Vintage Tea Party

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2012-02-21
  • Publisher: Frances Lincoln
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Everyone loves an old-fashioned tea party. Mix-and-match crockery, bone-handled knives, lace and linen, teapots with cosies, sweet peas and roses, home baking and Victorian cocktails in tea cups - they're all back in vogue. Indoors by the fire in winter or outside in summer sunshine, hosts and guests can relax together with none of the stress or formality of a dinner party. Afternoon tea is the quintessential British tradition that has developed from its modest beginnings to become a much-loved celebration of indulgent pleasures.With evocative photographs and mouth-watering recipes, Vintage Tea Party shows how you can re-create a nostalgic world of classic comfort, elegance and delicious treats. Try Carolyn Caldicott's perfect cucumber sandwich, Victoria sponge cake, rose petal jelly, English muffins, crumpets, Earl Grey tea with gin and lemon, 'the best chocolate cake you will ever taste' and much, much more.

Author Biography

Carolyn Caldicott and her husband Chris own the World Food Café in London's Covent Garden, where they for twenty years they have been cooking and serving delicious vegetarian food from recipes collected on their travels. They are the authors of three vegetarian cookery books published by Frances Lincoln.


TeatimeAfternoon tea is the quintessential British tradition. At a tea party you enter a nostalgic world of comfort food and vintage style.This is the story of how afternoon tea developed from its modest beginnings to become a much-loved celebration of indulgent pleasures that include cakes large and small, dainty cucumber sandwiches, scones with jam and cream, crumpets, muffins, and all manner of teatime tipples and its assorted paraphernalia. Forgo the stress of a dinner party and instead gather at home with friends for chat and relaxed afternoons, as enjoyable indoors by the fire in winter as outside in summer sunshine. We show you how to recreate the elegance, tradition and fun of a vintage afternoon tea party with mix-and-match crockery, cutlery, napkins, tablecloths, teapots with cosies and old-fashioned cocktails served in tea cups.Treasured Tea ThingsVintage: 'characteristic of a past period of quality; excellence, maturity, enduring appeal…' It's a word that might describe an antique or something just plain old fashioned, valued because of its age. A vintage tea party is a chance to re-discover beautiful things, traditions and recipes in a celebration bathed in the rosy glow of nostalgia.Rescue old china from the back of cupboards, under the stairs or the attic. If you can't find a complete tea service simply gather all the china you have and add new pieces with the same feel or colours. Store loose-leaf tea in a caddy and brew in a teapot, perhaps fitted with a tea cosy (vintage of course) to keep it warm. The milk jug and sugar bowl need not match but a tea strainer is a must. Does tea always taste better from a cup? It certainly looks and feels better; holding a cup and saucer almost makes you sit straighter! Dainty cake plates are the perfect accompaniment for teatime treats but the cake itself, the crowning glory of any table, deserves a special plate or, even better, a cake stand. Little cakes and sandwiches always look their best on a tiered cake stand. There is a plethora of accessories to complete the tea table, for example bone-handled and other types of old-fashioned cutlery; I like to buy bundles of knives, forks and spoons of all shapes, sizes and uses when I see them for sale. I love a cake knife for cutting that first slice, and a cake fork to savour eating it; or a jam spoon to dollop homemade jam, scooped from a cut-glass jam pot, on to a scone; or a butter knife to spread lashings of butter (taken from a proper butter dish, naturally) on to a toasted crumpet. My most treasured find is a domed muffin dish with a secret compartment for hot water to keep the muffins warm and a specially designed toasting fork to toast and serve them with.The table itself is not complete until covered, and if you ever see old linen for sale, snap it up. I love hand-embroidered lace-trimmed tablecloths, but a white sheet is a good substitute (or can be used underneath a too-small decorative table cloth). Cover a wooden tray with a tray cloth for cosy teas by the fireside and don't forget the all-important napkin to catch the crumbs.Finally, you have to have flowers. Old roses are ideal, but anything fresh and pretty will add style to the table.How to Cheat in StyleYou don't have to be a domestic goddess to have a tea party. As long as the tea ingredients look home-made and are served with vintage style, there are ways to cheat and make life easier.Women's Institute stalls and farmers' markets are a good secret source of home-made cakes, biscuits, jam and all things delicious. No one will know you haven't been slaving over a hot stove all day. The freezer is also a great aid. Many cakes, muffins, scones, crumpets (the list goes on) freeze very well; if you do bake, next time make double and freeze some to thaw and decorate at a later date and, if you see great cakes for sale, bulk buy and freeze.It's amazing what you can achieve with a block of shop-bought pastry, some jam, cream and icing sugar. At your local bakery look out for cakes that you can customize. Even supermarkets will sell a plain Victoria sandwich that you can split and fill with lots of whipped cream and strawberries and dust with extra icing sugar. Shop-bought jam tarts, ready-made pastry cases or even a plain sponge slab, cut into delicate bite-size shapes, can be piped with a swirl of whipped cream (flavoured with seeds scraped from a vanilla pod) and topped with redcurrants or raspberries. You can buy brandy snaps and keep them in the cupboard for weeks, ready to fill with flavoured whipped cream. When summer fruit is plentiful, a deliciously simple sweet is to layer the cooked fruit with shop-bought vanilla custard and whipped cream in a pretty glass (and you can always freeze the extra cooked fruit).Shop-bought muffins, currant buns and crumpets still look wonderful toasted and covered in butter. Even the most inexperienced cook can make a sandwich: just remove the crusts and cut into dainty shapes. However, never compromise on jam: if you don't have a home-made jar, buy the best available, and always check the fruit-to-sugar content on the back of the label (the fruit should always be higher).Finally, it is all about presentation: serve your cake creations on on vintage tea-things and lace-edged paper doilies for maximum impact.

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