Around Christmas, I was listening to NPR’s Found Recipes program. Love that series! The story I heard intrigued me so much that I headed for the website to download the recipe for Mrs. Lawrence’s English Tea Cake.
I’ll be honest here. As I made it, I had my doubts. Could this unusual recipe possibly be as tasty as the woman in the story claimed it was?
As soon as it was ready, I tested it on my husband and sampled some myself. The unanimous conclusion: delicious!
This cake takes a little time–it contains yeast and needs to rise twice–but otherwise, it’s easy to put together, and well worth the time and effort.
Note: I tinkered with the instructions a bit to make them more clear. Also, italicized notes and information in the parentheses are mine.
Mrs. Lawrence’s English Tea Cake
For the Cake
1/3 cup melted butter, cooled
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
1 egg, at room temperature
1 yeast cake, or 1 package of dry yeast
1/2 cup water, at 110 to 115 degrees
1/2 cup warm milk
1/2 cup golden raisins
3 tablespoons citron (I had to look up citron: a citron is a large, fragrant citrus fruit known for its aromatic smell and flavorful peel. I also had to ask someone at the grocery store to help me find the stuff-comes in a container and I doubt it ever goes bad.)
3 cups bread flour (I used all-purpose flour and had no problems)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
For the filling
Note: Double this!!
1/4 pound butter (1 stick), very soft
1 cup powdered sugar
A dash of vanilla
Stir softened butter, powdered sugar and vanilla together until it reaches a spreading consistency. (I waited to make this until the cake was cooling, but you can make any time.) Set aside.
Making the cake:
(Note: You’ll need several bowls or containers for all the mixing and setting aside.)
Following directions on the package, dissolve yeast pack in warm water. Let sit 3 to 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix warm milk, raisins and citron together. Set aside.
Sift together flour, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.
Mix melted butter, sugar, orange peel and egg together in a large bowl. Make sure the butter has cooled so as not to cook the egg. Set aside.
Now it’s time to mix these things together! Add yeast mixture to sugar-butter mixture and stir to blend. Stir in flour mixture, a little at a time, until all is added. (No kneading required at this point.) Let dough rise until doubled in bulk, about 1-2 hours.
Knead the dough with additional flour (up to 1/2 cup) for about 10 minutes. Dough will be very elastic and light. Divide in half and form two balls. Press dough into two 8-inch round pans and let rise again for 1 to 2 hours. (I only had 9″-round cake pans, which were too big, but they worked well enough. The end result isn’t as pretty as it could have been, but I like how it looks! See photo above.)
Bake at 375 for 20 minutes. Cool thoroughly, split each cake in half (I used a large, serrated knife and some patience) and spread with filling mixture. Store in the fridge in a plastic bag to keep it fresh. Before serving, wrap loaves in foil and reheat at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
Recipe courtesy of Mrs. Lawrence’s granddaughter, Laura
To hear the intriguing story that goes with this recipe, visit http://n.pr/13QRAAH
Happy eating, and until next time,
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