Kirsty Presents: High-Tea Princesses

This time last week I was in the throes of preparing to cater for my niece’s 7th birthday party. Last week, right about now, in fact, I was studying the shelves at Woolworth’s Indooroopilly, hesitating between the standard packet of Dollar Sprinkles and the fairy-themed one. At that point I hadn’t fully decided on how I was going to manage to decorate the requested princess cake. I knew I was going to attempt to fashion a semblance of a princess atop a coconut cake using icing and my cheap cake decoration piping set, but as to the details of the glitter and sparkles, well, I was making those up in the supermarket.

I had offered to host my niece’s birthday party a month ago, after my family had celebrated my sister’s birthday at a garden centre cafe. While the garden centre’s cafe was perfectly fine, as we discussed Hannah’s forthcoming birthday, most of us still had memories of the over-priced outing that was my mother’s birthday a few months earlier: $45 for an average high-tea amongst some very pretty decor. The decor, while lovely, certainly wasn’t worth $15 dollars more than the usual price of a high-tea in these parts.

I’m not certain why my family has this high-tea obsession. Something to do with coming from England and wanting to play at being the Ladies we’re not, I suppose. Or perhaps it’s an excuse to eat way too many cakes, the sandwiches merely being a face-saving preliminary. Yes, the latter is more likely. Anyway, it seems the older members of this family have had a corrupting influence on the youngest member, since Hannah now associates all birthday celebrations with fancy, miniature cakes, delicate sandwiches and champagne-flutes of sparkling apple juice. When I volunteered to host her family party–her mother’s side of her family, anyway–Hannah put her own twist on the occasion and requested tiaras and sparkles. And since I’m a total push-over when it comes to my niece, I was determined to throw the best princess-themed party I could.

For the necessary preliminaries, before the sweet and cake consumption could begin, I fashioned two kinds of sandwiches with two variations to accommodate less sophisticated palates:

In addition to the sandwiches, I assembled–what I like to believe is my own invention–the salad skewer, consisting of Hannah’s favourite salad vegetables:

It only occurred to me afterward that I could have added carrots to the skewers (if they would go on) and call them Traffic Light Kebabs or something equally cheesy. Speaking of which, Hannah’s mother provided cheese and biscuits and Cheezles to round out the savoury course of the high-tea. Along with the savouries, the adults sipped sparkling wine, while Hannah had us all toasting along with every second sip of her sparkling apple juice.

While we changed the empty savoury plates for those filled with sweet things, I took orders for tea and coffee and Sippa straws from everyone.

Once we were settled again, we tucked into caramel and chocolate tarts made by my other sister, Hannah’s Auntie V, and some marshmallows and strawberries on toothpicks. For this course, my contribution was in the princess theme:

Of course, we all had to kiss the frogs to see if they would, in a puff of smoke, turn into handsome princes. Alas and alack! No such magic occurred, so we consoled ourselves by taking a digestive break and playing some games. Everyone got a present in the new-fangled-self-esteem-building version of pass the parcel: small stationery items from Smiggle. And then we all laughed uproariously as Hannah kept steering the cow she was riding in a game on Wii into trees and fences.

Finally, it was time for the birthday cake.

I didn’t take photos during its construction, but I snapped key moments in the decoration process:

In spite of my trepidation about decorating the cake, I’m very pleased to report that Hannah loved it along with the rest of the party. Her joy was infectious and I think we all had our best high-tea ever!

8 comments ↓

#1 Zoe on 22.08.09 at 7:28 pm

What a lucky girl to have such an indulgent auntie! And how did you make those little froggy crowns?

#2 Clare D on 22.08.09 at 7:33 pm

Oh, wonderful! I was hoping you’d post pictures – I’d been imagining this feast, and i’s so great to see the finished result. Such a great theme for the party and that cake is spectacular. I particularly like the earrings – quite perfect! Sounds like you all had a great time.

#3 Zoe on 22.08.09 at 7:45 pm

I like the rose on the frock – very SITC

#4 Kirsty on 22.08.09 at 7:54 pm

Zoe, the crowns are marshmallows cut in half, trimmed into a crown shape, then painted with some watered-down food colouring. The sticky inside of the marshmallow helped them stick easily to the chocolate frogs.

Clare, I’m glad I could post the pictures after spamming everyone on Twitter with #operationprincess. Hannah liked the earrings too, especially since she was getting her ears pierced for her birthday.

#5 Pavlov's Cat on 22.08.09 at 8:50 pm

Oooh, magnifique! The froggies!!

As we speak, I am cooking the Barossa Fine Foods organic free-range chook for the Nutty Chicken Ribbon Sandwiches (which include finely chopped pistachios, ditto celery, and sour cream) for my sister’s birthday arvo tea tomorrow afternoon, and she’s 54. Grant Burge champers is on special, hooray.

#6 Kirsty on 23.08.09 at 6:12 pm

Pav, those sandwiches you made definitely sound like they’re not merely preliminaries. Hope your sister had a good birthday.

#7 anthony on 23.08.09 at 11:03 pm

I fashioned two kinds of sandwiches with two variations to accommodate less sophisticated palates:

My Auntie pulled that line on me when I said I didn’t like smoked salmon. I was 14 at the time and out to make my mark on the world and the the comment burnt like caper juice on a fresh cut. By 15 I was on a salmon ship off the coast of Nova Scotia. By 19 I had my own ship. At 25, I had the third largest salmon fleet in the Atlantic and half the distilleries in Scotland selling me old whiskey barrels for my smoking rooms. By the time I was the same age Alexander the Great died, I’d branched out into construction, aeronautics, and defence contracting; I had my own satellite and a fleet of helicopters. Then I got greedy.

#8 Kirsty on 24.08.09 at 8:24 am

Heh. Thanks for the tip Anthony. I’ll try that line on her next time. I didn’t make smoked salmon sandwiches because she doesn’t like them. There was some question too over whether she still liked prawns, but I went for the emotional blackmail angle of how I’d thought for days about what she liked, how I used sour cream and not mayonnaise etc etc.

We have such power, we aunties.

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