My garden is in bloom and I have been itching to have a tea party since I came home from London! The garden High Tea is really a perfect combination of some of my favorite things in the world! I love to dress up, I love to have an excuse to bake up half a dozen really showy desserts, I truly love tea, and I am in love with my little garden that I have been working so hard on! May 6th was the day, because as the old saying goes, April showers bring May flowers, right? And my flowers were already blooming in April, so we were on a roll, right? Unfortunately for us, April flowers bring May showers…and 50 degree windy days. We held our High Tea indoors!
Perhaps that is more traditional though? Tea was a luxury item, brought from the East, and for a very long time, only the Aristocracy had access to it. With the increase of steamboat and rail travel, tea became more attainable, but the cultural aspects of the elite “high tea” remain. Did you know how the term High Tea came about? Generally, the aristocracy would take their tea reclined on lovely couches amidst their most eligible companions, but High Tea would be taken at a proper table – literally, higher up!
I had High Tea in London at Cellarium Cafe. See more in my restaurant reviews here. I was served a three tier stand of delicate little tea sandwiches, scones with butter and strawberry jam, and an array of tiny, single-serve cakes. I really enjoyed the meal and some of the flavors I had the opportunity to savor made their way to our menu for High Tea this weekend.
I put a great deal of preparation into the presentation and dishes this time around. I wanted to serve several teas at a time, so I scoured ebay for antique teapots to add to what I already had. I found this beautiful blue and 22 karat gold teapot and cup from Limoges, as well as a Silver Edwardian teapot from England. I paired this with my Lomonosov Royal Porcelain teapot from Russia to make a bit of a trifecta of the three biggest tea-drinking nations in Europe. I did not have any tiered platters, so I used some display goop to mount plates and cake stands together for that fancy tiered look.
I wanted to share the recipes and menu organization with you here! I will list all of the dishes and add links to the recipes as they go live. As you scroll, you will also find a “game plan” or timeline for how I created the dishes in the days preceding the tea party.
We served our versions of the three most iconic tea sandwiches: Coronation Chicken, Cucumber, and Smoked Salmon on Rye. The Coronation Chicken, I made with raisins, dried apricots, and mango jam. The Cucumber is paired with cream cheese and fresh mint from the garden, and both are served on homemade sandwich bread sliced really thin. The smoked salmon is served with chives, parsley, capers and cornichon.
In addition, my friend Paul offered to bake his delicious Pain de Campagne, the recipe for which we will share later on this week. He warns that you need to start the week before, since he grows his yeast for the loaf. We served it with Foie Gras that Nico’s mom brought as a gift from their home in Toulouse, France – the famed region that produces Foie Gras.
- Perfect Sandwich Bread, the recipe
- Tea Sandwiches, the recipes
- Paul’s Pain de Campagne, guest chef recipe – coming next week!
- Foie gras – brought directly from Toulouse by Nico’s Mom
Scones and Jam
I love butter and jam on almost any surface! This course was exciting for me! I wanted to make sure that everything was made from scratch, as is our general motto at the Chez Nous dinners. I made butter, clotted cream, four different jams as well as Sultana Scones (raisin scones). I always surprised by how expensive these products are in the store, when they are so easy to make at home!
- Sultana Scones
- Mango Jam with Saffron and Cardamom
- Jam Trifecta: Rhubarb Jam, Mixed Berry Jam, and Strawberry Jam
- Clotted Cream and Homemade Butter
Desserts are my life, so having the opportunity to serve so many of them at the same time is a revelation! I wanted to incorporate some traditional British desserts like the Victoria Cake, along with some of my favorite international cakes like the Viennese Sachertorte, and the French Earl Grey Macaron, and Cannelés Bordelais. I wanted to make sure some of the cakes came in small, easy to serve bites so people could easily pass and share.
- Victoria Cake with Rhubarb Jam and Strawberries
- Earl Grey Macaron two ways – with Lemon and Lavender filling
- Cannelés Bordelais
- Mixed Berry Almond Tarts
We served Fortnum and Mason’s Royal Blend, Countess Grey, and Earl Grey Green Tea as well as an herbal Lemongrass and Mint tea from my collection.
The Game Plan
Three days before:
- make Sachertorte
- make any Jams you want to have
Two days before:
- prepare Butter
- make Cannelés dough
- make Berry Almond Cakes
- overnight, bake Clotted Cream
3:30pm make Bread dough and cover to rise (1 hour)
bake Victoria Cake base (30 minute bake)
4:30pm second rise for the Bread (30 min)
make dough for Raisin Scones (rest 30 min)
5pm place Bread in tins for final rise (45 min)
cut Scones, second rest (30 min)
5:45pm bake Bread (30-40 min)
make Coronation Chicken filling
6:30pm bake Scones
6:45pm prepare and bake Macaron
7:30pm make buttercream for Macaron
10:30am bake Cannelés Bordelais
12pm assemble Victoria Cake
1-2pm prepare and assemble Tea Sandwiches (if serving at 3pm)
Want more on London? Check out my tour guides: British Museum and Victoria Albert Museum here, National Gallery and Tate Modern with Shopping here, and The Restaurant Guide here.