Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Afternoon Tea & Reader Survey...

Dear Reader, please come and join us for high tea at Willowbrook! 
We would like to know what you would like to see on the menu.

We plan to serve a traditional English afternoon tea, displayed on a three tier silver stand, with the lower tier being savoury finger sandwiches (with the crusts carefully cut off of course); the middle tier being freshly made scones with home made jam (recipes for both to follow soon); and the top tier being pastries and petit fours. 

Above: Someone's got the order wrong!

My choice for the sandwiches would be a selection of the three English staples:  Salmon and Cream Cheese on wholemeal bread; Cucumber sandwiches on white bread (always plenty of cucumbers to be had at Willowbrook, especially for ready money!); and a lastly another savoury sandwich. Many people choose egg, but I am not a fan of egg sandwiches. I would much prefer to see a savoury chicken sandwich on my plate. What, dear readers, would you like to see on yours?

These should not be savoury for a high tea, but rather plain, possibly slightly sweetened, served with freshly whipped cream and lashings of fruity jam...

I prefer blackberry, cherry or raspberry jam, not being a big fan of strawberry jam.

A few too many scones ,someone's forgotten the sandwiches...

Now what would you like to finish? This is a chance to really set a standard, as apart from having the freshest sandwiches and lightest scones, the first two parts of an afternoon tea are fairly well prescribed. The chance to really go to town is with the final course. Macaroons have carved out a place at high end teas thanks to the promotion of La Duree...

Meanwhile I'm still a fan of the humble (but ever so prettily decorated) cupcake...

Then there are a variety of petit fours. I wasn't really sure why they are called petit fours until I looked it up the other day: It comes from the French meaning "small oven" (my high school French taught me that oven was cuisinière).

Please do let us know what your favourite sweet treat would be.

Of course, an afternoon tea would not be complete without the actual tea!

Most people would be happy with a lovely cup of tea from our selection. We will carry Twinings, Fortnum and Mason, and TWG. For a special high teas guests may also request something a little more effervescent...

So, please let us know what you would like to see in our sandwiches and for the final course. I will be back with the results of the survey soon, along with the family scone recipe and our recipe for home-made Damson jam.

Addendum - We have now purchased a dozen 3-tiered silver trays. These are what we shall serve your teas on...


  1. I love your choice of tiered tray to serve afternoon tea upon. However, I do believe no afternoon tea is complete without at least an egg salad sandwich. The creaminess of it balances out the cucumber sandwich and the salmon. Also, again, I believe strawberry preserves are a must with scones, alongside another fruit preserve (second favorite for me is blackberry).

    I was shocked to be served whipped cream when I took my mother to tea at Fortnum's in London and had to call the waiter back to replace it with clotted cream, the only cream at tea time. I know it is difficult to track down (and far most expensive), but do consider serving it as an authentic touch to your scones.

    In New York recently, I enjoyed an afternoon tea at The Plaza, who provide an excellent assortment of both sandwiches and sweet treats. I particularly enjoyed the mini fruit tarts and chocolate eclairs.

    I'll be waiting for the results of this interesting survey.

    1. Thank you for your suggestions. I think I will provide options for the jams, maybe 3 little bowls, each with a different one. I forget that although I have an aversion to Strawberry Jam (from years of jam sandwiches at school) other people will expect that of a cream tea. I haven't seen clotted cream in the market in NZ, but I have a recipe for making it, so will be excited to be able to say that even the clotted cream is made on site!

    2. My husband attempted to make clotted cream last year (I was pleasantly surprised that he tracked down a recipe for it). You'll be pleased you tried it. I thought it was rather good.

      I always felt sorry for my school chums who ate such awful things as strawberry sandwiches for lunch and, possibly even worse, banana sandwiches!

  2. You got the sandwich selection down to perfection: a] Salmon and Cream Cheese on wholemeal bread; 2] Cucumber sandwiches on white bread and 3] Egg. They look gorgeous and no vegetarians/Muslims/Jews etc are excluded.

    For dessert, macaroons and fruit tarts are the most attractive and easiest to eat. Still fattening, but not as outrageous as creamy, sugary confections.

    Love the silver trays!

    1. Egg is coming in as an expected choice for the 3rd sandwich, which is good as egg sandwiches are very easy and inexpensive to make.
      Yes - fruit tarts are very jolly!

  3. Love the tiered serving trays. I'd vote for Chicken sandwiches as the third sandwich, they are a favourite of mine to serve with champagne at afternoon tea (oh, and a pot of tea of course!).
    I'd probably choose a mini lemon tart or chocolate eclair for the sweet course, if it were on offer of course!

    1. Yes, petit tartes au citron would also be easy to make with our fresh lemons and would provide a nice foil to the sweeter treats. I love eclairs and profiteroles, esp with a dash of cointreau or similar in the cream.

  4. Hello,

    Your ideas for Afternoon Tea sound very delicious. Egg sandwiches for us would complete the trio for the bottom tier of the serving stand. Strawberry jam and clotted cream for the scones.......we yearn for such cream as it is completely unavailable in our adopted homeland of Budapest.

    But, whatever, the top tier must not be referred to as Sweets!! Pastries, cakes but never ever sweets!

    1. Oh yes, I know what a grave solecism it is to refer to such things as 'sweets' but with the wide variety of 'sweet treats' on offer I could not think of a suitable U-English title for them. I guess pastries is the best, for at least they would be made by a pastry chef in most restaurants.
      You should have a go at making your own clotted cream for fun - I am going to post the recipe in my next post!

  5. I love lemon curd in addition to the strawberry or cherry jam. It must be homemade lemon curd, not the dreadful store bought jars of lemon curd. Also, for the top tier, I recommend lemon bars. No tea is complete for me without these two items.

    1. Somebody really likes their lemon!
      As much as it is possible, all ingredients used at WBP will be home grown, with all cooking and baking done on site. This would include lovely lemon curd from the trees in the citrus grove. Lemon curd could be one of the options in the small bowls.

  6. I'm with you on the strawberry jam - much prefer raspberry and the idea of blackberry is also quite appealing. With respect to the sandwiches, I have to concur with most others that an egg sandwich completes the selection. For the final sweets, I love a lemon/citrus tart and also feel the the humble friand is oft forgotten these days. I'm afraid I'm all cupcaked out as they've been very popular here in recent years.

    Excellent choice of silverware.

  7. What a lovely spread for a most elegant tea party.
    So nice to meet you! Thank you for commenting on my little post on Gentlemens Farms. I just added a link to your blog on my sidebar. I think my readers will enjoy following you! Have a lovely Sunday.


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