The Plan by Penny Fischer
The idea for my tea party evolved after we bought a house with a large garden and I had been active in the Club, raising funds for the Hestia Frauenhaus, a women’s shelter in Berlin. I wanted to make a personal contribution. Being British, I thought about organising afternoon tea, a thoroughly British obsession. So tea and the garden went together to create my Annual Tea Party. We celebrated the 10th Anniversary of this event in August 2017.
As you can imagine, the first one was completely stressful. Not having undertaken catering for a large group, I had to plan everything from scratch, also bearing in mind how we do it in the UK. So I started with sandwiches. How many should I make and what type? I used to make three varieties, smoked salmon and horseradish, egg mayonnaise, and cream cheese with cucumber, either on brown or white bread. I have since discovered that the cream cheese ones did not go down as well as the others, so the answer was apparent. I now make just the two varieties. Over the years, I estimate that I have made about 150 full rounds of sandwiches (naturally with the crusts cut off and cut into quarters!)
Next come the scones with strawberry jam (traditional in the UK) and thick cream. Here again, I have been baking for years but wanted to find just the right recipe, so I experimented. Now I believe I have found a very successful one and the scones always rise enough, crucial for successful scones! I wondered whether I should I put them out on the tables and let the guests spread their own jam and cream. I decided that this would be too messy and not practical for the ladies chattering away, balancing teacups in their hands together with dainty plates. They also look nicer already prepared on an étagère. I estimate that I have made about 140 scones over the ten years. I cut them in half and laden them with jam and cream. For these to look nice, I first put doilies on the plates, very old fashioned but pretty.
So two elements we’ve dealt with. Now to the cakes. As you’re all probably aware, there’s a huge variety to choose from. As I’ve been baking off and on for many years, one of my favourites, or at least my guests’, is carrot cake, so that always appears on the list. Then, I like something light and summery, so I usually make one with lemon or lime and then something not so sweet and so on. I have read lots of different recipes, cookery books and researched on the Internet. I’ve found that even though females love chocolate, they don’t t seem to eat much chocolate cake whenever I make one, so this has been omitted from the list. An interesting discovery! I estimate that I have offered about 350 pieces of cake! Sometimes there are a few pieces left over (to the delight of my husband).
So that the timing is exact and everything is ready when the ladies arrive, I have lists and even more lists!
Not to mention the endless cups of tea. My favourite is English Breakfast Tea or similar which I always bring back from England. The one I prefer I have yet to find in Germany. The more the ladies chatter, the more tea they want and so we continue in this tradition every year.
Last but not least, the weather! A tea party in the garden would not be complete without good weather. It is often a last-minute decision whether to lay the tables outside or inside (the latter being a lot more difficult to organise because of the number of guests). After the last drop of rain and scanning the weather forecast, I rush to lay the tables outside with nice tablecloths, napkins and china, and put out the cushions. Then the members arrive, full of excitement. I love the day. When I know we have raised a good amount for the Frauenhaus, I am delighted that we can help those less fortunate than ourselves and at the same time enjoying a wonderful day.
For the next couple of days I put my feet up, more or less! It’s difficult for me to be exact but I believe the total raised has been between 3,000 to 3,500 Euros. The Club has often topped up and 1,000 Euros were donated most years. In 2016 the amount raised @ the tea party was 485 Euros and in 2017 480 Euros.