One of the best things about the onset of the colder weather is the reminder of how lovely it is to stay inside and visit with friends over a pot (or two) of tea.
Sunny weekend afternoons in the summer are best spent outside on a patio or in a backyard catching up over beer, wine, or lemonade but come the fall, there is something comforting about sipping tea indoors as the afternoon slowly becomes twilight.
I remember spending hours and hours of rainy afternoons in my teens and twenties hanging out with my girlfriends discussing the travails of the world and the dreams for the future over multiple cups of tea: but that tradition seems to have faded as we now catch up in bars and restaurants after work when we can fit the time into our busy lives.
Yesterday afternoon, the SO and I spent a few hours with a friend just sitting around talking about life, dogs, food, travels, history – random conversation with no real agenda. And it was wonderful! I think I’m going to re-institute the afternoon tea ritual into my life…
And although I am not quite ready to bring on the scones and clotted cream as part of the ritual, it seems fitting to have something sweet to nibble on while hanging out. I was tempted to make biscotti but that seems more of a coffee thing. Perhaps inspired by all the wonderful uses of poppy seeds in baking when we were in Latvia last month, I went back to a recipe that my mother made frequently when I was growing up…
Poppy Seed Cake
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Soak 1/2 cup of poppy seeds in 1 cup of buttermilk*
3. Combine 2 tsp of cocoa, 1/3 cup of white sugar & 1 tsp of cinnamon in a small bowl, and set aside
4. Cream 225 grams of softened butter with 1.5 cups of white sugar. Add 4 egg yolks (reserving the whites).
5. Mix in 2.5 cups of flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 2 tsp baking powder & 1 tsp salt and combine well. Then slowly add the poppy seed & milk mixture. Then mix in 1 tsp of vanilla.
6. In a separate bowl, beat the 4 egg whites until they are stiff. Fold them into the batter.
7. Pour 1/2 the batter into a greased tube pan and then sprinkle 1/2 the cocoa & sugar mix on top. Then pour the remaining batter in and top with the remaining 1/2 of the cocoa & sugar mix.
8. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and cool in pan.
*Easy substitute for buttermilk: pour 1 tbs of white vinegar or lemon juice into a measuring cup and then top with milk until you reach the 1 cup level. Let sit for 5 minutes and voila – buttermilk!
What’s your favourite baking treat to have with your afternoon tea?