Did everyone catch the a season premiere of Downton Abbey? I loved every minute of it. I can’t remember the last time I actually sat around all day waiting for a television show to come on. I love England, and everything British, and have enjoyed traveling there on several occasions. One of my most favorite parts of England is their tradition called Afternoon Tea. When I’ve traveled in England, I tried very hard to have a daily Cream Tea, which generally includes a pot of tea, a scone, clotted cream, and strawberry preserves.
The United States doesn’t really have the same tradition, and when we have tea parties, we frequently call the event, High Tea. I’ve been told by my aunt, the English historian, that High Tea, is actually something entirely different in the UK, was historically a hardier meal served in children’s nurseries or working class homes. (This seems to be corroborated by a number of websites, including Wikipedia.) After last week’s collection of Downton inspired crafts, I got to thinking of my enjoyment of the English Afternoon Tea, and decided to put together a collection of afternoon tea delicacies worthy of Downton Abbey.
The first requirement for a good afternoon tea is a good cup of tea. I’m partial to Darjeeling myself, but also enjoy the regular, English Breakfast Tea. I know that severalin my family, including my father and aunt enjoy Earl Grey. Mellow Man likes Oolong tea, which is traditional Chinese black tea. (I’m not sure if they have that at English Afternoon Tea, does anyone know?)
Besides the tea, it seems that the most basic afternoon tea requirement is a tasty scone. I found an awesome recipe over at Anne’s Kitchen that I can’t wait to try. It looks so good:
To make the scone perfect, one also needs to have some clotted cream, which I thought was only available in Southern England, but apparently you can make for yourself. Over at A Little Zaftig, Laura talks about Scones, has a scone recipe, and how to make this delicious looking clotted cream:
Alternatively, you can try out the recipe at Smashed Peas and Carrots for Devonshire Cream, another name for Clotted Cream:
While I like strawberry preserves on my scones, my mother-in-law is wild about Lemon Curd on her scones, so I also found a tasty lemon curd recipes that I can’t wait to try over at Good Dinner Mom.
In addition to scones, and toppings, I think that a few good tea sandwiches would go well at an Afternoon Tea in honor of Downton Abbey, and I can’t imagine having a party without a good cucumber sandwich. This recipe at Big Red Kitchen was done in honor of William and Kate’s wedding, so I know that it would be just right for an English afternoon tea.
It also seems to me that we need to have egg and watercress sandwiches at an afternoon tea, and I found a good recipe for these tea sandwiches at the Tea Tattler.
Now, I think that a few sweets are required as well, and I first thought that nothing would be better than a little English Trifle. Although to be honest, I’ve never seen it served at an afternoon tea. It does seem so English and so delicious that I hope you will overlook it’s inclusion. I know that you’ll want to try this recipe at Pure Britain.
If Trifle isn’t your cup of tea (pun intended), what about this Earl Grey cookie recipe from What She’s Having. (Or would this be a biscuit recipe? I’m not sure of the exact differentiation between cookie in biscuit in Britain.)
You can also try these traditional shortbread cookies/biscuits that were my great-great aunt’s recipe directly from Scotland, as another tasty sweet:
Finally, these Raspberry Almond Shortbread cookies over at the Foodie Patootie seemed too tasty to overlook. I can totally see Mrs. Patmore serving these to the Crawley family:
Okay, it looks like I had better get baking before this Sunday’s episode. Yum!
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