As a lover of Downton Abbey, when friend Cynthia asked me if I would do a tea class at her shop, life+style, of course, I said "yes"!!!
We'd play off the Downton Abbey, we decided and do a real English tea.
And I wouldn't be teaching the class, but my alter ego, Mrs. Simkins. An American married to a Brit who worked for Lord and Lady Crowdly at Downtown Abbey.
With a long black skirt and blouse and a white pinafore apron and a little lace on my head, I was transformed into "Mrs. Simkins".
And for the class . . .
|A line of English cups and saucers|
No mugs here -- but rather cups and saucers. Do you recognize Linderhof's beloved blue and white?
|A menu for everyone!|
Real napkins, a teaspoon and a pastry fork and a menu of the tea foods to be served this evening.
A proper tea has a proper order . . .
First, sandwiches. Traditional cucumber sandwiches. Cucumbers thinly sliced and put in a colander with salt between layers and left to drain for about 15 minutes or so. Then they're dried and thinly sliced bread is buttered. The cucumbers put on top and salt and peppered (lightly salted), then a second slice of bread is buttered and put on top. The sandwiches are then trimmed of crusts and sliced into triangles.
Next scones. Traditional scones, cut into rounds. Fruit scones. Which means either currants or raisins. Ours had raisins. Not too big for it is tea time but not tiny either for it is tea time!
|Freshly made scones|
4 cups plus 1 T. flour
2 T. sugar plus extra for sprinkling
2 T. baking powder
2 t. kosher salt
3/4 pound cold butter, diced
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup cold heavy cream
3/4 c. raisins
1 egg beaten with 1 T. water for egg wash
Heat oven to 400.
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Blend in the cold butter until it is the size of peas. Mix eggs and cream together. Add to dry mixture. Combine the raisins with 1 T. flour. Add to dough. Pat out about 3/4 to 1 inch thick. For real English scones, cut into rounds. For American scones, cut into squares and then into triangles. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silpat. Brush the scones with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 inutes until the outsides are crisp and the insides are done.
|Lemon drizzle slab cake|
Lemon Drizzle Cake
1 1/2 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 cup plain yogurt
1 1/3 c. sugar, divided
3 extra large eggs
2 t. grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/2 t. vanilla
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/3 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the Glaze:
1 c. powdered sugar
2 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment. Grease and flour the pan.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 c. lemon juice and the remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.
When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.
For the glaze, combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cake.
|Individual chocolate orange tarts|
Make your favorite recipe tart shell (or use refrigerated crusts). If you have a tartlet pan, put the crusts into that. If not, you can tamp them down into mini muffin tins. Use a small box of instant chocolate pudding. Add 1/4 c. Grand Marnier to a measuring cup and then add milk to make 2 cups. Pour into chocolate pudding and stir until it starts to thicken. You can also add the grated zest of 1 orange before you add the liquid. Let pudding mixture set until it's solid and then put it in the pre baked tart shells. Top with a bit of an orange, if desired.
|coffee and walnut cake|
Coffee and Walnut Cake
1/2 c. walnut pieces
1 1/8 c. sugar
1 c. butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 c. flour
4 t. instant espresso powder 9if you can't find it you can use regular instant coffee but make it double strength)
2 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1 - 2 tablespoons milk (or more if needed)
For the frosting:
2 1/4 c. powdered sugar, sifted
5 T. butter at room temperature
2 T. heavy cream
a few drops of vanilla
1 T. instant espresso mixed with 2 T. boiling water
Preheat oven to 350. Butter 2 cake tins and line the base of each with baking parchment.
Put the walnut pieces in a food processor and blitz to a fine nutty powder. Add the buyer, flour 4 t. espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda and eggs and process to a smooth batter. Add the milk, pouring it down the funnel with the motor running, or just pulsing, to loosen the cake mixture. If should be soft, dropping consistency, so add more milk, if needed. Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake it in the oven for 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool in the tins for a few minutes before turning out onto a rack.
When the sponges are cool, make the buttercream. Pulse the icing sugar in the food processor to remove any lumps and then add the butter and process to make a smooth icing. Dissolve the instant espresso powder in 1 T. of boiling water and add it while still hot to the processor, pulsing to blend into the buttercream.
Turn one cake over and decorate with cream. Top with second layer. Cover the top of the cake with the rest of the icing and gently press the walnut halves into the top of the icing all around the edges to make a pretty pattern.
Note: The Brits only frost their cakes between layers and on top -- not on the sides.
|The tea table|
The tea table, laden with food and 3 kinds of Devonshire Cream for the scones -- or actually, whatever else you want to put it on!
|Hats and gloves were "optional" but most guests wore them.|
The guests came complete with hats and gloves!
|I love pictures of the "after" table!|
And they ate -- three scones left, a few sandwiches and tarts. We refilled the tray once and this was what was left of the second tray!
A good time was had by all. Mrs. Simkins was a big hit and she may return. She is available for private classes. Just call Cynthia at life+style to arrange. Mrs. "S" would be glad to cross the pond to share more of her knowledge of tea! And tea treats!
We're anxiously awaiting Downton Abbey but alas, I guess it will be January before it will air. I'm told that this fall it will be on BBC in England. It is, perhaps, a reason to go back, don't you think?
It's Friday and I'm joining Michael at Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday.