Who says fancy involves fuss!? It is always the thought that counts - but if you are earnest, going the extra mile isn't a chore at all. Cooking with friends and cooking for friends are both delightful. My friends and I always have such a ball trying out new recipes.
Pull out a tiered cake stand to make it the centerpiece of your table. Otherwise, use dainty crockery and make it special with quaint garden-flower arrangements, folded napkins and name place signs. While you're at it, you could make some place-name cookies and ice them with your guests' names. Pop them in paper bags so your friends have a little present to take away.
While there is never a set menu, but a standard afternoon tea comprises a layer of sandwiches, a layer of cakes and a layer of scones or teacakes. However, you could also throw in pastries, petit fours or biscuits. Here are some treats that you can make and keep so the girlie tea-party is more to do with gleeful banter than slogging in the kitchen:
1. Almond and Strawberry Financiers
This is a delightful recipe whose batter can be frozen for two months! Also, instead of strawberries, you can also use pineapples or pistachios or your favourite fruits.
Preparation time: 20 mins
Baking time: 15 mins at 200 degrees C
1. 125 gm flour
2. 125 gm almond powder
3. 250 gm icing sugar
4. 300 gm brown butter
5. 10 egg whites
6. Strawberries / raspberries
1. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl.
2. Brown the butter and let it cool and then add to the dry ingredient bowl and mix. Brown the butter well , but it shouldn't burn and should be cooled properly before adding.
3. Let the above mixture cool and add in the eggs to make a batter.
4. Pour in the greased mould and add fruit and bake at 150 degrees Celsius for approximately 15 minutes.
5. Dust icing sugar before serving. You can also serve these as dessert with sorbet or pastry cream.
2. Fruit Glory Muffins
Preparation time: 15 mins
Baking time: 30-35mins at 180 degrees Celsius
1. 190 g sugar
2. 300 g flour
3. 10 g cinnamon powder
4. 10 g baking soda
5. 2.5 g salt
6. 60 g shredded coconut
7. 75 g shredded carrot
8. 50 g shredded green apple
9. 60 g chopped pecans
10. 3 eggs
11. 250 g oil
12. 2.5 ml vanilla extract
13. 2 tsp ginger
14. 40 g almond powder
15. 1 banana, chopped into fine pieces
1. In a bowl, mix sugar, flour, cinnamon, baking soda, almond powder and salt along with the oil and mix well with the paddle attachment of a mixer.
2. Add eggs one by one and mix well.
3. Add shredded coconut, carrot, green apple, pecans, banana, ginger and vanilla and mix just for 5 seconds.
4. Pour into muffin moulds , fill up to 3/4 and bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 30 to 35 mins.
1. You may add chocolate chips, dark cherry or even flax seeds.
2. You can use oats instead of almond powder for a healthier option; and whole wheat instead of flour for the same reason.
3. Coffee and Berry Cake
Preparation time: 15 mins
Baking time: 40 mins at 170 degrees Celsius
1. 225 gm butter
2. 225 gm sugar
3. 4 eggs
4. 225 gm flour
5. 1 tbsp baking powder
7. 2 tbsp cocoa powder
8. Diluted coffee/coffee powder
9. 150 g blueberry/ sour cherry/ raspberry/ strawberry jam for filling - fresh fruit can be used too
10. Coffee cream cheese frosting
1. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Add eggs one by one and mix until well incorporated.
3. Add flour, baking powder, and cocoa powder and mix well.
4. Add diluted coffee in the end and mix.
5. Remove from machine and pour into prepared cake tin.
6. Now add in blueberry filling at various spots here and there into the batter, mixing with a knife.
7. Bake for 40 minutes at 170 degrees Celsius.
8. Check with a knife.
9. Serve with cream cheese frosting flavored with coffee