Afternoon Tea For One

Thursday, 9 September 2021

Tea For One

 I felt a bit blue a few days ago.  Its not easy to go from living with a whole house filled with people, down to two people and then down to just one. Especially under the circumstances.

I decided I needed a bit of cheering up!  One thing which I really enjoyed when I was living in the UK was the traditional Afternoon Tea.  I decided that if I needed cheering up, I needed a traditional Afternoon Tea!

Afternoon Tea For One

Just because you live on your own, it doesn't mean that you can't enjoy some of the finer things in life which other people get to enjoy, right?  Right! 

I resolved this year to get as much joy out of life that I can for whatever time I have left.  Alone or not. Covid or not. I can make each day an adventure with just a tiny bit of effort! 

Afternoon Tea For One

Most people confuse the term Afternoon Tea with High Tea. They are not the same thing, nor are the terms interchangeable.  

Afternoon Tea is very much the British tradition of sitting down mid or late afternoon to a treat of tea, finger sandwiches, scones and cake. It was very much an upper class thing and was not intended to replace dinner.

The Upper Classes usually ate their dinners much later in the evening, so as an attempt to fill the gap in between lunch and dinner they  indulged in afternoon tea. 

Afternoon Tea For One

High tea came about largely to appease the working class in the 19th century. Working class people had no time, nor the luxury to stop working for such a treat as afternoon tea. Often they would arrive home starving at the end of the day.

At that time tea was served with heartier dishes.  Dishes meant to sustain a people who had been working their pegs off all day.  Something hearty, perhaps a tidbit of sweet, washed down with hot cups of tea.  Supper is still called "Tea" in working class Britain. 

Unless you are on Scotland of course where a Afternoon Tea will take on some sort of hot and savory foods.  A mix of High and Afternoon Teas. 

Afternoon Tea For One 
One thing you will want to serve with your Afternoon Tea is something savory. Nothing hot, but a mix of finger sandwiches and other cold savories are fine.

Today I made a mix of my favourites. Cucumber with mayonnaise on white bread rounds.  Cheddar Cheese and Branstons Pickle on whole wheat squares. Both were bite sized.  You don't want huge sandwiches.  Only tiny bites. 

Afternoon Tea For One 
One thing with sandwiches is you must always spread any filling right to the edges.  Nobody wants to be eating a dry piece of bread without any filling.  Bite sized is right for a tea. Something which can be consumed in only one or two bites.

Dainty fare. I have wonderful memories of my mother making sandwiches for tea parties when I was growing up.  Crusts always removed.  She would give us the crusts to eat.  We loved them

Everything was always dainty and genteel.

Afternoon Tea For One 
I also took the liberty of boiling an egg so that I could make myself a deviled egg.  This time I cut the egg in half crosswise instead of lengthwise.  That created tiny little cups.  With a tiny sliver cut off the end of the rounded end so that they stood perfectly upright.

Rule of thumb when making deviled eggs.  One don't overcook or undercook your eggs. I use an electric egg boiler.  Two use 1/2 TBS of mayonnaise and 1/2 tsp grainy Dijon mustard for each egg yolk used. Mash together until fairly smooth and stuff your eggs.  

A sprinkle of paprika and everything looks so pretty. 

Some other sandwich ideas would be, deviled ham, egg with cress, tomato and cheese, tuna salad, etc. Just make sure your bread is fresh, buttered to the edge and the crusts are cut off.

Afternoon Tea For One 
Of course Afternoon Tea requires that there be some scones present.  I made a small batch of my classic English Scones.

These are the scones you will see at every tea room across the UK. They are beautifully buttery and crumbly.  Perfect in short.

Afternoon Tea For One 
As you can see my recipe rises nice and tall and is studded with sticky raisins. You can leave them out if you wish, but raisins are quite traditional.

I remember thinking it was rather odd to be having raisins in your scones when you were going to be having cream and jam with them, but it totally works. Trust me on this.

Afternoon Tea For One

These are meant to be served at room temperature, split and then spread with butter. You will want to have some whipped heavy cream to serve with them along with some jam.

In the UK traditionally they would serve clotted cream with these along with the jam. Clotted cream is such a gorgeous thing.  Heavy cream which has been heated just to the point where it forms thick sweet clots, with a buttery crust on top.

It is almost impossible to replicate anywhere else in the world.  Trust me on this. Once you have had the real thing, nothing else comes close.  Today I made do with just whipped cream, and some cherry jam.

tClassic English Scones (small batch)

Classic English Scones (small batch)

Yield: makes 5 scones
Author: Marie Rayner
Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 10 MinTotal time: 20 Min
These are buttery and flakey tender with just the right amount of sticky sultanas. Serve with cream and jam for a real treat!

