I have always been fascinated with British culture. I think the U.S. invasion of the Spice Girls had a lot to do with my initial intrigue. I have had the opportunity to visit England a few times, and each time I get absolutely lost (in a good way) in the history, the accents, and the tradition. Now, in the wake of the death of Queen Elizabeth II, I thought it would be a great chance to celebrate her life and honor the memory by recreating an afternoon tea and sharing a few tips on how to have your own tea party.
I love EVERYTHING about the tradition of English tea. First I’d like to say that I am a tea drinker through and through. Here in Texas it’s sweet tea all the way. But, there’s something really almost sacred about going to a traditional English tea. The beauty of the flatware and tea sets, the pairing of teas with assorted pastries, all working together to make the practice of afternoon tea special.
So here are a few basics if you are wanting to throw your own English afternoon tea:
- English afternoon tea consists of finger sandwiches, scones (which should not be confused with biscuits), and sweets.
- Most food displays appear on 3-tiers.
- Afternoon tea usually happens around 3-4 in the afternoon and is meant to fill the gap between lunch and dinner.
- The first course begins with sandwiches (no crusts of course), and the second course with scones + clotted cream, and other sweets.
- And tea of course! Typically the black tea varieties.
For this classic English scone recipe I made mini scones using a 2″ round pastry cutter. I wanted to make sure that I had items a part of my tea that were authentic to England and a traditional afternoon tea so I made sure to include clotted cream, shortbread, and sugar cubes. This is a great tip if you are inviting guests and want them to experience a bit of English flair. I love strawberry jam to go with my scones but there are several varieties to choose from if you want your guests to experience different flavors. The same goes with tea! It’s fun to try different varieties that you may not have thought of before now. I enjoy Victorian London Fog tea as well as English Breakfast tea.
- 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
- 4 tsp Baking Powder
- 3 tbsp White Sugar
- 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
- 6 tbsp Cold Butter
- 2/3 Cup Milk
- 1 Egg
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- In a bowl, sift flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
- Add cold butter and use your finger tips to cut it into the mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs. Toss it around a couple times with your hands to make it light and airy. But not too much!
- In a separate small bowl, add milk and egg then whisk together. Reserve 2 tablespoons to brush on the scones later and add remainder to the dry ingredients.
- With a spatula, fold everything together until dough begins to form. Place the dough onto a well-floured surface. Flour your hands really well and gently form a smooth ball. Do not knead! Pat down (again, gently) on the dough until the surface is even and it is about 1.5 inch thick. Sprinkle the top with flour if your dough is sticky.
- Dip your round pastry cutter into flour and cut into the dough. Place scones onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Brush the reserved egg/milk mixture on top of each scone with a pastry brush. Try not to let the mixture drip on the sides. Sprinkle a little sugar on top of each scone on top of the egg/milk mixture you just brushed on.
- Serve hot with clotted cream and jam 🙂