photographs by Justin Bernhaut prop stylist deborah williams food stylist Jamie kimm
With some simple scones and cake, and little decorating spruces, Rita Konig serves up a British afternoon treat for relaxing with family and friends after the turkey feast is over.
The only reason I can see in going for a long walk
on a chilly Saturday or Sunday afternoon is so you can return home with ruddy cheeks to a pot of steaming tea and sweet cakes. The days after Thanksgiving are the best time for this, as they are one of those rare instances when you actually have the time to bake and hang out with loved ones. I am so much more stylist than cook, but I do have a few favorite recipes for this occasion. Mostly, I am into making the whole thing look pretty. I like to trot out my best china—I am mad for vintage teacups!—and lay some sort of tablecloth over one end of the coffee table, so I don’t have to clear all my books and such. Minimal effort is my motto.
Rita encourages guests to help themselves; a quilted sari protects the table from the hot teapot.
rug abc Carpet & home throw (on table) john derian Company
The cake should be oozing and slightly messy-looking! Have fun finding vintage jars for serving.
homemade strawberry jam
This easy recipe was given to me by the owner of Baker & Spice, the most divine bakery and deli in London. Use frozen berries now, fresh when they’re in season. You’ll have enough for the cake recipe and to serve alongside the scones.
4 cups strawberries
1 cup sugar
Put ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring and skimming off froth, until slightly thickened, 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool.
Old earthenware bowls are ideal for serving scones, which should be small---big ones are far too clumsy.
leanne’s 1/2 victoria sponge cake
My friend Leanne Shapton turned me on to this brilliant idea-one cake layer cut in half and stacked as a demi double-layer. It’s ideal when you are too few for a whole cake.
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
1/2 cup superfine sugar
2 eggs plus 1 yolk, lightly beaten
3 to 5 drops vanilla extract
1/2 cup double-sifted self-rising flour
splash of whole milk
homemade strawberry jam
(see above for recipe, or sub in a store-bought brand)
confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour an 8" springform pan, and line with a circle of waxed paper cut to just fit inside. Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla gradually; add a little sifted flour if mixture curdles. Fold in flour with large spatula, adding a little milk to get a soft-dropping consistency. Scrape mixture into pan and smooth top. Bake for 25 minutes, or until cake is golden brown. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack, then let cool completely. Halve cake (so you have two D’s), and spread the bottom (porous side) of one half with a thick layer of jam. Top with the other half of the cake, smooth side up. Dust with confectioners’ sugar.
So many cookbooks today feature "theme-park English" food, but this one by a noted food columnist is filled with authentic recipes, like the one for scones, at right. amazon.com
Makes 24 to 30
If you’re more salt than sugar, grate some cheese into this recipe by Tamasin Day-Lewis. I like to freeze half the dough to bake at a later date.
1 lb. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 to 1/3 cup unsalted butter
4 to 6 level tsp. baking powder
1 1/4 cups whole milk
Preheat the oven to 425°. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Cut the butter into little pieces, and rub into the flour with the tips of your fingers as quickly as you can. Sift in baking powder; combine. Add milk and mix lightly into a spongy dough. Knead very lightly to make the dough smooth, and roll out 1/2" to 3/4" thick. Cut out scones with a 2" cutter, and let stand for 10 minutes. Brush with egg or milk before placing onto a greased baking sheet. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 10 minutes, then let cool.