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How to do classic afternoon tea at home

Will Gore

Posted on June 23 2020

How to do classic afternoon tea at home


During the coronavirus pandemic, "cream tea" has been a surprisingly popular internet search term, as people look to treat themselves amid lockdown. We turned to Robin Read, executive head chef of the award-winning Firmdale Hotels group to help us put together some top tips for creating a delicious and stylish afternoon tea at home...

Dress your table 

"Afternoon tea is an occasion in itself, and a beautifully dressed table is the best way to add to the atmosphere," says Robin, who recommends covering the table with with your favourite linen, including a tablecloth and napkins. "
If you have a favourite tea service or a collection of lovely vintage tea cups, milk jugs and sugar bowls, get them out to make your afternoon tea extra special," she adds. We'd also recommend a cake stand, such as a Truly Alice Terrific Treat Stand or Floral Teapot Cake Stand, to add an eye-catching centrepiece that will bring a touch of joy to the table. Themed bunting  and balloons provide a final flourish.

Cake stand


It doesn’t have to be champagne 

Drinking champagne is often a feature of a classic afternoon tea, but Robin recommends trying other sparkling wines that can be every bit as delicious. "One of our favourites is our biodynamic and vegan Crémant de Loire. It is fresh and citrusy, with green apple notes and a velvety, creamy texture which makes it the perfect match for both the savoury and sweet elements of the tea," she says. If you are planning on having your cream tea outdoors in the sunshine, then pack these acrylic champagne flutes for a smart, but sensible way to raise a glass or two. 



Going the extra mile: Homemade scones recipe

A cream tea simply wouldn't be a cream tea without scones. We won't get into the debates on how to pronounce it or whether you spread the jam or cream on first, but we will happily share Firmdale's recipe for homemade scones for those who really want to take their afternoon tea up a few notches. "In our restaurants we like to serve our scones with two types of jam but fruit curds are also an interesting alternative. Clotted cream is always a must!" says Robin.

Firmdale at Home Scones

Preheat your oven to 170 degrees

  • 500g flour
  • 12g baking powder
  • 125g butter
  • 125g icing sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 280g buttermilk      
  1. Add the flour, butter, sugar, and baking powder into a bowl
  2. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients
  3. Add the buttermilk
  4. Mix together, but don’t mix too much
  5. Put the dough between two sheets of baking paper and flatten. Then leave to rest for 20 minutes
  6. Roll the dough to the required height - around 2cm is our recommendation
  7. Cut the scones with a pastry cutter, and place onto your baking tray
  8. Brush with egg wash and bake for around 12 minutes until golden on the top.

Crowd-pleasing classic cakes

Deciding which cakes to include in your afternoon tea is all part of the fun. Robin says Firmdale keep things traditional with the likes of macarons, Bakewell tart, chocolate tiffin and lemon drizzle cake. If baking your own cakes is too much of a faff for you, but you want something classier than a supermarket effort, treat yourself to a Firmdale Afternoon Tea, which is available in a range of lovely locations across the London.

For more Party Pieces products for your afternoon tea, explore our Let's Partea and Truly Scrumptious ranges, via our shop   



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