You can follow in the footsteps of Victorian royalty by using our top tips to host your very own British tea party.
Anna Maria Russell, the 7th Duchess of Bedford and a lifelong friend of Queen Victoria, is widely credited as the creator of Afternoon Tea. It was customary in the 1840s for dinner not to be served until as late as 9pm. Queen Victoria was often heard to complain of a “sinking” feeling in the middle of the afternoon. So what started out as tea and a few slices of bread in her private drawing room soon became an elaborate social occasion to be shared with friends.
Queen Victoria’s name gave rise to the popular Victoria sponge cake which is so synonymous as an accompaniment to the afternoon tea party. By the early 1920s when SPANA was founded, tea parties were commonly used as charity events throughout Britain.
You can be like Victorian royalty and host a traditional British tea party, whilst raising money to support the working animals of the world.
Tea Party Essentials
Make sure you greet guests with a cup of tea or coffee. It doesn’t have to be served in your best china, but if you’d like to wow your guests then why not use some lovely floral china cups? If you don’t have any, you can always find bargains at your local charity shop!
Now is the time to use the cake stand that has been gathering dust at the back of your cupboard. What better way to display your Victoria sponge cake and to show off your baking talents?!
You don’t need to stop their either – finger cakes, scones, or other sweet treats will all be well received by your guests.
If you’re feeling creative, you can always decorate your table with a lovely floral table cloth, which can again be sourced from a local charity shop. Or you can find your inner Blue Peter creativity to make table decorations, bunting or goody bags.
Victoria Sponge Cake
No afternoon tea would be complete without a delicious Victoria sponge cake. The cake was named after Queen Victoria herself as she was known to enjoy a slice with her afternoon tea. SPANA’s English co-founder, Nina Hosali, was born during the reign of Queen Victoria and would certainly have spread the word of her cause over tea and cake.
Makes: 1 (7 in) Victoria sponge cake, 8-10 slices
For the cake
150g (6 oz) self raising flour
150g (6 oz) caster sugar
150g (6 oz) butter or margarine
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Jam to sandwich the cake
For the buttercream
100g (4 oz) icing sugar
50g (2 oz) butter
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Ready in: 1hr 5min
Preheat the oven to 170ºC / Gas Mark 3. Place the shelf in the centre of the oven. Grease and line two 18cm (7 in) sandwich tins with baking parchment.
Weigh the three eggs. As eggs can vary a lot in size, use an equal measure of sugar, flour and butter. So if the three eggs weigh 160g, use 160g of the other ingredients.
Sieve the flour into a bowl and add the sugar, butter or margarine and vanilla. Crack in the eggs and beat well with a wooden spoon or mixer, until the mixture is light coloured and fluffy. Divide the cake mixture between the tins and smooth the tops.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes in the tins, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the buttercream, sieve the sugar into a bowl, add the butter and vanilla and beat well.
To sandwich the cakes together: Add a layer of jam to the top of one of the sponges, followed by a layer of cream on top of the jam, finish by placing the last of the sponges on top.
Dust with a layer of icing sugar and add fresh raspberries, strawberries