Tea With Grandma

Two weeks ago, we went to Delaware to visit Eric’s Grandmother. She is a wonderful woman who has traveled the world and I love getting a chance to talk with her about her travel adventures. One of the main topics of conversation during this visit was Eric’s Grandfather. He served in World War II as an Army Ranger (famous for scaling the cliffs at Point du Hoc) and Signal Corps seargant and was a part the D’Day Invasion. He went over the English Channel in a fishing boat the night before D’Day and hid in a manure pile until morning, when he worked to set up communications lines. He was a part of Patton’s 3rd Army and fought all over Europe, earning 3 purple hearts and a bronze star.

When we travel to Normandy this Fall, we want to make sure we visit the beaches that he fought on and find his name in the war memorial. Eric’s grandparents also traveled to Normandy 2-3 times after the war and we wanted to get the skinny on their adventures; those details will help us plan our trip.

Eric’s Grandmother grew up in Delaware but has English heritage and relatives that she has kept in touch with over the years. She has been to visit them in England many times and in the same way, they have come to visit her as well. She has an extensive tea set collection and always tells me how to make a “proper” pot of tea.

When we decided to visit her, I wanted to make her some tea cakes and scones. After some research, I went with a lavender tea cake and strawberry basil scones. I’m never actually baked with lavender before and was excited to try that tea cake recipe. I’ve also never made scones before, I was intimidated since they required kneading and cutting, but in the end both were simple and delicious.

The lavender tea cake initially sounded interesting but I was nervous that it would come out tasting like soap. Most of the lavender in my life is not in cake form but more soap, dried herbs and even herbs de Provence.

The recipe stated that I could use either the purple flower part of the lavender or the silvery, green leaf part. I cut a little of both from my garden and followed the rest of the baking instructions, adding the lavender last and gently mixing it into the light cake batter.

Bake the cake in a loaf pan and cool slightly before popping it out of the pan and drizzling it with glaze, the cake should still be warm when you glaze it.

After all that, slice the cake and you’ll see this:

Isn’t it gorgeous? It was light, fluffy, slightly sweet with just a hint of lavender at the end. The texture of the cake was so nice that I kept going back for more. I’ll admit it, I was a little sad when Eric’s grandmother asked me to leave her the last few pieces of cake; I guess I’ll just have to make it again soon, while my lavender is still blooming.

The other recipe I made for the visit were Strawberry Basil Scones. I got my last quart of local strawberries, for the season, and mixed up a batch of these babies:

 I liked that this recipe had you roll out the scones in a circle and then I cut it like a pizza to make my perfect triangle scones.

It was so much easier than I thought! In the end, the scones were crumbly and delicious with lots of strawberry chunks and the light hint of basil. The flavors were great together.

The scones keep for about a week, but make sure you store them in the fridge, they will get moldy quick.

 

As always, our visit with Eric’s grandmother was too short, the afternoon went by so quickly but we were able to see a bunch of photo’s that Eric’s grandfather took during WWII, I loved the ones of Paris! We heard his grandmother’s account of D’Day, from Eric’s grandfather, read letters that he had written to Eric’s grandmother during the war and got to hear about all of their travels later in life. They had so many great adventures and were such great friends. I hope that my marriage is even half of what they had for 60 years.

We’re looking forward to our next visit already but in the meantime, here are those tasty recipes:

Lavender Tea Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plain or lowfat yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh lavender leaves

Glaze:

  • 1/3 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat granulated sugar, butter, and vanilla until well-blended.
  2. Add egg and egg white, one at a time, beat well after each addition.
  3. Sift flour and combine with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt; stir well.
  4. Add the flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with yogurt, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in lavender.
  5. Pour the batter into a greased 9×5 inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour or until a sharp knife or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. To prepare glaze, combine powdered sugar and remaining ingredients. Spread on the warm cake. Cool in pan 20 minutes on a wire rack before removing from the pan.

 

Strawberry Basil Scones

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided (I used half all purpose flour and half cake flour for the best results)

1/3 cup sugar
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 1/4 cup chopped fresh strawberries (we preferred them cut into 1/2-inch or 1-inch pieces)
2 T snipped basil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup half-and-half

Half-and-half or milk
Sugar
slivered almonds, optional

Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together 2 1/2 cups flour, the 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gently toss in fresh strawberries and basil. Make a well in center of the flour mixture; set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together eggs and half-and-half. Add egg mixture to flour mixture all at once. Using a large spoon, gently stir just until incorporated.

Turn dough out onto a generously floured surface. Knead dough by folding and gently pressing it 5 to 7 times, turning the dough one quarter turn after each fold. (If it is too sticky, add flour from the extra 1/4 cup as needed to make it workable.) Transfer to a lightly floured parchment-lined baking sheet. Pat or lightly roll dough into a 3/4 inch thick circle. Cut circle into wedges and pull apart slightly.

Brush wedges with additional half-and-half and sprinkle with sugar and almonds (if using). Bake about 14-16 minutes or until golden. Serve dolloped with whipped cream. Refrigerate any leftover scones.

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