Friday, April 29, 2011

Tea cake

I have vivid memories of my first Royal Wedding. I was still in grade school, and very excited about it. I spent the month before cutting every scrap of information I could find out of newspapers and magazines, and set up a collage wall in our attic play area. I set my alarm for 3:30 am on the big day, and got myself up to watch the live coverage (incidentally astounding my mother, because even then getting up in the morning was not my forte). I spent the morning glued to the TV set, while various family members passed in and out, mildly curious and bemused at my preoccupation. It remains the only time I ever remember being carried away by the whole “princess/fairytale” narrative.

Thirty years (and countless royal scandals) later, my feelings about the whole proceeding are decidedly more mixed. Is this a good use of British government funds at a time of national economic struggle? Can the monarchy itself even be justified anymore? Is this event really worthy of so much US press attention given the current state of our own economy, to say nothing of the storms that just this week have devastated communities in my adopted home state and across the Midwest and Southeast? And how about what’s going on in the rest of the world? Isn't it just irresponsible to take any notice at all?

Added to all those heavyweight adult considerations, there is the fact that there is no way that I ever intend to be awake at 3:30 am anymore unless I’m forced to be by my maternal responsibilities—which has happened recently enough to remind me afresh of how I got to that perspective.

So I’m doing what any nosy, chronically overtired person with access to technology would be advised to do: DVR-ing the whole spectacle and using it as an excuse to spend Friday afternoon hanging out with my friends over tea and cakes.

And remembering, with gratitude, how lucky I am to be doing so.

If you, like me, are fortunate enough to be enjoying the comforts of everyday life this last Friday in April, please consider making a donation (perhaps in lieu of a wedding gift?) to one of the following organizations working to help people in trouble across the globe:

American Red Cross | Global FoodBanking Network | Medicins sans frontières | Oxfam

Strawberry-rhubarb tea cake
This recipe is, once again, built upon the quick-cake framework laid out in my beloved Ratio. The rhubarb is my homage to England, the country where I learned to worship that pink, celery-esque stalk like a native; paired with strawberries, it just tastes like spring.

4 oz/100 g butter
8 oz/200 g all-purpose/plain flour
4 oz/100 g sugar
1 tsp/5 g salt
2 tsp/10 g baking powder
8 oz/200 ml milk
2 large eggs
½ cup/4 oz/100 g strawberry jam or coulis
½ cup/4 oz/100 g roasted rhubarb
turbinado sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Butter a loaf pan and set aside.

Put butter to melt on stovetop or in microwave and set aside to cool. Mix together flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a medium-sized bowl and set aside. In a bowl or jug, combine milk, eggs and butter, whisking the eggs thoroughly.

Dump the wet into the dry ingredients and mix together until just combined. Stir in the rhubarb gently, ensuring even distribution through the batter.

Scrape half the batter into prepared pan and spread evenly into corners. Spread the strawberry jam/coulis over the top, and then add the remaining batter. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

Bake 40-50 minutes, rotating pan halfway through, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.


celia said... Best Blogger Tips

I have to say, I loved the wedding, but I'd have probably enjoyed it even more if I'd had a slice of your delicious cake! We have lots of rhubarb in the garden, but I've never tried roasting it before...

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

I am very envious of rhubarb in your garden! It is my ambition to grow my own, so that I can have as much as I want (if that's possible...).

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