Afternoon tea is one invention we will forever be grateful for. We love the fact that come 3pm you can tuck into miniature sandwiches, jam-filled scones and indulge in a slice of crumbly cake and flaky pastries and then wash it all down with a cup of tea or glass of bubbles.
The week commencing August 14 marks Afternoon Tea Week, which was established to celebrate a tradition which has graced many British afternoons since the 1840s. Back then, in richer households, dinner was served 'fashionably late' and lunch was eaten around midday leaving a long stretch between meals. So, what was a hungry person to do? Indulge in sandwiches and cakes of course.
Today the mini-meal in the middle of the day often helps to mark a special event with cake-lovers far and wide heading down to their local tea room to indulge in tiny finger sandwiches, jam and clotted cream-filled scones and sweet dainties like cakes and pastries which you can get all together in our new afternoon tea summer selection. The selection, (which is only £3!) comes with four puff pastry slices filled with custard and topped with fondant icing, four choux pastry profiteroles with lemon cream filling and two donuts filled with strawberry cream and jam.
So if you're planning an afternoon tea for your friends and family at home, lay out your best crockery, dust off your pretty cake stand and fill up your finest teapot. Here are six brilliant bakes to enjoy at your next afternoon tea.
1. Gluten-free carrot cake
Carrot cakes are known for being lightly spiced, crumbly and deliciously sweet. And this piece of sugary goodness is no exception with hidden sultanas, sandwiched together with a zesty mascarpone filling and topped with crunchy pecans. Plus this cake has no gluten in it whatsoever, which means everyone can get in on the action.
2. Chocolate mud cake
What afternoon tea would be complete without something chocolatey? Not any afternoon tea of ours, that's for sure. This gooey chocolate mud cake is made with only four ingredients and is super easy. Cut into slivers or bite-sized chunks as you only need a little slice of this rich and tasty treat.
3. Lime & lemon drizzle cake
A classic lemon drizzle cake is a firm favourite on any British teatime table. This tempting number sets itself apart from your standard drizzle with zesty lime adding an even bigger citrus kick. To get this cake right, make sure you drizzle the hot cake as soon as it comes out of the oven so all the juices sink in, then you'll get that delicious crunch on top and moist cake underneath.
4. Battenberg cake
A light multicoloured sponge pieced together with jam and then topped with marzipan makes a Battenberg cake an afternoon tea essential. You might think it's complicated to make, but it's made simply with one sponge and a bit of food dye. So marzipan fans, give this one a go and it's sure to impress your guests.
5. Vegan parsnip, fruit & nut cake
No fancy frills or extravagant toppings are needed for this tasty fruit and nut cake which is spiced with cinnamon and packed with dates and pecans. Whip up this marvellous centrepiece in just under an hour and prepare for every tea guest, including vegans, to be very thankful.
6. Fruit and Mascarpone Sandwich Cake
Like a pepped up Victoria sponge, this mixed berry and mascarpone sponge cake will definitely be a favourite with its fresh berry topping and delicious mascarpone and jam filling.
7. Banana bread
A fail-safe and no fuss one-bowl wonder. This banana bread recipe is also a great way to use up any old and ripe bananas which you may have lying around. It also goes perfectly well with a good cuppa, making this banana bread a must-have at any afternoon tea affair. If you've got any leftover after a few days, place under the grill and spread with a bit of butter to give it a delicious lift.