Gardening, Cooking and Decorating on the Prairie of Kansas

Welcome to Linderhof, our 1920's home on the prairie, where there's usually something in the oven, flowers in the garden for tabletops and herbs in the garden for cooking. Where, when company comes, the teapot is always on and there are cookies and cakes to share in the larder.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

An Afternoon Tea for Friends

Even though Linderhof runs smoothly with just Husband Jim and I at the helm, when we were gone for two months, it "took a village" for the various chores to be accomplished.

The biggest "chore" was taking care of Oliver who decided to stay at home while we were gone. He's happier here and we couldn't see him in a cage for two months!

And although everyone was thanked and gifted with memories from England, I wanted to thank them all at once -- and what better way to thank them than with a tea.

The tea table set up in the dining room . . .

Two linen tea cloths laid on an angle to cover the bigger dining room table.

Tea anyone? Perfectly brewed Two Leaf and a Bud Earl Grey, a dish of lemons studded with cloves, a pitcher of milk (never cream for tea) and a bowl of Demarra sugar.

The tea plates (my Spode ones), English pastry forks and freshly pressed tea napkins.

Spode tea cups with an English tea spoon on each saucer.

Garden lilies and fennel in a crystal vase for the centerpiece.

The table with tea treats all ready for the arrival of my company.

The menu?

Chocolate cake -- the old Texas sheet cake recipe, topped with candied pansies (from last year -- alas I didn't get them done this year!) and a pearl handled server brought home from my English trip.

A small almond poundcake. Rich and oh, so good. A perfect tea cake. Surrounded by rose geranium leaves.

Lavender shortbread cookies in a silver curate, and . . .

Strawberries and super fine sugar to dip them in.

And also cucumber sandwiches -- which I didn't get around to photographing!! Everyone pronounced them terrific!!! Real English cucumber sandwiches -- white bread spread with room temperature butter, layers of cucumbers which are salt and peppered. Topped with another slice of buttered sliced bread and then the crusts are removed and the sandwich cut into 4 triangles.

We had a grand afternoon -- eat and visiting and I did not bore anyone with any of our 4000 pictures that we took the two months we were gone.

Oliver attended the party as well . . . .

He patiently waited under the living room coffee table in hopes that something would make its way to the floor!!!!

I've made the Texas Sheet Cake hundreds of times and it is always so good and so moist and if I take it anywhere I always come home with an empty pan. Of course, for tea, I didn't call it Texas Sheet Cake but rather chocolate cake squares with sugared pansies!!!


2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 cup butter
1/3 c. cocoa
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 t. vanilla

Chocolate Frosting:

1/4 c. butter
3 T. cocoa
3 T. buttermilk
2 1/4 c. sifted powdered sugar
1/2 t. vanilla
1/2 c. chopped toasted pecans, optional

Grease a 15 x 10 jelly roll pan; set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup butter, 1/3 c. cocoa and 1 cup of water. Bring mixture of a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir chocolate mixture into dry mixture until thoroughly blended. Add eggs, buttermilk and vanilla. Beat well. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.


In a medium saucepan combine 1/4 c. butter, 3 T. cocoa and 3 T. buttermilk. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat; add powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth. If desired, stir in 1/2 c. coarsely chopped roasted pecans.

Pour warm chocolate frosting over the warm cake, spreading evenly. Place cake in pan on a wire rack; cool thoroughly before cutting.

Makes 24 servings.

NOTE: I don't always pour the warm frosting over the warm cake, preferring instead to make the cake the day before and frost the day of. It works either way!

And I decorated each piece with a candied pansy.

It's Thursday and I'm sharing my tea with Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday.


From the Kitchen said...

I love tea--especially when it is a proper tea. That's something you never fail to achieve.

I hope Oliver found a scrap of cucumber sandwich.


Lottie said...

Oh it all looks wonderful!!! (Especially the chocolate sheet cake, almond cake, and shortbread cookies!)

Marilyn said...

Oh, YUM!! I love cucumber sandwiches! Every thing looks so pretty and I'm sure all your guests had a grand time. ♥♫

Bookie said...

