We’ve been reading about the Queen reaching her 90th birthday reminding us of one of the most famous mothers of all, and as Mother’s Day is just around the corner, why not give your Mom the royal treatment and make her a traditional afternoon tea?
Although afternoon tea is no longer a tradition in England, you can still enjoy this tradition in London at The Ritz, or Harrods of London, and some of the fancier hotels here in the US.
What is Afternoon Tea?
Well, it usually consisted of a plate of dainty sandwiches, scones, sponge cake, and fruit cake, and hot buttered crumpets.
Homemade jam and clotted cream would accompany the scones, and politeness dictated that you start with the savory items before moving on to the sweet, and as this was no casual affair, the table was always laid with a white lace tablecloth, lace-edged linen napkins, fine bone china and a silver tea service!
Afternoon tea became fashionable during Edwardian times, and when the tango arrived in Britain in 1910, London’s large hotels began to host tea dances. The tea dance continued to be an important social event right up until World War II. The Savoy Hotel and Waldorf Astoria still hold these dances today, which recently have had something of a revival due to the new interest in ballroom dancing.
Below is the typical way Cucumber Sandwiches would have been made for the Edwardian upper classes (taken from the book, the Duchess of Duke Street Entertains).
Salt and Pepper
For the Creamed Butter:
2 ounces Softened Butter
1 tablespoon Thick Cream
Tip of Teaspoon of Mustard
1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper
- The cucumber must be cut as thinly as possible, ideally using a mandoline.
- Very lightly salt the slices and leave them to drain in a colander lightly weighted with a plate for 2 hours or so, pressing firmly from time to time to get rid of excess juices.
- Dress the sliced and drained cucumber with a little oil, lemon juice and a dredge of freshly ground white pepper.
- Make up the creamed butter by blending all the ingredients together.
- Butter thin slices of white or brown bread; fill in the usual way, but at the last possible moment – as there is a tendency for this sandwich to give all sandwiches the reputation of being soggy!