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Afternoon Tea And Lemon Cranberry Scones

Although the ritual of drinking tea with little sandwiches in the afternoon started in England, the enjoyment of this event is now celebrated around the world. What started as a habit to stave off hunger until dinnertime by Anna, the seventh duchesses of Bedford during the Queen Victoria era has become a statement of grace, power, and elegance. Among the most popular tea consumers, today are Wall Street, power brokers, holding teas in the afternoon when conducting meetings over mega million-dollar deals alongside women who are looking for a break from the frenzy of a day of shopping. (Which sometimes would be about 3 p.m. just about the time tea would conveniently start.)

Cream tea is the proper English term for afternoon tea and is served between 3-5 p.m. There are three courses in a cream tea and they are served one course at a time or all at once. First, you always start with savory- mini sandwiches or a sandwich loaf or torte that can be sliced and served. I prefer the latter; it seems to hold up better and can be prepared up to two days ahead of time.

Scones or crumpets would be next in the lineup and served with jams, creams, curds, or butter. Lastly, the sweets should be bite-sized selections of several flavors or one beautiful showpiece like a tantalizing trifle served in a glass bowl or a simple cake dusted with powdered sugar and a simple delicious sauce on the side.

You can create a cozy home-style tea at home effortlessly. They don’t need to have big budgets or be complicated. Create a “shabby chic” look by combining patterns and odd plates and cups. Serve it buffet style and set everything out beforehand so you won’t be in the kitchen when guests arrive. Friendship and company is the most important ingredient of the tea ritual; everyone should have fun and take the time to enjoy it.

Here are a few essentials you will want to have at your next tea party-

Tea-There are many types of specialty teas on the market now that have come into fashion but stick with the favorite varieties of Great Britain – Earl Grey, Darjeeling, Ceylon. A red tea made from a South African red bush herbal infusion named Rooibos is a good alternative for non-caffeine drinkers.

Sugar- cubes or flavored sugar. You can make vanilla sugar by combining granulated sugar and a vanilla bean in an airtight container.

Lemon- a bowl of lemon slices with cloves inserted in the rind adds a spice flavor to your tea.

Milk- A tradition used to cool the tea, the cream is too heavy for delicate teas.

Clotted Cream- Not available in the US, but you can substitute sour cream mixed with a little brown sugar.

Cranberry Lemon Scones

Yields 12 - 2 inch or 8 large scones


3 cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 ½ tablespoons baking powder

½ teaspoon nutmeg

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces

¾ cup dried cranberries

Zest of one lemon

1 ¼ cups buttermilk

1 large egg, for egg wash


  1. Cover baking pan with parchment paper or foil. Adjust oven rack to middle of the oven. Only bake one pan at a time for best results. Preheat oven to 450F

  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg in a food processor or mixer bowl. Add butter pieces, and cut into dry ingredients. The mixture should look like a coarse meal.

  3. Add dried fruit and lemon zest. Stir buttermilk in a flour mixture to form a smooth dough. Knead lightly once or twice to complete mixing.

  4. Press and roll dough on a lightly floured surface and form a circle. Cut dough into desired sized pie shape leaving it in a round shape.

  5. Transfer to pan and brush the top. Let stand 15 minutes before baking.

  6. Brush the tops with egg wash, allow to dry. Bake for 15 minutes at 450F for small scones and 400F for large. Scones should be firm but not dry.


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