I’ve long been a big fan of illustrated cookbooks, often adding them to my collection without ever intending to make any of the recipes. I’m content to ooh and ahh over the beautiful art, happily satisfying my visual cravings.
But since we’re all about tea and England this winter, I thought it would be nice to try something from Tea and Cake: Recipes for the Perfect Afternoon Tea (Hardie Grant, 2011), which features the lovely watercolor and paper collage work of London-based illustrator Emma Block.
Emma was actually commissioned by the publisher to do the illustrations while in her last year at university; the recipes themselves were created by a team of recipe writers whose names, oddly enough, do not appear on the cover of the book. But Emma’s name is there, front and center, and she definitely deserves the spotlight, because it is her work that really makes this book shine.
An avid baker and tea lover herself, she’s graced the pages with her gentle and genteel depictions of classic teatime treats like cucumber sandwiches, tartlets, sponge cakes, cookies and scones, as well as trending temptations like cake pops, whoopie pies, and cupcakes. The muted palette, pretty florals and sweet touches of lace give the book a feminine, relaxed feel, and you can easily imagine yourself dreamily sipping PG Tips and reaching for another Viennese biscuit.
After carefully reading through all the recipes — there are chapters devoted to Sandwiches and Savouries, Cakes to Share, Baby Cakes, Cupcakes and Scones; Biscuits, Buns and Slices; Petite Pastries, Cake Pops, Whoopie Pies and Macaroons; and Grown-up Drinks (yes, boozy tea!) — I decided to go with the classic Lemon Teacake.
I basically love lemon anything; its fresh citrus-y scent is bright and uplifting, and its tangy flavor wakes up the taste buds in the best possible way.
This recipe reminded me of the Lemon Bread I used to make years ago, except it calls for both self-rising and all purpose flour. It was nice to see both Imperial and Standard U.S. measurements for all the ingredients, and oven settings for both electric and gas ovens.
I did stumble over “7-3/4 oz. butter,” but with a devil-may-care attitude, rounded it up to 8 oz. (2 sticks). Once my mustached leprechaun sous chef grated the rinds of two lemons and squeezed out 1/4 cup of lemon juice, I was good to go.
It may have been rainy and dreary outside, but inside my mixing bowl, the sunny yellows of butter, lemon rind and egg yolks cheered me up. Do I have to tell you how good this baby smelled while baking? Butter and lemon, lemon and butter, marry me, please.
Mr. Cornelius gobbled up his share of teacake with a warm cuppa (he went for Fortnum and Mason’s English Breakfast). We paged through Emma’s lovely pictures again, mentioning how excited we were that she’s agreed to stop by Alphabet Soup for a chat sometime soon.
Do try this recipe — the teacake is light with a moist tender crumb, and I don’t think that extra 1/4 oz. of butter hurt one teensy bit. Mmmmm, lemons!
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(makes one 9″x 5″ loaf, serves 6-8)
2 sticks softened butter
3/4 cup sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
grated zest of 2 lemons
1-1/3 cups self-rising flour
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup lemon juice
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add lemon zest. Add eggs one at a time, allowing each to be incorporated before adding the next. Stir in flour and lemon juice and keep stirring until well blended.
3. Spoon batter into greased and lined loaf tin (9-1/4″ x 5″ x 2-3/4″). Sprinkle with a little sugar and bake for 1 hour, or until skewer inserted in center comes out clean.
4. Allow to cool before removing and cutting.
TIPS: lemons left at room temperature yield more juice; do not overbeat the batter after adding flour and lemon juice.
~ Adapted from Tea and Cake (Hardie Grant, 2011)
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TEA AND CAKE: Recipes for the Perfect Afternoon Tea
recipes by Allan Campion, Michele Curtis and Deborah Kaloper
illustrated by Emma Block
published by Hardie Grant Books, 2011
Cookbook with 50+ recipes, 128 pp.
*Includes planning and brewing tips
**Other tempting recipes I’d like to try:
- Ricotta Tart
- Baby Orange and Almond Cakes
- Chelsea Buns
- Chocolate Tarts with Raspberries
- The Naughty Earl (well, why not? :))
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Copyright © 2014 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.