With the Australian Mothers Day coming up on Sunday, I thought I’d share my favourite way to treat my Mum. Afternoon Tea.
I’ve actually booked us into afternoon tea at The Ritz when I return to the UK to celebrate her 60th birthday and cannot wait! I’m not expecting that my afternoon tea will compete with the likes of The Ritz but I guarantee your Mum, like mine, will be just as pleased with the amount of effort you’ve made and at a fraction of the price!
I like to make everything on the day so it’s really fresh but it’s a good idea to make all the cakes the day before so you can enjoy the day too! I’ll also forgive you on this occasion if you buy some or all of the cakes to save more time.
Raid your local charity shop or grandparents cupboards for a good tea set complete with a tea pot, cups and saucers, little plates and milk jug. Mix and match works just as well but the older and more patterned china you can find the better. If you’re in London, there are some fantastic stalls in Portobello Road markets selling loads of the stuff but you will definitely find it cheaper if you spot some in your local charity store. Doilies or cute napkins and some beautiful seasonal flowers will finish the table off nicely. Serve the afternoon tea on a tiered cake stand if you have one or fancy splashing out on one for the occasion, or just serve your sandwiches neatly on one plate and your cakes on another in the middle of the table. If you like the look of mine used here, they were handmade by my stepdad so message me for details of how you can get your hands on them!
If, like me in Australia, you can’t get your hands on Cornish Clotted Cream, you can try my Clotted Cream Recipe and you won’t be disappointed! No afternoon tea is complete without it!
So let’s talk cakes! The main idea is that you want something chocolatey, something citrus, a biscuit, a plainer cake and of course a scone. With everything, think small so that everyone can have a bit of everything.
Here, I’ve gone for a small square of chocolate brownie (recipe coming soon), you can bake your favourite brownie recipe then slice them a bit smaller than you would usually. You can always go back for seconds….or as I seem to recall, your sister can take them all home with her to eat the next day or even that evening being the chocoholic she is!
For the citrus, I’ve done a cheats lemon tart. Feel free to make a proper lemon custard version or a lemon cupcake would work well too. For speed and ease, I cut out some rounds of sweet pastry with a cutter (short crust pastry would also work) that were a bit larger than the holes of a cupcake tin. Push the pastry rounds down into the holes of a greased cupcake tray to fit, before dolloping a heaped teaspoon of lemon curd in each. You’d be surprised how a little lemon curd (or lemon butter as I’ve discovered it’s called in Australia) goes a long way. Go easy on the amount of lemon curd you add to each so that they don’t overflow when baking. Bake at 180 degrees c for 12-15 mins or until the pastry is golden brown and the lemon curd has melted to fill the pastry shell. Allow to cool on a wire rack then decorate with some lemon zest and a dusting of icing sugar.
For the biscuit, I went for shortbread as it’s my Mum’s favourite and also handily the easiest biscuit ever to make! Why not ask your Mum what her favourite biscuit is and give it a go to replicate…but have back up shop bought ones just in case!
For the plainer cake, you can’t go wrong with the classic Victoria Sponge cake! I baked a thin Sponge in a larger shallow tin and then used a cutter to cut some small circles of the Sponge out. When loaded with some jam and freshly whipped cream in the middle of two rounds they look super cute. Note, they are way more fiddly that a normal Victoria Sponge so feel free to cut some slices of a large round cake instead, you’ll only loose a few cute points. Other times I’ve made little cupcakes which is probably the easiest option for serving.
If you choose to make your favourite plain or fruit scones in advance, a great thing to do is warm them a little in the oven just before serving to freshen them up. Serve with strawberry or raspberry jam (your Mum’s favourite or whatever you already have) and Cornish Clotted Cream on the side for everyone to load up themselves at the table.
At the end of the day, your Mum will be happy with one cake, just make sure it’s her favourite! 🙂
Now for the Finger Sandwiches! You can choose any fillings you like here so a good idea is to raid your fridge and cupboards for leftovers and ingredients you already have. I like to do a variety that include vegetarian, meat and fish options. And of course no afternoon tea would be complete without the infamous cucumber sandwiches! Use the freshest sliced bread, real butter (leave it out of the fridge for a while before attempting to spread) and cut off the crusts for added decadence. Then it’s up to you, cut into 4 triangles along the diagonals or 3 fingers cutting lengthways. Triangles or Finger Sandwiches…the choice is yours!
For the veggie options I like to do egg and cress, and a cheesy one like cheese and chutney. The cheese sandwiches are pretty self explanatory. For the egg sandwiches, place eggs in a pan of cold water and heat on full. Once the water comes to a rolling boil, time the eggs for 6 minutes then turn off the heat, drain and cool down the eggs rapidly by holding them in the pan under cold running water. When the eggs are cold enough to handle, crack the shell and peel off gently. Chop the egg into a bowl and mix with mayonnaise and some cress, salt and white pepper. Spread evenly onto your bread before slicing.
For the meat options I like to use left overs from a roast with their complimenting sauces or roast some chicken breasts for 15 mins (or until juices run clear) to slice up with some mayo and salad if I don’t have any leftovers available. Ham and English mustard is also a favourite in my household.
For the fish options, why not chop up some prawns with a Mary rose / prawn cocktail sauce (create by mixing tomato sauce with mayonnaise and a bit of lemon juice and possibly some cayenne pepper or paprika for a kick). My all time favourite sandwich filling is smoked salmon and cream cheese. It’s one that definitely feels fancy enough for a celebration afternoon tea! Pimp up the cream cheese by mixing in some lemon zest, black pepper and a squirt of lemon to taste.
For the best cucumber sandwiches, use white bread, butter, 1/2 cm slices of cucumber laid out so they cover the bread but don’t overlap and a pinch of salt (Cornish sea salt if you have it) over the top. And that’s it. Way tastier than they sound!
Now all you have to do is make a pot of tea and serve everything arranged as prettily as possible to your favourite people.
Happy Mothers Day!