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How about a Mother’s Day Tea?

Mother’s Day is this Sunday.  Are you ready?  My mom lives across the country so my preparation in minimal.  I have my card in the post, and was given strict instructions not to send a gift.  Now that she has discovered Skype, what she desires most on Mother’s Day is to see my face.

For those of you blessed to have Mother living within driving distance, it can be a struggle to decide how to celebrate the day with her.  Since it is Tea Tuesday, might I suggest that you try a tea party.  Your heritage might be somehow linked to the British Empire, but I think I am safe in saying that Moms generally appreciate any meal they don’t have to cook, particularly if sweets are involved.  If you have siblings with little girls, you can gather the whole troop together, and let the kids experience a fun version of tea.

Tea Time Ritual Recap

Each week I host Tea Tuesday, a virtual tea party which was inspired by Christine, a follower who lives in France, who was curious about English tea traditions.  The British may have failed miserably in other culinary areas, but they excel in the tea ritual.

What to Serve at Tea

The following are the types of items you will find at tea which might inspire you for Mother’s Day.  I offer a new recipe each week, so check out and bookmark Online Guide to Afternoon Tea to keep up to date.  Here is a sample of what we have prepared:

Anatomy of a Tea Party

A simple cream tea

You don’t have to invest a great deal of money or effort in putting together a memorable tea for Mom.  Sadly, if you have not already made a reservation at a tea house, you aren’t likely to get one. But they can be busy, rushed and not at all relaxing.  I think the secret to Mother’s Day is to remember that moms generally  just want to spend some time with you and the family.
Cream Tea
Tea for Mum can be as simple as cream tea which is simply scones, served with clotted cream and tea.  A nice table cloth, mismatched tea cups, plates and a nice pot of tea.  My Basic Scone recipe will have fresh scones on the table in 30 minutes, and the recipe can be adapted in a number of ways.
Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea at Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, near Oxford

If you think you would like to attempt an afternoon tea, start with the scones, and try adding a few other recipes to build a tea tray.  You can serve the tea meal on separate plates, but the tradition of the stacked tray still remains.  The stacked tea tray is a trilogy of savouries, scones and sweets, and is generally organized in this manner:

  1. Top Level: The smaller top level holds the Scones.
  2. Middle level should hold the sweets and fruits.
  3. Bottom level holds the savouries and finger sandwiches

The order in which you eat from the tray is the order in which you normally eat your meal: savouries first, scones next and sweets last…UNLESS there are hot scones, and then the order changes to scones, savouries, then sweets.

You can likely manage the sandwiches easily enough, and if pressed can fill in the sweets level of the tea tray with your mom’s favorite sweets from your local bakery.  The key is to ensure  bite sized pieces.
Mother and Daughter Tea Party

Mother Daughter Tea Party

The opening photo for today’s post comes from Bird’s Party who shared Enchanted Events and Design’s  great ideas for a Mother’s Day Mother and daughter tea party.  This will allow you to include three generations into the mix and perhaps your daughters will treat you to the same when they grow up.

Where to Find Tea Supplies

I seem to have accumulated a hodge podge of tea cups, little plates and tea pots over the years, but if you have been inspired by the idea of tea for Mom, but don’t have the necessary cups or plates, don’t despair, help could be as close as your local Goodwill or other charity store.  Great bargains and you are helping a great cause.

How to Make Tea

Don’t get too stressed about making tea, particularly since tea is now conveniently sold in tea bags. To distinguish yourself as a tea aficionado, just follow the time-honoured tradition of first warming the tea pot. Add a bit of boiling water to the pot, give it a swirl and pour it out before adding your tea. Then add the boiling water, and steep tea for 3 or 4 minutes and don’t let the tea steep too long or it will become bitter.

If you go with loose tea, the general guideline is to allow for 1 tsp per person, 1 tsp for the pot, and allow 10 ounces per person. Use a tea strainer and pour into cups. You may wish to fill your tea pot with tap water, pour into a measuring cup to determine how many cups your pot will hold.

Eccles Cakes

My discovered scone recipe is quick and easy to make with a number of variations you can do from just one recipe.  I have doubled the basic ingredients and made two different versions.  There are other recipes which are quick and easy to make, including today’s recipe, Eccles Cakes.  Not really a cake, but a puff pastry pocket filled with currants and mixed peel.  If you are a stickler for tradition, this is a great recipe to add to your tea tray. Lord D loves them but hasn’t had them in years…until I came along.

The name comes from Eccles, the town near Manchester where the cake was originally sold on a commercial basis.  In 1793  James Birch’s shop on the corner of Vicarage Road in Eccles began selling small, flat, raisin-filled cakes.  Rumour has it that he was inspired by the sweet patties recipe in The Experienced English Housekeeper.

More recently the question of origin of Eccles Cakes has been raised in Parliament. A question was tabled regarding the future of cakes made outside Eccles to the same ingredients. Could non Eccles-made cakes still be referred to (and sold) as Eccles cakes?  Stay tuned.

Eccles Cakes

Eccles cakes are easy to make

You can be creative with the filling, but essentially a combination of currants and candied peel. Puff pastry is pretty nasty in fat calories but you can experiment with taking the fat out of the filling.  Making smaller cakes also helps with portion control.Ingredients

  • 375 g package of puff pastry
  • 2 tbsp. butter or applesauce
  • Pinch freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp. candied peel, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp. sugar (or sucralose)
  • 1/4 cup currants

Method

Makes at least 6

Pre-heat oven to 425°/220°C/Gas Mark 7

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and butter (or applesauce) and cook over a medium heat until melted or mixed together.
  2. Off the heat, add currants, candied peel and nutmeg.
  3. On a lightly-floured surface, roll the pastry thinly and cut into rounds of about ¼ inch/0.5cm thickness and 4 inch/10cm diameter.
  4. Place 1-2 teaspoons of filling in the center of each circle.
  5. Dampen the edges of the pastry with a little cold water and draw the edges together over the fruit and pinch to seal.
  6. Turn over the cake over so the seam is now on the bottom and then press gently with a rolling pin to flatten the cakes.
  7. Snip a V in the top with scissors, or you can make 3 slits with a knife. I like the V since it looks like a little heart when you are done.
  8. Place on a greased baking tray.
  9. Brush with water and sprinkle with a little extra sugar.
  10. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until lightly browned round the edges.
  11. Place on a wire rack and allow to cool.