Tealicious treats

I mentioned in my last post that I would be giving you some ideas about what to eat with your tea.  High, low, tea on the go,  alfresco, summer and winter, traditional, haute cuisine teas  – the list is endless. One thing we are not short of is ideas on what to eat with our favourite afternoon drink.

The full monty includes such delicacies as sandwiches; scones; petit fours; tea cakes; and a truck load of cakes and gateaux.  Traditionally the sandwiches are made from thinly sliced cucumber; cream cheese and chives; smoked salmon; and egg and cress – no crusts allowed naturally – and they are normally a mixture of white and brown sliced bread.  Smoked ham and grated cheddar cheese mixed with mayo are also popular choices.  As if this wasn’t enough to whet your appetite next come scones.  The debate about whether to spread your cream before your jam on the scone (essentially the Devon or Cornish options) has been discussed many times.  I tend to spread the jam first followed by the cream  – as you would in a Victoria sandwich cake – it works for me.  This option is the Cornish way I believe. Scones should ideally be cooked on the day they are to be eaten.  I have noticed in several tea emporiums that I have visited recently that although the scones are hot, they appear to be grilled.  I can only assume they have been re-heated (quel horreur!) To get a consistently good scone it is essential to keep the mixture moist; cut a thick scone; and do not twist the cutter into the mixture – this avoids getting a lopsided scone. You can choose to use buttermilk, sour milk, double cream or milk in the mixture – either way these little babies are the perfect vehicle for cream and jam.

Cakes should be airy and Frenchified, delicate pretty little objects d’art, creamy and rich.  Professional chefs specialise in pate sucree, choux and puff pastries filled with cream and embellished with feather patterned fondant icing or slices of sweet fruit. The famous mille feuille would be quite at home here, as would chocolate eclairs or strawberry tarts.

I think most of us would only want to do this fancy pants version occasionally, after all familiarity breeds contempt so they say – not to mention an expanding waist line! For me it’s all about bigging up the ingredients.  For example have a thick slice of cake, a high hat scone with lashings of home made strawberry jam and cream, and sandwiches that reflect your own quirky tastes and styles. Only use butter in the sandwiches – preferably organic and English or Welsh. Beetroot and feta with rocket is a great combo – also humous and watercress – or try a home made flat bread with dips…why not?

Whatever version of tea you try – have fun! Remember it’s always cake o’clock at Celestial Cakes!

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