The summer months are a perfect time to gather friends to enjoy an indulgent afternoon complete with a pot of brewing tea (or a bottle of bubbly!), sweet pastries, cakes and tasty scones – which raises the question, jam or cream first?
We’re sharing some helpful hints on how to create an elegant afternoon tea from your own home with tips on decorations, food inspiration and recipes for making a delicious cream tea to impress your guests.
Choose your setting
Afternoon tea can be hosted just about anywhere. If the sun is shining, set up your table in the garden or if the typical British summertime showers make an appearance, it’s time to transform your kitchen.
We’d recommend adding pretty patterned bunting to your kitchen or around the garden, and for the table, why not pick up material from a local fabric shop for a beautiful tablecloth that you can reuse again.
Pick your teaware
Beautiful teaware is a must have for this type of occasion but before you rush out and spend a fortune on brand new crockery or cardboard cake stands, why not take a trip to your local charity shop? Don’t worry about having everything matching; different patterns and colours add a playful side to your party.
If you’re thinking about adding some extra ‘sparkle’ to your afternoon tea, choose some delicious bubbly to enjoy. Ensure it’s chilled prior to your guests arriving and then place it in an ice bucket next to your table ready for when your guests need a top up.
Setting the table
It’s time to set the table. Depending on how many guests you invite, you might consider creating handmade place name cards. Hobbycraft in Newton Abbot is only short drive from Cavanna @ Wolborough Hill while B&M Bargains and The Range will have what you need if you’re based in the Exeter area near Equinox I or thinking about moving to Equinox II or Cavanna @ Elm Park.
As well as shining cake forks, try your hand at napkin folding. Napkins are a simple way to add colour and character to the table. Here is a step-by-step video to give you some pointers.
What to serve for afternoon tea?
Mini sandwiches with the crust cut off are traditional in an afternoon tea and where better to start than with the famous cream cheese and cucumber sandwich. If you feel like raising the bar, check out BBC Good Food’s cucumber and herb triple-deckers. These finger sandwich recipes with smoked salmon and lemon butter, egg and cress and coronation chicken all sound delicious – have a read here.
Other savouries to serve at your afternoon tea are mini quiches, vegetarian pasties and homemade scotch eggs.
An afternoon tea wouldn’t be complete without serving up homemade scones for a cream tea and what better recipe to share than Mary Berry’s. If you’re making scones, then it’s only right to accompany them with homemade jam or pop to your local market or farm shop to pick up a tasty jar and of course, not forgetting the clotted cream. If you live at Market Place you can visit the Holsworthy Market on a Wednesday to snap up the local produce.
If you love baking, give a Battenberg cake a try with its iconic chequerboard effect. The recipe we recommend requires little know-how and a few tricks. Think you can take on the challenge? Have a look here.
But if baking isn’t for you, then you needn’t worry. You can still surprise your guests to all the classic afternoon tea treats. Patisserie Valerie offer a tasty range of sweets that you can either pick up from their Exeter store if you live close by or get a doorstep delivery if you’re further afield. Marks & Spencer’s Ultimate Afternoon Tea Selection has everything you need right down to the tea bags with stores near our forthcoming homes at Bellevue in Bude and neighbourhood in Berryfields, North Devon.
Feel like you’re ready to host an afternoon tea? Make sure to tag us in photos of your set up, decorations and treats, we’d love to see!
Photo credits: Unsplash