Want something a bit different at tea time? One very traditional treat in the U.K. and elsewhere is toast with butter and jams or preserves. Nothing unusual there. But if you cut those pieces of toast into shapes using various cookie cutters, you’ll turn ordinary into fanciful. Even just plain toast with the right toppings can be real treats.
Bread and butter have been staples for afternoon teatime since the days of Anne, Duchess of Bedford, having afternoon tea at Buckingham Palace so that she wouldn’t be totally famished by the time dinner was served. Her idea was very practical. I, for one, tend to gorge myself if I go too long between meals. In fact, exercise guru Gilad recommends eating small portions during the day. You’ll find yourself overall eating less. That’s the theory.
So, maybe tea time started as a way for Anne to not have to wear her corsets so tight. Maybe.
I have found through extensive experimentation that certain breads make better toast than others and also taste better with certain teas than others. Here’s a few of them:
- Pumpernickel bread and Gunpowder tea.
- Irish soda bread and Irish Breakfast tea (of course!).
- Whole grain wheat bread and Assam tea.
- Rye bread and English Breakfast tea.
- White bread and Earl Grey tea.
- Raisin bread and Kenyan tea.
- Sourdough bread and Yunnan tea.
Some typical toast toppings include spreads like butter, cream cheeses (plain and in various flavors such as strawberry, honey, and onion), jams and preserves, peanut butter, and pâtés; protein items like smoked salmon, prosciutto, sardines, Canadian bacon, and thinly-sliced roast beef; vegetables such as cucumber slices (usually peeled and often de-seeded), grated carrots, thin slices of radishes and tomatoes, watercress, and mushrooms; and sliced fruits, of course, from apples and peaches to bananas and mangos.
As for those cookie cutter shapes, pick ones that aren’t too complicated. Hearts and clovers or diamonds and circles will work well. And the piece of toast won’t fall apart when you pick it up due to some very thin part that is supposed to be a flower stem or a windmill vane, for example.
Time to pull out those cookie cutters from the back of the cupboard, pop some slices of bread in the toaster and get the tea a-steepin’. You can peel and de-seed the cukes, slice up the fruits, or warm up the butter so it spreads smoother while you’re waiting for the toast and tea to be ready. Cut the toast into shapes, top the pieces with your “stuff” and get ready for your family and friends to let out a collective “Awwww! How cuuuuuute!”
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