I love, love afternoon tea! I always have. Call me old fashioned but I still try to uphold it everyday.
To those unsure of what ‘tea time’ is, it’s a small pause in the day, it’s around 4 – 5pm. It’s not lunch and it’s not dinner, it’s that hungry time of day when nothing but a cuppa will do and you fancy a treat. According to Afternoontea.co.uk (and I quote straight from their website) Tea time became popular around the early nineteenth century when the 7th Duchess of Bedford is said to have complained of ‘that sinking feeling’, during the late afternoon.
Amen sister!! We hear you!
(But I’m not talking about High tea and champers darling. Delicate morsels and genteel conversation, no that is a whole new blog for another time).
I’m talking good old fashioned British afternoon tea. I’m talking crumpets, toasted English muffins Eccles cakes, hot buttered toast oozing butter and marmalade, rock cakes and…..wait for it…. Scones! My all time favourite. Tea time has a lot of memories for me as it was the one sure time of day I would have my mother all to myself. It was the same thing most afternoons and it went a bit like this –
Slam front door.
Shout ‘Mum, I’m hooooommme’.
Thud upstairs as loud as an elephant.
Throw School uniform in all directions around the room.
Dress in ‘cool’ teenager clothes ( this usually meant gluing glittery stars to the side of my face, lots of bangles and large hoop earing) cringe, oh the 90’s!!
Be brought down the stairs by dreamy smell of baking coming from the kitchen.
Throw self on couch.
Search for TV remote always expertly hidden from sibling down back of sofa.
Heavenly mother enters with a tray laden with home made jams, a pot of tea with tea cosy!! And fresh from the oven something light, fluffy and Doughy, preferably with currents or chocolate chips. Then my mother would try her best to prize information from me about my day as I grunted teenage replies and got stuck in. Ahhhh, bliss!
Sadly, my mother is no longer with us and I am quite sure that is the reason that tea time is so special to me. It helps me to remember her and the happiness and warmth that always surrounded her. She was a real peach my mother and the sweetest kind. Though as a teenager I never told her, it really was the happiest part of my day and I wouldn’t have shared it with anyone else.
Now, eating tea time treats everyday may seem like a rather unhealthy pass time, but no!! It’s not and I won’t hear you say ‘I’d love to, but I really shouldn’t’ as you stare longingly at my chocolate brownies, strawberry tart or my beloved scones! You are not getting away with it I tell you and you shall have scones and feel damn good about it afterwards. There is nothing that pains me most than to see someone eat something they truly love, which gives them so much pleasure for all of 3 minutes then to see them end in complete misery and guilt about it. In my mind treat means special. Something to be taken time over, feel indulged by. So I’m flying the flag for ‘sweet can be healthy’.
What interests me most about baking is how versatile it can be. It’s not all about the sugar and butter and I’m not all about the sugar and butter either (see my Good morning Sunshine bars for more inspiration). So here is another recipe to feel truly good about.
I am making my wheat-free, sugar-free, virtually fat free scones……. again for the 3rd time in 2 weeks.
I am tweaking the recipe as I go and have recorded with photo’s. I say virtually fat free as my first experiment with them was to make them totally fat free (no butter/Margarine) though in the back of my mind I knew that they would need a little fat to keep them as fluffy as possible and keep them ‘Scone like’. With no fat they are rather dry and tough. So in this recipe I use only 25g organic (vegan) margarine and the other 25g I make up with mashed avocado. There it is again my third blog recipe with avocado. My very own super food. Hopefully if you have never baked with avocado before and tried baking my Chocolate and Avocado cookies last week, this idea will be less scary.
These Scones are my favourites right now as they are so quick and easy. A perfectly healthy and nutritious treat for mum’s looking for a healthy after school snack for the kids, an easy Vegan recipe for those eating clean and a sure fire way for a Polly like myself to get her girlfriends to stay for afternoon Tea!
You can have them steaming on a plate in 30mins flat. Using dried dates, and grated Apple for sweetness, keeping it wheat-free with wholemeal spelt flour for fibre and putting some really good natural fats into the mix with avocado. I will also tell you how I serve them best for a filling and nutritious meal.
225g Wholemeal Spelt ( I use Doves Farm)
25g Organic Vegan Margarine
1 & a half tsp baking powder
100m Almond milk
Almond milk (or Skimmed/semi skimmed milk).
0 – Pre-heat oven to 220.c / Gas mark 7/ 425.f
1 – Mix together the Flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
2 – Mash the Avocado. Add the Avocado and Organic Margarine and rub into the flour.
3 – Grate 1 apple and stir into the mixture and add your dates.
4- Gradually pour in the Almond milk until you reach a nice soft dough.
5 – Kneed a little and with a rolling pin roll to about 1 inch – 1 inch & a half thick.
6 – Using a round cookie cutter of 5cm or 6cm cut about 10 Scones.
7 – Grease a baking tray and place the scones in the middle of the Oven and bake for around 12 Minutes.
8- As you wait with baited breath for them to rise, bake and the timer to ping I do the washing up to stop my complete frustration at having to wait 12 whole minutes for then to be ready!!
9 – My mother always use to tell me that after taking anything baked out of the oven you should wait until they cool. Sorry Mum! this is just not a possibility. Time waits for no scone!
10 – Eat it hot and eat it now. I love slicing a scone open and watching a little steam rise from it’s belly and burning my finger tips a little as I prize it open. This is my scone ritual.
How I ate them (keeping it clean) –
For afternoon Tea I had them fresh out of the oven with Greek yogurt and honey . Also perfect first thing in the morning sprinkled with Chia seeds.
The next day I warmed them up a little and had them for lunch topped with cream cheese and smoked, flaked salmon and salad. The Apple and date sweetness goes so well with the creamy cheese and smoked salmon fillets ( serve the salmon cold). So delicious.
They are a healthy alternative to the traditional teatime scone (depending on what you choose to put on them of course) I felt no guilt after eating 3 in a row!
So take a pause each day, linger over the wonderful tastes and textures and raise your china tea cups to cheers all the mum’s for this late afternoon treat. Up hold British tea time, stay healthy and love every mouthful, because baking is an adventure!!
The Cake Diaries…