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Updated on July 22, 2011

Tea time Spreads

That most civilized and soothing of meals, tea, whether taken by a roaring fire or under a shady tree, is one of life's simple pleasures.

Tea is exactly what you want to make it, a meal that is entirely adaptable according to your wish and appetite. Form a quick cup of tea and a biscuit, to a table groaning with jam and cakes, tea can cover all the variations in between. Bone china cups and cucumber sandwiches; scones and cream; toasted crumpets dripping with butter; poached eggs on toast; walnut cake, chocolate gateau-they all come under the heading tea.


If you have time on your hands and the mood takes you, there is nothing so satisfying as an hour or two spent baking in the kitchen. And if the mood takes you when time is harder to come by, you can still turn out a batch of biscuits or one of the quicker, no-yeast, breads.

Bread making is a skill, of that there is no doubt, but it is one that can be learnt. Start off with simple loaves, and you will soon progress to plaits, twists, cottages and other appealing shapes. Remember to measure quantities carefully, work in a warm room if you can and allow enough time for dough to rise. The delicious aromas wafting room the kitchen and the richly glazed, golden brown results will soon fill you with the enthusiasm to go on experimenting.

Once you have mastered bread, move on to other goodies, like muffins and crumpets. They are fairly easy to produce and like so many things, do taste better when home-made.

Spreading The Bread

Bread is usually eaten at teatime-sliced thinly, buttered and spread with jam. Real enthusiasts can make their own jams, a process which again requires care and attention for success, but is an excellent way of using up a glut of fruit.

An easier option is lemon curd, which has a depth of flavour and creaminess when home made that puts it poles apart from its manufactured cousin. It doesn't keep as well as jam, but you should have no trouble persuading guests to eat it.

Tea is really a meal designed for people with a sweet tooth, but there are people with a sweet tooth, but there are some delicious savory teatime treats. Try spreading toast with Gentleman's Relish, a delectably salty anchovy concoction. Lightly toasted cheese or even a proper. Welsh Rarebit, are other pleasing teatime ideas that contrast well with the array of sweetness all around.


A well-equipped tea table needs at least two decent-sized cakes to adorn it properly. Go for different types-a light cream of flavoured icing, coupled with a more down-to-earth fruit bread which can be eaten on its own or sliced and buttered; or a superbly squidgy Rich Chocolate Ring partnered with a plainer cherry cake with a frosted topping. A glazed fruit flan is by no means out of place at teatime, especially if the fruit in question is strawberries.

As well as cakes of the cut-and-come-again variety it's as well to have a selection of smaller ones. If your are feeling creative, have a go at Danish Pastries. They take a long time to make but the wondrously light and sticky results are well worth the effort. On a simpler note jam tarts are always acceptable and look very pretty arranged on a plate together, especially when filled with different coloured jams. Little Bake well tarts are another favourite, or you could tempt your guests with chocolate brownies butterfly cakes or for a very special occasion, mille feuille or chocolate eclairs.

High Tea

This is a marvelously generous full-scale meal, for which you will need to provide a cooked dish. Anything egg would be on the right lines and will usually to be served with toast. Cheese-filled jacket potatoes are comforting, and smoked fish kippers bloaters, haddock-served with melted butter and thinly sliced brown bread make another traditional and filling high tea treat.

In the summer go for a light salad, featuring eggs, cheese cold meat or even veal and ham pie. Mayonnaise is essential with these and cold meats will be greatly improved with a selection of pickles. For something more elaborate, take a trip to the delicatessen and lay on a selection of meats and salads-a sort of teatime hors d'oeuvre. With all these meals you should also serve the usual range of bread jam and cakes.

Turning To Tea

There is only one possible drink at teatime, but the question is which type? Look beyond everyday teabags and consider one of the aromatic teas like Earl Grey, Darjeeling, Orange Pekoe or Lapsang Souchong. They all have very distinctive personalities, are usually better without milk (try lemon), and are well worth investigating.

Laying The Table

The setting you choose depends entirely on the scale of the meal you plan to serve. Delicate teas with small sandwiches, tiny cakes and little else deserve lace.

Tablecloths and the finest china and cutlery you can run to. A more robust meal would be at home on the setting picture. The soft friendly colours of the tableware with its delightful sampler design are matched in the tablecloth and mat which have complementary patterns.


