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Is anyone here British?
Posted: 18 October 2009 05:13 AM   [ Ignore ]
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LOL  I couldn’t resist paraphrasing the previous German thread. I do have a serious question for our British corespondents.

I have been invited to an English (from London I believe) woman’s home for proper tea. She has said she will make the sandwiches and scones. It was suggested I bring some sort of pastry. I would very much like to impress. Do you, dear foreign corespondents, have any suggestions?

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Posted: 18 October 2009 07:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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An English ‘afternoon tea’ is now very rarely served, as far as I am aware anyhow, but you can get it in some little cafeterias or big London hotels, such as the RITZ.  The usual items being served would be dainty sandwiches, with the crusts cut off, little cream scones, fancy cakes and you might see little jam(jelly) tarts filled with strawberry jam or lemon curd.  These would usually be served on a tiered china cake stand and the tea would be served in fine china cups, all very dainty!  This sort of meal, if you can call it that, would be served about 4pm.  I can’t think of any other pastry items that would be served, but there are things , such as Eccles cakes, if they were made small that would be suitable.  Perhaps others from over here can chime in with other suggestions.

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Posted: 18 October 2009 07:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I’m not British.  But I have tea at Fortnum and Mason’s each time I’m in London; and they serve the food from a tiered stand.  Each plate on the stand has different things on it; the sandwiches on one, the scones on a second and mini pastries on a third.  There hasn’t been anything specific for pastry selection (not like the sandwiches which are usually cucumber or salmon; or scones) but there is always a fruit tartlet, and a napoleon - so I think you would be ok with a selection of mini fruit tarts or if you are adventurous, doing napoleons would be terrific - you wouldn’t have to make them very tall or complicated; you could do two layers of puff pastry and then one layer of filling.  Freeze them, and cut when frozen.  You could do cream puffs if you can fill them just before going over, or eclairs….  Or bring something typically American like a pecan tartlet - something crunchy would be nice after all those soft sandwiches and scones with clotted cream (which I can’t get enough of) and jam….

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Posted: 18 October 2009 11:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Victoria BC, my home, is sometimes said to be more British than the Brits!  wink It’s the capital city of the province, located on Vancouver Island, and a strong tourist destination for people from around the world. Having afternoon tea is a must for many. Good ones are available at several venues.

A “high falutin’ ” and rather pricey version is at the Empress Hotel in the Inner Harbour. 2009-10 price for high tea (called Royal) is $55 for those aged 13+. Children 5-12 years of age $29! Sample menus at this link: http://www.fairmont.com/empress/GuestServices/Restaurants/AfternoonTea.htm

My favourite place for high (Big Giant Muckle) tea is the White Heather, a dear place owned and operated for many years by a woman from Scotland. The new owners seem to be carrying on the tradition. It’s a little off the beaten track - what we locals affectionately refer to as “behind the Tweed curtain” in Oak Bay - and visitors don’t always find it. Menus at the link below. If you click on Photoalbum, you can see a shot of the 3-tiered plate Jeanne and Jeannette mention (2nd row, 3rd from the right). Also a plate of Aggie’s yummy Scottish shortbread wedges in the foreground.
http://www.whiteheather-tearoom.com/afternoontea.html

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Posted: 18 October 2009 12:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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We had a great afternnon tea while on holiday in Canada a few years ago, that was in Vancouver, on a visit to Capalino Bridge area, it was the highlight of that particular day!  We were all British tourists, and we all thought it was a great treat which seems strange considering it was billed as an English afternoon tea!!!

I would like to add that tiny chocolate eclairs, or choux buns filled with cream, and custard slices made with puff pastry would all be nice additions to afternoon tea.

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Posted: 18 October 2009 02:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I think shortbread sounds like a great idea!

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Posted: 18 October 2009 04:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Hello! I am a Yankie but have lived in England for 31 years now. ( Please send a good dill pickle to me. Ta.)
I had afternoon tea only last week at Liberty’s in London with my long time friends from working at The Middlesex Hospital.
We had scones with clotted cream and rose petal jam. One the routine pastries served with afternoon tea (and is not particularly British, but loved by the British) is a mille-feuille/ Napoleon filled with vanilla pastry cream. There is a good recipe in Sherry Yard’s book, The Secret of Baking. Eclairs or even cream puffs, I have seen and eaten here for afternoon tea.
If you do decide to make any of these. The portions are served to be dainty not mean hearted!
My favourite place to have afternoon tea is at Brown’s Hotel, Dover Street, London. Very nice and relaxing but swanky…and expensive.

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Posted: 18 October 2009 05:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I have British blood in my veins, but I’ve never lived in Britain.  With that being said, I’ve had the pleasure of attending tea at various tea houses over the last few years.  They all have the same theme in common, serve a good variety of finger sized goodies - some savory, some sweet; and they’re usually always dressed up in some way.  For example, instead of simple shortbread, they would serve shortbread dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with chopped pistachios and flakes of 14K gold.  Or chicken salad served in cream puffs with micro greens and sliced grape tomatoes…  things of that nature.

