Posted by Jane Wells on Monday, June 26, 2017 Under: Baking
The ritual of Afternoon Tea has seen a resurgence in recent years and as far as I’m concerned this is a cause for celebration.
Afternoon Tea dates back to the mid nineteenth century when Anna, 7th Duchess of Bedford asked for a tray of tea and cakes to be brought to her room to stave off the ‘sinking feeling’ she experienced in the long interval between lunch and dinner. She enjoyed it so much that she invited friends to join her and a new social event began. As the century rolled on afternoon tea for the upper classes became more elaborate as an increasing selection of savoury and sweet treats were served on delicate bone china tea services.
Meanwhile teashops began to flourish for those with more modest means. The Aerated Bread Company opened it’s first ABC tea shop in 1864 and soon became a popular place for respectable Victorian women to meet. They were followed before the turn of the century by Lyon’s Corner Houses where the waitresses, affectionately known as ‘Nippies’, continued to serve customers until the last tea shop closed in the late 1970’s.
These days Afternoon Tea to celebrate a special occasion - or if you’re lucky - just for the joy of it, is a wonderfully decadent indulgence. There’s nothing quite like dainty sandwiches and tiny cakes served on a fancy cake stand to set my heart racing. When I was young, Sunday afternoons would often be spent decorating little cakes with as much buttercream as I could pile on to them. They would be carefully laid out just on the off chance that visitors would call in for tea. If no one had arrived by 5pm we could tuck in!
Going out for Afternoon Tea can be a costly business but serving tea at home for friends can be great fun. If you’re new to baking and you don’t have much equipment you can improvise but you will find kitchen scales invaluable. If you don’t have access to recipes on the internet check out the cookbooks in charity shops. If you don’t have access to an oven you can make Welsh cakes on the hob. If you’re an absolute beginner then keep it really simple - a pot of tea, neat little sandwiches and chocolate tiffin (which doesn’t require cooking) would be a good start. Half the fun is in creating the ritual and sharing it with others and if you enjoy doing this the baking bit will follow.
In the event of baking failure come to Balham Country Market and choose from a selection of wonderful home made cakes!
In : Baking