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On a budget?  The Radissson

Penny pinching in January? The afternoon tea at London’s Grafton is only £15.

Welcome back Downton Abbey fans to Tea Tuesday.  Time to get back into our normal routines.   One of my favorites is sharing a tea recipe with you and talking Downton. Lord D likes it too since he is my official taster.

Each Tuesday I dish on Downton Abbey and other topical issues one might discuss at tea, served up with a recipe with history. You may find my Online Guide to Afternoon Tea helpful in understanding traditions and recipes to serve at your own tea party.  Today’s treat is Banbury tarts. 

My New Book:  Abbey Cooks Entertain

Written by a fan for fans, I think you will find something to tempt you amongst the 220 recipes I have included in this book.  It is a labour of love which I hope will inspire you  to become head cook in your own Abbey.  Your comments have inspired me to share the best foods of that era which we still eat today, making adjustments to make many a bit healthier, but just as tasty.

There are a couple of other Downton cookbooks out there, but mine has twice as many recipes, and pictures which the others don’t.  The book is also organized by specific types of entertaining in your own Abbey:  brunch, afternoon tea, servants hall, garden parties, dinner parties, cocktails, and holidays.

This 432 page ebook sells for only $7.95.  You can only get a signed copy HERE on my site.  If you don’ have an eReader I would suggest the PDF version which can be printed if you like.  Sending as a gift?  Order as many copies as you need and simply forward the email download link to your friend(s), just as you would gift music.

If you need more convincing that this is a great book, check out the Washington Post article in which I was featured, as well as other articles from around the country on my Press Page.  Recently I received an excited tweet from @Bixbees on Twitter, saying I had made it in her home town of Boise, Idaho!

Dishing Downton

Season 3 as depicted by the talented Downton Abbey PR team.
  • Downton Days are back in the US:  Season Three finally launched on Masterpiece in America, the first week with a double dose of episodes.
  • Golden Globe for Downton: Maggie Smith won a Golden Globe this weekend for her role as Violet. It was hard to channel surf as E3 of Downton was being broadcast at the same time over on PBS.
    • Michelle Dockery didn’t win in her category at the Golden Globes,  but looked lovely in a gold and white gown.
  • Season 4 is a Go:  You may already know by now that Downton has been confirmed for Season 4.
  • Maggie is back for Season 4: What you may not have heard is that the Maggie Smith is returning for Season 4.  Other actors, however, won’t be back.
  • Wednesdays are Downton Days in Canada:  If you live in Canada and haven’t seen any episodes, Vision TV is broadcasting episodes each week starting at the  beginning through to Season 3.  I am thrilled to have been asked to write their Weekly Downton Dish column which will recap each episode and provide a tasty dish for enjoying the next.
  • Keep on Pinning: If you pin, remember to pin your favorite dishes from Downton Abbey’s Official Eat, Drink and Be Merry Pinterest page which I moderate.

Banbury Tarts

tea treats for 1

A lovely little tea tray treat

Banbury Tarts are a traditional tea treat named after the town of Banbury, Oxfordshire in England. There are regional variations of this classic tart, some calling for raisins, others with figs, candied peel or currants and walnuts.  These tarts, like treacle tart, will remind Canadians of our beloved butter tarts.  Considering Canada was a British colony, my guess is that the butter tart recipe is simply the Banbury tart paired down to raisins (and or walnuts) and then renamed.   After the holidays I am a bit tired of peel and currants, so this version is just with raisins.  The reason my pie pastry recipe comes in handy is so that I have extra on hand in the fridge or freezer to quickly roll out and use.

Makes 24 tartlets perfect for tea, or 12 larger muffin sized tarts for snacking.  You will yield more tarts if your shell is more shallow.


  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 1½ cups brown sugar
  • 1½ cups raisins (you may wish to rough chop if you are making tartlets)
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 portion my pie pastry


  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Roll dough out to 1/8″ thickness.  Use a 2″ biscuit/scone cutter (or empty tomato paste can) to make the mini tarts, a 4″ cutter (or empty tuna can) for the larger muffin size.
  3. Combine butter, brown sugar, honey, sale and vanilla. Heat over low heat.
  4. Whip up eggs until foamy and add to the butter mixture, along with raisins.
  5. Fill shells ½ full so the shells do not overflow, but Lord D loves the sticky bits that bubble over so I often indulge him on his point.
  6. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes.
  7. The tarts freeze really well.