Ingredients

  • 175g self raising flour ( 1 1/4 cups)
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 37g of cold butter (2 3/4 TBS)
  • 15g Caster sugar (1 1/4 TBS, superfine sugar)
  • 40g sultana raisins (1/4 cup)
  • approximately 75ml milk (scant 1/3 cup)
  • 1 large free range eggs, beaten
  • granulated sugar to sprinkle plus flour for dusting

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 220*C/425*F/ gas mark 7. Butter a large baking tray. Alternately line it with greaseproof paper.
  2. Measure the flour into a bowl along with the baking powder. (Pour the flour in from on high to aerate it.) Whisk together. Drop in the cold butter in bits. Using your fingertips rub the butter in quickly until the mixture resembles fine dry bread crumbs. Stir in the sugar and raisins.
  3. Beat the egg. Remove and set 1 TBS aside. Add 60ml (scant 1/4 cup) of the milk to the eggs and beat together. Add this to the flour mixture. Mix together with the rounded end of a butter knife to form a soft but slightly tacky dough. Only add the remainder of the milk if your dough is too dry and you want to absorb any dry bits in the bowl. The dough should NOT be too wet, but not too dry either. 
  4. Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently a couple of times to bring well together. Gently pat out to 1 inch thick. Using a sharp round 3 inch cutter, cut out rounds, using a direct up and down motion. 
  5. Do not twist the cutter. Place the cut out scones an inch or so apart on the baking sheet. Gather any trimmings together and repeat until you have 5 scones.
  6. Brush the tops of the scones with the reserved beaten egg and sprinkle with a bit of granulated sugar. Don't let the egg drip down the sides.
  7. Bake for about 10 minutes, until risen and golden on top and bottoms. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container. Best eaten on the day. Any leftovers can be frozen for several months.
Did you make this recipe?
Tag @marierayner5530 on instagram and hashtag it #TheEnglishKitchen
Afternoon Tea For One Of course the center attraction of any Afternoon Tea, aside from the scones, is the cake. There is always a cake to be enjoyed. Usually a Victoria Sponge. But any cake will do. 

 Any cake that can be enjoyed with hot cups of tea. Today I small-batched my Traditional Victoria Sponge Cake to make a cake that is only 4 inches in diameter, which is perfect for just one person. Yes, there will be leftovers. Ask me if I care.  😋
Afternoon Tea For One This was the perfect size for me. It cuts into exactly four slices.  One for me to enjoy today with my tea party and three more for another time.

They are not overly large slices, but after you have eaten several finger sandwiches and a scone, you don't really need an overly large slice of cake. 

Classic Victoria Sponge Cake (small batch)

Classic Victoria Sponge Cake (small batch)

Yield: 2
Author: Marie Rayner
Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 20 MinTotal time: 30 Min
Popular during the reign of Queen Victoria, this cake remains popular to this day, which is a huge testament to it's taste and ease of baking! This is a smaller sized version of the original. You will need two four inch baking tins.

Ingredients

For the cake:
  • 85g butter (6 TBS)
  • 85g caster sugar (scant 1/2 cup)
  • few drops vanilla extract
  • 1 large free range egg plus 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • 85g self raising flour (a scant 3/4 cup)
To finish:
  • 2 TBS raspberry jam
  • icing sugar or granulated sugar to dust the top

Instructions

  1. Butter and base line two 4-inch sandwich tins. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4.
  2. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla together until light in color and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, a little at a time, beating well after each addition. If the mixture begins to curdle, add a spoonful of the flour.
  3. Fold in the flour with a metal spoon, taking care to use a cutting motion so as not to knock out too much of the air that you have beaten into the batter. Divide the batter evenly between the two cake tins, leveling off the surface. Make a slight dip in the center of each.
  4. Bake on a center rack of the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the sponges have risen well, are golden brown, and spring back when lightly touched. Allow to cool in the pan for five minutes before running a knife carefully around the edges and turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Once cooled, place one layer on a cake plate. Spread with raspberry jam. Place the other cake on top, pressing down lightly. Dust with icing or granulated sugar.
Did you make this recipe?
Tag @marierayner5530 on instagram and hashtag it #TheEnglishKitchen
Afternoon Tea For One HOW TO MAKE A PROPER CUP OF TEA

1.  You will need a kettle to boil your water in and a good clay or ceramic tea pot. These have the best heat retention.
2. Warm your tea pot with some boiling water and discard. Never make tea in a cold tea pot. The flavor is much better when you warm the pot first.
3. For black tea, your water needs to be boiling in order to make a proper cup of tea. Don't be tempted to use hot water dispensers and the like. Only a proper kettle will do.
4. Measure your tea into the warm tea pot and add boiling water.  How much depends on how many cups you are making.
5. Cover and leave to steep for four to five minutes for strong tea, or three minutes for a weaker infusion.

Have your tea cup ready along with any add-ins such as milk, cream, sugar, lemon wedges, etc. I like a china cup or a mug.
This was the perfect way for me to enjoy my afternoon and a wonderful distraction from all of the sorrows of the world, real and imagined.

I was able to sit and enjoy a nice hot cup of tea and a few treats that I normally wouldn't indulge in, all by myself.  And it didn't matter that I was all alone with it.  And why not  After all, I am more than worth the effort. You are too. 

