What are pastry chefs top tips for Afternoon Tea?

The Staff Canteen

There is certainly more to Afternoon Tea than just adding some nicely-turned out scones on a plate - but what takes an Afternoon Tea from so-so to sensational?

A classic Afternoon Tea is a quintessentially British institution and this week (13th - 19th August) marks the celebration of that great tradition. But, what does it take to make an outstanding Afternoon Tea? We spoke to three fantastic pastry chefs to find out more.

Beth Coombes, pastry chef, The Arbor Restaurant at the Green House Hotel

Lemon and Elderflower

Firstly, it would be to keep it varied. Make sure there's a few different types of cake/biscuit/desserts with an array of textures and flavours.

This way you can showcase exactly what you can do with such precious ingredients, and just how tasty they can be.

In the warmer months, lift deeper flavours with citrus, such as dark chocolate with orange to make it a little lighter.

Or swap out dark chocolate for white chocolate in the current climate- white chocolate tends to favour summer ingredients a little more, which is great for this season's bakes.

>>> Try some of Beth's Afternoon Tea recipes

Take full advantage of seasonal products. They suit the period you're dining/baking in, which is why they are there to play with.

Elderflower, blossoms and floral scents are great to accentuate existing flavours such as possets and cheesecakes, and fresh berries are a personal favourite- they can be turned into so many different products, don't even get me started! The same goes for Autumn, winter and spring- That's why baking is so exciting.

....and of course, a non-stop flow of tea to wash it down.

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Merlyn Ganache

Michael Coggan, head pastry chef, The Principal St David’s Hotel

For myself and my team flavour is everything, so we use flavours that remind us of our childhood or flavours that when people taste then it will take them to a time in their lives and spark that memory.

>>> Check out Michael's Afternoon Tea recipes

I think the finish of an afternoon is also very important,  it needs to be visually appealing to the eye but also not to over complicated. For myself, afternoon tea is one of the great British traditions that will be continued for centuries to come as it is a coming together for most people for special occasions.

Helen Vass, pastry chef, owner of bespoke patisserie & consultancy business, Dulce.

Scones can be frozen and baked on the day. Make a big batch and then cut them out and freeze.

Helen 2

It will mean your guests will have fresh scones each day and it is one less job to worry about.

• Make a selection of flavours and textures such as choux pastry, pastry tarts, mousses, sponge cakes etc to give your guests variety. 

>>> Looking for more Afternoon Tea recipe inspiration from Helen? Click here!

• Taste all your cakes and pastries to ensure the flavour is spot on! The amount of afternoon teas that I have tasted where the described flavour is lost in the product is quite common. 

• Change your afternoon tea menu to match the seasons or any themes such as Christmas etc.

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 17th August 2018

What are pastry chefs top tips for Afternoon Tea?