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Top tips for the perfect Afternoon Tea

7th July 2011 Print
Sarah Whitmore - Afternoon Tea expert!

Sarah Whitmore has been passionate about food since she was a child. Whilst living in Australia, her family was adopted by an Aboriginal family and memorable cooking experiences include spear fishing stingray & making them into fishcakes.

With 14 years in catering, Sarah gained much of her corporate experience catering for clients such as The British Consulate, FedEx, and JP Morgan before setting up her own business, Flametree Catering. Sarah's top perfect afternoon tea tips are:

1. I always try to do things a bit differently but with afternoon tea I can't resist being quintessentially British with homemade scones, clotted cream and jam! If you can't get hold of clotted cream, double cream softly whipped is a pleasant alternative. Use unusual jams like gooseberry to give a unique touch. Try adding vanilla essence to your scones to really turn up the richness.

2. Forecasts predict good yields of strawberries this year. Make the most of it! Why not make some of your own jams this year? Alternatively, fresh strawberries dipped in chocolate are a wonderfully simple treat.

3. Although traditionally served at 4pm, an afternoon tea party often runs sometime between 3pm and 6pm and should really last no more than 2 hours.

4. Show off your finest cupcakes! Mini cheesecake cupcakes are a sure winner. Make them fruity! Raspberries and lemon flavours are fantastically summery and taste delicious with tea.

5. Make it look pretty! It's your chance to show off your finest china. Big chunky mugs are for sleepy mornings. Afternoon tea is a social occasion and presentation is a vital part of this sort of entertaining!

6. Try and avoid serving anything that needs cutlery unless the party is very formal. Do provide napkins or serviettes though.

7. Try lemon and honey in your tea instead of milk for a much fresher lighter and more summery taste. Try unusual blends or tea with chrysanthemum flowers for a complete herbal change. Offer peach or lemon iced tea in the summer as it will save you having to have constant boiling water on the go.

8. Don't forget the savoury stuff as well. If cucumber sandwiches are not for you, try creamy egg mayo and cress, or light wasabi prawn and avocado, or crab, mayo and a dash of dijon mustard to excite the taste buds.

9. Keep it simple. Three or four different tasty treats is all you need for the perfect afternoon tea. Mini chocolate éclairs are bound to keep everyone happy! Cheese straws can be done far in advance.

10. Bake plainer cakes to compliment the teas you are offering. Rosemary or Lavender Pound Cakes are beautiful when served with Darjeeling and of Course Earl Grey Tea is the perfect accompaniment to Earl Grey Tea Bread.

11. Good timing is critical for the perfect afternoon tea party. Do as much preparation ahead as possible and leave the sandwiches until last.

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Sarah Whitmore - Afternoon Tea expert!