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.
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!!!
CHOCOLATE CAKE SQUARES WITH SUGARED PANSIES
(OR THE CAKE FORMERLY KNOWN AS TEXAS SHEET CAKE)
2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 cup butter
1/3 c. cocoa
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 t. vanilla
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.