To celebrate one’s birthday it is often the norm to organise a ‘get together’ with friends which normally consists of a ‘night out’ or a ‘birthday meal’ of course taking advantage of Zizzi or Pizza Express vouchers! This year with a bit of time on my hands I wanted to put my hostess with the mostess skills to good use and go back to the good old primary school days of throwing a little birthday garden party. Well, to be precise a Tea Party à la Nat. This is my ideal way of celebrating – and no not only because it gave me an excuse to bake! – because you actually get to spend the afternoon nattering away with everyone without the loud bass of a crowded club or the awkward seating arrangements of a large restaurant table. The unlimited flow of cake and tea is also a teeny tiny perk 😉
I haven’t had a chance to talk about many of my travelling adventures as of yet (all to come shortly!) but I have to admit that one of the treasures of British culture that will always keep me grounded to this little island is the tradition of Afternoon Tea. As much as one can complain about the cold and awkward personality of Brits, one cannot fault our fierce ability to lay on a damn good spread 🙂 So not only was my birthday an excuse to catch up with friends and eat cake, but I suppose on some level it gave us an occasion to pay homage to our little Britain and British customitas.
Following the traditions of Afternoon Tea, starting from the bottom tier one begins with the sandwiches. We opted for the classic smoked salmon and cream cheese, egg and cress, ham and mustard and then we mixed things up a bit with an avocado and chicken option! The Lavly Lavinia was sous-chef when it came to sandwiches and put on a mighty feast.
As tradition has it, after sandwiches come the scones. Oh yes, here at Hopscoff we don’t do things by half, I mean if you are going to throw a tea party you have to pull out all the stops (or in this case scones!) No tea party would be complete without this terribly easy to make yet scrummy droplet of goodness. Complete with jam and clotted cream the only doubt you should ponder upon when munching away is ‘is it jam first or cream first?’ I personally vouch for the Cornish way of jam first – it is a bit more aesthetically pleasing! 😉 Scones have to be made fresh on the day and with this simple recipe there really aren’t any excuses! With Miriam as my assistant, we whipped them up in no time (and we managed to sneakily eat one for breakfast *shhhh*.
Lastly one finishes with the grand array of cakes and sweet treats. This week I made my Passionfruit and White Chocolate Cake, Cupcakes, Macaroons, my famous Caramel Shortbreads, my speciality the Cherry Bakewell and the Argentinian classic cuadrados de coco y dulce de leche (caramel and coconut squares). Annie also came armed with her gorgeous Lime and Blueberry cake, which was to die for!! I am going to try and steal the recipe away from her soon *hint hint*.
Saving the best part till last, no tea party would be complete without the tea – of cuppacourse! The busy London life culture has led us to become accustomed to takeaway cup tea drinking but nothing beats a good teacup and saucer combo! We unearthed our mash-up of sets of anything we could find including Whittard of Chelsea’s spotty range and my great grandmother’s cutest blue patterned china teacups and saucers that I have fallen in love with.
Despite being a teatotaller, it goes without saying that Pimms was of course poured out by the gallon. This customary refreshing summer cooler is a must for any summer British tea party and complemented with strawberries, oranges, mint and cucumber its zesty fruitiness sounds a dream – except for the fact that alcohol and fizzy drinks don’t agree with me! Luckily I had Miriam the glamorous bar lady to lend a helping hand.
‘Well that’s that for another year!’, as the saying normally goes. I have had a beau-TEA-ful birthday and now my thoughts turn sharply to my up and coming travels. Unfortunately there won’t be much time for baking over the next month or so but I leave you all with many recipes to get your wooden spoons stuck into whilst I am away.
P.S. We leave you with a bit of food for thought for the day…