These are my favourite pastry recipes for afternoon tea. Some of them are very easy, others much more complex. It's these beautiful pastries that really make an afternoon tea special.
In England, I loved afternoon tea where there was a cake stand presented with a selection of finger sandwiches, some small cakes, and always some kind of pastry - chocolate eclair, little fruit tarts or vanilla slice. This would be the thing I would save until last to savour.....
I didn't always make my own pastry, I would often just buy something in from the wonderful selection in the local bakery. Since living in the Kootenays, I have to admit that I really miss the pastries the most.
Of course, this is why we have been experimenting and working out the best recipes to fulfill that gap!
Below are all my favourite pastry recipes using different kinds of pastry. At the bottom of this list, there are the recipes for the pastry itself,and also the different kinds of fillings used classically in afternoon tea pastries, such as creme patissiere (pastry cream).
My number one favourite has to be chocolate eclairs. They look fantastic, are fairly easy to make, and taste totally delicious. Choux pastry is not difficult to make, and this is a particularly good recipe. The pastry is soft on the inside and crispy on the outside.
These delicious strawberry tarts are sublime! The pastry case is made from pate sablee, the most crumbly, buttery and utterly delicious pastry ever! The filling is soothingly smooth and mouth-wateringly tasty pastry cream, topped with strawberry (or raspberry) and dusted with icing sugar. Can you tell how much I love them yet?
Yorkshire curd tarts are one of my favourite afternoon tea treats! Curd cheese, eggs, sugar, butter, lemon curd and currants are baked in a rich sugar pastry case. Curd tarts take planning, so you have to plan to make them the day before you want to eat them.
This delicate apricot tart recipe is really delicious. The pastry is flaky pate sablee filled with creme patissiere. The creme patissiere is flavoured with apricot jam, rather than fresh apricots, so you can have them any time of the year. The top is glazed with jam which looks really pretty.
Vanilla slices are totally decadent. Wafer thin layers of puff pastry are sandwiched together with creme patissiere and topped with icing. They are quite difficult to make and still have them look good! I am still perfecting the art. But they taste so amazing that who cares if the look isn't perfect....
Jam tarts are so sweet and pretty! They are really easy and quick to make, and I usually use left-over bits of pastry to make them. You can make them with more or less any kind of pastry, but I prefer rough puff pastry. These little strawberry jam tarts are my favourite.
I love these little cream puffs. They are small enough to pop whole into your mouth, and they are like a taste explosion along with the delicious sensation of crisp and airy choux bursting with creamy chantilly filling. We like them best with just a dusting of icing sugar.
These little apple roses are just so pretty! They're made with puff pastry wrapped around thin slices of apple that has been softened in butter, lemon and sugar. They're actually quite easy to make and they do look impressive....
Apple tarts are fun to make, and look so pretty. You can serve them whole, or we often chop them into slices to serve as part of an afternoon tea spread. I prefer to use classic puff pastry dough for this recipe, but you can substitute with rough puff pastry.
Here are the actual pastry recipes. These pastry recipes are all the ones you will probably need for afternoon tea pastry making.
Puff pastry dough has a reputation for being hard to make. It really isn't - it's just time-consuming. And the time it takes is mostly waiting time. There is a little more rolling to do than with rough puff pastry - but not enough to stop you giving it a go. This is a very easy recipe to follow.
Rough Puff Pastry is the quick and easy alternative to classic puff pastry dough. It certainly saves time, and it rises almost as well. If you're stretched for time, or using a recipe where you don't actually want the dough to rise too much, this pastry is for you.
Choux pastry is fun to make. You can make so many delicious treats with choux pastry - eclairs and cream puffs, for example. Or you can actually use them to make really delicious savoury sandwiches. Try making them like eclairs, but instead of filling with cream, fill with ham, or cheese.
Pate sablee is more flaky and delicate than pate sucree. It is still great for making little tarts, but they are definitely more crumbly. We use it to make apricot tarts or delicate little cookies. Both of these go really beautifully with a dainty and elegant menu for afternoon tea.
Pate sucree is a rich sugar pastry suitable for various tarts. It is slightly less rich than pate sablee, but it is stronger and is therefore better suited to larger tarts that need to be sliced and hold their shape.
And here are all the fillings that you will need in these pastry recipes....
Pastry Cream (creme patissiere) is a creamy sweet custard that sets quite firmly. It is used for filling various pastries, such as vanilla slices and fresh fruit tarts. It's easy to make, mouth-wateringly delicious and will keep for a few days in the fridge.
Chantilly cream is basically sweetened whipped cream flavoured with vanilla. It is delicious as a filling for cream puffs and eclairs. It is also delicious served with scones for afternoon tea and piled high on top of homemade hot chocolate.