I've been drinking quite a bit of tea while I've been visiting my daughter in London over the past ten days. The British have a lovely custom of taking a tea break somewhere in the mid to late afternoon, and everywhere you go you see them sitting, sipping and relaxing. After living here for just over a year my daughter has taken up this charming habit and it didn't take us long to pick it up either! After all, it just seems like the "proper" thing to do!
My daughter receives a CSA box each week delivered to her door. She finds it fun every Tuesday to check out the selection of local and organic produce in her box. This week when the box arrived I couldn't wait to peek in and see what goodies it held. Rhubarb is currently in season here in England and when I saw the beautiful ruby and pale green stalks I knew that somehow I would be incorporating this crisp, tart fruit into the menu plan for the week. I was delighted when I checked the stash of recipes I've been wanting to try and found a wonderful sounding tea cake. How perfect for a visit to England!
I simplified the recipe by using raspberry jam instead of making the homemade fruit sauce. I added thinly sliced rhubarb and simmered the jam and rhubarb together to make a tasty filling for the cake. The house smelled wonderful as it baked and all of "the samplers" have given it great reviews. Move on over scones!
If you grow your own rhubarb or perhaps spot it at the farmer's market or grocery store, give this tea cake recipe a try, you won't be disappointed! If you don't have access to rhubarb, don't worry, this recipe is very versatile and any fruity jam or even pie filling could be substituted. As for me, I think I'll go fix myself "a spot of tea". Cheerio!!
Raspberry-Rhubarb Ripple Tea Cake
1 cup raspberry jam
1 cup thinly sliced rhubarb
1 tablespoon cornstarch
BATTER AND TOPPING
2 & ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup cold butter, sliced into thin pats
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
⅛ teaspoon salt
¾ cup buttermilk
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10″ round tart pan that has a removable bottom; set aside.
2. To make the raspberry-rhubarb filling: in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine jam, rhubarb and cornstarch over medium heat; cook and stir until rhubarb is tender and sauce is thickened and bubbly. If sauce becomes too thick before rhubarb is tender, add 1-2 tablespoons of water. Remove from heat. Set filling aside to cool slightly.
3. To make the tea cake batter: in a large mixing bowl, stir together flour and sugar. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. *Measure and set aside ½ cup of this flour-crumb mixture and reserve for crumb topping. To remaining flour mixture add baking powder, baking soda and salt; stir well to combine. Make a well in the center of flour mixture to accept wet ingredients.
4.In a small mixing bowl, beat egg; stir in buttermilk** until combined. Add all at once to the well you just created in the center of the flour mixture. Stir gently until just moistened; batter will be thick. Spread two-thirds of this batter over the bottom and up 1″ of the sides of prepared tart or spring form pan, using fingers to pat into place if necessary. Next, carefully spread the prepared filling on top of this batter. In small, irregular mounds, drop remaining batter on top of filling, spreading ever-so-gently with fingers or back of spoon if necessary. Allow mounds of batter to rest atop raspberry filling without pressing into bottom layer of batter. Sprinkle entire cake with the *reserved flour-crumb topping.
5. In the center of a preheated oven, baked tea cake at 350 degrees F for approximately 30-35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean (filling will turn toothpick red). The cake should appear lightly browned (baking times may vary from oven to oven, so keep a close eye on your cake after 30 minutes). When tea cake is properly baked, remove tart pan from oven and allow to cool on wire rack for 15 minutes. When time has elapsed, remove cake from tart pan and place on cake stand or serving plate.
6. Cut cake into wedges and serve warm. Enjoy!
**If you don't have buttermilk, yogurt or sour cream can be substituted in most recipes. I just mix it with a little milk to thin it out a bit and then use this mixture in place of the buttermilk.
Yield: 8 servings.
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Baking, 2008