Summer Tea Parties
Summer’s here. Don’t tell the English weather though. As soon as it hears the rain will come. It’s like “hello July, hello torrential rain.”
So let’s talk hush hush.
I’ve got some great ideas for a summer’s day afternoon tea party. It’s the high-class picnic and all the better for it.
Once you say something’s a tea party, it means a lot less savoury and a lot more cream, scones and cakes. Since it’s summer and that means warm we are talking pimms and elderflower cordial for refreshments. Of course for the diehards hot tea will be served.
So let’s start with the Victoria Sponge. A fruity little number for sure.
Swiftly moving on to the all important scone. Traditional. Jam. Clotted Cream.
Or something a little more creative. That’s pumpkin and maple syrup scones. Butter. Marmalade.
Let’s not forget the under-18s. They tend to have a very strong preference for these.
These chewy chunky blondies might also make a good addition. They have walnuts, coconut and butterscotch in them. In case you were wondering.
Add some latte cupcakes and throw in some cucumber sandwiches (no crusts please, we’re British) and I think you have an exceptionally memorable afternoon tea. The mad hatter might even turn up!
So where’s the chocolate and strawberry layer cake you’re asking. Well that’s best saved for a rainy day.
Chocolate and Strawberry Layer Cake
This cake was inspired by The Ginger Snap Girl, aka Gloria, and her dessert filled Mother’s Day “tea” party. Like me (and my family) nothing says I love you like something sweet. In this case Gloria took her mother’s love of chocolate and strawberries and turned it into a cake. I made her Sturdy Whipped Cream Frosting but decided to use my “go-to” the chocolate cake recipe that never lets me down. It’s from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours.
For the Cake:
2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled (optional)
Preheat oven 350 degrees. Butter and line two or three 9 inch tins.
In a medium sized bowl combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt with a whisk.
Using a mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat for 2 minutes, until it is well combined.
Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each.
Add the yolks one by one, beating for 1 minute after each addition and scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
Beat in the vanilla.
Reduce to low speed and add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk in thirds starting with the flour. Do not overmix at this stage.
Scrape down the bowl and, if using, add the melted chocolate, folding it in with a rubber spatula.
Divide the batter between the cake pans.
Bake for 26 to 30 minutes, or until the cakes feel springy to the touch and start to pull away from the sides of the pans.
Transfer the cakes to racks and wait for them to cool completely before taking them out of the tins.
For the Strawberry Filling:
16 oz of fresh strawberries sliced 1/4 inch thick, reserve 3 whole strawberries (each about the same size) for decorations
For the Frosting:
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups double cream
Combine the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract and almond extract in a large bowl and mix on medium speed until smooth.
While the mixture is still whipping, slowly pour in the cream. Stop and scrape the bottom of the bowl a couple of times while you continue whipping until the cream can hold a stiff peak.
On the plate or cake stand you are going to use for serving, place a piece of parchment paper over it. This will serve as a protective covering for your serving dish while you decorate.
Place your first layer cake on top of the parchment. Spread the frosting on the first layer. Layer it with the cut strawberries. Place the next cake layer on top of the strawberries and repeat the frosting and filling instructions 1 or 2 more times depending on how many cake layers you have.
Once all the layers are assembled put a very light “crumb coat” of frosting on the top and sides of the cake.
Put the cake and remaining frosting in the refrigerator to “set” for at least an hour. Remove cake from the refrigerator and use the remaining frosting to generously cover the cake.
Carefully remove protective parchment from underneath the cake and top it with reserved strawberries.
Serve cake at room temperature.
This post is a part of The Secret Recipe club. Please click here for more details.