A truly quintessential English tradition that is a way of life to many individuals all over the country is the infamous afternoon tea. From when times were difficult during the Second World War, British people would unite around a table in the afternoon, joining friends and family in times of need where they would enjoy an afternoon tea.
This joyous togetherness time consisted of platters of individually crafted petit fours (also known as a small bite-sized confectionery or savoury appetisers) placed on silver serving dishes, alongside precision-cut, finger sandwiches with an array of delicious fillings.
In addition, it has always been a tradition for the afternoon tea to consist of the finest clotted cream and jam filled freshly baked, buttery scones. And finally, we must not forget the hot and refreshing beverage that the afternoon delight is named after - traditional English breakfast tea which is poured with care and poise into the daintiest of fine bone-china teacups, served alongside elegant jugs of milk. However, none of this sounds remotely suitable for someone with a vegan diet and possibly only passes as acceptable for a vegetarian...
With an array of health issues, dietary requirements and choice of lifestyle in terms of diets in this day and age, the traditional afternoon tea of days gone by (and still found in many café’s nowadays) are not for those with a vegan or alternative diet. Almost every option on the menu (the black tea without milk most likely to be the only exception) are certainly not vegan-friendly; there’s dairy in the baked goods, cane sugar in the jam, and sandwiches filled with fish, meat and eggs.
Nowadays, however, if you are vegan or are catering for someone who is, or of course gluten-free or vegetarian, an afternoon is entirely possible, and in fact, can be quite delectable and enjoyable.
You can create a delicious platter of vegan delights that includes dairy-free scones, mousse cakes and tartlets as well as an array of creatively-filled finger sandwiches with a twist. Beetroot and vegan cheese, rainbow salad or even olive and hummus are only some of the options of a delicious vegan sandwich filler. There is no more choice than ever...
Maybe you’re known in your circle of friends as a cake connoisseur and have been dying to try a vegan afternoon tea to see how the vegan cakes fair up, well you have no reason not to now. Traditional afternoon tea typically consists of a selection of different cakes in different sizes with a whole load of different ingredients.
For a traditional afternoon tea, the essential (but not necessary) cake has undoubtedly got to be the infamous Victoria sponge. When it comes to a vegan afternoon tea, you don’t need to avoid the Victoria sponge.
Instead, you can use pure raspberry jam and vegan butter icing. If you want more of a selection, consider lemon drizzle, orange and almond, fruit cake, and coffee and walnut cakes – delicious! All of the sweets in your afternoon tea can easily be turned vegan with simple tweaks to your recipe.
Many prefer sweet to savoury but the savoury treats in an afternoon tea provide the sustenance and round the whole experience off nicely. Vegan ideas for finger sandwiches include coronation chickpea, meat-style slices with vegan mayonnaise, mustard and a selection of pickles, cream cheese with chives and cucumber or even a mushroom or vegetable pâté. Top it all off by removing their crusts, cut them lengthways and serve on a whole wheat loaf.
Sandwiches are only the beginning. Many modern-day afternoon tea platters feature a canape or savoury pastry to mix things up a bit. Even a tasty vegetable crisp can be an excellent addition to add a little bit of crunch to an otherwise soft lunch.
Making vegan scones is actually very simple. All you have to do is substitute butter with non-dairy vegan butter or even spread (a harder butter can be more effective than using vegetable oil as it gives a short and crumbly texture). Additionally, use soya milk or almond milk instead of buttermilk throughout the recipe and for glazing.
Scones are more than just your standard ‘scones’. They transform the humble afternoon tea by introducing a variety of different fruits, flavours and even vegetables (no, really!).
Think chocolate scones with marmalade or organic sugar-free jams to create a Jaffa Cake-style dessert, or simply add a dash of coconut flour and even delicious dried Caribbean fruit to savoury scones for a tropical twist on the classic recipe. In addition to the scone, it’s common to see vegan doughnuts on the menu when it comes to afternoon tea or even vegan cookies.
It’s all in the name…afternoon tea. Whether you like a Darjeeling, Earl Grey or prefer a simple English breakfast tea, there’s so many to choose from. This isn’t a new thing, but what is relatively recent is the option to choose organic tea to enjoy alongside the best vegan milk on the market (we’ll leave that decision up to you).
You can enjoy loose leaf or organic tea, un-dyed tea bags to sip alongside your tasty afternoon treats but it wouldn’t be an afternoon tea without the traditional china tea set including dainty teacup. It wouldn’t be a proper afternoon tea experience without it!
When it comes to veganism, dairy-free, gluten-free and everything diet in between, there are so many options out there nowadays. There are various dairy milk alternatives to enjoy in your tea and free-from alternatives to almost every type of food from pasta to sweet-treats.
Whether you’re vegan for weight loss, gluten-free for dietary requirements or vegetarian for health reasons, there are delicious recipes and products on the market for everyone. Even if you love to eat everything and anything, you should consider experimenting with some creative recipes – we’re sure you won’t be disappointed!
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Over the past 20 or so years, musical festivals have taken the world by storm with niche and unique outdoor events popping up all over the UK and further afield. However, while music festivals are great, food festivals can be an even better and more enjoyable experience as they involve a little bit of everything - not to mention the perfect place to discover new foods or buy unique edible gifts. We’ve compiled a list of some of the best food festivals of 2019 for you to get your teeth stuck into it. From Wales to Scotland, there’s a delectable food festival out there for everyone, no matter what your tastes are.
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Seán Farrell – Founder, Chateau Rouge