A Spring-time Afternoon Tea

Afternoon tea is an essential meal in this house, whether it comprises a cup of tea and a biscuit, a couple of sandwiches, a slice of cake, or the full works.  Last week we went all out to create a special afternoon tea for friends, and it was lovely.  If you would like to rustle up your own afternoon tea for a special occasion, or just because, read on for our recipes.


Often the overlooked part of afternoon tea in the downward rush to cake, but it is worth paying attention to making great sandwiches.  They work particularly well if you are serving Champagne before the tea, and help turn simple tea and cake into a full meal (not to be mistaken for high tea which is a different meal entirely.)

Sandwich fillings should be delicate enough to not overpower what follows (no hommous!), and offer variety so there is something for all attendees.  Finger sandwiches are popular, but I think triangles look nicer.  This is one of the rare occasions we use processed loaves instead of fresh as they make better, more petite sandwiches and cut better.  Here we have used a Hovis seeded loaf.

The sandwich fillings we chose were:
  • Egg mayonnaise and watercress
  • Cheddar and fruity chutney
  • Tomato and basil with a drop of thick vinaigrette
  • Philadelphia (thinly spread) and cucumber

Blue Italian cake stand c/o Spode

To Drink

Tea, of course.  Many purists would argue for only bergamot-scented Earl Grey or aromatic, almondy Darjeeling, but I think there is room for a whole host of different teas these days.  You could even match your teas to the different courses of the afternoon tea, as you would with wine.  Maybe green tea, followed by Darjeeling and then Assam?

Green tea works surprisingly well with some sandwiches and is a great partner for citrus flavours like our lime shortbread.  The strong, full-bodied flavour of Assam is a good counter for too much sweetness, and the one I would usually go for at a hotel afternoon tea to balance those over-sweet pastries.  Whilst the smoky flavour of Lapsang Souchong works perfectly with chocolate flavours.

And of course, there is always the Champagne option, perfect with sandwiches, and it adds an extra indulgent note to proceedings.  Just don't follow the Champagne with Lapsang!


Who am I to say, of course, but with a full afternoon tea I think plain scones are best.  Although sultana, cherry, mixed fruit, and even savoury (swap for some of the sandwiches) can work, dependent on taste.

This recipe is for Steve's perfect Devon scones, honed over many years of baking, and the tiny hint of sweetness works well.  Serve with strawberry, raspberry, plum or gooseberry jam and clotted cream.  Lemon, lime or passion fruit curd also work well.  You could try this recipe for blueberry and lemon scones too.

Sweet Treats

We prefer to serve one or two individual things, such as this butterscotch walnut blondies recipe or these pink heart cupcakes, and a centrepiece cake to cut.  This time we had a shortbread fan to tea, so made this delicious lime shortbread recipe.

For the centrepiece cake, we considered some past triumphs such as the cappuccino caramel torte, berry cream sponge cake, coconut, mango & lime cake or even our easy chocolate cake recipe, but plumped in the end for this old stalwart I had almost forgotten about: cherry bakewell cake.  It went down very well indeed, you can find the cherry bakewell cake recipe here.

The perfect treat, and great for entertaining.

Do you ever make a full afternoon tea at home?  Let us know if you try our recipes!

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