Over the weekend I decided to host a lovely afternoon tea party for my girlfriends. I had not had a chance to see all of them since the wedding and few had been to my new home.
I took this opportunity to invite the ladies over as The Hubby and his friends were tied up at the Melbourne Grand Prix – I would have the house to myself for the weekend…
I was very excited to host a tea party because I gave me an excuse to bake. I had so much fun researching recipes for tea cakes, scones and finger sandwiches. I got very carried away with all my ideas for yummy treats I could share with my friends. The final menu I settled on was as follows:
– Cheese and Fruit plate
– Linzer Heart Cupcakes with Homemade Whipped Cream
By mid-week I started to panic. I was so enthusiastic about making all of the above goodies but I started to worry about actually having the time to make them. I didn’t want to make anything too early so everything would taste fresh for the Party, but I also wanted enough time Saturday morning to actually have everything finished. So began the cooking frenzy.
On Wednesday evening I meticulously outlined each recipe I would be making and all the ingredients I needed. I crossed off everything I already had in the pantry and was ready to hit the grocery store. I was careful to leave out the butter Wednesday night so it would be ready for baking the following evening – planning does pay off.
On Thursday night I bought the groceries after work and got very busy in the kitchen. The Hubby was out and when he got home at 11pm I was just about ready for bed. I was able to make (not decorate) the cupcakes, cookies, caramel cake and savoury scones. In hindsight finishing all of this in one evening was quite a feat.
The baking process was almost military: measure the ingredients, mix the ingredients, put mixture into the oven, wash all the materials and then repeat for the next recipe. My only error: I stupidly halved the cupcake recipe (as I didn’t want to make too many). The halved recipe only produced 5 cupcakes so after I put those in the oven I had to make another half batch all over again. I undertook the measure, mix, bake, wash and repeat process 5 times. I thought it would be better to decorate on the day so everything would look fresh. By bed time, I was exhausted – so much butter, flour, sugar and eggs…
On Friday night I was exhausted. Since having the flu I have been more tired than usual. After work I crawled into bed. The Hubby and I just got some takeaway for dinner (naughty!) and watched a movie. I wanted an early night as I knew the next morning would be busy.
I awoke early Saturday morning and got cracking: made the spread for the sandwiches, cooked the veggies for the pinwheels and the mini quiches, made the dip for the scones, rolled and baked the pinwheels, assembled and cooked the mini quiches, cooled all the baked items, whipped the cream for the cupcakes, halved the caramel cake, cooked the apples for the filling, assembled and iced the cake, made the caramel crunch and shattered it, cut the hearts, iced and jammed the cupcakes and made the sandwiches. Yes it was a busy morning. I had lost a bit of the efficiency from Thursday night and the kitchen quickly became a mess – so many dishes, but I got there in the end after endless loads of washing.
Next was laying out my spread carefully on the table. It was fun finally having a reason to use my 2 tiered cake stand which sampled each of my food treats. Everything else had its own plate. I also put out crockery and cutlery for the guests as well as a selection of teas (Early Grey, English Breakfast, Herbal Relaxation and Melbourne Breakfast) and accompaniments (sugar, lemon, milk and mint).
I was very happy with how the table looked. I only wish I had some fancy floral tea cups and a tea-pot, but alas I was forced to use my everyday mugs and kettle.
Luckily The Hubby helped me out in the morning before he hit the Grand Prix. He vacuumed the house and got me some lovely roses to decorate my table which saved me some cleaning time. When I was finally finished with the food I had just enough time to clean the bathrooms and the kitchen, dust, mop, shower and dress up before my lovely guests arrived.
All the hard work was worth it: the ladies and I had fun chatting, laughing, sipping tea and munching away over a leisurely Afternoon Tea. I would love to do another one soon – it really is the perfect excuse to try out different recipes and ideas. I had baked so much each guest was able to take home a little goody bag of foods to enjoy later on. On the whole the Afternoon Tea Party was so lovely, refined and enjoyable…
Tips for Hosting a Tea Party:
– organise your menu plan and recipes early (considering potential guests’ allergies)
– make sure you have all required ingredients before cooking
– plan out your cooking to ensure you finish baking and decorating in time
– allow enough time to decorate your table
– make sure you have a selection of teas and accompaniments for you guests’ tastes
– jazz up the spread with some pretty cups, plates, napkins and flowers
Have you hosted an Afternoon (or Morning) Tea Party for you friends or attended a friend’s party? What is your favourite thing about a Tea Party?