Stress Free Afternoon Tea: 5 Coeliac Friendly Tips

Afternoon Tea is a ritual I’ve loved ever since I was a child. At any given opportunity, my mum and I will seek out a new place to have our afternoon tea – whether it be on a trip to London, a Mother’s Day outing or when we’re planning a girly spa day. The tiny sandwiches, delicious scones and patisserie cakes make lunch that little bit more special.

Since I’ve been diagnosed with Coeliac Disease, it’s made our hunt for the best afternoon tea a little more difficult (understatement!) We’ve still managed to find delicious gluten free options, but unfortunately the yummy sandwiches and cakes are now accompanied by the constant worry of the cafes knowledge on gluten free food and cross contamination.

Breast Cancer Care have launched their Afternoon Tea campaign this week, as a way to get friends and family together to enjoy an afternoon of tea, cakes and sandwiches to raise money for people affected by breast cancer. I know that providing food for someone with Coeliac Disease (or anyone with a food allergy/intolerance) can be a daunting thought, and something you may try to avoid altogether. However it doesn’t have to stop you from hosting a delicious afternoon tea for your friends and family! I’ve listed my top tips below to ensure you’ll have a stress free afternoon tea for everyone involved. 

Read up on cross contamination

This is probably my most important tip and something I’m the most cautious of when eating out/over at friends or family’s houses. If you have a Coeliac guest you will need to be aware of using separate utensils, chopping boards, sieves etc. You’ll only have to make little changes, such as using plastic chopping boards/utensils instead of wooden, but these are small changes that will make a big difference.

Quick checklist for cross contamination;

  • Don’t use wooden chopping boards or wooden utensils for preparing/cooking gluten free recipes – wood can absorb food so there may still be traces of gluten.
  • Use separate utensils when preparing gluten free and gluten containing food.
  • Make sure to clean surfaces that might have traces of gluten with anti-bacterial cleaning spray – not just water.
  • Wash your hands in-between touching gluten containing and gluten free foods.
  • When sieving flour, don’t use your normal sieve for the gluten free recipes as there may be little bits of flour or pasta caught in the holes. You can pick up a cheap sieve from any supermarket.

Prepare the gluten free items first

When preparing your afternoon tea, always start with the gluten free items first. If you swap between making the gluten free and normal recipes, you may forget to wash your hands/change utensils in-between. My tip would be to prepare all the gluten free food first, pop it in the fridge, then move on to the rest of your afternoon tea recipes without any cross-contamination worries!

Buy gluten free supermarket scones

My third tip is to buy gluten free scones from the supermarket. Don’t overload yourself with too much to do – after all, hosting an afternoon tea is meant to be a relaxing, social occasion! There’s no pressure to become the next best gluten free baker – most of us haven’t mastered it ourselves yet! Head to the free from aisle in your local supermarket and pick up a delicious pack of gluten free scones, you may be surprised at how much choice there is (assuming your supermarket is well stocked!)

Serve jam and cream in separate pots

Serve a small amount of jam and cream in separate pots for your gluten free/Coeliac guest, with their own set of spoons. When everyone is tucking into the delicious treats, it’s easy to forget that you can’t put the spoon or knife you used on your gluten scone back into the shared pot of jam and cream, as this will contaminate it. Creating a separate pot that is solely for your gluten free guest will allow everyone to enjoy their afternoon tea in peace.

Finally, buy a pre-made cake mix for a fuss free recipe

I was kindly sent my first Bakewell Box last month to try out their yummy gluten free recipes. Bakewell Box are a healthier gluten free subscription box, which is posted through your letterbox each month. Every box contains the dry ingredients for two bakes (you have to provide the perishable ingredients such as eggs & milk), allowing the baker to make gluten free & refined sugar free snacks and treats without breaking the bank or wasting ingredients.

I created this delicious orange & chia polenta cake which is the most perfect recipe for Afternoon Tea! You could also buy a gluten free cake mix, such as Betty Crocker, for a delicious way to end your afternoon tea. Either option allows you to create a delicious cake that you know will be 100% gluten free and taste great.

If you’re planning to host an afternoon tea or any meal for a gluten free guest, feel free to message me for tips! I’ll be happy to help with recipe ideas, tips on cross contamination and what to look out for when buying ingredients.

This July, have an Afternoon Tea together and help Breast Cancer Care be there for more women and families facing breast cancer. Sign up for your free Afternoon Tea kit at or call Breast Cancer Care’s friendly Afternoon Tea team on 0300 100 4442.

Sophie x

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