Monthly Archives: June 2011

Two Classic English Tea Cakes

If you’re a regular reader, it comes as no surprise that we are big fans of the English tea tradition and especially tea with sweets. This week’s focus is on a few of our favorite classic English tea cake recipes: Victoria Sandwich Cake and Battenburg Cake. We hope you’ll give them a try and share your results with us!

Victoria Sandwich Cake

Victoria Sandwich Cake, or Victoria Sponge Cake, is said to have been named after Queen Victoria who favored this cake with her afternoon tea. The first known recipe was printed in an 1874 edition of Mrs. Beeton’s Cookery and Household Management.

The cake is made up of two layers of sponge cake with any seedless jam or marmalade and whipped cream in the middle. When cake is sandwiched with jam only, it is called a Jam Cake.

Battenburg Cake

Battenburg Cake has been reported as the wedding cake created for the 1884 marriage of Queen Victoria’s granddaughter to Louis of Battenberg, a German prince. The four squares of its unique checkerboard design represent the four princes of Germany at that time.

The cake is actually quite charming. It consists of two square sections of pink sponge cake put together with two square sections of yellow sponge cake. The sections are “glued” together with apricot jam and wrapped in a layer of marzipan.

Below you’ll find links to classic English recipes and tips for these delicious cakes. We admit the recipes are extra work. However, once you’ve done it, the results are worth the effort!

Tips:

– A kitchen scale will be helpful, since ingredients are often weighed out instead of measured in English recipes.

– Castor sugar is superfine sugar. You can make it by whirling granulated white sugar in your food processor to a finer consistency.

– Golden castor sugar is less refined. You can make an acceptable equivalent by whirling Turbinado, Raw or Demerara sugar in  your food processor to a fine consistency. You can also substitute regular granulated white sugar as noted above.

– For Victoria Sandwich Cake, whipped cream or buttercream frosting may be used in the filling. We prefer whipped cream and seedless raspberry or apricot jam.

– A 190 C oven is about 375 degrees F, a 180 C oven is about 350 degrees F, a 170 C oven is about 325 degrees F.  A 160 C oven is between 325-300 degrees F. American sponge cake recipes bake at 350 degrees F. We recommend trying both recipes at 350 F the first time, but keep a close eye on it as actual oven temperatures vary.

– A Battenburg Cake Pan is helpful when making this cake. They appear to be available only from England.  See an Amazon UK listing for this product by clicking on the above highlighted link.

Victoria Sandwich Cake Recipe:

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1997/classic-victoria-sandwich

Battenburg Cake Recipe:

 http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1120657/battenberg-cake

Are you planning a tea party? You’re invited to visit Teapots ‘n More and browse our latest selection of bone china teapots, tea accessories, tea cups, tea miniatures and english bone china tea sets.

Advertisements

Rediscovering Marty Bell

Three Pots of Daisies

As a child, three small paintings were artistically displayed in our kitchen. They were floral subjects on pieces of distressed wood: three pots of white daisies, a yellow rose tree and a close up of yellow daisies. These art pieces were special to my mom because they had been painted by a friend.

Years later as a new bride, my husband and I came upon an art display at a local mall. Romantic English cottages and victorian ladies were showcased. The flowers in one particular print caught my eye. They reminded me of those kitchen paintings and, feeling nostalgic, we went to find the artist. I was surprised to find she was my mother’s friend, but now more accomplished and growing in popularity. She remembered me, of course, and said she wanted to paint my face. I demured thinking she was just being kind. It was 1982 and this was the day we purchased our first Marty Bell.

The Gamekeepers Cottage

Marty Bell found her love for art early in life, but she found her high school art teachers didn’t offer the support and direction she wanted. In her words, “Our teachers would ask us to draw still lifes, like a broken tricycle or a baseball bat. These have their place, but who would want them on their wall forever? I would work with that for awhile and then I would start playing on my own with the paints. This is where I would get into trouble.”

After marrying and starting a family, she picked up art classes again. Her first teacher really encouraged individual creativity and eventually Marty started her own art school. In 1974, after traveling throughout England, Marty painted a few English scenes which promptly sold. From that point on, her life was not the same. Many paintings were selling even before she could complete them and what began as a hobby, had become a thriving art business. Her creations were sought by collectors, decorators and design firms. She gained international popularity and is considered the premiere painter of the English countryside.

Shefield Roses

With her passion for beauty, color and style, Marty Bell was a prolific and influential artist. Her work has been internationally collected and she enjoyed the respect of both her peers and fine art collectors. In her lifetime, Marty painted more than 3,000 oil paintings ranging from old English cottages and California landscapes to impressionistic pieces and colorful still lifes.

