Enjoying Afternoon Tea!

Did you see it? Couldn’t you just sit and watch all day? Premiered on September 20th, the much-anticipated release of the Downton Abbey movie. And it didn’t disappoint. I just love the Victorian era, the large stately homes, the formal dress, family hierarchy, meals served with such etiquette, most of all afternoon tea.

Served late afternoon, typically 4pm, where you can sit, relax and enjoy a pot of tea, finger sandwiches, bite-size sweets, and scones smothered in jam. Many consider this “high” tea, which is actually more of a supper, served around 6pm with a light hot meal being served.

Starting with the perfect pot of tea. Loose leaf tea is best, as you will get the full flavour out of the tea leaves, instead of processed grounded tea in a tea bag. Heat the water in an electric kettle to a full rolling boil, warming up your porcelain teapot with hot water first. prior to making the tea.

Offer a selection of finger sandwiches first, then a selection of bite-size sweets, followed by scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam. Scones should be broken in half, not cut, and the jam spread on first, then the cream.

DID you know ..

  • Afternoon Tea was introduced in Britain in the early 1840s (www.afternoontea.co.uk)
  • Scones are not biscuits, typically have sugar in the dough, and would only have currents added in or served plain.
  • Black tea should be made with full rolling-boiling water, then steeped for 5mins for optimum flavour.

One of my favourite afternoon tea experiences was at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Have you enjoyed afternoon tea while travelling, or at a local restaurant? I would love to hear about it in the comments below!

It’s Cranberry Season!

October in Canada brings to mind Thanksgiving, turkey dinner and pumpkin pie. BUT in Ontario, October is Cranberry season, and the Bala Cranberry Festival.  

Did you go? Did you try all things cranberry? Cranberry Crepes, candied cranberries, and even cranberry wine.  

Cranberries are native to North America, growing on low shrubs in marsh-like soil. Harvesting happens in the fall when the berries are bright red. Wet harvesting involves flooding the marsh with water, and the cranberries float to the surface waiting to be collected. It is quite a sight to see, a pond with hundreds of floating cranberries. If you have a chance to visit a cranberry marsh, I highly recommend the experience. 

Fresh cranberry sauce is a perfect accompaniment to turkey dinner. Fresh cranberries added to muffin batter, or scones are a sweet way to enjoy these red berries. My favourite way is to mix berries with fresh apples in a flakey pie shell. 

Tips from the Pro …

  • To plump dried cranberries before adding them to a recipe, Soak dried cranberries in boiling water for about 10-20 minutes.
  • Substitute dried for fresh cranberries; ¾ cup of dried cranberries to 1 cup fresh, and reduce water by ¼ cup


DID you know .. 

  • Muskoka Cranberry Route runs September 21st to October 27th  www.muskokacranberryroute.ca
  • It was the early German and Dutch settlers who started calling it the “crane berry” because of the flower’s resemblance to the head and bill of a crane. Oceanspray.com
  • In 2016, 98% of world production of cranberries resulted from the United States, Canada, and Chile. Most cranberries are processed into products such as juice, sauce, jam, and sweetened dried cranberries, with the remainder, sold fresh to consumers. Wikipedia.com

Apple Cranberry Crumble

Course: Dessert
Keyword: apple, cranberry, crumble, pie

Ingredients

PIE CRUST:

  • 6 cups cake & pastry flour
  • 1 lb vegetable shortening
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • ice water

FRUIT FILLING:

  • 6 cup apples, peeled & sliced
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces

CRUMBLE:

  • 1 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted

Instructions

PIE CRUST

  • Whisk together the flour and salt.
  • Cut in the shortening, working it in until the mixture is evenly crumbly.
  • In a 1 cup measure, combine vinegar and egg, Add water to 1 cup.
  • Gradually stir liquid into mixture. Add only enough water to make dough cling together. I should hold together when you gather it up and squeeze it in your hand.
  • Divide the dough into a ball and divide into 6 portions, and gather each half into a rough disk. Smooth the disks
  • Wrap in plastic, and chill for 30 minutes, or up to overnight.
  • When you’re ready to make pie, remove the crust from the refrigerator or freezer, leaving it wrapped. Allow it to thaw (if it’s frozen) or warm a bit (if it’s been chilled longer than 30 minutes), until it’s softened enough to roll, but still feels cold to the touch.
  • Next, measure the bottom diameter, and up the sides of your pie pan. If your pan is 7″ across the bottom, and 1 ½” up each side, that’s a total of 10″. This means you should roll your bottom crust to a diameter between 11″ and 12″, which gives you enough extra for crimping the edges.
  • Place the crust on a floured work surface; Roll it to the desired width
  • Place the crust in the pan by folding in quarters and placing in the pan.
  • For a single-crust pie, fold the edges of the crust under, and gently squeeze them together. Crimp as desired.

Pie Filling Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  • Combine apples & cranberries into a large bowl.
  • Whisk sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  • Combine sugar mixture with apples and cranberries.
  • Place fruit into the pie shell.
  • Distribute butter pieces over pie filling.
  • Place remaining crust over filling, crimp both crusts together, and cut several slits into top crust to vent steam.
  • Crumble Topping: In small bowl, whisk together oats, brown sugar, flour and nutmeg; stir in butter until combined. Sprinkle over apple filling.


  • Bake until pie is browned and fruit filling is bubbling, 45 minutes to 1 hour.