450 g (1 lb) strong flour

15 g (1/2 oz) fresh yeast or 7.5 ml (1 1/2 tsp) dried yeast and a pinch of sugar

225 ml (8 fl oz) tepid milk

5 ml (1 level tsp) salt

50 g (2 oz) butter or block margarine

1 egg beaten

beaten egg to glaze

poppy seeds

Lightly grease a baking sheet. Put 150 g (5 oz) of the flour into a large bowl and blend with the yeast sugar and milk. Set aside in a warm place for about 20 minutes until frothy Mix the remaining flour with the salt and rub in the fat. Add the egg and the flour mixture to the yeast batter and mix well to give a fairly soft dough that will dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and no longer sticky. Place in a bowl cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise until doubled in size. Knead the dough again lightly on a floured working surface.

Roll the dough into an along shape and cut it lengthways into three strips. Plait the strips, pinching the dough together at the top before you start. Dampen the ends and seal together. Place on the lightly greased baking sheet. Brush with the egg and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Leave to rise until doubled in size. Bake in the oven at 1900C/3750F(Gas Mark 5), for 50 minutes. Cool on a rack.


225 g (8 oz) strong plain flour

2.5 ml (1/2 level tsp) salt

5 ml (1 level tsp) dry mustard

50 g (2 oz) Cheddar cheese, grated

25 g (1oz) butter or block margarine

50 g (2 oz) celery or onion, finely chopped

15 g (1/2 oz) fresh yeast or 7.5 ml (1 1/2 level tsp) dried yeast and a pinch of sugar

150 ml (1/4 pint) milk

beaten egg to glaze

Grease a tin 18 x 24 x 4.5 cm (7 x 9 x 1 3/4 in). Mix together the flour , salt, mustard and cheese. Heat the fat and sauté the celery or onion gently until soft. Add to the dry ingredients. If using dried yeast sprinkle it into the milk and sugar and leave in a warm place for 15 minutes until frothy. Blend the fresh yeast with the milk. Add the yeast liquid to the dry ingredients and work to a firm dough. Knead for 10 minutes. Place in a bowl cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise double in size. Turn out and knead again.

Divide into eight and shape into finger-shaped pieces. Cut down the length of each with a sharp knife to a depth of about 5mm (1/4 in). Place side by side in the tin not quite touching. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise n a warm place for about 45 minutes until doubled in size. Brush with beaten egg and bake in the oven at 1900C/3750F(Gas Mark 5). for about 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Break apart and serve buttered.

350 g (12 oz) strong plain flour

15 g (1/2 oz) fresh yeast or 7.5 ml (1 1/2 tsp) dried yeast and a pinch of sugar

300 ml (1/2 pint) warm water

about 200 ml (7 fl oz) milk

2.5 ml (1/2 level tsp) bicarbonate soda

5 ml (1 level tsp) salt

oil or lard for greasing

Place half the flour in a bowl with the yeast, sugar and warm water. Blend until smooth cover and leave for about 20 minutes until frothy. Gradually stir in the smooth. Add more milk if necessary to make a pouring batter. Grease a griddle or heavy shallow frying pan, and about six crumpet rings or metal cutters, 7.5 cm (3 in) in diameter. Heat thoroughly. Pour about 30 ml (2 tbsp) of the batter into the rings on the hot griddle. Cook until set and holes have formed then remove rings and turn crumpets over to brown lightly the other side. Cool on a wire rack. Toast lightly on both sides and serve hot and buttered.

Makes about 16


125g (4 1/2 oz) butter

150g (5 oz) caser sugar

5 eggs, separated

225 g (8 oz) plain chocolate

75 g (3 oz) ground hazelnuts, toasted

60 ml (4 level tbsp) dried brown breadcrumbs

40 g (1 oz) plain flour

50 g (2 oz) milk chocolate

Grease a 1.7 litre (3 pint) ring mould with melted lard. When set dust the tin with flour.

Beat together 100 g (3 1/2 oz) butter with the caster sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the egg yolks.

Melt 75 g (3 1/2 oz) plain chocolate in a small bowl or a pan of hot water, cool until tepid and beat into the egg mixture. Gently stir in the hazelnuts, breadcrumbs and flour.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff then fold into the mixture. Turn into the prepared tin and bake in the oven at 2000C/4000F(Gas Mark 6), for 30-35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Melt the remaining plain chocolate with 30 ml (2 tbsp) water and rest of butter. Cool to a thick spreading Melt the milk chocolate spoon into a paper piping bag snip off the tip and drizzle chocolate over cake so that it drips over the sides.


