I love Downton Abbey. I love the gentle crescendo of the theme song rising and falling in perfect rythm with charming visuals of the romantic age, an era gone but not forgotten. I love the fuss they make downstairs, the chivalry, the poise, the elegance. Upstairs I love the festivity, the exuberance, the extravagance. I love the fancy garbs, noses sticking in the air, the utterly over the top flower arrangements and Maggie Smith's sarcastic humour. But above all I love what goes on in Mrs. Patmore's kitchen. No surprise there. I am a food geek and Downton Abbey is no exception when it comes to obsessions.
If you pay close attention during the show, you will see plenty of gold rimmed china, vintage floral plates, ornate silver flatware and beautiful teapots. I imagine a place like Downton Abbey would know their high tea and take it very seriously indeed. Perfectly arranged assortment of pastries, cakes, jams, creams, sandwiches and biscuits daintily washed down by Earl Grey tea? In recent years, the charming practice of high tea has become even more mainstream with tea parlours getting increasingly creative. I love going out to high tea, love the abundance of it. It is very hard to replicate that abundance at home especially if you are only catering for two or three people. So we do the only logical thing to do. We bake a fancy cake, make a big pot of tea and call it Afternoon Tea, thinking about Downton Abbey of course.
I always have a jar of homemade rhubarb jam on hand. It is my most favourite jam to make and eat in the whole wide world. If you haven't tried it yet, I insist you do. This time I glamourised a plain butter cake with dollops of this gorgous ruby red jam and went creative with a skewer marbling it for a tea for two affair. This is a simple and beautiful cake. You could make variations with whatever jam you have available. The vanilla is plentiful and marries perfectly with the rhubarb. This recipe is also in time for the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop - High Tea at the Delicieux blog. Now tell me, are you a Downton Abbey nerd like me?
RHUBARB JAM BUTTER CAKE
A plain vanilla butter cake is made glamorous with dollops of sweet home made rhubarb jam. Perfect for high tea.
6 tablespoons rhubarb jam
1 1/2 cups (225g) plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
120g unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup (160g) caster sugar
2 eggs lightly beaten
1/2 cup (125ml) milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
t a pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 160C (325F). Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl and set aside. Place butter in an electric mixer and beat for a few minutes until smooth. Add sugar and beat for a couple of minutes until pale and fluffy. Add the egg, beat for a minute. Add the flour mixture, milk and vanilla. Beat until smooth.
Spoon into a lightly greased and dusted with flour (or lined with baking paper) 20x26cm rectangular or 24cm round cake tin or springform pan. I used a pie dish because I wanted a flatter slice. Drop dollops of jam in several spots. Using a wooden skewer, create a swirly pattern in the jam. Bake for approximately 40 minutes until cooked through and golden.
Allow to cool completely in tin before turning out onto serving plate. Cut into square or rectangle slices. Dust with pure icing sugar to serve.
Interesting High Tea Resources
Downton Abbey Cooks - Exploring the fine art of high tea, this Canadian blogger shares scrumptious recipes from the Downton Abbey era.
The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook - From lady Mary's Crab Canapes to Mrs. Patmore's Christmas Pudding.
The Vintage Tea Party Book - Angel Adoree
Martha Stewart Afternoon Tea Recipes
Carole's Chatter is collecting links using rhubarb today. This is a nice one. I do hope you pop over and link in. This is the link . Cheers
I made this cake yesterday with raspberry jam and it baked beautifully. Not only was it simple and quick to whip up, but the taste was perfect for my afternoon tea. It was really moist and not too sweet. Thanks for the recipe.
I love your blog, your style and your photos!
Some days ago I tried this cake... I'm crazy about it and I can't wait to make it again! You can see my results on my blog!
I'm an italian foodblogger and I always visit your lovely blog!! I hope you don't mind if I have used your lovely recipe!
Have a nice day!
Oh I need a slice of this! 🙂
I am a great fan of Downton Abbey and I love watching it while baking a cake, drinking a mug of tea and daydreaming. I can't wait to taste the rhubarb cake, that looks delicious. By the way, I'm Ilenia, from Italy. Nice to meet you 🙂
I am yet to jump into an episode -- you've nudge me to the edge, with this delicious butter cake as well 😉
I'm a season behind on Downton Abbey but love love love it. Not as much as I love this cake and these pictures though! Wow!
