An Easter garden tea party fit for a king (photography by Tasha Seccombe)
Next weekend many of us will be celebrating the Easter holidays – a time for utter indulgence in terms of festive family foods and sweet treats. The friendly team from Poetry stores asked me to once again put together a feast for this special occasion, and I decided to create a tea party spread with recipes from one of the books from their shelves: Tea Time by Jackie Brooks.
A tea party is such a great way to celebrate special occasions with family and friends. While the kids are hunting Easter eggs in the garden, you and your friends can gather around in a shady spot to enjoy the most delicious and decadent Easter treats with a cup of steaming tea. While Tasha (my good friend and also the photographer of this spread) and I worked to make the food look pretty, we asked our daughters to hold some of the dishes for a few individual recipe shots. They made such beautiful “hand models” that we had to pay them in Easter eggs!
My favourite recipe from this whole spread is the pecan cheesecake – it is utterly decadent and so very delicious. But the raspberry tarts take the prize for their wow factor – how pretty are those?
Jackie’s little recipe book is conveniently small (it will certainly fit into most handbags) and packed with so many easy recipes – sweet and savoury – for any tea time occasion. At only R150 is also makes a very affordable gift for a friend or loved one this Easter. Get it from your nearest Poetry store or online.
Butterfly cupcakes with pink cream filling (photography by Tasha Seccombe)
Butterfly cupcakes – makes 24: (all recipes from Tea Time by Jackie Brooks)
- 125g butter
- 5ml vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups self-raising flour
- a pinch of salt
- 2/3 cup milk
- filling: 250 ml cream, 2,5ml vanilla extract, 15 ml icing sugar, a drop of pink food colouring
- Pre-heat oven to 200C.
- Beat butter, vanilla and sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Sift flour and salt together and add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Stir until mixture is smooth and all ingredients are well combined.
- Spoon about 1 tablespoon of mixture into paper cases. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
- To make the filling, beat cream, vanilla and icing sugar together until thick.
- When the cupcakes are cool, cut a slice from the top of each cake and pipe on a small amount of filling. Cut the removed cake slices in half and arrange on top of cream to make butterfly wings. Dust with a little icing sugar.
Chocolate hazelnut cake with vintage doily sieve pattern (photography by Tasha Seccombe)
Chocolate hazelnut cake – serves 8:
- 250g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
- 6 eggs, separated
- 1 cup sugar
- 325g hazelnuts, toasted and roughtly chopped
- 15ml rum
- icing sugar, for dusting
- Pre-heat oven to 190C.
- Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water and keep stirring until the chocolate melts. Remove from pan and cool slightly.
- Place egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and beat until thick and pale. Fold the melted chocolate, hazelnuts and rum into the egg mixture.
- Place egg whites into a clean bowl and whisk until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites into chocolate mixture. Pour mixture into a greased and lined 23cm spring-form cake tin and bake for 50 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Cool cake in tin.
- Just prior to serving, dust cake with icing sugar (I used one of Tasha’s antique lace doilies to create a beautiful pattern).
Meltingly soft ginger kisses (photograhy by Tasha Seccombe)
Ginger kisses – makes 24:
- 250g soft butter
- 115g icing sugar, sieved
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 15ml ground ginger
- 225g plain/cake flour
- 150g cornflour (Maizena)
- Filling: 250g mascarpone, 50g stem ginger or preserved ginger, 15ml stem ginger syrup or maple syrup, 50g demerara sugar, 2,5ml vanilla extract
- Pre-heat oven to 160C. Line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment.
- In a large bowl beat the butter until pale and creamy. Gradually add the icing sugar, beating well until the mixutre is light and fluffy. Beat in the egg until well combined. If the mixture starts to curdle, add a tablespoon of the flour.
- In a separate bowl, combine the ginger, flour and cornflour. Sift the dry ingredients into the butter mixture and mix thoroughly. Roll teaspoon-sized amount into balls and press down with a fork (use floured hands).
- Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until firm and lightly golden in colour (not brown). Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- While the biscuits and cooling, prepare the filling. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and set aside. When the biscuits are cool enough, spread the filling on half the biscuits then place the remaining biscuits on top.
Baked pecan cheesecake (photography by Tasha Seccombe)
Pecan cheesecake – serves 12:
- 180-200g digestive biscuits, finely crushed
- 45ml sugar (optional)
- 50g butter
- 1,25kg plain cream cheese (5 x 250g tubs), at room temperature
- 1 2/3 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
- 40g butter, melted
- 5 eggs
- 5ml vanilla essence
- 1 cup pecan nuts, chopped
- Pre-heat oven to 160C.
- To make base, combine biscuits, sugar and butter, mixing well. Press into bottom of a greased 25cm spring-form tin, then chill in the fridge.
- For the filling: beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add brown sugar and butter, mixing well. Add eggs, one at a time beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla and pecans. Spoon filling into tin and bake for 1 hour.
- Turn oven off and allow cheesecake to cool in oven with closed door for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, then cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate for 8 hours. Remove sides of spring-form tin, then decorate with extra pecans.
Fresh raspberry tarts with cream cheese filling (photography by Tasha Seccombe)
Raspberry & hazelnut tarts – makes 6:
- 1 cup cake flour, sifted
- 30 ml icing sugar
- 30g ground hazelnuts
- 80g butter, chopped
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 375g creamcheese430ml caster sugar
- 60ml double cream
- 350g fresh raspberries
- 1/3 cup smooth raspberry jam (warmed and sieved)
- To make pastry base, place flour, icing sugar, and hazelnuts in a food processor to combine. Add butter and pulse until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add egg and pulse until it just comes together as a soft dough. Remove from bowl and wrap in cling wrap, then refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Pre-heat oven to 200C. Knead pastry lightly, then roll out to 3mm thick. Line 6 greased 75mm flan tins with the rolled-out pastry dough. Line with baking paper and add beans or rice to weigh it down. Bake for 10 minute, then remove paper and beans and bake for another 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- To make filling, place cream cheese and sugar in a bowl and beat until smooth. Beat cream in a separate bowl, then fold into cream cheese mixture.
- To assemble, spoon or pipe the filling into cooled pastry cases. Arrange raspberries on top, then brush warm jam over and refrigerate to set. Serve cold or at room temperature.
This post was especially written for Poetry stores as part of their Easter 2014 celebration campaign.
All recipes from Tea Time by Jackie Brooks. Available from Poetry stores for R150.
All homeware, Wonkiware, jugs, mini wooden boards, tea cups & saucers, nougat bars, toffee bars, glass tea pot and wooden boxed exotic teas available from Poetry stores (except for white cake stand, animated vintage mug, bunny cookie cutters, and Easter eggs).
Intro text, recipe selection, food preparation & co-styling: Ilse van der Merwe
Photography & co-styling: Tasha Seccombe
Green bunny prop courtesy of Lily’s Closet.