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Sharing tea and stories (ITV)

Where has time gone? It is Tuesday and time to focus on tea and tales as one is want to do while sharing tea with friends. I am still coming down from the high of preparing an Edwardian menu for Master J’s birthday on Sunday. I was able to accomplish this without jello molds or puddings, so it can be done. Still a bit tired, but also a bit sad, feeling sentimental about how precious time with family is, how quickly children grow up.

Tea Time Ritual Recap

Whether you take tea for pleasure as a visiting tourist to the UK this year, or as a rising business star entertaining clients, proper manners are important. A little knowledge goes a long way, so this is a primer for you, and a recap for regular Tea Tuesday followers. Some higher end establishments may serve the tea meal in courses, but the tradition of the stacked tray still remains. The stacked tea tray is a trilogy of savouries, scones and sweets, and is generally organized in this manner:

  1. Top Level: The smaller top level holds the scones.
  2. Middle level should hold the sweets and fruits.
  3. Bottom level holds the savouries and finger sandwiches.

The order in which you eat from the tray is the order in which you normally eat your meal: savouries first, scones next and sweets last…UNLESS there are hot scones, and then the order changes to scones, savouries, then sweets.

I offer a new recipe each week, so check out and bookmark Online Guide to Afternoon Tea to keep up to date.

What’s New this Week

  • Downton Abbey Casting News: there is more below stairs casting news for Season 3. Another footman, named Jimmy, will be played by Ed Speleers of Aragon fame.
  • Downton Arby’s: A fun new parody is making the rounds online.
  • Books: Lord D and I just received our copy of Jessica Fellowes’ new book The World of Downton Abbey. Gorgeous photos and lovely stories about filming and the period. Jessica is Julian Fellowes’ niece but has written other books so this is not the work of an amateur. I will provide a review and some excerpts in future
  • Videos: If you would rather watch than read, I have added some great TV shows about the Edwardian era on my You Tube Channel. I discovered much of this content on Evangeline Holland’s channel, who blogs at Edwardian Promenade. She is an author of Edwardian fiction and knowledgeable about everything from that period.
  • Titanic Mini-Series Reviews are in: Canadians were given the first opportunity to view the first installment of Julian Fellowes’ Titanic Mini-series last week. I gave me indigestion to the point that I had to get up at 4:30 in the morning to write a review. It was aired in the UK on the week and British reviewers were equally unimpressed. “Despite these harsh words however, nearly seven million tuned into catch the show, and with the Telegraph’s Crompton promising ‘having seen part two, I can assure you it gets better,’ it may be able to negotiate its way through tricky waters yet.” I will follow the entire series out of duty, but really not looking forward to it.
  • Lady Ellen’s Excellent English Adventure: The power of the written word or tweet is not to be denied. Stay tuned for the extraordinary story of an American who read a tweet I shared about an event the luxury UK hotel Tylney Hall was hosting: luncheon with Lady Carnarvon. Not only did Ellen travel to Hook to attend the lunch, but was personally introduced to her Ladyship by the hotel organizers and treated like royalty. As Lady Mary would say, “I hope you don’t pay attention to anything I say. I never do”. I am actually glad Ellen didn’t. It was a trip of a lifetime.

Madeleines

Trio of todays madeleines: plain, chocolate and earl grey

I had been meaning to pay some attention to madeleines after the post we did a few weeks ago about tea etiquette, using Matthew’s manners as an example as a tea don’t. Yesterday, we acknowledged the great French chef Auguste Escoffier for his influence on Edwardian cuisine. The British may do Afternoon Tea well, but have had help from their neighbors across the pond in bringing the very best cuisine to their tables. It is not surprising, then that French influences creep onto the tea tray. Madeleines (Pronounced: mahd lehn) are little cake like cookies that are baked in special molds that give them a delicate shell shape. They date back to 1755 in the the court of Louis XV, reportedly prepared in honor of his father in-law’s cook Madeleine Paulmier. They are more famously linked to author Marcel Proust, who described them as “…little shell of cake, so generously sensual beneath the piety of its stern pleating.” He gave them quite a build up in his writing, sparking the imagination of gastronomes (foodies).

