Hosting a Modern High Tea

We can practically hear the bells of St. George’s chapel ringing and we’re eagerly counting down the days until we can indulge in our favourite fairy tale romance as Prince Harry marries (former actress and all-American “it-girl”) Meghan Markle. If you’re just as invested in their love story as we are, and have plans to gather your gal pals for a royal wedding viewing party, why not host a modern day high tea?! Just as Harry and Meghan are said to be responsible for modernizing the monarchy, we’re convinced the traditional high tea could also use some refreshing, easily making it an everyday event. We’ve made plans to spend May 19th with our girlfriends while tuning into the highly anticipated nuptials, we’re sharing all the pretty details from our modern day high tea here with you today – cocktails included!

We began by setting a beautiful tablescape – our jumping off point quickly came from the most beautiful floral arrangement with some of our favourite blooms like the blush pink peonies, and of course vintage tea cups which I cannot stop collecting. Don’t become overwhelmed with styling your table; elevate your everyday dishes with simple touches like fresh flowers or an accent colour added through table linens and glassware. With our bouquet placed in the center of the table, we layered in dishes, linens, water goblets, and tea cups at each place setting. We wanted our high tea to feel relaxed and reminiscent of brunch with our girlfriends while also incorporating the classic elements of the proper English occasion. By mixing and matching textures and patterns throughout the tablescape, we were able to establish an eclectic and playful tone while keeping with some elements of tradition.

Of course our three-tiered-cake stand displayed the traditional courses of high tea; however we kept our menu simple serving cucumber chive-butter tea sandwiches, lemon cranberry scones served with butter, jam, and Devonshire cream, and a bite-sized English shortbread. Feeling inspired by Harry and Meghan’s regal elderflower wedding cake, we opted to forgo the classic petit fours in place of a two-tier lemon and elderflower buttercream-glazed cake, just as delicious as it was pretty! Serving a selection of teas is obviously a must – our favourites for high tea include English breakfast, Earl Grey, and orange pekoe – though we also included a grapefruit-elderberry champagne cocktail because we just couldn’t resist a little bubbly!

We hope you’re swooning over our effortless and modern approach to a celebratory high tea. Cheers to happily ever after!

Classic Cucumber and Chive Butter Tea Sandwiches

  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup of chives, finely chopped or snipped (add more or less depending on your taste)
  • 1 cup of softened butter
  • A loaf of white sandwich bread, sliced

Mix the softened butter and chives together. Spread your chive butter over the slices of bread. Layer your slices of cucumber on top of the chive butter before finishing the sandwich with another piece of bread. Cut the sandwich into four, trimming away the crusts for a more traditional tea sandwich. Garnish with chives. Arrange on the lower level of your cake stand.

Lemon Cream Scones

  • 8 tablespoons of cold unsalted butter
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon of coarse salt
  • ¾ cup + 3 tablespoons of heavy cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon zest
  • 1½ teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • ½ cup of dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour, butter, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix at low speed until the mixture resembles wet sand.

In a separate bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup cream, 2 eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Add the cream mixture to the flour mixture, and beat on low speed until just incorporated. Fold in the dried cranberries. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface, and form into a flat disc, about 8 inches across and 1 1/2 inches thick. Cut into 8 wedges and transfer to prepared baking sheet.

In a small bowl, whisk together remaining egg and 3 tablespoons cream to make an egg wash. Brush scones with egg wash, and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until the tops are golden brown and firm, 40 to 50 minutes.

Lemon and Elderflower Buttercream Cake

Lemon Cake Layers

  • 3½ cups of cake flour, sifted
  • 2½ cups of granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of fine salt
  • ¾ cup of cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1½ cups of  room temperature whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon extract
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 7 room temperature eggs, lightly beaten
  • Elderflower Syrup
    • ½ cup of water
    • ½ cup of sugar
    • ½ cup of St. Germaine elderflower liqueur

    Lemon Buttercream Glaze

    • 2 cups of room temperature butter
    • 6 cups of powdered sugar
    • 2 tablespoons lemon extract
    • A splash of milk or cream to achieve desired consistency
    • Zest of one lemon
    • Cream
    • Yellow food colouring, if desired

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn the mixer on low speed and add the cold butter one cube at a time. Once the butter has been incorporated, let the mixer run on low speed until the flour mixture resembles a fine ground, about 5-7 minutes. With the mixer still running, add half of the milk and the lemon extract. Increase to medium speed and add the remaining milk and egg whites. Beat until just combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the edges of the bowl. Fold batter until the mixture is consistent with no streaks or pockets of flour remaining. Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.

    Combine the water and sugar in a small pot or sauce pan. Heat over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is clear. Let the sugar mixture cool slightly and stir in the elderflower liqueur. Apply the syrup to the cooled cake layers using a pastry brush until the cake is well-saturated but not soggy (you may not have to use all of the syrup). Allow the cakes to stand, uncovered, for 30 minutes while the syrup infuses the layers.

In the bowl of a standing mixer beat the butter until creamy. Incorporate the powdered sugar and mix; slowly add the lemon extract followed by the cream 1 tablespoon at a time while beating on medium speed, until the mixture is fluffy and spreadable. Add the lemon zest and mix again. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and fold together any unincorporated pockets of sugar. Add drops of lemon yellow food color to the buttercream remaining in the mixing bowl. Beat until your desired shade of yellow is achieved. Spread a generous amount of buttercream between the two cake layers, stacking one on top of the other. With your two cakes stacked, begin gently icing the top and outer layers of your cake until the cakes are covered evenly in buttercream. Keep in the fridge until serving.

Grapefruit-Elderflower Champagne Cocktail

  • 1½ ounces of grapefruit juice
  • 1 ounce of St.Germain elderflower liqueur
  • Champagne

In a champagne flute, combine grapefruit juice and elderflower liqueur. Top with champagne.