We are less than one week away from the Royal Wedding, and I don’t know about you, but I am already hungry. When planning our menu, there was really only one sufficiently British option – a traditional tea! If you’ve never been to a real British tea, then you might think it is exactly what it sounds like. A cup of Lipton’s, and maybe a hard cookie for dipping. Well, I hate to disappoint you, but you could NOT BE MORE WRONG.
A traditional British afternoon tea usually comes with three courses (hopefully served on a fancy three-tiered serving tower). The top is usually scones, middle is sandwiches, and bottom is desserts. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, depends on where you’re dining (tea-ing?). A simple service could cost less than $12, and be limited to just a few of those items per person. From that low bar, things just get fancier and fancier, until the next thing you know, you’re at the Savoy, sipping champagne, eating unlimited petit fours, listening to the live pianist, and wondering how much 79 pounds is in American dollars.
We’ve assembled some of our favorite recipes (and some we haven’t tried yet) into a sample menu for you to replicate below. The best thing about this type of catering is that it looks SO much fancier than it really is. An egg salad sandwich isn’t usually the height of elegance, but trim the crusts off and cut it into finger-food sized pieces, and suddenly the Queen herself is envious of your spread.
- Plain scones tend to go better with the condiments below, but you can add raisins if you must.
- Strawberry jam (available in any grocery store). You can make it if you have lots of time and strawberries on your hands. Otherwise, just buy a jar and scoop it into a dish, it will look like you made it.
- Clotted cream sounds gross but is actually delicious. Making it sounds like a real chore (and has to be done 5 days in advance?!), but you can buy it at fancier grocery stores, or even on Amazon.
- Lemon Curd is an absolute must, and if you don’t feel like making it, you can likely find it next to the clotted cream at that grocery store, or on Amazon.
- Egg salad sandwiches could not be easier. Add a little bacon, and people will lose their minds.
- Coronation Chicken is a staple of British sandwiches, and seems especially appropriate for this event.
- Roast Beef sandwiches – do you really need a recipe for this? Get some lunch meat, mustard, and rye bread. If that seems too simple, add a dash of horseradish!
- Smoked salmon and cream cheese always seems like an elegant snack.
- Cucumber and dill – the secret is to make sure to use fresh dill, not dried!
- Victoria sponge is no mystery to any Bake Off fans out there. But if Mary Berry’s recipe is intimidating, just get a yellow box cake mix and some of that strawberry jam from the scones above. We’ll never tell!
- Individual trifles are just so much more elegant than one big one, don’t you think? And if custard is too heavy for you (good thing the portion is tiny), vanilla yogurt is a good substitute!
- Chocolate eclairs – just do yourself a favor and buy them in the freezer section. Don’t you have enough to do without making a million tiny choux pastries?!
- Chocolate tarts because they are adorable. And you can usually find the tart shells in the freezer section as well.
- Lemon elder flower cupcakes are a salute to Harry & Meghan’s actual wedding cake. Excuse me while I go nip the buds off all my neighbors’ pansies.
- Champagne, to toast the royal family. If you don’t want to splash out for the good stuff just get a cheaper bottle and make mimosas!
- Tea, obviously. Earl or Lady Grey (which is the decaf version) seem like the civilized choice.
- Mocktails. Anyone with a Pinterest account can come up with a million ideas, but our favorite is Diet Ginger Ale, Light Ruby Red Grapefruit juice, and slices of lime. Looks pretty, and is cheap and easy. Add gin, if you also want to be cheap and easy. Zing!
If this post just whet your appetite and you want to go further into the rabbit hole, I encourage you to check my favorite reference book, the aptly named Vintage Tea Party.