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Recipe

  • Tea Cakes!

    Nothing goes better with a cup of tea than a few tea cakes. Long a favorite around the globe, tea cakes are a sweet treat enjoyed by adults and children alike. Different countries and customs have different styles of cakes, but the tea cakes we're most familiar with resemble small versions of traditional cakes, but designed to be a light tea complemented by hot black or grey tea.

    TEA CAKE CREATIONS

    There are all manners of tea cakes from those resembling simple cookies to more ornate petit fours. Often the cakes are created with a small bit of batter or dough left over from larger baking projects, but the best tea cakes are created from scratch with intent to make a delicious morning or afternoon treat.

    MAKING TEA CAKES

    To make tea cakes, you don't need a great deal of time, just some basic ingredients, especially if you want to create the most simplistic, old-fashioned tea cakes. To begin your baking project, gather the following ingredients:

    • 1 cup butter, softened
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 2 tablespoons buttermilk
    • 3 eggs
    • 5 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • You'll also need a stand or hand mixer as well as an extra bowl on the ready.

    Put the butter into the mixing bowl and cream. While beating the butter, gradually add sugar. Once the sugar is blended into the butter, add eggs on at a time and continue to beat. Next, pour in the buttermilk and beat the mixture until smooth. Put this creamed mixture aside.

    In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, combine the flour and baking soda. Then slowly add the flour mixture into the large mixing bowl stirring slowly to ensure smoothness and minimal messes. Finally, add the vanilla and stir.

    The dough will need to chill for hours, possibly overnight. To roll and cut the tea cakes, you'll need firm dough, so it is far better to wait a bit than try to work with dough that is too soft.

    When your dough is firm enough, roll it to 1/4 inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough into circles using a biscuit cutter or cookie cutter. The ideal size should be about 3 1/2 inches in diameter. Place each cake onto a greased cookie sheet and sprinkle each cake with sugar.

    Bake the cakes at 400 degrees for 7-8 minutes until the edges are a light brown. Before serving, remove the cookies and let them cool completely.

    SERVING TEA CAKES

    The old fashioned tea cakes you've created have been served for generations in households across the United States and England. To serve the cakes properly, you should arrange them on a piece of serving ware along with other small food items such as tea sandwiches and fruit and pour yourself a cup of hot tea. Then you can sit back and enjoy your afternoon snack in the way it was intended.

  • Cucumber Tea Sandwiches

    Long a classic of teas and subdued receptions, cucumber tea sandwiches have a history as rich as their flavor. If you're planning a quiet afternoon tea or simply want to try something a bit different next time you're asked to bring a dish, cucumber sandwiches are simple to prepare and bring along.

    Of course, you must remember the proper form and allotment when making tea sandwiches. You should plan for each guest to have four to six cut sandwiches and your sandwiches should be beautiful and tasty.

    Always use the best bread possible and never serve end slices. The bread used for any tea sandwich should be soft and delicious, although freezing the bread before using it during the preparations of the sandwich will make it a bit easier to handle. As it defrosts, the slices will become soft again.

    Tea sandwiches are delicate and light, so be sure to cut the completed sandwich into thirds or quarters. Once the filling is complete, always remove the crusts. You should also always spread unsalted butter lightly inside each piece of bread to ensure your sandwich is prepared properly.

    To prepare cucumber tea sandwiches, gather the following ingredients:

    • 1/2 seedless cucumber
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature or mayonaise
    • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped watercress leaves
    • 16 slices of high-quality white bread
    • 1/2 cup alfalfa sprouts or radishes
    • Salt

    Begin by peeling the cucumber and then slicing it into extremely thin slices. You should have about 32 individual slices of cucumber when you're finished slicing. Place the cucumber slices between two paper towels while you move on to the next step. The paper towels will help to remove any excess moisture.

    Combine butter (or mayo) and watercress in a small bowl. Blend as smoothly as possible and then spread a thin layer of the mixture on each slice of bread. Butter only one side of each slice. Place 8 slices of buttered bread in a row. Put the other 8 aside for now.

    On each of the 8 buttered slices, place four cucumber slices. Arrange the slices with one in each corner of the bread to make cutting easier. You should have four slices of cucumber per piece of bread.

    Sprinkle each piece of bread with salt according to taste and then place one tablespoon of alfalfa sprouts onto each. Retrieve the other 8 slices of buttered bread and carefully place one, buttered side down, onto each of the prepared slices.

    Use a long sharp knife to cut away the crusts on each of the sandwiches. Then cut the large sandwiches into triangles or squares to make them petite and dainty - the way tea sandwiches should be.

    Finally, arrange the sandwiches on an attractive platter or tiered serving tray. You can garnish the serving tray with grapes or parsley for added flair, or simply serve the sandwiches as they are positioned.

    One thing is certain, however. When you pour a cup of hot tea, a cool cucumber sandwich will be a wonderful snack alongside it.

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