Is there a better kind of cooking class than an afternoon tea cooking class? We think not. Brooklyn Brainery offered this virtual class taught by Laura Scheck of Ossining, NY’s Teaching Table for only $29 per device. Thank you to Angela’s mom for this birthday gift :). We learned it certainly helps to do this class with multiple chefs in the kitchen because in two hours we made six recipes, plus tea! All three of us were kept busy fetching ingredients, prepping and mixing, cleaning up for the next recipe and following along with Laura’s instructions.
Our Tea Party Menu
This experience was good practice for what your morning would be like if you decided to make all your afternoon tea recipes the day of your party. Note the order below, in which we prepared the recipes. We actually cooked in reverse of the typical course order, to allow you to work on other recipes and to set your table, while longer baking items finish in the oven.
- Lemon Drizzle Cake
- Spelt & Currant Cream Scones
- Scone Spreads: Homemade Rhubarb Strawberry Jam, (Imported) Clotted Cream, and we added our own Sous Vide Lemon Curd
- Tea Sandwiches: Cucumber, Dill and Cultured Butter; Smoked Salmon & Crème Fraîche; Egg Mayo
Our Amazing Teacher, Laura Scheck of Teaching Table
After working as a teacher and adult educator at the Natural Gourmet Institute, Laura Scheck founded Teaching Table, “a culinary education platform that aims to inspire others to cook foods that are better for their bodies, their families, and their communities.” Her vast experience hosting public cooking demos and workshops was evident as she multitasked like a dynamo: showing us how to prepare recipes, checking our screens to comment on our progress, answering questions in the chat, all while directing the course, sharing tips and even a bit of afternoon tea history. We would highly recommend taking a class with her, and in the meantime, scrolling through Teaching Table’s Instagram, which has to be one of the most delicious photo collections we’ve ever seen.
Prepping An Afternoon Tea
To take this class, we had to first shop for all the needed ingredients (Laura provided us a grocery list in advance). Because I had several items at home, this cost about $100. I do admit this included an exciting addition to our kitchen: a set of biscuit cutters from RSVP International to make the perfect scone (click below to purchase). Laura did an excellent job of suggesting materials to us. Two we wish we had procured were mini bundt pans for a decorative lemon drizzle cake, and a pastry blender, to cut the butter into the scone mix without overly warming the butter.
In advance of the class, Laura had sent us detailed instructions of which items to start prepping one hour before class began. We washed and chopped rhubarb, cucumber, dill and strawberries, then zested and juiced lemons, left butter and eggs out to get to room temperature, and set up our cooking stations. Then the class Zoom began and we were off to the races. Midway through, we decided tea was necessary to fortify our efforts, so we shared a pot of an oolong by yummy Atlanta tea company Herbs & Kettles.
Afternoon Tea Tips and Tricks
Laura taught us several clever methods of upping our afternoon tea game, such as:
- Use your fingers to massage lemon zest into the sugar and let stand for a couple minutes before using it in a cake recipe. We’re thinking this would have been a good step in our Sous Vide Lemon Curd, too.
- Scones can be made with cream or butter, but she prefers using both, and brushing the tops with more heavy cream.
- Use super cold butter in your scone mix so that it creates air pockets as it melts during the scone’s baketime.
Never Knew Homemade Jam Could Be This Easy!
Okay this was an exciting first for us – homemade jam, that came together like magic. In the picture below, it hasn’t yet finished cooking down, but we loved have little pieces of whole strawberry in the finished product to remind us how fresh it is.
HOMEMADE RHUBARB STRAWBERRY JAM
Yield: 1-2 cups
2-3 long stalks rhubarb, cut into ¼-inch thick slices, about 2 ½ cups rhubarb
2-3 cups small whole strawberries, fresh or frozen
6 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Put a few small plates in the freezer.
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan.
Bring to a simmer. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring frequently to ensure the bottom does not stick. When the jam is syrupy with a few small chunks of fruit, about 20-30 minutes, conduct a plate test. Use one of the cold plates from the freezer. Dollop a teaspoon of jam onto the plate. Tip the plate. If it runs, your jam needs more cooking time. If it mostly stays in place, your jam is done.
- Recipe by Laura Scheck, Natural Food Chef Instructor, www.teachingtable.net
We loved that Laura set up a little buffet station for her afternoon tea set-up, featuring her inherited silver tea service. We also thanked Laura for discussing some of the ugly history of tea and afternoon tea. At the class’ finish, it was time to sit down and enjoy the fruits of our labor. Our 13-year-old chef summed it up,
Oh my gosh, Mom, we have so many homemade things!”