Vegan Unbirthday Tea Party

By Romany Reagan 

During our Covid times, I think we all could use something to look forward to. If you can’t think of a reason to celebrate anything—then it’s time for an Unbirthday Tea Party! The great thing about Unbirthdays is you can celebrate them with your friends who are, most likely, celebrating their Unbirthdays too—so everyone is the guest of honour! All of these treats can be enjoyed responsibly al fresco. So, grab your picnic basket and head to your favourite local park for some socially distanced celebrations! 

I love a tea party. I love tiny cakes and finger sandwiches. The blend of decadence and delicacy with table accessories for days. I was worried when I gave up dairy over a year ago that the delights which vegetarianism can still afford you would be bared forever more from a vegan table—boy was I wrong!

I’ve scoured the interwebs to put together this Vegan Unbirthday Tea Party Menu. There should be enough delights here to tempt even your flexitarian and omnivorous guests. There’s no need to live on iceberg lettuce just because you’re plant-based!

Top Tips: 

  • Most bread is already vegan, so there’s no need to hunt for any specialty bread for your sandwiches. You only have to think about fillings!
  • Almost all jam is already vegan, so your options are endless!
  • I have searched far and wide for a decent vegan cream cheese (aka soft cheese), and the only one to fit the bill for me is Violife’s version. It’s surprisingly excellent and not a hint of fake cream cheese tang.
  • ‘Milk’ for your tea: Oatly brand oat drink has a barista line that is thicker than its regular oat drink line if you want a heftier pour for your tea. However, my favourite has to be Milkadamia brand drink made from macadamia nuts. It’s decadent and delicious, the only drawback is you can’t find it available in every area!

Vegan Unbirthday Tea Party Menu

  • Smashed White Bean, Basil & Avocado Sandwiches
  • Cucumber Sandwiches
  • Scones & Clotted ‘Creem’
  • Lemon Curd Layer Cake
  • Victoria Sponge

Smashed White Bean, Basil & Avocado Sandwiches

This simple sandwich is a delightful mashup of some of my favourite things. (You’ll want to cut the crusts off and make into pretty squares for your tea tray.) The full recipe is available on Pumpkin & Peanut Butter.

Ingredients

    • 1 heaped tablespoon whole grain dijon mustard
      salt and pepper to taste
    • 1 15-oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1 avocado, sliced
    • juice of half a lemon
    • 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
      for the sandwich
    • (optional): baby spinach, romaine, arugula, tomato slices

Instructions

Pour white beans into a large bowl and mashed a little with a potato masher. Add in the diced avocado and lemon juice, then mash until there are just a few chunks of bean and avocado left. Stir in the mustard, basil, salt and pepper, then taste and adjust flavors as necessary.

Spoon onto bread to make a sandwich. Cut the crusts off and cut into squares for your tea tray!

Cucumber Sandwiches

I love these open-faced cucumber sandwiches because you get to play around with pretty shapes! You can find the full original post with more pretty cucumber pictures here.

Ingredients

    • Bread of your choice
    • Creem Cheez
    • Cucumbers

Instructions

Using a vegetable peeler, shave your cucumbers into strips and lay them on a towel to dry

Take whatever bread you like best and spread it with creem cheez (I like Violife!)

Lay cucumber strips on top of the bread in a striped pattern

Cut out shapes with cookie cutter

Lightly season with sea salt & cracked pepper; garnish with watercress or parsley (optional)

Vegan Scones & Clotted ‘Creem’

I found this recipe on the National Trust website, of all places! These delicious scones are very easy to make. You can find the full recipe here.

Ingredients

Scones:

    • 350g self-raising flour
    • 85g plant-based margarine
    • 60g caster sugar
    • 3g baking powder
    • 175ml (approx) oat milk

Clotted ‘Creem’:

      • 175g plant-based margarine
      • ½ tsp vanilla essence
      • 60g icing sugar
      • 1 tbsp oat milk

Instructions

For the scones:

Place the flour, plant-based margarine, sugar, and baking powder into your mixer and combine until you have a fine breadcrumb consistency.

Gradually add the oat milk until the mix comes together and you have a soft dough.

Tip out onto a well-floured surface. Roll to the depth of about 2 fingers and cut using a 7cm straight-sided cutter. Reroll and repeat as necessary until all the dough is used and you have 6 scones.

Brush the tops with a little oat milk and bake in the oven at 180C for 15 – 20 minutes or until slightly golden on top.

For the vegan clotted ‘creem’:

Place the plant-based margarine and vanilla in a bowl and beat or whisk until light and fluffy.

Gradually add the icing sugar until pale and fully combined.

Add the oat milk to loosen if needed. Place into your portion-sized pots.

Vegan Lemon Curd Layer Cake

This recipe is by the vegan and veggie food blogger Domestic Gothess, you can find the full recipe post on her blog here.