I love how simple this recipe is and such a gorgeous photos, too. I'm not big into watching the telly but my MIL is a big Downton Abbey fan so I've bookmarked some of the links you supplied at the end of the post to make for her next birthday. She will love it! 🙂
Sneh .. I am in love with the photos! I have no idea about this show but I have to look for it. Hopefully I can find it in Amazon instant view. Something tells me I am gonna like it. I like anything english 🙂
Hi Sneh. I love your blog and your photos are such an inspiration to me.
I made this tonight (it's currently in the oven!) but I used some stewed rhubarb I had left over and needed to use up 🙂
I was just wondering where you add the milk? I couldn't see it there. I alternated it between the flour so I'm hoping it turns out as nice as yours looks. cx
Thank you Carly! Good call adding it with the flour, that is what I did (fixed it in the recipe above too.) Thanks for letting me know. Cheers!
No problem. It turned out great. The girls in the office and I are enjoying it right now! Thanks again cx
Your pictures look so lovely... I can't wait to try out this recipe! I'm even thinking maybe on my way home from work, I'll stop by the supermarket to get all ingredients!
This cake looks so delicious! Beautiful presentation too! I love photos with dark backgrounds. Pinning it to my dessert board!
Gorgeous Cake! What a scrumptious way to enjoy a marathon viewing session. I like recipes like these as its more fun to swirl around the food. Also this is a great reason to do a lot of jam-mming 🙂
2.The Tour Eiffel
What a great use for jam! Now I have a perfect reason to jam up as much fruit as possible. 🙂
I love Downton Abbey too! What a perfect cake to enjoy for a marathon viewing session!
love the swirls of the rhubarb jam in the cake-yum !
I made this jam twice already so this cake is a must-try as well!
What a lovely cake for afternoon tea. I love that it's so simple an unadorned - and with that jam it's the perfect alternative to scones!
I'm not a big fan of rhubarb but love it in a jam, must be the sweetness of the added sugar that makes it palatable. Nice photos and ooh la la that vase!
BEAUTIFUL! Cake and the photos 🙂 I like how unique each one of your posts are...
I so adore rhubarb; I adore the custom of high tea; I adore Downton Abbey. This post ticked so many of my boxes!
That cake looks delicious, and your styling is superb. This recipe is going to be filed away as a keeper. Thank you. 🙂
Oh wow! I stumbled across your blog a week or so ago and my what a lovely place it is... Your photos are just fantastic. I especially love the action ones on this specific post. The rhubarb jam has got me.. With rhubarb starting to appear at our Farmers Markets I think I will need to grab some and try it..
Gorgeous Sneh! I love all of the action shots!! Are you going to add your delicious cake to the blog hop link up?
I absolutely adore Downton Abbey too! Maggie Smith is hilarious, and really steals the show, although Shirley MacLaine gives her a run for her money in season 3. I love watching the food come out of the kitchen too, and I can't help but think how we would all cope using equipment like that nowadays! But of course, my favourite is the fashion. Oh how I wish dressing for dinner was something that was still popular 😉
I already have Jen .. it says so in the post above with a link to you :-). I had to remove the badge because of conflict with my "Pin It" on-image round buttons.
I have never tried rhubarb jam, but that cake looks amazing! And I am also a huge Downton Abbey fan!! Not sure if you've seen the latest episode in series 3 but that was an absolute shocker... (but I won't spoil it for you.)
I absolutely love your blog, by the way! Especially the little interviews you've been doing with Masterchef contestants!
I love your cakes. They always start simple but there's something that takes them into the realm of ooohh, wow, that's creative and I need that - like the rhubarb jam! And love that they can be made without much fuss, no frosting needed, just get busy on cake-making, and then...cake-eating 🙂
Absolutely fantastic photos and styling!
Absolutely stunning photos, Sneh! The final product looks lovely too.. I really need to try your rhubarb jam, I've never tried anything like that before..