Mother’s Day on May 11th is a perfect time to experience the charm of an Old Fashioned Tea with classic tea sandwiches, scones and a special cake. Use an heirloom lace tablecloth and linen fan napkins made just like the old paper fans by folding back and forth accordion style then folding in half and tying with a pretty ribbon! The centerpiece should be elegant heritage roses in a crystal bowl and don’t forget to use your very best floral-patterned china and antique silver teapot if available. We all used to love to play dress-up, so invite your guests to wear an old-fashioned dress, hat and jewelry – many thrift shops have a section devoted to “vintage clothing” – to add to the festive air. Plan on also sharing some of the history of Mother’s Day as well as reminiscing about the Good Old Days!
The spring celebration of motherhood can be traced back almost as far as mothers themselves. The ancient Greeks paid tribute to mothers as goddesses in honor of Rhea, the Mother of the Gods. During the 1600’s, England began to celebrate a day called “Mothering Sunday” on the 4th Sunday of the Lenten season when house servants for the wealthy would have the day off to return to their homes with a special cake, called a “mothering cake,” and spend the day with their mothers. In the United States, Mother’s Day was first suggested in 1872 by Julia Ward Howe as a day dedicated to peace and in 1907 a campaign began to establish a national Mother’s Day on the 2nd Sunday of May by Anna Jarvis to honor her mother. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Mother’s Day as a national holiday that was to be held each year emphasizing the role of women in their families.
Classic tea sandwiches are traditionally white bread, thinly sliced and buttered with fillings that are light and are “dainty” or “delicate” in proportion to the amount of bread. The crust is trimmed after the sandwich is made, but before serving and is then cut into four triangles. Some classic choices for fillings include:
· Cream cheese mixtures
· Fruit jam
· Roast beef with horseradish, ham with mustard, smoked salmon, curried chicken and egg salad
· Fresh vegetables (cucumber, radish, watercress)
WATERCRESS TEA SANDWICHES
1 cup watercress leaves, stems removed
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 very thin slices white bread
4 teaspoons softened butter
Toss the watercress with the salt. Spread the bread with the soft butter, then top four of the slices each with 1/4 cup of watercress and cover with another buttered bread. Trim crusts and cut diagonally into 4 triangles.
Classic scones are served warm, split open and topped with butter, jam or preserves, clotted cream and/or lemon curd.
CLASSIC ENGLISH SCONES
1Tbs baking powder
2 beaten eggs
Combine dry ingredients in mixing bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Combine egg and cream until well blended, then add to dry ingredients until they are moistened. Roll out ½ inch thick and cut into rounds. Place on greased baking sheet, brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 400 for 10 mins until golden brown.
The classic “Mothering Cake” was a sponge cake generally filled with jam and whipped cream and decorated with only a dusting of powdered sugar over the top.
CLASSIC SPONGE CAKE
1 1/2tsp baking powder
1c powdered sugar
1c softened butter
Sift flour, powdered sugar and baking powder together and set aside. Cream butter and sugar together, add eggs one at a time and mix thoroughly. Slowly add the flour mixture then beat in the milk and vanilla until smooth. Pour into a greased 8” spring form pan and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes then remove from pan and place on wire rack to cool completely. Cut cake into two layers and spread one with plenty of jam or fresh fruit and a layer of whipped cream then top with the second and dust with powdered sugar. If you lay a paper doily on top and then dust with the powdered sugar, it makes an attractive design.
“Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing
some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”
I Corinthians 10:31