sandwiches, white bread with the crusts cut off, mini scones, I have a foolproof recipe btw, plain scones not fruit with butter and strawberry jam, maybe a lemon sponge cake or a victoria sandwich.
     
  8. anteater

    anteater New commenter

    Well, I'm off to try making scones. I shall use the recipe in the very ancient and tatty copy of the Dairy Book of Home Cooking that my husband's mother sent him off from home with many years ago!
     
  9. dozymare1957

    dozymare1957 Occasional commenter

    Cucumber sandwiches are a must. You have to slice the cucumber very thinly and put in several slices to get the right texture. Whatever happens, as mentioned before, crusts cut off the triangular sandwiches and use real butter.
    Hope the scones went well. I get my summer school students to make scones using the recipe in "The Wolf's Tale" http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/britlit/wolfs-tale. They usually turn out well and the kids demolish about six each with butter and jam.
    Sounds like a fun party. I'd love to be there.

     
  10. anteater

    anteater New commenter

    [​IMG]
    Here they are. Well, obviously there were a few more of them....
    I may end up putting on a few pounds in the name of research over half term!
     
  11. henriette

    henriette New commenter

    I agree, especially as there is that Fosters ad on at the moment taking the mick out of them!
     
  12. anteater

    anteater New commenter

    Yes, the thing is, I'm trying to strike a balance between typical "afternoon tea" and what will actually get eaten on the night! Last year there were beautiful things from around the globe, so people could be quite picky in order to save room in their tummies. Given the choice between a crustless cucumber sandwich made with white bread and home-made samosa or dolmas, I know which I'd choose.
    I don't want to be left with a tray of cucumber sandwiches and a plate of scones and fruit cake: chocolate cake may not be as authentic, but I don't think I would have any leftovers. I think I will do small quantities of everything, so nothing gets wasted.
     
  13. dozymare1957

    dozymare1957 Occasional commenter

    Where's the party? I'll bring my brood to finish off the leftovers![​IMG]
     
  14. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    I think I'm in agreement with most poster on here, but to be specific as to the rules of afternoon tea:
    1. Sandwiches must have the crusts cut off. Cucumber ones, egg and cress ones and maybe smoked salmon ones. Definitely cucumber at least though. The current fashion is for finger shaped sandwiches rather than triangles, but it doesn't really matter. Real butter, obviously.
    2. Cakes. Fruit cake, lemon drizzle and Victoria Sponge. Not chocolate.
    3. Scones are essential. Not fruit ones, which I think are never quite as good as they should be. Nice jam and clotted cream.
    4. Real tea made with leaves in a teapot.
    5. Cake stands with doilies.
    6. Nice napkins.
     
  15. modelmaker

    modelmaker Lead commenter

    During my childhood, we only ever had afternoon tea on Sundays and I have to say it was a rather grand affair for a working class family. My sister has since confided to me she absolutely loathed it, but never said quite why other than the amount of food she was expected to eat.
    Sundays were something of a ritual in our house. A massive fried breakfast that often included fried kidneys, then when the pubs opened dad and any of my brothers who were old enough to join him would disappear.
    At 2.30 they'd be back in time for the Sunday roast my mum had been sweating over,followed by tinned peaches or pears with evaporated milk and by 3.00 it was time to sleep it off.
    At 5.00 however, mum would be recovered enough to start preparing tea which began with a selection of seafood that dad had bought from the stall outside the pub, salad, salmon sandwiches and never, ever tuna substitutes, maybe some pork pie and inevitably, a Dundee cake.
    Then, after the washing up was done, there'd be Benny Hill on the telly.
    I expect someone will think my childhood dining experiences on Sundays amounted to abuse, and if they do, I'll refer them to my current lifestyle of no breakfast, lunch if she's in a good enough mood to make a sandwich and dinner that I have to sweat over.


     
  16. anteater

    anteater New commenter

    That sounds like the worst part of it, to be honest!
     
  17. dozymare1957

    dozymare1957 Occasional commenter

    MM I think your Sundays sound wonderful. I'd have loved it if my mum had been capable of doing all of that for me.
    Mum became ill when I was four and was in and out of hospital for years. We were often farmed out to friends and relations and sent to several different schools while we were staying away from home. Then mum became "better" and was on valium for years - literally all through my childhood. She hated being at home so she got a job and left the house before I did and didn't get home until 6pm.
    Mum's condition meant that if she got upset she became ill. I was terrified of being naughty as a child because if I was naughty I'd "upset mummy and she'll get ill and go to hospital and die". I genuinely believed this until I was 22 when my dad died. Mum was devastated but she didn't die. In fact, she lived for another 30 odd years.
    By the time I was ten I took myself to the dentist and made my own doctor's appointments. I was often invited to tea with other kids and they had fantastic food like beans on toast or egg and chips. Sometimes they had sandwiches and cake with a cup of tea. I had Sunday lunch with my friends too. It wasn't until I grew up that I realised that all these mothers felt sorry for me because there was nobody at home to look after me. I had an older sister and brother but he was a boarding school and then left home at 18 and she wasn't interested in looking after me. She had enough to do looking after herself. We never had cooked breakfast - it was always cornflakes. I still remember the first time I ate cauliflower cheese. It was like nectar. I was about 14.
    So please treasure the wonderful mum who provided so well for you and, everyone else, no mocking please. MM's mum made his Sundays very special for him.

     
  18. modelmaker

    modelmaker Lead commenter

    Thank you, Dozy, I can't complain about my mum at all. She did her best and we never went hungry even if mid-week tea was often bread and sugar and breakfast was bread and milk.
    The best time of my life was spent in the arms of another man's wife.
    And she knitted us all jumpers for Christmas and birthdays until the year before she died. Dreadful designs, but you couldn't help but love her for the effort she took. Her burden grew as we all married and had kids of our own.
    I read the various threads on this website that lament the way kids are brought up and I ask myself how much of a clue do the authors have about real life and hardship.
     
  19. dozymare1957

    dozymare1957 Occasional commenter

    It's funny because we had enough money for us to have private educations. My brother was at boarding school from 7 to 17 and my sister and I went to prep schools and then grammar school. We never went hungry and we never felt deprived but I know now that I missed out on in the nurturing part of my childhood.
    Hey, isn't bread and sugar yummy? I'd forgotten all about it. I must give my boys some. I wonder what they'll think of it. We had bread and milk with sugar if we were sick. It's no wonder all my teeth are rotten!
    I love my mum and miss her terribly. I can't believe she's been gone for nearly six months.
     

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