Her artistic vision continues to appeal to fine art collectors evoking a blend of warmth & nostalgia as attractive today as it was 35+ years ago. Those original three small paintings still hang, artistically displayed, in my mother’s kitchen and I still love my own Marty Bell prints.

Now, we invite you to rediscover the art of Marty Bell.

Miss Elizabeth’s Door

 

Are you interested in fine English bone china teapots and tea sets? You’re invited to visit Teapots ‘n More and browse our beautiful selection.

Tea Bag Folding

Tea Bag Medallion, picture by Paperfacets

For our “crafty” friends, we came across a charming idea using tea bag papers. It’s called Tea Bag Folding: a combination of origami type folds with tea bag papers to create lovely medallions and rosettes. One happy caution: Tea Bag Folding is a whole world unto itself!

We can see many applications for these artistic creations such as decorations for thank you cards, invitations or book marks. How about using tea bag medallions as decorations for your tea table or maybe have a lesson in tea bag folding as an ice breaker for your tea party? You could even create a tea bag folding starter kit as a home made hostess gift!

Bookmark Ideas, picture by Paperfacets

We’ve included a few trusted links to some very well done articles on Tea Bag Folding with lots of examples, history, beginner lessons, patterns, paper purchasing tips and other resources. We hope you enjoy our discovery and will share some of your creations and ideas with us!

Tea Bag Folding and Pattern Instructions

Websites for the Craft of Tea Bag Folding

Tea Bag Folding Butterfly Card

Tea Bag Folding for Children and Beginners

Are you planning a tea party? You’re invited to visit Teapots ‘n More and browse our latest selection of teapots, tea accessories, teacups, tea miniatures and elegant tea sets.

Almond Lover’s Scone Recipe

Almond Lover's Scones

We present for your baking & eating pleasure, our new Almond Scone recipe featuring marzipan, almonds and almond extract. Serve them with clotted cream and cherry preserves, pear conserve, orange marmalade or even Nutella!

Almond Lover’s Scones

Makes 24 small scones, 1 1/4 inch (our favorite size) or 10-12 scones, 2 inch or 8-12 wedges.

2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder (Yes, that is a Tablespoon.)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. almond extract
8 Tbsp. butter
8 Tbsp. (4 fl. oz.) milk
1/2 c. marzipan or almond paste, diced small
4 Tbsp. sliced almonds, divided in half, crushed small using fingers
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar for topping

Almond & Sugar Mixture

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sift together first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. 

Make Ahead Option #1: At this point, you can turn the oven off and seal this mix in an airtight container (such as a plastic bag) and store for up to 6 months in a cool, dry place. When ready to use, place mix in a large bowl and proceed with step 2. You’ll have tea & scones within a 1/2 hour if you multi-task on the tea. 🙂

2. Cut butter into dry ingredients until approximately the size of peas. Add the diced marzipan and two Tbsp. of the sliced & crushed almonds. In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining 2 Tbsp. of almonds and 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar.

Flour Mix with Marzipan & Almonds

3. Measure out milk and add in almond extract. Pour the almond milk  into dry mix and stir to moisten. Dough should be moist enough to form a soft ball, but not sticky. If needed, additional milk may be added 1-2 teaspoons at a time.

4.  Turn dough onto a lightly floured cutting board and press out with hand to approximately 1/2 inch thickness. Tip: Do not knead dough and use as little flour as possible to keep the dough from sticking to the board.

Cutting out the scones

5. Cut into desired shapes and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Lightly brush tops with milk if desired. Sprinkle with previously prepared almond & sugar mix, reserving some for a second dusting after the scones are baked. Tip: If using a biscuit cutter or glass, dip the cutting edge in flour first.

Make Ahead Option #2: At this point, place your scones on a cookie sheet and freeze. When completely frozen, wrap scones well in plastic wrap and foil. Well wrapped scones will keep at least one month. When ready to use, proceed to step six, using frozen scones. Do not thaw first. You’ll have scones in about 20 minutes! 😀

Almond Scones ready to bake

6. Bake for 10-20 minutes depending on size. The 1 1/4 inch scone will be done in approximately 10-13 minutes. Scones are done when lightly golden and the center springs back. Sprinkle again with remaining almond sugar mix while scones are still hot for visual appeal. Best served within 1 day of baking with butter or clotted cream and jam. Store in airtight container if serving later in the day. Tip: When baking, start checking your scones at the minimum baking time. You can always bake longer, but overdone is ruined.

Are you planning a tea party? You’re invited to visit Teapots ‘n More and browse our latest selection of bone china teapots, tea accessories, tea cups, tea miniatures and english bone china tea sets.