10 Afternoon tea recipes

Helen Best-Shaw

It’s National Cream Tea day on June 26, the perfect excuse to push the boat out and enjoy a cream tea will all the trimmings: sandwiches (with the crust cut off, of course), cake, and, of course, scones slathered with lashings of jam and clotted cream!

Personally, I don’t worry about which goes on first, cream or jam, as long as there’s plenty of both, but if you need a reminder, the Cornish way is jam and then cream, and in Devon it is the other way round!  

Here are ten ways to give your cream tea a personal touch. 

 

1. Easy black cherry jam  

I love a jam that’s freshly made and zinging with fruit flavours. This delicious black cherry jam recipe uses the conserve method; steeping the fruit in a sugar syrup before cooking to result in a jam bursting with cherry flavour.  

Small batch jam making means whipping up a couple of pots; this takes very little time and gives great results. So no huge vats of jam boiling away all the flavour for hours and steaming up the kitchen.  

 

2. Sourdough scones with rhubarb and strawberry compote 

My mother prides herself on her scones; they absolutely must be baked freshly for the lightest, flakiest results. This recipe adds sourdough starter for a little dash of tang. The recipe also gives details for a rhubarb and strawberry compote; an extra choice to the cherry jam above!  

 

3. Egg and cress sandwich 

My grandmother was always very insistent about sandwiches before cake at teatime, so it is a baked-in habit. Egg and cress, like cucumber or tomato is a teatime classic; the rich egg mayonnaise mixture contrasting with the fresh crunch of the cress. For the freshest sandwiches, you could even grow the cress on a windowsill.   

 

4. Apple cinnamon and honey cake 

We need cakes as well, and here’s a loaf cake that’s great for sharing. I love loaf cakes because they are so easy to cut—theres’s none of that difficulty of trying to extract the first slice in one piece. The layered slices of apple on the top of the cake are an easy decoration that really shows that this cake is home-made.  

 

5. Lemon scones with cardamom 

A scone with a difference, with a hint of sharpness from lemon that contrasts with the herbal, spicy flavours of cardamom. The secret to light and fluffy scones is not to overwork the dough: gently does it! There are those who insist that the cutter shouldn’t be twisted, but I think that is going a little too far!  

 

6. Lavender cake 

Another loaf cake, this time infused with floral lavender and orange for citrus zestiness. If you don’t have access to fresh lavender, you can buy culinary lavender and use that. But if you do have a source, then it’s worth preserving those flavours at their peak by making some lavender sugar.  

 

7. Lavender sugar cookies with earl grey glaze 

I’m on a roll with the lavender recipes here, but with a biscuit topped with an Earl Grey flavoured glaze this time to transport you to an English country garden. This recipe grinds the lavender and sugar together to give a very refined biscuit, without whole petals.  

 

8. Victoria sponge cake with blackberry compote 

A simple Victoria sponge cake is essential at this tea party. Luscious cream filling, layered with blackberry compote, then sandwiched between two buttery sponge cakes and finished off with a dusting of icing sugar. This recipe differs from the absolute classic by using mascarpone cream and blackberry compote as a filling, rather than plain whipped cream and strawberry or raspberry jam.  

 

9. Easy banana cake 

I just love the look of this banana cake, slathered in a cream cheese icing and topped with crunchy walnut pieces. Banana cakes and breads are known for being moist and easy to make, so this is a perfect recipe if you suddenly find you have an urgent need for more cake.   

 

10. Easy yoghurt bread 

Finally, a bread recipe for all those sandwiches. This recipe uses yoghurt to give a light, airy loaf with an open, soft crumb, but still a loaf that slices well. The yoghurt also means that the dough rises quickly, making the baking process a little quicker. I find that if I bake in the morning, the loaf has cooled enough to slice for sandwiches by teatime, just in time to pop the kettle on. Perfect!  

Helen Best-Shaw, is a freelance food & travel writer, recipe developer & photographer. She has been blogging at Fuss Free Flavours for over ten years.   

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