It is a sorry fact that the age old tradition of afternoon tea has fallen by the wayside. Thanks to the proliferation of cafes, restaurants, brasseries and even pubs, not too many people entertain for afternoon tea anymore.
Yet is was something that used to happen in our house all the time when I was a kid. An aunty and a bunch of cousins would call to say they were coming over for afternoon tea, and my mum would quickly get to the kitchen, whipping up any one of her classic afternoon tea favourite - sponge cake and cream, a batch of scones or even some humble old pikelets. Whatever it was, it came together quickly, and was on the table in time for the arrival of the guests, served up with a big fresh pot of tea.
That's POT - not mug. We actually used to make tea from leaves, a fine art, I must say, which I spent my childhood developing, that seems to also have fallen by the wayside. There is nothing like a cup of tea poured from the pot - the water is boiled fresh (as opposed to reusing whatever was left in the kettle from the last time you boiled it), the teapot has been warmed before hand, the tea leaves falling to the bottom in anticipation of their imminent rehydration. Once the water is add, still on a rolling boil, the teapot lid goes on and the brew is left to draw for at least five minutes to extract all the flavour out of the tea leaves. A cuppa brewed from a soggy old teabag just can't compare. The tea tastes fresher, the flavour is far superior, and somehow, sipping from a cup instead of slurping from a mug seems so much more civilised.
I held an afternoon tea for friends last year, and everyone commented on how it was a shame nobody took time for afternoon tea anymore - at least, not in the comfort of their own home. Sitting around the table, snacking on something sweet (or savoury!), sipping tea, chatting with friends. Honestly, there's nothing quite like it.
2/3 cups breadcrumbs
3 tblsp self raising flour
1 tblsp sugar
1 cup warm milk
2 eggs, separated
1. Combine the breadcrumbs, flour and sugar in a large bowl.
2. Warm the milk in the microwave for 90 seconds - do not allow to boil.
3. Whip the egg whites with an electric mixer until firm peaks form.
4. Stir the warm milk into the breadcrumb mix.
5. Beat the egg yolks, then fold through the breadcrumb mix.
6. Now fold the egg whites through the breadcrumb mix and set aside for 10 minutes.
7. Heat a fry pan or a skillet - I found my old Sunbeam electric skillet worked best - and coat with olive oil spray.
8. Pour one third of a cup of mixture into the hot pan. When bubbles appear on the surface of the uncooked side (there won't be many), gently lift with an egg lifter and flip to cook other side. Hot cake is cooked when springy to the touch.
9. Repeat until all mixture is used - yields approximately 10 hot cakes (more if you make them smaller). Serve with butter and honey, golden syrup or jam. OR if serving for breakfast, serve with a tablespoon of sweetened ricotta cheese and fresh strawberries.