Chefs’ afternoon tea secrets

PUBLISHED: 12:36 05 May 2015 | UPDATED: 12:53 05 May 2015

Laura Ashley, The Manor, Elstree

Laura Ashley, The Manor, Elstree


Everyone loves afternoon tea, and now you can impress like the professionals, as some of the best bakers in the county share their prized recipes and top tips

We r Cakes, DatchworthWe r Cakes, Datchworth

Deconstructed Scones - ‘A delicious alternative to the usual scones and jam’ Marcus McGuinness, head chef at Auberge du Lac, Welwyn

Deconstruct your scones: Cut scones in half and place them in the oven to dry out - ideally, this would be done at 50 degrees for 10-12 hours, but if this is not convenient, you can change the temperature to 100 degrees and bake for 30-40 minutes instead. Take the scones out of the oven, dust with icing sugar, and then break them down to resemble croutons. Glaze the deconstructed scones under the grill for a few minutes.

To present to your guests: Place four quartered strawberries in a circle in a bowl. Add a drop of strawberry jam between each strawberry, and a sprinkling of fresh mint on top. Place a handful of the deconstructed scones on top of the strawberries. Finish with a dollop of clotted cream on top.

How to make perfect buttercream for cupcakes

Kathryn Rioch, Bronte Bakes Cake Academy, Hitchin

Cupcakes are always such a crowd pleaser, especially when they are topped with a big swirl of buttercream and bejewelled with decorations in pride of place on children’s afternoon tea platters.

To create the perfect ‘swirl’ buttercream needs to be just the right consistency, not too soft so that it fails to hold it shape, but not too hard so that it becomes a fight to get it from the piping bag to the cupcake!

5 tips for an afternoon tea with wow factor

Catherine Smith, Granny Smiths Tea Room at Foxholes Farm, Hertford

1 Use the freshest finest ingredients you can afford and know your provenance and ingredients.

2 Don’t forget to season accordingly to lift out the full f<lavours of the fillings.

3 Remember to cater for everyone; with vegetarian and gluten free options.

4 Be creative and think outside the box with your fillings, colours and presentation, perhaps create a theme.

5 Complement your treats by presentation; use a three-tier stand and garnish with a colour to match your theme - this will lift the whole effect of the afternoon tea and give it a wow factor.

Stephanie Malvoisin, head chef, Laura Ashley The Manor, Elstree

‘To create the best afternoon tea you need to follow these rules’

Attention to detail - the delight is in the details.

Remove any cake from the oven as soon as the timer goes off. This may seem minor but it can make a world of difference.

Presentation is everything with an afternoon tea, so don’t be afraid to use different colours and shapes in order the enhance the visual element of your display.

Take inspiration from everyday surroundings - such as nature, architecture, fashion - this will make your afternoon tea truly special.

Offley Place (Great Offley) pastry chef’s top tip

It’s practically the law to serve scones on an afternoon tea, and it should be a crime to not have make them fresh on the day! It makes all the difference serving warm, soft and melt in the mouth scones. It may be the staple and basic ingredient of an afternoon tea but if you get it wrong, it can ruin the whole lot! So my top tip: make the scones fresh on the day and try and serve them warm where possible, it really does make all the difference.Sarah Poole, We R Cakes Vintage Tearoom, Datchworth 
People always eat with their eyes first, so make sure everything is perfect. I use a nice dark brown bread and cut into triangle sandwiches, a soft white bread cut in to finger sandwiches and little mini rolls with beautiful fresh fillings. I make smaller versions of my regular tearoom cakes for the afternoon teas and top the stands off with chocolate-covered strawberries. 
I think the key to a good afternoon tea - after presentation - is to make sure there is variety; something chocolatey, a pastry, a few little bitesize pieces of deliciousness and of course a fresh scone topped with clotted cream and strawberry jam.Sarah’s sensations scones s

Ingredients 225g self-raising flour, 25g caster sugar, 55g salted butter, 150 ml milk

Method Put the flour and sugar in a bowl and rub in the butter. Once it is a fine crumb consistency add the milk, fold in to the mixture and turn on to our floured board. Use your hands to gently flatten the mixture to around 1” depth, I use a 2.5” cutter (you may need to dust with a little flour if too wet). Cut five scones - you can fold/reshape the mix to get all five. Try not to twist the cutter as this causes the scones to rise unevenly. Place on a buttered baking tray. Place close together and they will bake upwards, spread them out and they will bake outwards. Brush with beaten egg and bake in a preheated oven at 150-160oC for around 20-25 mins until golden brown.

Place on wire rack to cool. Then enjoy!

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