Ingredients

Vegan Lemon Curd:

    • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
    • 1 1/2 Tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
    • juice of 2 large lemons (about 100ml)
    • 50 ml (scant 1/4 cup) water
    • pinch salt
    • 100 g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
    • 2 Tbsp almond milk unsweetened
    • 2 Tbsp vegan butter/margarine

Vegan Lemon Cakes:

    • 300 ml (1 + 1/4 cups) almond milk unsweetened
    • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
    • 150 g (5.3oz) vegan butter/margarine
    • 3 Tbsp golden syrup
    • 275 g (2 + 1/4 cups) self-raising flour
    • 45 g (4 Tbsp) cornflour (cornstarch)
    • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
    • 175 g (3/4 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
    • finely grated zest of 3 large lemons
    • couple drops lemon extract or oil optional

Vegan Lemon Buttercream:

    • 150 g (5.3 oz) vegan butter/margarine* (for the best results use a block margarine, see notes)
    • 225 g (2 + 1/4 cups) icing (powdered) sugar sifted
    • couple drops lemon extract or oil

Instructions

Vegan Lemon Curd:

Make the lemon curd at least the day before you assemble the cake.

Place the lemon zest (if using) and cornflour into a small non-reactive pan (such as stainless steel). Gradually whisk in the lemon juice then whisk in the water, salt and sugar.

Stir over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved then continue to cook, whisking constantly, until it comes up to a gentle simmer and becomes very thick; cook for a further minute.

Whisk in the almond milk and vegan butter and continue to stir over a low heat until melted and smooth then remove from the heat. If you like you can pass the curd through a fine mesh sieve to remove the lemon zest (I leave it in). Transfer to a bowl or jar, cover and place in the fridge overnight. It will thicken as it cools and will keep in the fridge for about 3 weeks.

Vegan Lemon Cakes:

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Grease three 15cm/6in round tins (or two 20cm/8in ones) and line the bases with baking parchment.

Stir the lemon juice into the almond milk and set aside to curdle. Place the vegan butter and the golden syrup in a small pan and heat until the butter has melted, set aside to cool slightly.

Sift the flour, cornflour and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl and stir in the sugar and lemon zest. Whisk in the milk mixture then the melted butter and lemon extract (if using) until smooth.

Divide the mixture evenly between the tins (I use a scale) and bake for about 25 minutes (a little longer if using 20cm/8in tins) until golden, pulling away from the sides of the tin and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the tins for 20 minutes then carefully (they are delicate) turn the cakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Vegan Lemon Buttercream:

Place the vegan butter in a bowl and gradually stir in the icing sugar. Add the lemon extract then whisk until smooth.

Assembly:

Very carefully trim the tops of two of the cake layers (one if you used the larger tins to make two layers rather than three). Place one of the trimmed layers on a serving plate and spread over half of the buttercream then spread over a generous layer of lemon curd.
Place the second trimmed layer on top and repeat the buttercream and curd. Top with the un-trimmed layer and serve.

Vegan Victoria Sponge

And because Domestic Gothess is my new favourite food blog, here’s another vegan cake from Hannah! You can find the full recipe post on her blog here.

Ingredients

Cake:

    • 175 g (2/3 cup + 1 Tbsp) vegan block butter (NOT the spreadable kind. I use Naturli Vegan Block) softened
    • 265 g (1 1/3 cups) caster (superfine) sugar
    • 175 g (2/3 cup + 1 Tbsp) non-dairy yogurt (I used vanilla soy)
    • 175 ml (2/3 cup + 1 Tbsp) unsweetened non-dairy milk (I use soy)
    • 2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 350 g (3 cups minus 2 Tbsp) self-raising flour
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

Buttercream:

    • 125 g (1/2 cup) vegan block butter (NOT the spreadable kind. I use Naturli Vegan Block) softened
    • 220 g (2 cups) icing (powdered) sugar sifted
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • strawberry or raspberry jam
    • caster sugar for sprinkling

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Grease two 19-20cm/7.5-8inch round cake tins and line with baking parchment.

Cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer for a good few minutes until very light and fluffy.

Add the yogurt, milk, vanilla, flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and gently mix everything together until it forms a smooth batter. Take care not to over-beat it as that can make the cake tough.

Divide the batter between the tins and bake for about 25-35 minutes until springy and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Leave the cakes to cool in the tins for 10 minutes then carefully turn them out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

Once the cakes have cooled, make the buttercream. Place the butter, icing sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl and whisk with an electric mixer for a couple of minutes until smooth and fluffy.

Place one of the cake layers on a serving plate and spread over a generous quantity of jam.

Transfer the buttercream to a piping bag fitted with a large round nozzle and pipe blobs of the buttercream on top of the jam. (Alternatively, spread the buttercream over the bottom cake layer with a palette knife first, then spoon the jam on top).

Place the second cake layer on top. Sprinkle with a little caster sugar and serve. Store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to four days.

***

Enjoy! Go forth and celebrate yourselves!!

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