Thursday, 1 November 2012

An Autumnal Afternoon Tea

November is my favourite month of the year. There is a crispness coupled with the comforting smell of wood smoke in the air. The magic of bonfire night with hissing sparklers, treacle toffee and parkin as in the background beautiful fireworks light up the sky.


Whether you are entertaining on bonfire night or looking for sustenance after an autumn walk in the woods. Why not sit down to a delicious afternoon tea, guaranteed to both warm and sate your hunger.


Sandwiches

To keep the chill at bay, serve hot sandwiches. Warm crispy rolls with sizzling meaty sausages or for veggies, flat Portobello mushrooms with strong melted cheddar. For heat add a dab of mustard or chilli jam. The Chilli Jam Man does some brilliant but very hot versions, guaranteed to warm your taste buds.

Scones 

Bonfire night, wouldn’t be bonfire night without treacle toffee. In these scones treacle makes an unusual but delicious appearance.

Terrific treacle scones
(Serves 6)

What you will need:

8 oz self-raising flour
2 oz butter
1 oz caster sugar (fine granulated sugar)
Half a teaspoon of cinnamon
2 tablespoons black treacle 
Pinch of salt
Approximately a quarter of a pint of milk

How to make them: 


Sift flour and salt into a bowl and rub in the butter. Stir in the cinnamon, sugar, and treacle, add enough milk to make a soft dough.

Knead the dough lightly on a floured surface. Roll out until it is an inch thick and cut into rounds with a 2.5 pastry cutter and place on am oiled baking sheet.

Brush with milk and bake for 10/15 in a preheated oven at Gas Mark7 /220C until golden brown.

Serve warm with lots of butter or with apple Jam ( Clippys Preserves makes a fine one) and whipped cream.


Cakes

Parkin is traditional at this time of year you can make your own or cheat and buy a shop bought version. To make it a little bit special add a lovely lemony frosting. To make put 50g of sieved icing sugar and 1tbsp of lemon curd in a small bowl and mix well, add a little boiling water a drop at a time to make a thick icing and drizzle over.

Here’s a recipe for a parkin which contains no oats, which is a little unusual but it’s just delicious.

Oatless Parkin


What you need:

2 cups of flour
1 cup of sugar
Pinch salt
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
2tsp ground ginger
1/4lb butter
2 tsp golden syrup
1 cup boiling milk

How to make it:


Mix together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, bicarbonate of sugar and ground ginger). Melt the butter and golden syrup and add to the dry ingredients. Add boiling milk and stir well. Line tin with greaseproof paper. Bake at gas mark 4 / 190 C for 40 minutes.


Drinks

Forget tea and serve hot spiced cider or apple juice. For tee totallers leave out the rum.

Pour 1.5 litres of cider or cloudy apple juice into a pan and add the zest of one orange pared into strips. Four small cinnamon sticks halved, four cloves, ¼ tsp of grated nutmeg and 2 tsp brown sugar. Heat gently on a low heat for 20 minutes do not boil. Strain into glasses and add a splash of rum. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and a strip of orange zest.


Decor

You can have lots of fun creating an autumnal theme. Dress your table with clean fallen leaves in a variety of shades. Light jars of scented candles such as Yankee Candles Nature’s Paintbrush, or Warm Spice. 

Use harvest bounty such as decorative gourds, pinecones and acorns to bring the outside in.

At the end of the tea party take everyone outside and light sparklers, wear gloves and don’t forget to write your name with them.