Afternoon Tea Party
It’s quintessentially English & a great way to hold a party without being stuck in the kitchen all the time as (apart from the cups of tea), all the cooking is done in advance.
When you host a tea party, it’s all about style so mugs & polystyrene cups are out. If you don’t have enough china cups & saucers, charity shops have plenty & usually cheaply. The same goes for small side plates. It doesn’t matter if they don’t match.
Cover the table with a cloth. Again, charity shops are a good source if you don’t have one.
A tiered cake stand always looks good as a centrepiece or use 2 or 3 if space on the table is tight. They look elegant & add to the theme. If using plates to serve cakes & sandwiches, place a doily on first.
Napkins & cake forks save on sticky fingers which your guests will thank you for. Cake forks are not essential but if you don’t have them, plan your cakes accordingly. You will also need knives for spreading jam & cream on the scones & teaspoons for stirring tea.
Food for an Afternoon Tea Party
Tea normally comprises of a selection of sandwiches followed by cakes & scones.
Sandwiches – you can stick to favourites such as smoked salmon & cream cheese, egg mayonnaise & cress or ham & cucumber or try something more adventurous like avocado & sun-dried tomato or duck with plum sauce but remember, they need to be dainty & stay intact. Once made, trim the crusts off the bread & cut diagonally into triangles.
Cakes – bake/provide any type of cakes you fancy. If you haven’t got cake forks, try not to make them too gooey or creamy as they will be difficult to eat. Traybakes can be cut & displayed on a cake stand along with biscuits, meringues, pastries & cupcakes. Individual portions are easier to handle but there’s no reason why loaf cakes & Victoria Sponges can’t have their own plate & be sliced at the table. Cakes can be made the day before or bake some a few weeks before & freeze – check recipes first.
Scones – make on the day as nicest when fresh but can be made ahead of time & frozen. Serve warm if possible. Have bowls of jam & clotted cream on the table with a spoon for guests to help themselves. They can then decide for themselves if they like the jam or cream on first!
Make up a pot of tea that can be served at the table but have a variety of teas that guests can choose from such as peppermint, herbal, green, Earl Grey or fruit. Have milk & sugar already on the table. Provide coffee in a cafetiere if possible for those that would prefer it & orange juice in a jug.