March 13, 2011

Taking Tea!

We have come to love the tradition of taking tea. We believe it is one of the ways to renew ourselves. We love the ceremony of the teacup and the tea table. Whether taken with friends and family or in solitude, taking a cup of tea comforts us in times of stress and helps us celebrate in times of joy. Make this a tradition in your own home.... take the time to drink a cup of tea with someone you care about!

A Maine House Mosaic

Estelle's Tea Making Tips
  • Warm your teapot by pouring boiling water into it.
  • Use 1 teaspoon of tea per person and 1 teaspoon for the pot.
  • Bring freshly drawn water to the boil. Do not allow it to rattle once it boils, as this rids the water of air.
  •  Empty the water used to heat the teapot and take the pot to the kettle and pour in the boiling water.
  •  The suggestion is to use 1 ¼ pints of boiling water for each ounce of tea, more water for China tea.
  • Steep from 3 to 6 minutes, according to leaf size. Less time for small leaves, more time for large leaves (many people vote for 3 minutes).
  • Always use cold milk.

Auntie Dot’s Fruited Tea Bread
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup coarsely chopped glazed apricots, pineapple, cherries
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sour cream

Place oven rack in middle position. Pre-heat oven to 350ºF. Prepare a standard 9 by 5 by 3- inch loaf pan by lining bottom of pan with strip of wax paper, running paper up the two narrow ends of pan. Coat pan and liner with vegetable spray. Dust pan with flour. Place chopped walnuts and glazed fruit in bowl. Measure four on piece of wax paper and add 1/4 cup of flour to nuts and fruit and mix until coated with flour. In another bowl, sift flour, spices and baking soda and set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until soft and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla to batter. Mix well. Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla to mixture. Mix thoroughly. Add dry ingredients alternately with sour cream to batter. Fold in floured nuts and fruit. Bake for approximately 1 hour or until tester inserted into center of cake comes out dry. Place bread on rack. Allow to cool for 20 minutes and remove from pan onto another rack. Store loosely covered with wax paper in refrigerator.

Estelle's Orange Spice Tea Bread
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped dried figs
2 cups unbleached bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon aniseed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 1/4 teaspoons instant, quick-rising or bread-machine yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 cups ice water, plus more as needed
6 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup mild molasses
2 tablespoons corn oil
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
3 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons orange juice

Mix dough: Soak raisins, cranberries, and figs in hot water for 10 minutes; drain well and let cool to barely warm. Thoroughly stir 2 cups bread (or all-purpose) flour, whole-wheat flour, aniseed, allspice, yeast, and salt in a 4-quart (or larger) bowl. Thoroughly whisk 1 1/4 cups ice water, honey, molasses, oil, and orange zest in a medium bowl. Vigorously stir the honey mixture and drained fruit into the dry ingredients, scraping down the sides and mixing just until the dough is thoroughly blended. The dough should be moist and somewhat sticky, but fairly stiff. If the mixture is too dry, stir in just enough additional ice water to facilitate mixing, but don't overmoisten. If the dough is too wet, stir in just enough flour to stiffen slightly. Lightly coat the top with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

First rise: Let the dough rise at room temperature (about 70 degrees) for 12 to 18 hours; if convenient, stir once partway through the rise. For convenience (and improved flavor), you may refrigerate the dough for 3 to 12 hours before starting the first rise.

Second rise: Coat a 10-cup Bundt pan (or similar pan with a center tube) with oil. Vigorously stir the dough to deflate it. If it is soft, stir in just enough bread (or all-purpose) flour to yield a firm but moist dough (it should be fairly hard to stir). Transfer the dough to the pan. Lightly coat the top with oil. Smooth out and press the dough evenly into the pan with oiled fingertips or a rubber spatula; if the dough springs back and is resistant, let it rest for 10 minutes, then proceed. Cover with plastic wrap.

Let rise at warm room temperature until the dough is about 1 inch below the pan rim (of a 10-cup pan) or until an indentation stays when pressed into the dough (if a larger pan is used), 1 1/4 to 2 1/2 hours.

15 minutes before baking: Position a rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 350°F.

Bake, cool: Bake the loaf on the lower rack until lightly browned and a skewer inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs on the tip (or until an instant-read thermometer registers 204-206 degrees), 60 to 70 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes.

To prepare soaking syrup: Combine orange juice and honey in a small bowl. Brush about half the syrup over the top of the loaf. When it's fully absorbed, run a knife around the tube to loosen the loaf and invert onto the rack, set over wax paper. Brush with the remaining syrup. Let cool thoroughly.

To prepare glaze: If desired, combine confectioners' sugar with orange juice in a small bowl to make a thick, slightly fluid glaze. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled loaf and leave uncovered until the glaze sets, about 30 minutes.

the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea
Henry James

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