Afternoon Tea for One



This content (written and photography) is the sole property of The English Kitchen. Any reposting or misuse is not permitted. If you are reading this elsewhere, please know that it is stolen content and you may report it to me at: mariealicejoan at aol dot com 

22 comments

  1. What a lovely treat, Marie - afternoon tea. Your scones look perfect. I recently had lemon current scones (from a bakeshop) with Devon Cream (found a wee jar in Farm Boy) and lemon curd (also from Farm Boy). So good! But I do think I shall make my own scones using your recipe. Love your cup and saucer plate. So pretty and so practical. Love and hugs, Elaine

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    1. OH boy, how wonderful that you were able to find the Devon Cream, and I can imagine with Lemon curd that was so lovely! Lemon Current scones. Sounds delicious. What a fab combination! Love and hugs, xoxo
      PS - I hope you like the scones, and that cup and saucer was one of the very few things that made it over here from the UK intact! Amazing as it is quite fragile!

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  2. Oh Marie, what a simply lovely idea and a fabulous attitude to overcoming the blues. One can choose to wallow, but after a time it's time to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and see what you have rather than mourn what you don't have. Not an easy thing to do, but you have certainly shown us that it can be done. ((HUGS))

    I enjoyed reading about the history of the teas and exactly what one needs to serve. We are a small household and sometimes it seems like a lot of bother to do several things for an afternoon tea, but small batching it like this is an inspired idea and one I'll adopt for occasions when I think we deserve a special treat. Everything there looks so inviting!

    And as an aside, I'm glad to see that we are on the same page as regards putting the jam first on the scones, followed by the cream :)

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    1. Wallowing never did get anyone anywhere. I have these days, but try to stay busy and do something positive with them. Its the best way to move forward. Not that I am an ostrich and sticking my head in the sand, but why remain a victim if I don't have to! This was fun and not a lot of work really. Thanks so much for your sweet comment Marie. You are always a highlight in my day! You have to put the jam first, it would just slide off the cream! haha xoxo

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  3. Oh, I do love afternoon tea! And just for one, indeed, why not! This all looks so delightful. I have 6-inch cake pans, may try this recipe out. As for the clotted cream, I found an internet recipe, you must use cream that is not ultra-pasteurized. You pour the cream in a shallowish dish - I only used 1 cup of cream - and then bake on very low for overnight I think. Then let it sit and skim the clotted cream off and store in the fridge. Very moreish. Much love - Raquel XO

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    1. Sounds lovely Raquel. If I can get the right cream, I might give it a go! Did it have the buttery crust on top? Xoxo

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  4. Good for you! Full steam ahead! Busy hands clear the head.

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  5. Hi, Marie,

    Your gorgeous & delicious one-person afternoon tea made me WOW!!
    As a Taiwanese living in UK, I cannot agree with you -- "Clotted cream is such a gorgeous thing."" smaller portion made them look more cuteier, and more fit in smaller family, thank you, very delightful to read your blog : ) : )

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    1. Thanks so much! It’s always nice to make a new friend! Xoxo

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  6. Thank you so much for sharing your tea with us! It's been such a long time since I've prepared a proper tea like this. Now that fall is almost here I need to make a plan to do this. I've never had Victoria sponge cake so I definitely need to add that to my tea!

    I do want to ask...do you sweeten your whipped cream or just whip it?

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    1. I add just a pinch of sugar to the cream, but you really don’t need much because jam is really sweet! You need to make the cake! So good! Xoxo

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  7. Hello Marie, I LOVE afternoon tea! I come originally from Scotland, but I don't think I had a proper 'English' afternoon tea until I was an adult. I find it very filling.
    We called our evening meal 'tea' and a snack before bed was 'supper'.
    I also love Branston Pickle - we can get a small jar at Loblaws, but it's the original pickle, which is not so great for sandwiches. Luckily, there's a Scottish/Irish store in Ottawa that sells a larger jar of the sandwich Branston - the veggies are cut much smaller. No one else in the family likes it (heresy!😊), so I can have it all to myself!
    Love your blog, especially the British dishes!

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    1. Thank you so much Patricia! I found some Branstons as well, but as you say, large chunk! I wish I could find the small chunk, but I am just grateful to have any! I am going to miss so many British things that I got used to in the 20 years I lived there! Thanks for your kind words! Xoxo

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  8. I loved the history almost as much as the lovely recipes and ideas! Thank you, Marie.

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    1. You are very welcome Becky! I just love to share! Xoxo

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  9. Hi Marie
    I agree about the difference between high tea and afternoon tea. High tea is eaten with a knife and fork. I recently saw a famous chef on tv making a high tea(according to her) and felt she ought to have known the difference.

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    1. I’m surprised that she didn’t! I’m writing another book at the moment, and my publisher is very pedantic about details like this and quite rightly so! Xoxo

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  10. I love that you treated yourself. Hope it chased the blues away!

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  11. I love this tradition and you're right -- why not do it for one? I never have and I should -- and especially like this! I'm saving this post for sure. And thanks for explaining High/Afternoon tea. I knew the difference but I didn't know how they came to be!

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    1. We are surely worth it Jeanie! I hope you will treat yourself one day! Xoxo

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