Afternoon tea has been a British institution since Anna Maria, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, asked her footman to bring her a pot of tea and light refreshment one afternoon in 1840. The ritual caught on and afternoon tea became the corner stone of high society dining. These days taking tea as a light afternoon meal has become much more accessible, but has not lost a crumb of its charm.
A full Afternoon tea is commonly composed of sandwiches – usually cut delicately into ‘fingers’ – scones with clotted cream and jam, sweet pastries and cakes. Interestingly, scones were not a common feature of early Afternoon Tea and were only introduced in the twentieth century.
Today, luxury country hotels and traditional tea rooms will provide welcoming surroundings for this decadent treat which really is a special experience to take your time over, an occasional indulgence and a treat to be had on special occasions.
However, at home, what is nicer than a scaled-down afternoon tea – simply a cup of tea and a scone or slice of cake? In the following recipe you have the best of both worlds. It’s an Apple, cinnamon and sultana scone loaf. Serve sliced when warm and butter generously.
100g wholemeal self-raising flour
125g white self-raising flour
40g golden caster sugar
50g grated apple
4 tsp ground cinnamon
A pinch of salt
1 large egg
Also, for the topping - 1 tbsp milk, ½ apple sliced, a little demerara sugar for dusting and a little ground cinnamon for dusting.
Preheat oven to 200C, 400F, gas mark 6. Grease and dust with flour a 2lb loaf tin.
In a large bowl, place flours and salt. Rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. Then add caster sugar, sultanas, apple and cinnamon. Stir until everything is well mixed. In a jug whisk the egg with the milk and then pour into dry ingredients. Mix well before turning out to lightly knead together. Roll into large sausage shape and place in tin.
Brush with milk and decorate with a little sliced apple down the length of the loaf. Dust with demerara sugar and finish with a generous sprinkling of ground cinnamon.
Bake for 30-35 mins. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.