Afternoon Tea and The Great House at Sonning

Tea at Sonning on the Thames

A few weeks ago I helped my daughter Stefanie prepared her first tea party for two of her best friends. We both love tea time so much. When Stefanie was eleven years old we lived in England. This is where her appreciation of taking tea began. Every Sunday after church our little family would go for tea at The Great House at Sonning. Stefanie’s brothers were very gracious never to complain, they enjoyed running on the grass and enjoying the tea time treats. The tea was served in a china pot with china tea cups along with cream and big brown sugar cubes. The tea sandwiches and treats were served on a three tier china server. On the top plate were golden brown scones, and large chocolate dipped strawberries. The treats were tucked on the middle plate, and the tea sandwiches were on the bottom. We almost always sat outside. The grounds were beautiful and the scenery breathe taking. As we drove across a small bridge the hotel was sitting on the right. St. Andrew’s Church was across the street as I remember. We all loved listening to the church bells chime. What a lovely memory and a tradition to continue to this day. Fifteen years have passed since we live in England. There are times when I really miss those days. Upon our return to the Sates, I began having tea parties for the women in my family. The first party was a Christmas tea, we have faithfully had a Christmas tea ever since. This year we will celebrate our fifteenth. The party started with seven family members. To date our party has 25 guests invited. Among the guests are my daughter, Step daughter, mother-in-law, sisters, sister-in-laws, nieces, and very dear friends. It has truly become the highlight of our Christmas season.

The Great House at Sonning.

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the great house at sonning

sonning

sonning on the thames

church

St. Andrews Church.

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Stefanie, Amy, and Joanne.

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Tea sandwiches and savories.

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Tea treats.

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All photos of The Great House at Sonning obtained from Hotels.com

Swedish Cream Cake

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The first tea room I ever had the pleasure of taking afternoon tea was in the beautiful town of Poulsbo, Washington. Judith’s Tearooms and Rose Café was located on the main street going through the town. There were lots of little shops and an aquarium that my daughter, Stefanie loved to visit. After enjoying all over favorite shops we would stop at Judith’s for afternoon tea. Even at the age of five Stefanie loved having afternoon tea, especially when her Grandmother Janet was visiting. Stefanie always sat in the princess chair. It was a wicker chair with a high back and had fancy pillows on it. Janet loved this tearoom as much or maybe more than we did. On one of her visits we went to the tea room three times. We were in love with the Swedish Cream Cake on the menu. It was the only dessert we ever ordered. It was a moist yellow cake soaked in cream sherry then topped with dried apricots soaked in sherry and freshly whipped cream. To this day the cake is still one my favorites. Judith had a cookbook printed of all her tea time recipes. To my delight the Swedish cream cake recipe was in my hands. I usually bake the cake once a year; I love to have it in the spring while sipping a cup of tea. It brings back such a beautiful memory.

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Swedish Cream Cake

Yellow cake, you will need the batter of 2 homemade cakes or 2 boxed cakes without pudding

4 tablespoons sour cream

1/2cup cream sherry

Dried apricots, soaked in cream sherry for 24 hours

Freshly whipped cream

Grease and flour a tube pan.

Follow your recipe for yellow cake either homemade or boxed doubled add the sour cream. Pour batter into prepared pan. Place in center rack in preheated 350 degree oven 55-60 minutes depending on the amount of batter. Remove and let cool on a wire rack 15 minutes. Pour the ½ cup of cream sherry slowly over the cake. Let cool 1 hour and remove from pan. Cool cake completely. Place cake on a serving plate. Cut a slice of the cake and top with apricots and whipped cream.

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