175 g (6 oz) butter at room temperature

175 g (6 oz) lard at room temperature

450 g (1 lb) plain flour

5 ml (1 level tsp) salt

50 g (2 oz) caster sugar

25 g (1 oz) fresh yeast or 15 ml (1 level tbsp) dried yeast and 15 ml (1 level tsp) sugar

about 200 ml (7 fl oz) tepid milk

2 eggs

10 ml(2 level tsp) ground cinnamon

50 g (2 oz) currants

50 g (2 oz) chopped mixed peel

Almond Paste

15 g (1/2 oz) butter softened

40 g (1 1/2 oz) caster sugar

40 g (1 1/2 oz) ground almonds

2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) almond flavouring

Place all the ingredients in a small bowl and heat well together to give a firm paste.

Glace Icing

225 g (8 oz) icing sugar

30 ml (2 tbsp) lemon juice

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and stir in the strained lemon juice adding water to give a thick pouring consistency.

Butter Filling

50g (2 oz) butter

50 g (2 oz) caster sugar

10 l (2 level tsp) ground cinnamon

Beat all the ingredients together until well mixed

Place the butter on top of 150g (5 oz) of the lard sandwich between sheets of greaseproof papper. Pat and roll out the fat to a 23 cm (9 in) square. Ease off the top sheet of paper and using a knife neaten the edges to form a good square.

Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and rub in the remaining lard. Stir in the sugar. If using dried yeast sprinkle into half the milk with the sugar and leave for about 15 minutes until frothy. Crumble the fresh yeast into a basin and cream with half the milk until quite smooth. Add the yeast liquid to the dry ingredients with the remaining milk and one beaten egg. Mix to a soft dough, adding more milk if necessary. Knead well for about 10 minutes until smooth.

Roll out the dough to a 28-30 cm (11-12in) square, pulling out the corners gently to square pulling out the corners gently to square it off. Place the fat on top of the dough one corner of fat to the centre of each side of the dough square. Fold each triangular corner or exposed dough over the fat to form an envelope ith no fat visible. Press the joins to seal.

Turn the dough through 450 so that lightly and roll out to an oblong; fold the top third down and the bottom third up brush off excess flour. Turn the dough through 900 repeat rolling and folding.. Place on a floured plate cover and chill for 15 minutes.

To shape the envelopes roll one quarter of the dough out to a 23 cm (9 in) square. Trim off the edges with a sharp knife to neaten and dived into four squares. Fold the corners of each square to the centre and press down firmly. Place a small ball of almond paste over the join. Lift carefully onto a greased baking sheets. Leave space to rise.

To shape the pinwheels take another quarter of the dough. Roll out and cut into squares as for the envelopes. Cut through each squares from each corner to within 1 cm (1/2 in) of the centre. Fold alternative points to the centre pressing down firmly and place a small piece well apart on a greased baking sheet.

To shape the twirls roll out rest of dough into two oblongs 30 x 20 cm (12 x 8 in), trim edges. Spread the butter filling to within 5 mm (1/4 in) of the edge, sprinkle with fruit. Roll up from narrow edge, cut each roll into four. Place on greased baking sheets, open up and overlap the slices. Press down lightly.

Cover each baking sheet loosely with oiled Clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place for about 20 minutes or until doubled in size. Glaze with beaten egg and bake in the oven at 2200C/4250F(Gas Mark 7). Place on wire racks and while still warm, brush a little glace icing over each one.

Makes 16


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    • pmccray profile image


      7 years ago from Utah

      What a delictable hub. Thanks so much for the lesson on tea service how, when and with what. Voted up, marked useful, beautiful, interesting and bookmarked. I can't wait to try some of the recipes.

    • anglnwu profile image


      7 years ago

      Your hub makes me hungry. Love high tea--such a delightful time with tea and little eats--nothing beats that. Rated up.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Beautiful hub! I used to collect tea pots and cups and saucers. Beautiful pictures. How come my table never looks like that? (the pink) Anyway, I going to bookmark this so I can try some of the recipes. Thank You!!

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      WOW! I love the photos they describe 'afternoon tea' perfectly, it's just so civilised!

      Some excellent mouthwatering recipes here I am looking forward to trying, especially the cheese pull-aparts and chocolate rings.

      Brilliant hub, thanks for sharing and voting up.


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