I think a British afternoon tea (is there any other kind?) sometimes has mythical status with non-Brits. In a romanticised version of Britain, we’re enjoying it every day, at least the scones and cup of tea, but in reality, it’s something I’ve only had a handful of times in my life, and all in the past six years. Since moving away, I’ve come to appreciate the more traditionally British pastimes even more, and always try and fit in as many as I can when I go back, which means afternoon tea with my mum and sister is something that we try to make happen on almost every trip home. This year, for obvious reasons, I haven’t been home and I miss it a lot. The way things are I don’t know when I’ll next be able to go back, so today, I tried to recreate a little bit of home and create my own afternoon tea.
Afternoon tea, a tradition introduced by the Duchess of Bedford in 1840 when she became peckish in between lunch and dinner, usually consists of sandwiches (with the crusts cut off naturally), a couple of cakes or pastries, and scones, jam, and cream. This hasn’t changed much over the years and is something even the famous fancy establishments stick to, such as Claridges and The Ritz.
I thankfully had the opera cake from yesterday and whipped up a small Victoria sponge using Queen Nigella’s recipe to go with it, taking care of the cake category. I then turned to another British staple, Mary Berry, to provide the scone recipe, an absolute favourite in our house, and although I couldn’t get hold of any traditional clotted cream, I whipped up some thick double cream instead.
I even made the bread myself, making a simple sandwich loaf the day before. I went super traditional with our sandwiches and stuck with smoked salmon and cream cheese in one set, and tuna and cucumber in the other. It sounds a lot of components, but after making the opera cake, the rest came together pretty easily to make quite the spread.
My husband and I had such a nice time making our way through this. It was such a treat to enjoy and helped us experience a little bit of home. I was surprised how relatively easy it was to put together once I was organised, and it’s something I would definitely consider doing again.