August 14, 2018
Afternoon Tea was the very clever invention of us Brits, when we noticed that the time between meals was far too long. The idea of eating a delicious array of finger sandwiches, scones and sweet treats with a cup of tea quickly became a widely spread social event, and has grown in popularity since then across the world. Many restaurants, cafes and hotels charge a premium for dainty snacks on cake stands and tea served in china cups, so why not try Afternoon Tea at home? And with Afternoon Tea week being celebrated in mid-August every year, it’s the perfect time to start planning with these Afternoon Tea menu ideas that you can bake in your own kitchen.
So grab a cup of tea (and some cake), and keep reading.
Afternoon Tea was first introduced in the 1800s by Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford. It started as a simple meal in the middle of the day to help keep energy levels high while she waited for dinner (it was a hard life for those Royals). She requested a cup of tea, bread and cake to be brought to her room in the mid-afternoon, and soon began asking friends to join her.
From this simple beginning, Afternoon Tea evolved into a lavish affair and important social occasion for the wealthy British households, as they welcomed guests and important figures of society into their homes. Even Queen Victoria was said to be a regular Afternoon Tea taker, so you’re in good company!
Traditionally, Afternoon Tea menus consist of dainty finger sandwiches, scones with cream and jam and a selection of pastries and cakes. If you want to make your Afternoon Tea at home, take your pick of our favourite Afternoon Tea recipes to include on your cake stand.
Let’s start with savoury Afternoon Tea recipes - the traditional beginning to an afternoon tea. Traditionally, afternoon tea sandwiches are served in bite-size ‘finger’ portions. The most famous sandwich filling is sliced cucumber, however smoked salmon and cream cheese or roast beef are popular choices too. Why not try some of these alternative Afternoon Tea sandwich ideas for something a bit different?
Coronation Chicken is another British staple, first created in 1953 to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. The lightly spiced sauce mixed with sweet, plump sultanas and moist chicken makes this a delicious sandwich filling for afternoon tea too!
To make your Coronation Chicken sandwich filling, simply mix 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise with 1 tablespoon of mango chutney, 2 teaspoons of mild curry powder, a pinch of cinnamon and a handful of sultanas. Feel free to adjust these quantities to suit your personal tastes. Once you have your sauce, blend it with cooked, shredded chicken. Pile generously into two slices of fresh, crusty white bread and slice into finger-sized portions.
Keep the meat lovers happy at your afternoon tea by creating your own version of a deli meats roll. It’s totally up to you which meats you use, everything goes from sliced chicken, salami and bacon, to pastrami or a good-quality ham. What will you choose?
First, take a submarine roll and cut it open lengthways. Fill with your choice of deli meats, a slice of cheese, some lettuce and tomato. Cut the submarine roll into three separate pieces and secure with a cocktail stick and black olive.
Remember to provide a few vegetarian options on your afternoon tea cake stand too! This one is a classic: fresh granary bread, filled to the brim with mature cheese, a tangy pickle and crunchy salad.
Take a granary loaf and slice into chunky wedges. Spread a thin layer of butter or spread on to each wedge, and then spread over a spoon of chutney or pickle (your choice!). Now, add a couple of tomato slices and a little lettuce. Place a slice of mature cheddar cheese on top and then add another slice of granary loaf on top. You can also leave this sandwich ‘open’ if you prefer, without the second slice of bread.
For an alternative sandwich, why not try the classic combination of creamy brie cheese with fresh, juicy grapes?
Take a crisp white loaf and fill with slices of brie and grape halves. Make it even more decadent by placing under a grill to slowly melt the brie and warm the grapes. When warmed, serve immediately to get the best of that gooey cheese.
This wouldn’t be a Bakedin blog post without mention of something sweet! That’s what makes an Afternoon Tea so special - the ability to eat both savoury and sweet treats from the same plate! Of course, you have to have the traditional scones with cream and jam but, after that, it’s completely up to you what you choose! We’ve listed some of our favourite Afternoon Tea desserts here, and we’re certain you’re going to love them.
Acting as a ‘bridge’ between the savoury sandwiches and the cakes of an afternoon tea, scones with cream and jam are a staple of the traditional afternoon tea! But first, let’s tackle the age old debate - which comes first? The cream or the jam? We’ve got members of both sides of the argument at Bakedin HQ, but the truth is, no matter which way round you choose, a scone is always delicious!
To make your own scones at home, blend 350g self-raising flour with a pinch of salt and 1 teaspoon of baking powder. Rub in 85g cold butter with your fingers until it looks like breadcrumbs, then add 3 tablespoons of caster sugar. Gently warm 180ml milk in a saucepan, and then add it into a well in the centre of the dry mix. Mix it all together quickly with a knife and then tip out onto a well-floured surface. Knead gently for a few seconds before patting or rolling down until it’s 4cm deep. Use a cutter to cut out scone shapes, re-using the leftover a few times until you’ve used up all the mixture. Place on a pre-heated baking tray in the oven for around 10 minutes until golden brown.
Serve on a cake stand with a pot of clotted cream and jam. Let your guests decide which way round they want to spread them on the scones!
For a sweet treat that’s also one of your five a day, try our twist on the classic carrot cake - part cookie, part cake! Imagine a slightly spiced cake texture, crammed full of grated carrot, oats and raisins. These treats are chewy, moreish and totally delicious, and make a worthy addition to any afternoon tea cake stand.
What better to serve at Afternoon Tea than a bake where tea is a critical ingredient? Our Tea Loaf recipe was created in partnership with Teapigs, and is just crying out to accompany a freshly-brewed cuppa.
It’s a succulently fruity loaf packed with tea-soaked sultanas and chopped apricots. Topped with a sweet water icing and chopped pistachios, this loaf cake has a soft centre and crunchy topping. It’s such a quick and easy recipe to follow, you might also be surprised to hear that it is completely butter and milk free - perfect for anyone who is following a dairy-free diet.
The Tea Loaf was our Baking Club kit for April. Though we’ve completely sold out of these baking kits, consider joining our Baking Club to get access to all our past recipes and all future ones delivered direct to your door?
Our Raspberry Eton Mess Cake was our Bake of the Month for July, and a slice of this makes the perfect finale to your Afternoon Tea. It has 2 layers of delicious vanilla flavoured sponge, sandwiched together with whipped cream, a raspberry syrup, both fresh and freeze-dried raspberries and meringue. On top, there’s more raspberries and cream. Don’t say we don’t treat you! This cake really is very special indeed.
But if a large show-stopping cake isn’t your style, consider mixing it up by making Raspberry Eton Mess Cupcakes instead, for a dainty little treat. To do this, just reduce the sponge baking time to around 15 minutes, depending on the strength of your oven.
If you’re planning on creating an Afternoon Tea at home, visit the Bake Shop to pick up a baking kit or two to help you on your way.
And if you enjoy baking from scratch, you’ll love our Baking Club! A brand new baking kit delivered to your door every month, complete with an exclusive Michel Roux recipe, step-by-step recipe card, all the dry ingredients you need perfectly weighted out, plus a few handy extras too.
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