What a beautiful sight! It is a perfect tea.

I also want to thank you for the zucchini bread recipe you shared a few days ago. I made it today and love the honey in it. It is so moist.

afternoon tea said...

What a lovely way to thank everyone. It all looks divine. Would you share the recipe of that Texas sheet cake? I was given the recipe once, but my aunt who wrote it down for me missed something. And it was something critical to the cake. lol

Southerncook said...

I am so glad to hear that Ollie didn't stay in a cage for two months and I can't think of a more lovely way to thank those who made that possible. I'm sure Ollie was appreciative as well. Beautiful post.


Bernideen said...

What a wonderful tea party this was - and Oliver is so sweet.

Pondside said...

Such a lovely way to thank your friends for such loving care.

Marlis said...

I'm so delighted for this wonderful idea.. What a perfect way to thank your helpers.. I love love love your table. It's so wonderfully laid out. Your new cake server is the perfect remembrance from your trip, so pretty. Many blessings, marlis

Rettabug said...

Gosh, I'd watch your puppy anytime if you treated ME to such a spread, Martha! This is just beautiful & I love all your pretty blue & white tableware. I'm s-l-o-w-l-y collecting Blue Willow, piece by piece, as I find it.

Your set-up is just perfect & that pearl handled server....TDF! What wonderful memories you'll have each & every time you use it.


p.s. Thanks for the recipes for you TX sheet cake & the Vegetable Tian, too.

xinex said...

I will take care of your house next time you are gone for all that goodies, Martha. Everything looks so good and your tea table is so pretty. I love the silver tray!...Christine

Cass @ That Old House said...

Oh Martha, what a perfect way to thank your dog-and-house helpers! Gorgeous table -- all the elements are there, and they are all "just right" for an afternoon tea.
And thanks for the recipe. If I ever bake another cake, I'll keep this one in mind -- it looks wonderful.

Tell Oliver he is just adorable. Have you seen the video online of the corgi opening the dog crate? Hilarious.

The Sewing and Knitting Loft said...

What a lovely tea you prepared for your friends. You have a way of making everything just right. Thanks for sharing.

L'Heure Bleue At Home said...

Your tea table is perfection! The candied pansies is such a unique touch. Thanks so much for dropping by L'Heure Bleue At Home.

Anonymous said...

So pretty Martha. The lilies are beautiful too.

The food looks delish! Those chocolate squares...oh my...! said...

Beautiful tea table.I use that chocolate cake recipe often, it can't be beat!Sweet Oliver reminds me of my late corgi that I miss terribly. I know he is so glad his family is home.

Tea & Chocolate Guy said...

Thank you so much for your visit ... what a wonderful way to treat and thank friends. I love a good tea party and yours had it all ... great food, and the set-up was breath taking... Oliver is tres adorable!! xo HHL

Maria said...

What an inviting table! The menu is just perfect! I like your Blue Spode. I love how you incorporate flowers and herbs into your menu. Just lovely!

black eyed susans kitchen said...

Swoon...such a lovely and elegant tea!! I am inspired!

afternoon tea said...

Thank you for leaving the message about the recipe for the chocolate sheet cake. I don't know how I missed the recipe, but then, my computer was acting up, dawdling and then jumping forward. And, no, it was the computer, I'm not at all impatient. ;)

Mid-Atlantic Martha said...

What a lovely and thoughtful thank you tea. Oliver looks so cute.

Monica @ Happily Playing with Dishes said...

What a great way to say thank you. It all looks so lovely.

Rosemary said...

Simply perfect! Loved all the photos and all the touches that were reminiscent of your recent stay in England. Your house/dog/mail sitters/neighbors were lucky to be treated to such a delightful afternoon tea!


How wonderful to thank the people that helped you while you were in England! That Oliver is a happy boy, wow! Next time I will mind your house, just call...hahaha...the menu sweets looks so very yummy, specially that sheet cake, I love your transfer ware. and the way you arranged your table covers! Lots of hugs, FABBY