It’s National Afternoon Tea Week from 8th-14th of August so what better excuse to get busy in the kitchen with the kids and feast on tasty sandwiches, scrumptious scones and delicious cakes and pastries.
The ritual of Afternoon Tea originated with the seventh Duchess of Bedford (Anna Maria Russell) in around 1840. The upper classes generally ate lunch at midday, but had dinner late in the evening. The Duchess – for one – experienced a big energy lull in the afternoon. On one occasion, she requested tea, bread and butter and cake be sent to her room to fill the void. It became a regular thing, which progressed to having guests for the occasion. The rest is history.
Creating your own Afternoon Tea at Home
Children love getting hands on in the kitchen and are more inclined to eat what they’ve prepared themselves. Plus the elements of an afternoon tea are very likely to appeal to even the fussiest of eaters.
The quality and presentation of your afternoon tea doesn’t need to rival The Ritz. The order of the day is to have fun and create an eating treat that’s a bit different to the norm.
This is a special occasion so act posh and cut off the crusts (you can give those to the birds). Tea sandwiches are differentiated from normal ‘doorstep’ sandwiches because of their daintiness so think delicate, small fingers.
If you’re being a traditionalist then cucumber sandwiches are a must. However, don’t get hung up on authenticity just pick your favourite fillings. If you’re looking for inspiration, these are the current top 10 sandwiches for afternoon tea according to Afternoontea.co.uk:
1. Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese
2. Egg Mayonnaise & Cress
3. Chicken & Mayonnaise
4. Cucumber & Cream Cheese
5. Cheese & Chutney
6. Ham & Mustard
7. Prawn & Mayonnaise
8. Beef & Horseradish
9. Tuna & Mayonnaise
10. Roasted Vegetables & Cream Cheese
Sweet scones served with clotted cream and jam (but which first!???) are the traditional component of afternoon tea, but I love a savoury scone. Here are recipes for both.
…and if garlic and a more rustic feel is your thing check out the recipe for Garlic cheese scones. On the savoury theme, we also love pancetta and cheese muffins. Check out our recipe below.
Pastries and cakes
Here the possibilities are endless from humble vanilla fairy cakes, lemon drizzle and chocolate cup cakes to brandy snaps, mini Victoria sponges and meringues. Go with your preferences and let your imagination run wild. I also add biscuits to the mix, and I’m quite partial to a macaroon!
If it feels like sweet overload, I think Pizzette (mini puff pastry pizzas) make a great savoury option. Here’s our recipe.
Going out for Afternoon Tea
If you’re not so keen on the DIY approach then lots of places offer child-friendly afternoon tea experiences. Hotels such as The Savoy, The Langham and The Ritz all offer tailored ones for younger guests as does the iconic Aqua Shard. Lots of garden centres offer them and there are even special Afternoon Tea busses and river cruises where you can sightsee at the same time. Childrens’ Afternoon Teas are often themed and I’ve seen everything from Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland and Charlie & The Chocolate Factory to sci-fi, the potion rooms of Harry Potter and Sherlock Holmes!
I have my eye on The Luxury Family Hotels’ Matilda Afternoon Tea, which is done in partnership with The Roald Dahl Story Company.