As part of our summer schedule of events we thought we’d do a British inspired, ‘posh picnic’ afternoon tea. We’ve held a couple of afternoon tea’s in the past as private events and love the opportunity to bake, serve our guests and still have time for a night out afterwards!! We always feel the Manor is better suited to cosy winter nights, so an afternoon tea seemed apt in light of the scorching summers day we were being treated to this weekend. We were a bit worried that the weather might impede our guests’ appetites for cake and tea, but they did us proud!
We didn’t really use any cook book to specifically inspire this event. However our go to baking bible is Dan Lepard’s ‘Short and Sweet’, which is great for core basics such as breads, pastries and cakes. We love all the dainty things we get to make and bake for our teas, as well as all of the vintage china we get to display it on. There’s already talk of us doing an Autumnal tea for our next round of events so keep your eyes peeled if this tickles your fancy.
In classic British summer style we welcomed our guests with a cocktail of fruity Pimms punch. This was Pimms that came mixed with homemade elderflower cordial, sparkling water and lemonade. Glasses were crammed full of strawberries, lemon, orange and then some mint and elderflowers from the garden. Non drinkers had some sparkling elderflower cordial.
Savoury treats included Susie’s ingenious invention of vegetarian scotch egg that used falafel mix as its base! The falafel recipe is one we’ve used on our Ottolengi Jerusalem event, but this time, Susie encased quail eggs in the middle. This was a fun fusion take on a British classic, the creamy eggs complimented the spiced falafel mixture, plus what’s not to like about food in miniature?
Also on offer was mini ploughman’s rolls, again, something considered a British Classic. These were Black Sheep ale and oat rolls, made fresh that morning, filled with sharp mature cheddar cheese and homemade green tomato chutney.
I had the chance of getting our new toy out, a stovetop smoker. This handy gadget makes it super easy to smoke food and will quickly become a new obsession! I procured some deliciously pink rainbow trout fillets from Leeds market and smoked these over alder chips for about 15 minutes. The result was lovely creamy flesh with a strong smokey undertone – lush! The fish was served on little bites of black bread, which is a complex cakey bread that has bitter flavours from coffee, cocoa and black treacle – paired with aromatics from fennel and caraway seeds. The open sandwiches were topped with a lemon and horseradish crème fraiche.
The final treat was our go to pastry number – little chorizo and tomato tarts. I’ve grown to love making my own puff pastry. Yes it’s time consuming, but it’s a fairly simple process and is fail safe. I used Dan Lepard’s spelt rough puff as it has a nice nuttiness and is less complex to make than full on puff. Rounds of pastry were baked with a rich and spicy tomato sauce and slices of Yorkshire chorizo, resulting in light crisp little tarts that were full of flavour.
Whilst we finished the prep for our sweet treats we handed round some classic scones that were served with clotted cream and homemade strawberry jam, a lovely precursor to the array of other sweet treats on offer.
This was then followed by mini meringues filled with lemon curd, whipped cream and British summer berries macerated in lime juice, elderflower and chilli. They was not so mini after all but created a ‘wow’ in the dining room as they were brought to the table! Unfortunately I only had enough meringue mix for the 12 for our guests, and so I didn’t get to try any – guests assured me that the meringues were crisp and chewy, which was a relief!!
I also prepared a passion fruit posset which is a semi set creamy dessert that had the juice of many lemons and passion fruit to set the cream and was decorated with passion fruit pulp and a vanilla sable biscuit dunker. The posset was nice and sour and refreshing, which I hoped might awaken some already full bellies!
Susie prepared some exciting dishes indeed, this included some salted caramel whoopie pies, two brown sugar cake disks sandwiched together with a delicious buttercream made with homemade salted caramel. Creamy, sweet and salty!
She also made her “Jaffa Cake”, which was indeed just that! Albeit a huge one! A genoise sponge base, topped with a disk of orange and marmalade jelly and lashings of chocolate ganache! Unfortunately our guests we too full to eat the cake, so we gave them all a jaffa cake doggy bag on departure!
All in all it was a nice relaxed day at Dinner At The Manor, We has a lovely bunch of guests, some old, some new and I hope they all enjoyed themselves as much as we did! We even managed to clear away and packed up within 30 minutes of guests leaving us and that’s something we could get used to! However, we’re not looking to permanently move to afternoon tea events!
We’re just putting the finishing touches to our Autumn round of events. We plan to announce these some time in August, so keep a look out!