Afternoon tea is a delightful way to host an elegant party for your friends. Pretty china, lace, flowers and dainty food … it is a special social occasion for ladies.
When I plan a tea I like to stray a little from the traditional. This past weekend I served chicken salad on mini croissants, kielbasa tortilla rollups, and ham, egg and cheese sandwiches. Served on a three tier plate and garnished with pea sprouts they made the table look spectacular!
I always serve scones at my teas. I make them just before the guests arrive so the house smells wonderful and the best time to eat them is immediately after they come out of the oven. I’m going to share a recipe with you that I like to use for scones because it is light and flaky. You might call it a biscuit recipe and that’s okay – the debate about the difference between a scone and a biscuit rages on. I served these with three kinds of preserves and my version of clotted cream.
No tea is complete without a sweet tray or two. For this tea I made mini shortbread tarts with lemon cream filling and garnished with strawberries, blackberries and pansies. Also on the menu were squares and a new kind of molasses raisin crinkle cookies that I love! I always serve coffee in addition to a variety of teas because there are people like me who prefer it – I really think tea is for grannies!
Scones for Afternoon Tea
2 cups all purpose flour
2 Tbsp. white sugar
1 tsp. salt
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cream of tarter
1/2 cup butter, slightly softened
1 cup milk
In a large bowl, combine first five ingredients.
Cut in butter until crumbly. Small lumps of butter can remain, that is what makes it flaky.
Add milk, stir quickly to combine. Dough will be soft.
Turn out on a lightly floured surface, knead gently 8-10 times.
Pat dough to 3/4” thickness and cut with a round cookie cutter.
Place rounds on greased baking sheet.
For variation, pat dough into a circle about 3/4” thick directly on greased baking sheet. These scones can be cut into wedges after they are baked.
Brush tops of scones with additional milk.
Sprinkle with coarse sugar if desired.
Bake at 450º F for 12-15 minutes or until tops and bottoms are lightly browned.
For variation, add dried fruit, nuts, citrus rind, or chopped fresh fruit.
If you must store them, let them cool, then keep them in an airtight container.