A treat with your tea


SUMPTUOUSLY SCRUMPTIOUS Scones with jam and cream are an essential part of any afternoon tea.

The Cabots

What starts with t, ends with t, and has t in the middle? A teapot! This is one of my children’s favourite riddles. Mine too.
I am a tea addict. If there was one thing in life I’d find impossible to give up, that would be tea. Coffee is amazing, don’t get me wrong. But nothing compares to that clean, crisp, aromatic flavour of tea. I am by no means a tea snob. I will joyfully drink the odd cup of Earl or Lady Gray. A few fresh leaves of mint from the garden left to brew in soft, boiling water- heavenly. But, in the mornings, I would not cope without a few steaming mugs of (builder’s) Lyon’s or Barry’s. With milk, obviously. Tea makes even the worst winter morning OK.

Tea party
The idea of afternoon tea takes everything to a new level. Perfectly brewed tea in thin China cups served alongside finger-sized portions of delectable savoury and sweet things. What’s not to like?
There’s no treat to compare to afternoon tea in a fancy hotel. If you are not Queen Victoria or you don’t happen to live in Downtown Abbey, that’s the way to go. But, if you don’t have the time or the money, you don’t have to head for Ashford Castle. Why not host your own summer afternoon tea?
My birthday is on a Saturday this year, and that’s what I’m thinking. Over the years, I’ve been gifted with cake stands, three-tiered sandwich stands and loads of beautiful – if somewhat impractical – antique porcelain crockery and tea sets.
So. Sandwiches. Crustless. Not heaving. Some of O’Hara’s of Foxford white pan – I’m thinking egg mayo and cress. Some granary numbers with cucumber and cream cheese. A crab number. And the sweet stuff. Lemon drizzle cake? Some macaroons? Something chocolatey? Scones, served with jam and clotted or whipped cream are obligatory. You can choose plain white or fruit scones.
The best scones I’ve had in a very long time were made by Dublin friend Susie and her daughter, Camille. Here’s their recipe!

Susie and Camille’s Lemon and Poppy Seed Scones

What you need

  • 1 unwaxed lemon, for zest and juice
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 50g butter, cold and diced into small cubes
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp poppy seeds
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 125ml butter milk
  • Pinch of salt

What you do
Preheat the oven to 220°C. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Add a pinch of salt. Rub the butter and flour together with your fingertips till the mix resembles breadcrumbs. Add the sugar, lemon zest and poppy seeds (holding back some seeds to sprinkle on top of the scones). Add the lemon juice to the milk. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the milk and lemon mix.
Mix gently to form a dough then lightly knead the dough with your hands. Roll out the dough till 2.5cm thick. Cut into scones with a 5cm round cutter. Brush the tops with a little milk and sprinkle the remaining poppy seeds on each scone.
Pop onto a buttered baking tin lined with baking parchment and bake for about ten minutes, till risen and golden. Cool slightly and serve with lashings of jam and whipped double cream and wash down with a pot of freshly brewed tea!

— Sandra

The Cabot family live and work in Lanmore, outside Westport. Fresh, seasonal foods are their passion, from country markets to growing, making and selling. They love cooking and eating at the kitchen table, while Redmond and Sandra are kept on their toes with children Penny and Louis. Here they share their favourite recipes.