another cup of downton tea with chocolate madeleines

downton-abbey-cooking-scene-with-earthenware-bowls
Daisy and Mrs. Patmore teach Lady Sybil how to make a cake in happier days (ITV photo).

If, like me, you’re a Downton Abbey fan still reeling from the tragic events of this past Sunday’s Episode 4 and are in dire need of comfort, you’ve come to the right place.

There now, have a nice cup of tea and we’ll talk.

HOW COULD THEY??!!

Lady Sybil was my favorite Crawley sister, and as Mrs. Hughes said, “The sweetest spirit under this roof is gone.” I’ll certainly miss her progressive thinking, optimism and open-hearted goodness. The episode was a painful reminder of how powerless even upper class women were when it came to critical medical decisions. Who knows a patient better than her lifelong physician? Who knows a child better than her own mother? And what about a husband’s right to decide what happens to his wife?

Downton Abbey Joss Barratt Photographer
Jessica Brown-Findlay as Lady Sybil and Allen Leech as Tom Branson (Carnival Film & Television, Ltd., 2012)

All of it is hard for us to fathom, but probably one of the reasons we’re so enthralled and fascinated by the series. The old class system, the pecking order whether you’re upstairs or down, the oppression, hypocrisy, intrigue, devious plotting and power plays all make for great entertainment. Wait a minute . . . we have a lot of those things going on these days, too. Maybe, like me, you secretly wish you had a household staff at your bidding? While I don’t need the fancy clothes, I’d be really happy with Mrs. Patmore and Daisy in my kitchen.🙂

My only consolation this week is that Downton Abbey won a  2013 SAG Award for Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series! Regardless of what you may think about plausible or implausible plot points, surely you agree that the series is well acted and directed. In my limited sphere of experience, I’ve noted that British actors seem more humble and less “movie star-stuck-on-themselves” than some American actors — very refreshing!

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abbey cooks cover bigAnyway, as I mentioned last week, I was keen to try a recipe from the Abbey Cooks Entertain eBook by Pamela Foster. I like all the introductory notes and information about Edwardian cooking and entertaining — much the same as you’d get from reading Pamela’s excellent Downton Abbey Cooks blog.

Though the Edwardians were known for their lavish multi-course meals and culinary excess as a symbol of wealth and influence, Pamela was wise to update recipes from period cookbooks and newspaper clippings with an eye towards healthier eating for modern times.

There are 220 recipes and color photos which provide suggestions for entertaining at brunch, afternoon tea, cocktails, and dinner upstairs and down. In addition, there is a selection of recipes to host a traditional garden party, and to celebrate English holidays throughout the year. Finally, taking a page from the country house cooks of the era, there is a section which provides a number of base recipes to help stock your larder.

To go with my comfort tea, I decided to try Chocolate Madeleines. We have to thank renowned French chef Auguste Escoffier for his influence on Edwardian cuisine. Though we tend to think of Afternoon Tea as a veddy British thing, what would the tea tray be without French treats like madeleines, truffles, éclairs, and financiers along with cream scones, eccles cakes, and parkins?

Pamela’s recipe calls for applesauce and honey with only 1/2 cup of sugar. Since I opted for the chocolate version, I omitted the lemon and orange zest and ground almonds from the original recipe and substituted Dutch process cocoa and bittersweet chocolate. I also used x-large eggs instead of the large eggs specified, which likely made my batter more liquid-y than it should have been, but it still baked up nicely.

I admit to missing the heavenly flavor of butter, hallmark of all my favorite recipes, but those of you seeking to lessen the guilt in favor of a low fat alternative will appreciate these. Next time I will bump up the bittersweet chocolate for a more intense chocolate flavor. (You chocoholics know just what I’m talking about.)

With each madeleine I savored,  a “remembrance of things past” — well, maybe, just the earlier episodes when Sybil was healthy and happy — flooded my mind. I love that she wanted to learn how to make a cake to surprise her mother. Remember when she shocked everyone in the drawing room wearing those baggy trousers? She wasn’t afraid to embrace change, challenge the status quo, and let love influence her decisions. Her experience as a nurse taught her that in the face of tragedy, all men, regardless of status, are equal. And who else could reduce the seemingly self-serving Thomas to tears upon her death?

Apparently, even the DA cast was profoundly affected by Sybil’s deathbed scene (feel free to indulge in another Rob James-Collier swoon):

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Please, have more tea and madeleines. We need to steel ourselves for more Crawley drama next week. You can find the Chocolate Madeleines recipe online at Downton Abbey Cooks, as well as order a signed copy of Abbey Cooks Entertain!

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weekend cooking button (2)180This post is being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts. Put on your best bib and come join the fun!

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Copyright © 2013 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

47 thoughts on “another cup of downton tea with chocolate madeleines

  1. So happy you have already found a great recipe (there are too many) and you can’t do any better than madeleines with chocolate! Thank you so much for helping to promote the book. It is available on Amazon and Kobo, but you can only get signed copies from my website, also available in printable PDF format.

