Showing how much we love our mummy is something all us sisters love doing, cheesy but true and what better way to celebrate than baking an afternoon tea just for her!
Last Sunday (Mother’s Day, in case you’ve forgotten already) i was down at a friends for their 21st (yes another one!) and while I did manage to get back and cook a Sunday Roast (all be it a bit hungover) i wanted to do something a bit different to show mum just how much we appreciate her. So, i invited her to her very own afternoon tea later on in the week.
Although i am on holiday, i do technically have quite a bit of work, it’s what comes with being a boring finalist…. therefore a baking break is always welcome. Although beware, preparing an afternoon tea is not for the faint hearted, it can take a long time (all day in fact).
The beauty of something like afternoon tea is that you can tailor it to contain all your favourite things (or, in this case mum’s). You also have a lot of control over what you make so it can be as simple or as complicated as you like. I went for intermediate, it wasn’t french patisserie but not just a few biscuits and scones.
To begin, i devised a menu that i thought would suit mum down to the ground. She loves traditional english so i knew scones and lemon drizzle would have to feature, i also know that whisked fatless sponge is one of her personal favourites so this too was a must. I turned to mum’s old and trusted Delia Smith recipe book for both the scones and sponge while sticking to the personally tried and tested Mary Berry recipe for a lemon drizzle tray bake (it has never failed to deliver a deliciously moist sponge with lovely crunchy topping).
I then thought about what her other favourite things are, she loves peanut butter and also coffee so i had a search around for some recipes to include them. I found these peanut butter and jam bars on Rosie the Londoners blog and thought they looked divine, then, to add a bit of sophistication, i decided on coffee profiteroles (choux buns filled with a mixture of whipped cream, coffee, sugar and topped with melted chocolate).
On the whole, i kept to the recipes in the links but I made delias 7 inch fatless sponge in two 8 inch tins so that they came out a bit flatter. I then cut them into heart shapes with a biscuit cutter and sandwiched them with homemade strawberry jam to make mini victoria sponges (it’s the finishing touches that really create the atmosphere). I decided to make them in bigger tins because you need to think about the ratio of cake size to cake depth. As the hearts were going to be a lot smaller than a standard victoria sponge, i thought the individual layers would need to be smaller.
Now for the savoury items. Mum is a keen marmite fan so i made some oatcakes that she could slather it on.
I also made some home made white bread for sandwiches (the bread maker was a god send) and then a loaf of Soda Bread for something a bit different.
The soda bread was a bit of an improvisation but it turned out very well. Traditionally soda bread is a mixture of plain flours (either white or wholemeal), bicarb and buttermilk (or a mixture of milk and lemon juice). There is no yeast and you do not have to let it rise so it is the perfect loaf for a bread novice. However, it does not keep very well, so with this in mind i didn’t want to make too much as it would just go to waste. I also could not get any brown flour at the local shop so had to buy a packet of brown bread mix which already contains yeast. Being the scientist i am, i decided that as you do not leave the dough to prove and it goes straight in the oven, the yeast would not have time to work so i did not think this would be an issue.
My recipe was as follows:
1. Heat up 280ml milk until lukewarm and add a tablespoon of lemon juice. Leave it to stand for 20 mins so that it separates. It will look disgusting but i assure you it works as a buttermilk substitute!
2. Weigh out 175g of both plain white flour and a brown flour of your choice (wholemeal, plain brown, seeded etcc..)
3. If you wish you can add some oats, sunflower seeds, raisins, anything you like really.
4. Add 1/2 tsp of bicarb
5. Stir the dry ingredients and then rub in 20 grams of butter or margerine
6. Add the milk bit by bit and bring the mixture together to form a dough, it should be quite sticky
7. Form the dough into a circular loaf and place on a floured baking sheet.
8. Mark a deep cross all the way across the loaf using the handle of a wooden spoon (this helps heat penetrate the deepest areas)
9. Place in an oven at 190 degrees for about 30 mins or until you hear a hollow sound when you tap the bottom
We had this afternoon tea as our dinner so i wanted to add something warm. I saw a really lovely recipe on the bbc for mini jacket potatoes which i thought looked really good. I didn’t have all the ingredients they wanted but i stuffed them with humous and roast tomatoes or tomatoes and cheese. I would really recommend this recipe if you are ever having a party and need a few easy appetisers, you could stuff them with a whole range of toppings.
If you are preparing an afternoon tea for someone, think about what their favourite things are. I know that mum loves mashed banana sandwiches (don’t knock it till you’ve tried it, they really are delish!) so i did this on some soda bread and it was yummy.
Another key to preparing afternoon tea is thinking about what you can do ahead. Both scones and unfilled profiteroles keep well if you freeze them on the day of cooking and things like shortbread, oatcakes and other biscuits can be made the day before. If you are catering for a large crowd think about doing some cakes that mature with time such as gingerbread, fruitcake or yorkshire parkin as are best about 5 days after baking.