There are two things in my life that I hold dear and those are Sunday dinners with the family and afternoon tea with friends. Even though we have joyful and sorrowful times, these are still times that help keep my life centered. My mother and grandmothers set those traditions for me, and I find myself being comfortable following those same traditions.
The thought of afternoon tea brings me back to the recent visit with my good friend Anne who drove down from Columbia so that we could go for a visit to the Charleston Tea Plantation. While there I bought some of the peach flavored tea. On my way back home my mind was working overtime trying to figure out how I could use the peach tea to make a cake or pie.
Finally, I decided I’d make a pastry cream filling by infusing the tea with the hot milk used to make the cream, and then I could use the delicate peach tea flavored filling between two layers of an old fashioned tea cake that I often fill with lemon curd or raspberry jam. Instead of jam, I could put some fresh raspberries over the filling, put the second cake layer on top and sprinkle with icing sugar.
So, that is exactly what I did. The pastry cream turned out to be a beautiful caramel color filling between two golden layers of cake and splashed with beautiful, sweet red raspberries. You can be the judge, but to me it was very good.
The cake was delicious served with peach tea in my best English tea cups. I hope you’ll make this cake, invite a good friend over, sit by the fire or on the porch, and enjoy cake and tea.
Tea Cake with Peach Tea Cream & Raspberries
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups self-rising flour
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
Preheat the oven to 375º. Spray two 8-inch cake pans with baking spray. Set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time.
Gradually add the flour and then the almond extract. Mix for about 30 seconds on high to incorporate the ingredients. Divide batter evenly between the two pans. Bake for about 20 minutes, depending on your oven. Cake is done when it springs back when touched in the center or when a cake tester comes out clean. Leave cakes in pans for about 5 minutes. Turn out onto clean tea towels and let cool.
I used one recipe, but if you’d like lots of pastry cream or you’d like to use it on the top layer too, then make two recipes.
3 egg yolks
¼ cup sugar
2 ½ tablespoons flour
¾ cup peach tea infused milk (see below)
Drop of vanilla or almond extract for additional flavoring
1 tablespoon butter
Peach tea infused milk: Pour the milk into a pan and bring to a boil. Drop in the peach tea bag. Remove the pan from heat immediately and set aside to cool for 5 minutes; then remove the tea bag. Set aside to cool completely.
Pastry cream: In a pan, add the egg yolks, sugar, flour, and cooled peach tea infused milk. Cook, whisking constantly, until it begins to boil and then turn down the heat until it is fairly thick. Strain into a clean bowl by pushing the cream through the strainer with the back of a spoon. Add the flavoring and the butter. Cover the pastry cream with a piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled.
Place one cake layer bottom side up, on a cake pedestal. Cover with pastry cream. Using one-half pintof washed and dried raspberries, place the berries on top of the pastry cream. Place the second cake layer, top side up, on top of the berries. Sift confectioner’s sugar all over the top of the cake.
Note: If the berries are not sweet enough, dip them in sugar before placing on top of the filling.
By Justin Hancock, Costa Farms Horticulturist,
Photographs courtesy of Costa Farms
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