Meal times in our house are rather old-fashioned as we still sit down together to eat food that has been home cooked, sometimes with meat from the farm and fruit and vegetables grown in the garden. I think it’s important to spend time as a family around the table, chattering, laughing and bickering, especially as we no longer have to contend with sudden teenage explosions that end with someone storming off.
My favourite meal of the week is Sunday Tea. A long walk in the afternoon works off some of the traditional Sunday roast dinner, leaving me just hungry enough for bread and cake in the early evening. Most weeks our immediate family gather for Sunday tea but, every now and then, the wider family join up and the table is filled with four generations from Great Granny down to babies. The big teapot is brought out and the table piled with food as siblings and cousins jostle for the best chairs or just one that won’t fall to pieces or wobble alarmingly.
Bill’s family and mine have slightly different Sunday tea. One side of the family sits down at 5pm to eat neat sandwiches (why do sandwiches made by somebody else always taste better than making your own?), a full cheeseboard with crunchy sticks of celery, teabreads and fruit cakes while the other side mill around until everybody arrives and then dive into quiche and salads, pancakes and sponge cakes. I try to steer a middle course taking favourites from both sides, while avoiding the specialities (hence I make scones not pancakes and have yet to make a batch of rock cakes) and introducing a few of my own.
Skimming through Gran’s old recipe books I’ve found plenty of new ideas and also discovered the difference between wartime Tray Tea, Trolley Tea and High Tea. One of my current favourites are Adelaide Cakes. As the recipe appears close to Queen Cakes, I presume these cakes are named after Queen Adelaide, wife of William IV who reigned from 1830-1837, though I have no idea.
The recipe, like so many others in Gran’s books, is rather vague so I’m not sure if the way I make them is how the originator of the recipe intended. These are quite plain little cakes, which makes a welcome change from cupcakes topped with a mountain of sickly icing, though a drizzle of glace icing over the top makes them look a little more exciting.
Do you eat Sunday tea? What’s your speciality?
120g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
120g soft butter
120g caster sugar
½ lemon – zest and juice
60g glace cherries quartered
30g flaked almonds
12 hole muffin tin lined with paper cases
Sieve together the flour, cornflour and baking powder.
Cream the butter and sugar until pale. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each and then mix in the flour.
Fold in the lemon zest, cherries and almonds and enough lemon juice to make a dropping consistency.
Spoon into the paper cases and bake in roasting oven of AGA with cold shelf above or 180C for 12-15 minutes.
Leave in the tin to cool for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack until cold.