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  2. Hi Pamela!

    I’m anxious to try more of the recipes, especially the tea treats. I’ve always been curious about treacle tarts. Used to see golden syrup all the time when I lived in London, but never used it. There’s a shop not too far from home that sells British food that I hope to visit soon.

    I was so carried away by the chocolate madeleines that I forgot to include a link to your eBook order page — just added it.🙂 Thanks so much for your beautiful blog; love all the recipes and food history and of course, the neverending Downton love!

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  3. sniff…sniff. Thank you for the tea and comfort.

    I think they have to free Bates in the finale because there must be SOMETHING uplifting about this season. *dabs tears*

    Thank you, I will have another madeleine, or two.

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    1. I should have seen Sybil’s death coming, but I didn’t and it was so shocking. The reaction downstairs was even sadder than upstairs and really showed how people in service were family to each other and how emotionally connected some were to their employers.

      I hear we’ll have to wait two weeks for the next episode because of the Super Bowl?

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    1. You must start watching, Linda! I’m just sorry there have been some spoilers in these posts. Perhaps you should skip over my words and just look at the food pics if I do any more Downton posts.

      I’m pretty sure you’ll get hooked almost immediately. Try to rent Seasons 1 and 2 if you can to start at the very beginning🙂.

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    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one to have been hit hard by this whole thing. Blind-sided! I usually watch each episode several times, but don’t know if I can go through this again.

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    1. It’s a wonderful series set in a country estate in turn of the century England, about the Crawley family and their staff of servants. Might not be your cup of tea just yet . . .🙂

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  4. I said to my husband that Lady Sybil no doubt had a film offer she couldn’t pass up…or so I hope. She was lovely, lovely and I’ll miss her dreadfully.

    My favorite part:

    Mary: [Sybil] was the only person living who thought you and I were such nice people.

    Edith: Oh, Mary. Do you think we might get along a little better in the future?

    Mary: I doubt it. But since this is the last time we three will all be together in this life, let’s love each other now as sisters should.

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    1. Sigh — yes, such wonderful moments, and also when Thomas acknowledges that Sybil was one of the few who’d ever been kind to him . . .

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  5. I was in a state of shock – she was my favorite Grantham. I thought it especially lovely the way the downstairs staff reacted – her kindness was noted. Sigh.

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  6. Oh I’m going to sob all over again. Sooooo upsetting. Really? How could they?

    I love citrus with chocolate so I’d keep the zest. But either way, I would not turn down a madeleine. What a fun cookbook. I’m going to have to add it to my collection.

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    1. That would be interesting to leave the citrus in — maybe I’ll do that next time🙂. Pamela’s book has a lot of good recipes and color photos!!

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  7. I was very sad — I much appreciate these chocolate madeleines and the beautiful tea settings as a source of comfort. And I like that they have the little healthy touches so I’m not feeling too guilty about them.

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    1. Quite a few of the baked treats call for applesauce instead of butter. This is a big help to those of us who love baking but are watching our calories and fat. After all — one *must* eat something with our tea, right?

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    1. Yes, you’re right — Lady Carlyle. I bought a tea set when I lived in London back in the early 80’s. So many of my favorite patterns have been discontinued. It’s exciting to find a few pieces on Ebay or other secondary markets now and again.🙂

      Thanks for the link — I’d wanted to learn more about pre-eclampsia.

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  8. You know, Sybil’s death was the one spoiler I accidentally stumbled upon before the season started… and I was still unprepared. The madeleines would surely be a comfort. Lovely photos!

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  9. I’ve never made madeleines and don’t have a proper tray, but I love to eat them when I’m out and about – and this chocolate version looks lovely!

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  10. I ma so glad you posted this book review and the madelines. I have a new Madeline pan (my son got it for me for Christmas) and have been wanting to use it. This looks sooooo good!

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  11. Not reading all of your post as I am at the beginning of my Downton Abbex experience,🙂. But the chocolate madeleiens look and sound super yummy!

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  12. I am looking forward to tonight’s episode after last week’s upset. Lady Sybil was my very favorite; she was the perfect balance between Mary and Edith plus such a progressive. Your madeleines look delicious. I will have to add the baking dish to my wish list.

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    1. Hope you make these sometime! Yes, you need to get a pan.🙂

      It will certainly be interesting to see what happens to the baby and what impact Sybil’s death has on the entire household.

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  13. Ok, I confess I haven’t read your entire post because I’m only in my 4th or 5th episode of Downton Abbey Season 1. I know, I know. I should catch up soon. Husband didn’t quite take to it, so I have to squeeze in pockets of time on my own to watch it. Perhaps when I visit Manila again in two weeks’ time, I can watch this while not too busy at the hotel.🙂

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    1. Yes, you’re wise to avoid the spoilers in this post. I kind of envy you still having all those great episodes ahead of you. Savor them one by one and drink lots of tea while doing so.🙂

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