One of the overwhelming memories of my childhood is sitting on the stairs while my parents entertained their friends over dinner. They had, and still have a large group of very close and brilliant friends, who have all been buddies for decades.
Mum and Dad still have dinner parties every few weeks, which continue into the late evening and are full of debate and laughter. Mum cooks up a storm, culminating in a selection of incredible desserts (pavlova is her speciality), and Dad makes sure the guests are well oiled.
This is the high standard by which I judge all parties.
I host as often as I can, although my friends are now dispersed all over the country, so we seldom manage to get a big group together.
This is going to sound bonkers, but at the back of my handwritten recipe book, I have a chronological list of every guest who has eaten here since 2010, along with the menu I served them. I take pride in not serving the same thing to the same people twice.
Unlike Mum, my desserts are usually shop bought. I haven’t attempted anything resembling a scone since Home Economics class at school. So when Shloer got in touch to ask if I’d like to host a time-pressed tea party on film, with help from an ‘expert host’, I was keen to get involved.
While I awaited the day of the filming, my task was to find a group of friends willing to eat my attempts at baking, on camera.
The identity of the expert was kept under wraps until just a few weeks ago. When I found out it was Candice Brown, the winner of last year’s Great British Bake Off, I couldn’t wait to tell the girls.
On the day, the crew arrived, lighting and cameras were installed, Candice and I donned bright pink Shloer aprons and I learned how to create a winning, time-pressed tea party!
First came a few simple table ornaments, like decorating different size jam jars with string and filling them with fresh cut flowers.
Next, Candice shared an incredibly easy recipe for scones, which we baked together. They were light and delicious. And of course we had the usual debate about which goes first, the clotted cream or the jam. (I’m still unsure – we went for the most photogenic option!)
On your marks, get set, bake!
Here’s the recipe for simple scones:
- 300g self raising flour
- 150g strong white bread flour
- 2 heaped tsp baking powder
- 75g soft unsalted butter
- 50g golden caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 200ml whole milk
- Heat the oven to 200c.
- Grease 2 large, flat baking trays.
- Sieve the flours, baking powder and a pinch of salt into a large bowl. Add the 75g butter to the flour and rub in with your fingertips, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Shake the bowl to allow any lumps to move to the surface and rub those bits.
- Stir in the sugar.
- Lightly beat the eggs in a measuring jug and add the milk to make up to about 275ml and beat.
- Make a well in the flour mix. Pour in three quarters of the egg-milk mixture and use a blunt knife to mix. Add more milk mixture if needed (save a little to glaze). Finish mixing with your hands, be careful not to handle too much though.
- Shape, cut and glaze. We cut ours like a pizza, so we had triangle shaped scones.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes.
We also dipped shortbread in melted chocolate and sugar sprinkles; made little Victoria sponge cakes out of sliced madeira cake, decorated with wafer daisies, and made sandwiches – without the crusts obviously.
The Shloer was used to make a delicious tea-time mocktail, served over crushed ice in these beautiful tea cups.
And to drink…
Here’s the recipe for Shloer Tea:
- Camomile tea
- Shloer wild elderflower and grape
- Fresh mint leaves
- Slice of lemon
- Crushed ice
- Brew 300ml camomile tea and leave to cool
- Top with 300ml Shloer
- Serve over ice
- Garnish with mint and lemon
Our table was set and we were ready for our guests (who had to be filmed both arriving and leaving before they were allowed to sit down for tea).
There were lots of ‘oohs and aaahs’ as I led my friends into the kitchen and they saw the colourful spread before them.
The table of food looked elegant and yet it had been so effortless and enjoyable putting it all together.
It felt very decadent to host a summer’s day tea party for my friends, without children, in our shiny new kitchen. The Shloer Tea flowed, the scones went down a treat, there was much laughter and the company of lovely friends.
My parents would have been proud.
And you can see how it all went here:
Much love, Vx