Monday, August 15, 2011


We ended last week on the topic of tea, and I want to continue the theme briefly with a discussion of tea-cakes. Tea-cakes, as everyone knows, are cakes made to be served with tea, not cakes containing tea as an ingredient - although I live in hope of finding a historic example of such a cake. 

It remains to be discussed whether ‘tea’ in this context means the beverage itself, or one of the two quite distinct occasions of ‘high tea’ or ‘low tea’ (if you need a brief refresher on the difference you can find it here.) In other words, were tea-cakes meant to be eaten with tea or at tea?

Tea-cakes seem to have become popular towards the middle of the nineteenth century, if the common usage examples in the Oxford English Dictionary are to be believed. Nowadays there is a large number of variations on the tea-cake theme, but initially it seems that they perhaps resembled griddle scones, being flat and curranty. 

Before I give you my choices of tea-cake recipes, may I suggest that you try them with a little ‘Laced Tea’? This delightful concept is, as its name suggests, tea laced with spirits – most commonly brandy. I understand that the literature contains references to laced tea (and coffee) from the seventeenth century, but admit that I have not checked this myself, but merely put it on my ‘to research’ list, which is rather long. 

In a previous post we had a recipe for Sultana Tea-cake. Today I give you a selection from a single  source: A new system of domestic cookery ... by Maria Eliza Ketelby Rundell (1840):

Tea Cakes.
Rub fine four ounces of butter into eight ounces of flour; mix eight ounces of currants, and six of fine Lisbon sugar, two yolks and one white of eggs, and a spoonful of brandy. Roll the paste the thickness of an Oliver biscuit, and cut with a wine glass. You may beat the other white, and wash over them; and either dust sugar, or not, as you like.

Benton Tea Cakes.
Mix a paste of flour, a little bit of butter and milkroll as thin as possible, and bake on a back-stone ovei the fire, or on a hot hearth.

Another sort, as Biscuits.—Rub into a pound of flour six ounces of butter, and three large spoonfuls of yeast, and make into a paste, with a sufficient quantity of new milk; make into biscuits, and prick them with a clean fork.

Another sort.—Melt six or seven ounces of butter with a sufficiency of new milk warmed to make seven pounds of flour into a stiff paste; roll thin, and make into biscuits.

Quotation for the Day.

Strange how a teapot can represent at the same time the comforts of solitude and the pleasures of company.  
Author Unknown

1 comment:

SofiaRaj said...

Great information, thanks to share