Remember, there are no rules on sandwiches for Afternoon Tea. Actually, there are no rules on Afternoon Tea in general.
The generally accepted Afternoon Tea goes something like a pretty table, set with a plate of sandwiches, a plate of cakes and a pot of tea. Preferably with the food served in tiers on a cake stand.
This is a paid collaboration with Tesco, who have compensated me for sharing with you the new summer range. All product choices, opinions, reviews and photography are my own.
But forget the notion that afternoon tea sandwiches are all slivers of soft bread with cucumber and salmon. You can throw in pastries, petits fours or biscuits… add posh crisps & olives, cheeses and fruit… switch up the teapot for prosecco or cocktails and mocktails… really, the only rule to stick to is that the food should be elegantly small and easy to eat.
Afternoon Tea is simply perfect for stress-free entertaining in summer; and if you don’t have what you consider to tbe the ‘necessary’ equipment, it’s so so easy to improvise!
Just like when you’re planning a stress-free dinner party, with a little forethought you can make the most simple of ideas look something really inviting to your guests.
Above is how I set up afternoon tea last week – no fancy cake plate, no actual china – not even a pot of tea. Oh – and no afternoon tea sandwiches, either!
Because I was planning afternoon tea in the garden, I simply made good use of the pretty melamine picnicware from Tesco I wrote about last month – and far from being judged for it, my friend ooh-ed over it’s practicality and prettiness, and asked where to get it from (Tesco, obviously – there’s very little still available online in my area, but do check your local stores for stock).
And as for my Sandwiches for Afternoon Tea? They were so so simple.
At the front there are the ever-popular ‘Wrap Sushi’.
No, I’ve no idea if that’s an official thing; I invented them when the kids were small! They never fail to please, whether you’re feeding a tired 4yr old or an elegant 44yr old. And you can make them look so pretty and delicate, there’d be nothing wrong with an entire spread of these for your sandwiches for Afternoon Tea. Super easy sandwich platter!
Simply spread a wrap with cream cheese, scatter with your filling of choice (I’ve used sticks of cucumber and pepper, but often use variations of red onion, sweetcorn, avocado, grated cheese, salmon, ham, tuna, chicken, chinese leaf, spinach… be as flexible and inventive as your fridge contents allow), and roll tightly. Slice into thin sections and arrange on a plate.
Top right are the salmon flatbreads
– simply filled with smoked salmon, cream cheese and salad leaves. to be honest, these were a little bulky for sandwiches for Afternoon Tea – I should have sliced them into fingers.
Lastly I fell back on the ever-faithful baguette.
I always have a supply of these part-baked baguettes in the cupboard. It means your baguettes can have that fresh-baked taste and texture, without the need for remembering to rush out and buy some on the day.
Also as they’re smaller than a supermarket french stick, they make perfect afternoon tea sandwiches. Simply cut thin slices (at an angle looks prettier) and pile on some simple toppings. In the middle of the platter you can see I’ve folded some cut meats with a solo tomato slice and grated black pepper, and on the outside edge I have layered goats cheese slices with tomato and avocado.
Apart from the sandwich platter, I didn’t make any cakes for this one (next time, my grasshopper – we’ll talk super quick and easy afternoon tea cake recipes!). I did raid the glut of plums on the tree, add some grapes and nectarines, and of course added the essential-when-drinking-wine Sea salt & balsamic vinegar crisps. I know, I’m a classy bird.
Setting Up For Your Afternoon Tea
Once again, don’t get transfixed by the need for a table and chairs. We don’t have a small table that looked pretty – only a big round patio set; which is practical for a family, but not the pretty, intimate setting I was going for.
So I used the outside sofas – but obviously not everyone is as nuts as us, having a ‘garden’ sofa (in all honesty, we only do because we emptied our summer house during lockdown to finally build the enormous bench seat in there we’ve been meaning to build for… oooh, TWELVE YEARS?!? We bought these super-cheap faux leather sofas – I think they were £65 each – from somewhere like Homebase 12yrs ago, just as a ‘temporary’ seating solution. Now we’re using them in the garden, and loving them all over again!). Think about what seating you have – you could use your kitchen chairs, bring your indoor sofa or armchairs outside, use bean bags or whatever else you might have. You’re not going to be planning a garden afternoon tea if rain is forecast, so there’s no need to worry about the weather ruining your furniture!
And that perfectly-sized table I’ve used? Well that’s actually two thick sturdy cardboard boxes each filled with a couple of logs from the wood pile for stability! It’s amazing what a plain white tablecoth can cover.
If you’re making do, like I did, remember that you don’t necessarily need to ‘sit up’ to a table – if you’re choosing casual seating, then you can simple have your food within reach. if you’re opting for formal chairs, than some form of a table you can sit at might be easier.
The important thing is to set the table and make it feel a little special. Use cushions and throws (ours were Fox & Ivy bargains from when we built an outdoor cinema in the garden), and definitely some pretty drinks.
These pretty wine glasses are actually the Swirl acrylic wine glasses from Tesco. They no longer seem to be avilable online, but check stock in your local stores – they’re gorgeous; look amazing, feel nice to drink from, and are pretty unbreakable. Essential when I’m around drinking wine :).
- Batik Flat Serving Platter £8
- Reactive Long Serving Platter Aqua £8
- Reactive Dinner Plate Aqua £3
- Reactive Bowl Aqua £3
- Swirl acrylic wine glasses £2
FIND IT AT TESCO…
Some of the outdoor picnic sets are available online here
To find out where you can purchase any of the spring/summer 2019 products featured in these pages, check Tesco here
Most products are available online, but are in most Tesco stores too, subject to availability – smaller stores will have more limited ranges, obviously.