Friday, May 6, 2011

The Afternoon Tea Book by Michael Smith, pound cake recipe, and a giveaway!

37. The Afternoon Tea Book
by Michael Smith
nonfiction, 1986
fifth book for the Foodie's Reading Challenge
finished, 4/30/11

I have owned this book for many years, though I'm not a tea drinker. What I do like is the food that goes with tea - breads and cakes and cookies, and that is what I've used this book for. In fact, there is a pound cake recipe which won me a second place ribbon at the 1989 fair. It is out of this world delicious, so I can only imagine how good the first prize cake was!

The author's notes precede the recipe.

Pound Cake

This is one of the earliest cakes - in the way we think of cake today - and is unchanged from its original form in the rather extended appendix of the fifth edition of Hannah Glasse's book The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, published in 1763. I have translated it into American culinary measures, and to please you, I suggest you use a tube pan (unheard of for cakes in England!).

In those days a cake pan or tin was called a hoop.

2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups butter, softened
5 eggs
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind

The perfect tool with which to grate the rind. It is called a rasp, and I got mine from Lee Valley.

Brandy or sherry, to make a spoonable dough

Makes 8 servings

Preheat oven to 325º F.
This cake can be made by the all-in-one method: Cream the butter and sugar in a food processor or with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in eggs and lemon rind. Add the flour

and enough liquor to make a spoonable batter. Allow it to be beaten well for 10 minutes or so.

Bake for one hour, or until the cake is firm to the touch and shrinks from the sides of the pan. Let cool briefly in the pan before turning it out onto a wire rack.

My notes:
1. I never, ever use liquor in a dessert recipe. I like liquor. I like desserts. But not together. So in this case, I would just use some water. I didn't need to add it today.
2. Grease tube pan with cooking spray.

The Afternoon Tea Book is divided into two parts: History and Lore, and Recipes, the latter being the greater part of the book. The author died only three years after this book was published. There is now a Michael Smith Award for Work on British food which was given in 2010 to Tom Parker Bowles (the son of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall!) for Full English: A Journey Through the British and Their Food.

The author was a founder of The Guild of Food Writers.
On 12 April 1984, a group of the great and good in the British food world gathered for lunch at London’s Intercontinental Hotel to enjoy a rather superb lunch devised by the hotel’s celebrated chef Peter Kromberg.

Among others, Lady Arabella Boxer, Miss Elizabeth David, Mr. Christopher Driver, Mrs. Jane Grigson, Miss Claudia Roden, Mr. Michael Smith and Mrs. Katie Stewart enjoyed a Petit Nage de Sole et Homard aux Asperges, followed by Magret de Canard au Foie Gras en Cage, with a Soufflé au Fromage preceding an Assiette de nos Desserts. The purpose of this grand and memorable event was to discuss the formation of an ‘association of food writers’. In the way of such things, a debate arose about whether or not it would be an élite Académie in the French style or something along the lines of the already existing Circle of Wine Writers. The latter won the day, but in so doing lost the group the support of the person who had been seen as its first president, Elizabeth David.
A note about the author explains that he is:
Hailed by the New York Times as the "doyen of English Cookery," his writing, broadcasting, and lecturing on all aspects of food preparation, presentation, and enjoyment reach an enormous audience, including viewers of B.B.C. T.V.'s "Pebble-Mill-at-One" and readers of Homes and Gardens and recently the Daily Telegraph.
Sadly I wasn't part of that 'enormous audience,' though I did watch two television series for which he was a consultant: (the original) Upstairs, Downstairs and The Duchess of Duke Street. How I wish I had seen him on television or read his work in publications, for his enthusiasm and love of life jump right off the pages of this book. He knows whereof he writes, but more than that, he loves his subject matter. He introduces the reader to Afternoon Tea, tells us about the actual tea bush and the ideal growing conditions, writes of China tea, India and Ceylon tea, and blended teas. Then he goes on to describe the various 'impedimenta,' the cups and tables and kettles, all accompanied by the delightful illustrations of Michael R.P. Bartlett.

It has been ages since I've offered a giveaway, and I thought I would do so. This book will be most appealing to anyone who loves the ceremony of tea drinking, and to those like me who love to bake the delicacies which are a part of 'taking tea.' This is, as they say, a 'well-used book.' Because that pound cake is what I've chiefly made, the book falls open there and has a small stain on the page. If you don't mind that, then I would be happy to give this book to you.

Please leave a comment saying you'd like the book on ANY POST from today, Friday,May 6 through Tuesday,May 10. On Wednesday,May 11, I shall do a drawing. I'll send it anywhere in the world.Please do visit the Foodie's Reading Challenge page and click on the various categories to read some wonderful food-related book reviews!


  1. Nan, I have never, ever made a pound cake, though I had an American friend who made them (delicious!) so I've always meant to. I don't have a tube pan, but I think I might attempt it anyway :-)

    We used to watch Michael Smith's series on television years ago - he was a real inspiration and first got me interested in the history of cooking.

