H1: Celebrate Dad in Style with an Elegant Afternoon Tea Spread
Father’s Day is just around the corner, and it’s time to start planning a special way to treat the dads in your life. While a backyard barbecue or a beer-themed party are popular Father’s Day activities, why not switch things up this year and celebrate with an elegant afternoon tea spread? Not only is it a unique and sophisticated way to honor the fathers in your life, but it’s also a chance to show off your culinary skills and create a memorable experience for everyone involved.
H2: What is Afternoon Tea?
To start, let’s go over what afternoon tea is exactly. It’s a British tradition that dates back to the 19th century and typically takes place between lunch and dinner, around 3 or 4 pm. Afternoon tea consists of a selection of tea, small sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and pastries or cakes. It’s often served on a tiered tray and enjoyed in a formal setting with fine china, silverware, and linen napkins.
H2: Setting the Scene
When planning an afternoon tea for Father’s Day, the setting is just as important as the food. Choose a special location in your home or outside, where guests can relax, chat, and enjoy the ambiance. Cover a table with a tablecloth and arrange some comfortable chairs around it. Add some fresh flowers, tea lights, and small touches like place cards or menu cards to set the mood.
H2: The Three-Tiered Tray
The signature element of afternoon tea is the three-tiered tray, also known as the afternoon tea stand. It’s a functional and aesthetically pleasing way to present the food and add an air of elegance to the occasion. The bottom tier is for savory items, the middle tier for scones, and the top tier for sweet treats.
H3: Savory Items
Let’s start with the savory items, which are usually small sandwiches or bites. Use a variety of bread, including white, brown, and multi-grain, to add visual interest. Cut the crusts off and slice the sandwiches into finger-sized portions. Here are some suggestions for the fillings:
– Cucumber and cream cheese: Spread a thin layer of cream cheese on one slice of bread, top with thinly sliced cucumber, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
– Egg and cress: Combine hard-boiled eggs, mayonnaise, and chopped cress. Spread on bread and top with another slice of bread before cutting.
– Smoked salmon and cream cheese: Spread cream cheese on bread, top with smoked salmon, and garnish with dill or lemon wedges.
– Roast beef and horseradish: Spread horseradish sauce on bread, top with sliced roast beef, and add a small dollop of caramelized onions on top.
– Brie and apple: Spread butter on bread, add slices of brie and thin apple wedges, and top with a drizzle of honey.
Next up is the scone tier. Scones are a classic British treat that are easy to make and always delicious. They’re traditionally served with clotted cream and jam. Here’s a basic scone recipe:
– 2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 tablespoon baking powder
– ½ teaspoon salt
– ¼ cup sugar
– 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
– ¾ cup milk
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1 egg, beaten
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
3. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
4. In a separate bowl, combine the milk and vanilla.
5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry mixture and stir until just combined.
6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently.
7. Pat the dough into a circle about 1 inch thick and cut into 8-10 wedges.
8. Brush the beaten egg over the tops of the scones.
9. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.
H3: Clotted Cream and Jam
Clotted cream is a traditional British spread that’s similar in texture to whipped cream but richer and more decadent. It’s made by simmering unpasteurized cream for several hours until a thick layer forms on the surface. While it’s not always easy to find clotted cream in the United States, you can make a close substitute by combining whipped cream cheese and heavy cream. Here’s a simple recipe for clotted cream:
– 1 cup heavy cream
– 4 oz cream cheese, softened
– 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth.
2. Gradually add the heavy cream and beat until smooth and thick.
3. Add the sugar and vanilla extract and beat until combined.
4. Cover and chill until ready to use.
For the jam, you can use any flavor you like, but raspberry and strawberry are traditional choices.
H3: Sweet Treats
Finally, let’s move on to the top tier of the afternoon tea stand: the sweet treats. This is where you can get creative and add your own personal touch. Here are some ideas:
– Fruit tartlets: Use pre-made tart shells or make your own using a shortbread or pastry crust. Fill with a mixture of cream cheese, whipped cream, and fruit.
– Chocolate-covered strawberries: Melt dark or milk chocolate in a double boiler and dip clean, dry strawberries into the chocolate. Chill until the chocolate sets.
– Lemon bars: Combine butter, sugar, flour, eggs, lemon juice, and zest to make a tangy lemon filling over a shortbread crust.
– Mini cupcakes: Bake simple vanilla or chocolate cupcakes and frost with buttercream icing in various colors.
– Macarons: These delicate French cookies are a bit trickier to make, but they’re worth the effort. Use food coloring to make a range of pretty pastel shades and fill with buttercream or jam.
H2: Tea Selection
Of course, no afternoon tea spread is complete without a selection of tea. You can offer a variety of loose-leaf teas, such as Earl Grey, English Breakfast, Darjeeling, or Assam, as well as herbal options like chamomile, peppermint, or rooibos. If you’re not sure where to start, look for a tea shop or supplier in your area that specializes in high-quality loose-leaf tea and ask for recommendations.
An afternoon tea spread for Father’s Day is a thoughtful and unique way to celebrate the dads in your life. With a little planning and creativity, you can put together an elegant spread that’s both delicious and beautiful. Remember to choose a special setting, prepare a three-tiered tray with savory bites, scones, and sweet treats, and offer a selection of tea to suit everyone’s tastes. It’s sure to be a Father’s Day celebration that will be remembered for years to come.