Good afternoon!! I hope you have had a good morning? I spent most of it searching for my camera charger to take some photos of the cake featured, but alas, it is well hidden so phone photos shall have to suffice. I find this post quite apt after watching the BBC4 documentary “How to be a lady“. Whilst this post will not teach you to ride side saddle, it will hopefully teach you how to have the perfect tea party. Please see a later post on how to lay a table. This is becoming an absolute bugbear of mine.
Christina Reynolds – Vintage Feast
These days you can have tea any time from lunchtime to suppertime but traditionally a tea party would take place between 3pm and 5pm and it is credited that Anna, the Duchess of Bedford started the tradition in 1840. With her noon meal becoming skimpier, the Duchess suffered from a ‘sinking feeling’ at about four o’clock in the afternoon (don’t we all, darling?). At first the Duchess had her servants bring her a pot of tea and a few breadstuffs (that’s sandwiches to you and me). Then she fancied a bit of company and started to invite friends to join her for an additional afternoon meal at five o’clock in her rooms at Belvoir Castle. The menu centered around small cakes, bread and butter sandwiches, assorted sweets, and, of course, tea. This summer practice proved so popular, the Duchess continued it when she returned to London.
Tea parties make a great ‘hen’ afternoon and here Christina Reynolds of www.vintagefeast.com shares some top tips on how to host the perfect tea party.
Try and keep your guest list small and intimate with your closest friends and family. Eight to twelve is ideal and it will allow you to mingle with your guests.
It is lovely to send and receive hand written invitations . Either buy invitations or use beautiful stationery to invite your friends to your tea. Try to get them to your guests two weeks before the event so that you can plan your food (I always do too much food as I get carried away with all the lovely goodies – make sure you have a good balance of sweet and savoury).
Use your best china, it looks lovely and makes your tea taste even better. Mismatched cups and saucers and small plates actually look beautiful and add character. Don’t forget teaspoons and a knife to slather those scones with cream and jam.
Presentation is key – make everything look as beautiful as possible. We use flowers scattered around and in jam jars to brighten our tea tables up. You could even place a few edible flowers around the food. A vintage cake stand with your sweet treats on looks great and you can pick them up from a charity shop or even ebay.
Teatime treats are traditionally a mix of sweet and savoury. Delicate sandwiches with crusts removed and sliced into fingers look lovely and are easier to eat whilst chatting. I like to add some interest by including different flavoured and textured breads. For example, chicken with tarragon mayo on tomato bread or a mini bagel with some lovely salt beef and homemade picallili. As a general rule allow 6 finger sandwiches, 1 scone, and 4 small sweets per person.
A recipe to get you started!
These are the best scones we’ve found after experimenting with many, many different recipes and can be adapted to sweet or savoury. You can add some sultanas if you fancy fruit scones, some cheese for cheesy scones or at Christmas we add dried cranberries and orange zest and add a little mixed spice to the dry ingredients!
- 500g plain flour
- 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
- 4.5 teaspoons cream of tartar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 50g unsalted butter
- 25g Trex
- 300ml whole milk
Sift the flour, bicarb, cream of tartar and salt into a large bowl, then rub in the butter and Trex to get a sandy consistency. You can do this in the food processor which makes it really simple (if you use the food processor then tip the crumbs into a bowl at this stage). Add the milk and stir to combine. Tip out onto a floured surface and gently kneed until the dough comes together (be careful not to over work the dough). Gently roll out the dough to about 1.5 cm thick and cut out with a floured cutter. Don’t twist the cutter as it’ll make the scones topple over as they bake (although I like a wobbly scone, personally!).
Place onto a lined baking sheet, brush with egg wash and bake at 200C for 10-12 minutes until they are golden. Eat with plenty of jam and clotted cream. Joy.
Now you just need to lay your table with everything needed for tea. Sugar cubes, a jug of milk and a selection of two or three teas. Including a decaffeinated option is a nice touch.
To brew hot tea, use a teapot, preheating it by rinsing it out with hot water. This keeps the tea hot during steeping. Use one teaspoonful of tea or one teabag per cup of water and pour the hot water over the tea. If you like your tea weaker, don’t use less tea just add hot water after the brewing period.
Prepare everything in advance and allow guests to help themselves giving you time to have a good catch up and relax.
Vintage Feast would be delighted to help you host your tea party and can provide everything from crockery to beautiful cakes and savouries. Just give us a call on 020 8331 0414 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
In my mind I made this recipe up, taking inspiration from Ramsey’s Cardamom and Rose rice pudding. I decided to put it in to cake format and hoped that it would be a taste sensation. It is. After some google-ing there other other recipes but we will just pretend that I had an original thought. This was also my first time blowing eggs. Eggs are delicate. Must remember that next time whilst smashing them with my vice like grip.
150g Sugar – I always use golden caster
150 Self-raising flour
3 eggs (blew mine to use as decor, not just a hat rack)
20 Cardamom pods – de-seeded.
Pre – heat over to 180c and line’grease two sandwich tins. Mine were too large at 8″ so use a size smaller so that the mixture isn’t spread too thin.
Scrape out the seeds from the cardamom pods. I used the back of a spoon to break it open, then scraped them out in to a bowl. Crush in to a fine powder.
Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs. Keep on whisking.
Sift in the flour and cardamom powder.
Divide in to the tins. Bake for 15-20 mins.
Rose and White Chocolate Buttercream
3tbsp of rose essence
300g Icing sugar (this varies depend on how the mixture is looking)
4 tbsp of Whittard’s White Chocolate powder (cheated, could obvs use white chocolate)
Cream butter and rose essence, add the dry ingredients. Keep tasting till it reaches heaven. Which it does. Smother the cake till it suffocates in buttercream goodness. Its all about the sponge:buttercream ratio.