Words: Emily Cliff
There are many things we wish we could do, and many activities we wished would occupy Self-Care Sundays. Netflix has become almost a haven and a blessing for infinite time passing and a brilliant selection of entertainment to keep us laughing, crying and loving. New period drama Bridgerton has taken over the world and has got us wishing we could dress up in glorious ball gowns and go to parties and balls and dance the night away. However, when the country has essentially shut down for the first portion of 2021, the fever dream of balls, glittery dresses and champaign seems almost a million miles away. But what if there was a way to channel your inner Lady or Duchess? This week in Self-Care Sunday we are doing a Bridgerton themed afternoon tea, without the corsets and the scandal, this week is all about cake, biscuits and all things sweet.
I have attended many afternoon teas in my years and I must say, I don’t think I have ever had one as good as the one I made today. It might be the fact that I made it all myself, or I could be delusional on a cloud of icing sugar, nevertheless I was thoroughly impressed. I have mentioned in previous Self-Care Sunday articles that baking is one of the best things you can do on your Self-Care Sunday; one, because of the fantastic product you get at the end (I mean who doesn’t like cake?!) and two, because it is a great way to focus on something else for a couple of hours. It’s brilliant to put all of your energy into making something that you will truly believe is, as Miss Mary Poppins would say, practically perfect in every way.
I was late to the Bridgerton train but my God am I glad I joined it. It has something in there for everyone, from the scandal and drama to the music and even a duel for those boyfriends being forced to watch. However when watching it and then later seeing it all over TikTok, it lit my Mary Berry shaped creative spark and I just knew I had to recreate some of those treats and cakes we see in all of the Ball episodes. Thus my Bridgerton themed afternoon tea was born. Now while I am 100% sure that this will be my one million pound idea when we eventually get out of this lockdown, I couldn’t wait and I just had to share.
The beauty about creating your own afternoon tea is that you can tailor it to your specific dietary needs, cravings and likings. I love scones (the scone/ scone debate will be saved for another day although I am a strong advocate for scone like own not scone like gone) with my afternoon tea arguably one of the best parts is you ask me. The clotted cream and the jam is heavenly especially if your scone is still warm. But if you are vegan or dairy free you can easily switch out the cornish clotted cream for coconut cream or even oat ice cream . The coconut cream adds a lovely sweetness and creaminess that is on par with the cornish clotted cream, and out of all the dairy alternatives for ice cream, oat is by far one of the best. It is probably one of the only diary alternatives that is just as creamy and delicious as the real thing. Gluten free as well as vegan? Don’t worry about that either! When making your own afternoon tea you can swap out regular flour for gluten free alternatives.
Now, let’s talk tiny sandwiches. You simply cannot have an afternoon tea without a lovely selection of tiny sandwiches. Some of my favourites include cucumber, egg cress, salmon and cream cheese and just plain old cheese and chutney. As I said before, when you are making your own afternoon tea it is a complete blank canvas for you to design how you like. Vegan alternatives can include a lovely pepper and hummus sandwich or even your own variation of smoked salmon and cream cheese using carrots, and a vegan cream cheese. You don’t even have to use bread, or have tiny sandwiches at all. One afternoon tea I went to serve tiny burgers and mini fish and chips served on a picnic bench.
And at last, we have come to the best bit of all, the cake. Today I chose Lemon Drizzle, to mirror Penelope Fetheringtons yellow dresses, mini Victoria sponges because who doesn’t love a good Victoria sponge (and in miniature too!) and viennese biscuits. I must admit I had a bit of a fight with the biscuits on these ones, but that’s okay. It doesn’t have to be perfect! Even when the piping bag explodes and you feel like giving up and just eating the raw dough straight from the bowl, that’s perfectly fine, perseverance is key. Remember you are doing this for you and you alone and as long as it’s perfect for you, who cares what anyone else thinks.
One thing is safe to say from making your own afternoon tea, you really don’t need an excuse to eat cake. So put on Bridgerton and your favourite tea dress and have fun. The sun will shine again and you can be pretty damn sure that when the world reopens, we will make balls and wearing ball gowns a thing!
And if you need more snackable content, here’s some Bridgerton TikToks to tide you over.