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And when it comes to creating the perfect afternoon tea, nobody does it quite like Mrs Danvers.
Maria Panayiotis has owned Mrs Danvers Café in Liverpool for the past seven years, homebaking a traditional menu of delicious little sweet and savoury classics.
They’ve won five-star reviews from devoted fans who regularly praise it as the best they’ve ever had.
When lockdown came, Maria moved her business online, and began delivering her afternoon teas across Merseyside, teaming up with LIDS to allow her to focus her time and talents in the kitchen.
That’s proved such a hit that now restrictions have eased she’s carrying on with deliveries and collections and, with a bakery base in the Fashion Hub in the Fabric District, she’s expanded her range and is busy making more afternoon teas than ever.
“In March last year, we had to stop operating as a café because of lockdown so I had to think what was next for Mrs Danvers,” explains Maria.
“I found so many people just wanted to order something nice for themselves, or for a relative or friend who they weren’t able to see, that I worked really hard to do deliveries. I even had orders coming in from abroad from people who wanted to send something to their family who they couldn’t be with.
“At first I was making them on my own, boxing them all up and then delivering them on my own which was difficult – one day of deliveries took me seven hours! I realised I couldn’t do everything which is when I got in touch with LIDS. I joined forces with them in May and they’ve been doing deliveries for me ever since.”
In addition to her famous afternoon teas, Maria does cream teas, cupcake boxes, brownie boxes, celebration cakes, gender reveal cakes and one-person glam cakes which are popular for birthdays and graduations.
She’s also planning some afternoon tea events to take place soon at the new Mrs Danvers bakery.
So, with no excuse really needed to order one for yourself or someone else, here are 5 things that make Mrs Danvers afternoon tea so special …
Mrs Danvers afternoon teas are absolutely packed full of goodies – so much so that you’re very likely to have some left over for later. Each tea contains three different types of sandwiches, six or seven desserts including a scone, mini sponge (a Victoria, red or chocolate, depending on what’s freshly baked that day) shortbread, brownie, macaron and lemon posset or chocolate ganache pot, plus three or four savoury bakes like a quiches and mini pies.
“One of the things that sets Mrs Danvers afternoon tea apart is I’m very generous with what goes into them,” says Maria. “I’m half Greek so I love a mezze and I wanted to create something with lots of little taster dishes that people could really enjoy and also finish later on or share if they wanted to, although they do like the challenge!”
Appearance is almost as important as taste when it comes to an afternoon tea and Mrs Danvers doesn’t disappoint. In the café, Maria created an Art Deco theme, and even with deliveries she’s keen to keep it special.
“I am very particular about how the afternoon teas look,” says Maria. “I want them to be as gorgeous as possible even in a box because I think if something looks pretty, it just makes you feel really happy even before you’ve started to eat it. People like to recreate the afternoon tea café experience at home so they lay them out on platters and take pictures to send to me which I love. We have Mrs Danvers merchandise too so they can put their tea in a cute tote which makes it even more of a gift.”
No afternoon tea would be complete without an amazing scone and Mrs Danvers’ could rival the poshest hotel’s. Maria uses her grandma’s secret recipe, they’re all homemade and they come in a choice of fruit or plain with clotted cream and jam.
“I’ve been all over trying different scones but even I have to say – I really do love my own, they’re the best!” says Maria.
Mrs Danvers afternoon teas have got something fabulous for savoury fans too – as well as sandwiches, there’s her homemade single-portion quiches. They come with a variety of fancy fillings like broccoli and stilton, cream cheese and spinach, classic cheese and onion, goat’s cheese and beetroot and they new goat’s cheese with walnuts.
Mrs Danvers does three different types of afternoon tea – one for children, the standard one which is perfect and a luxe celebration one which comes with an extra dessert, party pieces and complimentary prosecco or wine. There’s no minimum order, you can order just one if you like, and they can also be adapted for weddings, hen parties or any other occasion.
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