Lockdown has meant that we've not been able to enjoy the simple pleasures we previously took for granted, such as afternoon tea with friends and family. But lockdown won't last forever. Hopefully, it won't be too long until we can gather safely together again indoors and what better way to celebrate reuniting with your nearest and dearest than with the ultimate post-lockdown tea party. Creating your own afternoon tea party means you get to choose the budget, your favourite finger food and everything else to make it special.
Here's our guide to creating the ultimate post-lockdown afternoon tea party.
Getting everything ready
You'll need to start by digging out and dusting off your cake stand, which will be your afternoon tea party's centrepiece. If you don't have a cake stand, you can use the best crockery you have to hand. You can make it more special with folded napkins, lace-like doilies and name place cards. Don't forget you'll also need a teapot, teacups and saucers, cutlery and cake slicers!
Setting the scene
Extend out your table, and then dress it with a tablecloth. You can make a simple tablecloth from floral, spotted or striped material picked up from a fabric shop. String up some pretty bunting. If you feel particularly ambitious, you could even bake some edible bunting biscuits that can also act as a starter or a treat for later. While you are at it, think about making name place cookies for your guests, iced with their names. You can then pop them into a paper bag for them to take home afterwards.
Ensure the milk and sugar are out on the table as guests arrive, so they can pour themselves a tea before they sit down. Offer various teas for yours to choose from, such as peppermint, herbal, fruit, Earl Grey and whatever else takes your fancy. As the weather gets warmer, you may want to offer your guests some iced tea or even a glass or two of Pimms as a refreshing alternative.
Food, glorious food
There's quite a lot of food involved with an afternoon tea. But while there are no rules when it comes to what you should include in your spread, a traditional afternoon tea stand tends to have a tier of sandwiches, a tier of cakes and a third tier of teacakes or scones. However, you can also add biscuits, pastries and petits fours to make it even more of a special treat for your guests.
Fill sandwiches with your favourite fillings and perhaps even try offering your guests something a little different, such as:
- Smoked salmon and avocado
- Carrot and raisin
- Egg and cress
- Katsu Sandos.
You can get ahead by preparing the sandwich fillings in advance and then simply assemble the sandwiches just before guests arrive, saving panics on the day.
It's best to eat scones on the day you make them, and fortunately, they don't take long to make. Alternatively, you can make them in advance and freeze them before defrosting them in a low oven. Serve your scones warm with lots of cream and jam. You could even serve your homemade jam in a bowl and silver spoon (or just decant from a pot). Jam is the cornerstone of any afternoon tea party, so consider offering various jams from raspberry and strawberry to Rhubarb and ginger and even cinnamon plum.
Whatever cakes you decide to serve will likely become the highlight of your tea party. When it comes to cakes, individual portions are key to achieving the afternoon tea aesthetic. Let the adult guests tuck into fondant fancies that have been given a boozy twist with flavours like pina colada or strawberry daiquiri. Meanwhile, everyone will enjoy a delicious selection of chocolate brownies from Bad Brownie, including salted caramel, white chocolate raspberry, chocolate and orange - or how about peanut butter?
You can have great fun with the choice of biscuits you offer. Whether you decide to make shortbread, cookies, gingernuts or even strawberry and cream roly-polys, most biscuit recipes don't take long to put together. Take inspiration from the biscuits you remember having in your childhood.
Teacakes and pastries
The ultimate tea party is all about spoiling your guests, so offering them an array of tasty pastries will do just that. For instance:
- Earl Grey teacakes
- St Lucia saffron buns
- Tea loaf
- Toasted teacakes
- Easy iced buns.
Split the teacakes into halves and butter on each side, glaze the buns with jam, and slice them before serving.
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to creating the perfect afternoon tea party. You can be as extravagant and ambitious as you like. It might take a bit of preparation, but it will all be worth it when you can finally relax and enjoy sharing a wonderful tea party with your nearest and dearest after lockdown.