Friday, March 16, 2007

The lost art of morning tea

The mention of afternoon tea conjures up images of genteel drawing rooms, floral-patterned china and tiered stands holding little chicken or cucumber finger sandwiches and dainty cakes.

But what do you think of when I say "morning tea"? A coffee on the run or a hastily scoffed biscuit? Perhaps a piece of fruit or a muesli bar? I think morning tea serves just as useful a purpose as afternoon tea and it's time that we reclaimed some precious minutes from our busy schedules so that we can take a break mid-morning for some sustenance.

Most of us are up early, hurriedly eating toast or cereal before we rush out the door, grabbing a take-away coffee to drink at our desks as we log on to start wading through the emails that clogged up the in-box overnight. Some people even skip breakfast or eat at their desks. So by 10am, many tummies are rumbling and complaining that they will not make it through to lunchtime.

I've decided to make my own contribution to resurrect morning tea. On Fridays, I'll feature a morning tea recipe (although many will also be suitable for afternoon tea as well). I'd love to receive any contributions you have.

To get started, I'm featuring the unusual Armenian nutmeg cake, a recipe that my mum passed onto me. The unusual step of using some of the mix as a base results in a different texture from most other cakes I've had, but this is an absolutely delicious cake and always disappears quickly when I make it!


2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
125g butter
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Combine sugar and flour. Rub in butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Press half of this mixture into the base of a well-greased (or baking paper-lined) 20cm square cake tin.

Dissolve the bicarb soda in the milk, add the egg and nutmeg and pour over the remaining sugar and flour mix. Mix well, then spoon into the tin on top of the pressed-in mix. Sprinkle walnuts over the top. Bake in a 180 degrees Celsius oven for one hour. Allow to stand for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.


Lucy said...

Beautiful cake recipe.

Morning tea - such a calming ritual.

tina said...

I made this beautiful Armenian nutmeg cake, however, my base turned out to be kinda powdery in consistency. How can I achieve a better slice base? Should I add more butter to bind it perhaps?

Melinda said...

Thanks Lucy!

Tina - the base should be crumbly but not powdery. You should use cold butter, cut into small pieces, and rub through, squeezing the butter with your fingers. If the butter is too soft, it won't rub through properly. Also make sure you press the base in quite firmly. I would experiment and perhaps add 10g more butter to see if it makes a difference. Good luck!