Madeleines sold at Starbucks

I do try to provide you with easy recipes which don’t require special equipment. You can make these without the special madeleine pans, spooning directly onto cookie sheets, but you really couldn’t call them madeleines.

Or you can skip the whole baking process and just pick up a small package at Starbucks and happily dunk the cookies into your coffee of choice. But today you will learn how to make them yourselves and today’s treat is dedicated to Lady Ellen who enjoyed warm madeleines in London just last week on her whirlwind adventure.

Healthy Madeleines de Proust

bouquet of madeleines: part cake part cookie, all love

Makes 24 cookies

  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup ground blanched almonds (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. grated orange zest
  • confectioners’ (icing sugar) for dusting
For Chocolate Madeleines
Replace almonds, lemon and orange zests with
  • 3 tbsp. dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 1 ounce (1 square) bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate, melted, cooled
Method
  1. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  2. Stir in the flour, almonds (if using), baking powder, and salt and beat for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, or until well blended.
  3. Stir in the honey, applesauce, and lemon and orange zests. If you are making chocolate version, omit the zests, stir in the cocoa powder and melted chocolate.
  4. Cover the batter with a piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours or up to 1 day.
  5. Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C, Gas Mark 3. Spray two 12-well madeleine pans with cooking oil. Dust with flour.
  6. Spoon 1 rounded tablespoon of the batter into each well. I have a handy little ice cream scoop which does the job quick nicely. They will be 2/3rds full.
  7. Bake the two trays in the upper and lower thirds of the oven, switching the positions of the pans halfway through baking, for 20 to 25 minutes total, or until golden around the edges.
  8. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack. Invert the pans to remove the cookies and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Earl Grey Imperial Madeleines

If you are in Paris, The Mariage Freres tearoom (30 Rue du Bourg-Tibourg) in the Marais district serves a lovely Earl Grey Madedleine. I have lightened it up a bit with applesauce and sugar substitute.

Makes 24 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 4 Earl Grey tea bags
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup superfine sugar (sugar substitute)
  • 1 cup unlbeached all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup honey

Method

  1. Heat the applesauce on low heat in a small saucepan.  Add the loose tea or tea bags and let sit for about 5 minutes.
  2. Press on the tea bags to extract maximum flavour. Discard the tea bags and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Stir the applesauce/tea mixture into the batter. Stir in the honey.
  5. Cover with piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate the batter for 3 to 4 hours or up to one day.
  6. Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C, Gas Mark 6.
  7. Spray two 12-well madeleine pans with cooking oil. Dust with flour.
  8. Spoon 1 rounded tablespoon of the batter into each well. I have a handy little ice cream scoop which does the job quick nicely. They will be 2/3rds full.
  9. Bake the two trays in the upper and lower thirds of the oven, switching the positions of the pans halfway through baking, for 10 to 12 minutes total, or until golden around the edges.
  10. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack. Invert the pans to remove the cookies and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Video: If you are more of a visual learner and would like a few extra tips or alternative ways to prepare, you may enjoy this YouTube video.

Tools of the Trade

While cooks in Downton’s era may not have had exactly the same type of kitchen gadgets, Victorian cooks did start the craze for creating a tool for each job in the kitchen, so I blame our ancestors for my obsession with collecting these time savers.

I do love the hunt in my local cooking stores, but you can order this stuff directly from Amazon so you have more time to watch Downton.

Madeleine Pan:  Choosing a non-stick pan makes your life a lot easier and your pan is not as likely to rust.

Amazon Image

Cookie Scoop:  A one tablespoon cookie scoop is a great way to measure accurately and great for making uniform sized cookies.

Amazon Image
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