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Posted: 18 October 2009 05:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Wow, thank you all for your great replies.

The White Heather looks lovely. We will definitely try next time we are in Victoria.

So let me see. We have
Eccles - never heard of these before but they look divine
Napoleons
Cream puffs
Eclairs
Tartlets - fruit and nut
Shortbread - my personal favorite
Choux - custard and cream and chicken salad
and let me add I was thinking of Madeleines

I am not practiced at any of these. I am going to have to step up my exercise regime a notch while I practice these skills. Darn! tongue laugh

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Posted: 18 October 2009 06:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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We have full confidence in you!

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Posted: 18 October 2009 06:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Having worked in the tea industry for a while now, I can confidently say that almost anything goes when it comes to tea-time sweets. Most of the time, the portions are kept small, but the sky is the limit in terms of what can be served with tea. Cake, such as a simple sponge cake served with whipped cream and fresh fruit, is a big favorite for Americans and English alike. Rose’s English Gingerbread would be perfect, as well as the Sticky Toffee Pudding. Cookies are also a big favorite. We serve Almond Shortbread, Linzer cookies, Lime Cornmeal Cookies, Brown Sugar Cookies, Orange Sugar Cookies, and even the simple Chocolate Chip Cookie. Tarts are also a tea-time standard: Frangipane fruit tarts, Lemon Curd w/ fresh berries, Lemon Meringue tarts, pecan tarts, etc. All of these are good and simple enough to do!

Tea time sweets need not be fancy, and simple flavors and preparations are better companions to tea.

Here is my recipe for Almond Shortbread. This is by far, our biggest seller in the tea room:

Note: you need a 6 qt mixer for this, otherwise split it in half, or you can do the creaming part with a hand mixer in a large bowl and just fold in the flour by hand.
Makes 16-32 pieces, depending on how you score the dough.

6 oz sliced almonds, toasted
2 tsp. table salt
1 cup of sugar
1 # unsalted butter
1 TBS. almond extract
4 cups of all purpose flour, sifted after measuring onto parchment

2/3 cup of coarsely ground whole almonds for garnishing

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees
Line 2 six inch cake pans with parchment, but do not grease. Put 1/3 cup of the coarsely ground almonds onto the bottom of the cake pans, spread them evenly over the parchment.

1. Grind the sliced almonds with 1/4 cup of sugar and the salt in a food processor until very fine
2. Cream the butter with the rest of the sugar until light and fluffy, scraping the bowl once or twice (about 6-8 minutes)
3. Add the ground almonds and the almond extract and beat until combined and fluffy again, scraping at least once
4. Add the flour to the creamed butter and mix on low speed until dough is thoroughly combined.
5. Remove from the mixer and use a plastic scraper to scrape the dough into a ball. Divide the dough between the the two pans. Firmly press the dough into the pans.

6. Line two baking sheets with parchment and flip out the dough rounds onto the pans, rapping firmly to loosen the rounds from the pans. The coarsely ground almonds should face up.
7. Score the rounds into 16 pieces for small portions or 8 pieces for large portions, using a pie cutter or a large knife, press firmly into the dough so the scores reach the middle.

8. Bake the rounds for about 40-45 minutes, rotating the pans half-way through baking, until the rounds are puffed, set, and browned. Allow them too cool on racks for about 5 minutes, then cut the rounds into pieces through the scores, leave the shortbread pieces undisturbed to cool completely.

Kept airtight, the shortbread will stay fresh for about 4 days.

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Posted: 19 October 2009 12:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Just read this post so retrieved my “The London Ritz Book of Afternoon Tea”.  Crustless sandwiches cut into fingers then scones with cream and jam and finally cakes - mille feuilles (napoleons), chocolate eclairs, fruit tartlets, shortbread,....  I have nothing more to add except that all portions are miniscule and you MUST dress accordingly.  Before you go it’s a good idea to practice holding a cup and saucer in one hand, a small plate and napkin in the other and still be able to drink the tea (no slurping and keep that pinkie up!)and take a fresh cake when offered and do NOT drop the napkin on the floor….  A dying art for sure.

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Posted: 19 October 2009 12:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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You are hilarious, Annie!!! LOL

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Posted: 19 October 2009 09:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Thank you for the recipe, Roxanne. I can’t wait to try it!

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Posted: 19 October 2009 09:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Yes thank you Roxanne for the recipe. I am definitely going to use it.
Thank you Annie for the etiquette tips. Fortunately I have a couple of weeks in which to curb my slurping habits. Shllllrp!

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Posted: 20 October 2009 12:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Happy to be of service! grin

It’s a very delicious shortbread. My favorite!

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