This time last year I was absolutely obsessed with the new Masterpiece Classic series on PBS, Downton Abbey. I'd heard the buzz for weeks preceding it's premiere and was instantly hooked after the first episode. After a long 11 month wait, it's finally back for the 2nd season and just as sublime! Which means, of course, I'm utterly enthralled again.
If you've never seen Downton Abbey, you don't know what you're missing! Seriously. You're also not too late to jump on the bandwagon. All of season 1 is available on dvd. You can also watch it/rent it on amazon, on netflix, and you can find the episodes free online as well so I hear. And the current season's episodes are on PBS's site now. Just a warning though, Downton Abbey is instantly addictive; prepare to immerse yourself in Edwardian era romance, history, & drama! Check out these fun Downton links as well:
100 Important Things To Know About Season 1 of Downton Abbey
Design Sponge's Living In Downton Abbey
English Tea Party Recipes from Joy Of Baking
All About Highclere Castle, the grand estate of Downton
Kelly Market's English Country Weekend
OMG A Quiz! Which Downton Abbey Character Are You
Fast forward to 2011, while I was at home over Christmas my Mom unearthed an old recipe box of hers she thought was long gone after a move many years ago. The recipe box was her very first after she & my Dad married, filled with old family recipes that included my Great-Grandmother's Chiffon Cake, another Great-Grandmother's Canadian War Cake, among many others. What a treasure this find was and at the most special time of the year! The one I'm sharing with y'all today is my British Nana Lena's Orange Tea Cakes. She and my Aunt Lucy loved to have tea together with their friends. When I visited her as a little girl, I was allowed to indulge in afternoon tea time as well. And one of my favorite delicacies was her tea cakes. She made several different varieties, but the orange ones were definitely my top choice! The syrupy glaze alone grabbed my attention as I imagine it will yours as well once you try a taste.
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- juice of 1 orange
- 3 cups flour
- 1 tsp soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup ground raisins
- 1 tsp vanilla
- rind of orange
Syrup Topping Ingredients:
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup light Caro Syrup
- juice of 2 oranges
- pinch of salt
- The night before baking, using a food processor, grind raisins & orange rind and refrigerate in a sealed container overnight.
- Beat softened butter, sugar & eggs until creamy. Add flour, baking soda & powder and beat until well incorporated.
- Add buttermilk and orange juice a little at a time to the creamed butter & sugar mix. Then add in the vanilla.
- Next combine the ground raisins & orange rind to the batter and mix in well.
- Pour into mini-muffin molds/tins and bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes.
- While the tea cakes are baking, bring all of the syrup topping ingredients to a boil. Careful not to cook the syrup too thick, however.
- While the tea cakes are still warm, dip the tops into the syrup and let rest on waxed paper. They will be very sticky, but will set up in just 5-10 minutes. Now just try to eat only one...
Remember these little sweet treats the next time you sip on some hot tea or cozy up on the couch to watch the latest guilty pleasure, Downton Abbey.
As always, Mangia Mangia y'all!