Budget Baking for a Princess Tea Party


Through these Easter holidays the weather has been as lousy as our finances: many rainy days, the temperature too cold to play out, and not enough spare cash to fund excursions to brighten the mood.

Then Princess had a wonderful idea: "We could have a tea party" she said. Since I always keep a stock of baking supplies in the cupboard, I realised it would be a wonderful idea. We spent the morning baking treats and enjoyed a wonderful afternoon having a picnic-style tea party spread across a blanket on the floor in our lounge.

In this post I'll share three recipes for delicious treats which we made for our tea party, all of which were so cheap to make with more than enough left (even after guests) to enjoy for the rest of the week.

Classic Victoria Sponge Cake


This classic British recipe is so easy to make and produces eight generous portions. We had half a bottle of squirty cream and a few leftover strawberries to hand which we used to decorate our cake, though it's irresistible when filled only with strawberry jam and dusted with a little sugar.

Ingredients:
  • 110g self-raising flour (7p)
  • 1 level teaspoon of baking powder (5p)
  • 110g soft margarine, at room temperature (15p)
  • 110g caster sugar (15p)
  • 2 eggs (24p)
  • 4 heaped tablespoons of strawberry jam (8p)
  • Icing sugar for dusting (2p, maximum)

Recipe
  1. Preheat your oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3
  2. Lightly grease two 7 inch cake tins with butter and line with a disc of baking parchment.
  3. Combine all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl and whisk for about two minutes (with an electric hand whisk, about 4-5 if doing by hand) until everything is thoroughly mixed and the texture is light.
  4. Divide the mixture evenly between your two tins and level off. 
  5. Bake in the centre shelf of the oven for approximately 30 minutes until golden brown. 
  6. When cooked, turn out onto a wire rack to cool after only 30 seconds - any longer and the cakes will stick!
  7. Once cooled, sandwich together with the strawberry jam and dust the top with icing sugar.
  8. Store in an airtight tin to prevent the delicate cake getting stale too quickly.
For a special treat, add a layer of buttercream icing or whipped cream between the layers in addition to the jam; spread a little more across the top and decorate with slices of strawberries or whole raspberries.

Tip: If you have paper doilies handy, place one over the top of the cake before dusting to create a pretty decorative effect.


Cheese Scones


Another very simple recipe this is ideal for baking with children. Princess isn't particularly fond of cheese, but adores the slightly savoury taste of these scones (particularly when lathered with butter!) and Babyman loves munching them for breakfast.

Ingredients

  • 225g self raising flour
  • 25g cheddar cheese, grated
  • Pinch of salt
  • 55g margarine
  • 150ml milk


Recipe
  1. Preheat your oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas Mark 7
  2. Lightly grease a baking sheet with melted margarine
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt and rub in the margarine
  4. Stir in the grated cheese, and slowly add milk while stirring until the mixture forms a stiff dough
  5. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead very lightly until the dough is smooth. 
  6. Pat down the dough with your hands to around 2cm thick. Use a small pastry cutter to cut rounds out of the dough and place onto the baking sheet. You might need to roll up the dough to cut out more rounds until it is all used up.
  7. Brush the tops of the scones with a little milk to glaze.
  8. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes until well-risen and golden brown. Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.

Banana Bread


We chose to make this delicious bread as we had a few overripe bananas in the fruit basket (which no-one wanted to eat as they were beginning to go black). It tastes wonderful served fresh and slightly warm with a dollop of crème fraiche or toasted with butter if it's gone a little stale.

Ingredients
  • 190g self-raising flour
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 (very) ripe bananas, mashed with a fork
  • 60ml milk

Recipe
  1. Preheat your oven to 170°C/325°F/ Gas Mark 3
  2. Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin
  3. Melt the butter and sugar together in a saucepan over a low heat. 
  4. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Add the mashed bananas and mix well.
  5. Add the egg and combine until all ingredients are incorporated.
  6. Gradually add the flour, followed by the milk and combine.
  7. Pour into your prepared loaf tin and if desired, sprinkle a little more sugar on top to give it a little crunch.
  8. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool, slice and enjoy!

Budget Accessories for your Princess Tea Party

If you're planning a tea party for your own little Princess ahead of time, scour charity shops and jumble sales for tea sets, pretty cups and saucers. A while ago, we picked up a three piece china tea set (including a pretty milk jug and sugar bowl) for only £3 from our local charity shop, and used an old stainless steel tea pot I've had lurking around the back of the cupboard for years. 

Since we were baking all morning, we didn't have time to make bunting but here's an excellent tutorial from Celebrations at Home which demonstrates how to make budget bunting from scraps of fabric you might find lying around the house. 

What are your favourite tea party recipes?

Do you have any favourite recipes for tea party bakes? Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments using the form below.

Photo credits: Tea Party by Camdiluv; Victoria Sponge by Gordon Plant; Cheese Scones by Bitterjug; Banana Bread by Shimelle. All via Flickr Creative Commons.