  2. Geranium Cat, it is just about the easiest thing ever. Honestly. And so delicious! I'll have to see if I can find a video of MS to see what he looked and sounded like. I can understand how he would be an inspiration. His enthusiasm in this book is contagious. The tube pan is just a Bundt pan, and I would think you could get one over there, or if not, from an online store. They are a dime a dozen over here.

  3. Hello! I've just wandered over here from your reply on the booksnob blog, thinking she sounds interesting! And what have I found but a give-away after my own heart! I lived in England for just over four years, am a tea drinker, and love to bake treats to go along with it. This would be just perfect. And now, you're bookmarked on my list of blogs to keep reading!

  4. Nan, I have always wondered what pound cake was, having heard it mentioned in so many films and tv shows. I've just looked up bundt pans on a UK website, not exactly a dime a dozen but 27GBP! Still, I will invest in one should I be lucky enough to win the book.

    I, too, used to watch Michael Smith on television and was inspired by him.

  5. Ooooh I would love the book! I tell all and sundry that coffeecake is my favorite food group, and yet I only drink coffee in the a.m. and favor tea the rest of the day!

    What fun!

  6. Thank you for coming by hjelliot. Welcome.Lucky you to have lived in England!

    Maureen, I so envy you having seen him. I wonder if there are pans you have that we don't.

    Pamela, it's a great cake.

    Leamonteach, you'd love this book then!

  7. Ok - first off, for some reason my son's name is on my google account now. This is one of those strange slightly technical things that will take me much longer than it should to fix, so I'm just going to ignore it and pretend that it doesn't say 'Nico' but does say 'Rebecca'.

    That said, I love tea and all foods associated with it! I drink tea all day long and try not to eat too much of tea food with it all day long as well :) I would love to have your book, especially since it has such a lovely history. Some of my fondest memories are of my mother, grandmother and myself having high tea together. Isn't it nice to have happy memories associated with food :) Thanks for all your great book recommendations as well Nan!

  8. As always, I love your description of how you've come about using this recipe, and then the recipe itself, plus the pictures you have added.
    The pound cake truly sounds easy enough to make, even for someone like me who is anything but a heroine in the kitchen :-)

    No need to include me in the drawing, I just wanted to comment.

  9. Sounds delicious. I have recipes for pound cake but have never tried it, BTW here in the UK I do have what you call a tube pan and I don't call anything. It's what I always use for making Marble Cake.

  10. Nan, that cake looks yummy!!! Thanks for sharing. Have a great weekend and Happy Mother's Day!!

  11. I think I might try the pound cake recipe. It sounds delicious. I'll pass on trying for the giveaway though. (I need to thin out my OWN books before introducing even one more to the collection.)

    I really like the picture in your header! It is so simple & "clean" & inviting in appearance.

  12. Got it, Rebecca. Do you have a blog?

    Aw, go ahead and try it, Librarian! And please let me know how you like it.

    Call me madam, I don't call it a tube pan either. I say Bundt pan. This cake is delicious..

    Sherri, it is just great!

    Rebecca, please let me know if you try it. I think you'll love it.

  13. Half way through your post I told myself I have to have this book. I checked the library - no luck. Amazon has it so I put it in my wish list queue. Then I see you are offering a giveaway. Yes, include me. One way or another I'll read the book.

    I enjoy reading about the history of food and love to try old recipes. It makes such a nice link to the past. The custom of afternoon tea should be cultivated in a society like ours that is always on the go. It would force us to stop, take a deep breath, and reflect on how great life is. I can't make it happen everywhere but at least I can in my little world.

  14. Donna - Avon MusingsMay 7, 2011 at 6:26:00 PM EDT

    Hi Nan: Happy Mother's Day, I hope is a lovely one. I just wanted to thank you for posting this recipe. I am having company tomorrow and I think this cake would be perfect. I still have some frozen raspberries from last summer, so I think they would be perfect, thickened slightly and served with the cake.

  15. I can't do bourbon any more, but The Afternoon Tea Book is a favorite in my kitchen. I wish you were here to join me in Tea Time in the Cottage Ornee.

  16. Margot, that's what the fellow who wrote Joie de Vivre was promoting too!

    Donna, wish I were there!

    Me too, Commonweeder!

  17. Coming over for cake and tea!!

  18. I would love, love, love to have this book! Afternoon tea is a ritual in our home. The hard thing is keeping something sweet cooked up to go with it!

  19. Anytime, Staci!

    Debbie, we tried to implement this when the kids were young, but it was just too hard to do with schedules, etc.

  20. Oh please include me in the drawing. The only thing better than pound cake is pound cake batter. Yum!

  21. Thomas, I ate quite a bit of that batter. It may be even better than the finished product. ;<)

  22. Is your Bundt pan avocado green? Mine is! :)

    This cake sounds fabulous. I can't wait to find an excuse to bake it. You know we have the bourbon! ;)

    No need to enter me. I have quite a few "tea" books, although this one sounds quite interesting.

  23. Les, it isn't that 1970s avocado green. It is more of a soft mint green. I wouldn't mind the color on my walls somewhere. It is quite new, not an old family pan. And hey, you don't need an excuse to bake a cake. ;<)


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