Scene: Rolling acres of green grass and a huge country manor in the English countryside. A man in a tan, tweed suit is walking towards the house accompanied by his golden retriever. If you are a Downton Abbey fan, you will recognize this as the opening scene to the start of the Masterpiece Classics TV Show.
I have always been intrigued by English Nobility. In high school I wrote a term paper on the wives of King Henry VIII. I watched the weddings of Prince Charles and Lady Diana, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, and most recently Prince William and Catherine Middleton. Perhaps it's because we grow up with fairy tale stories of Kings, Queens, Princes and Princesses. The idea of wearing beautiful gowns with crowns full of jewels is so very wonderful to think of. When PBS brought the TV Show Downton Abbey to the USA in 2011 from England, I was very interested! It tells of an English Earl and his family living in a Yorkshire country estate in the post-Edwardian era. In it's fictional story line, it depicts parts of history starting in season one with the sinking of the Titanic. This event not only affects the whole family, but the house staff as well. Throughout the six seasons we see the lives of the aristocratic family and it's house staff and how their lives intertwine and function together.
I.LOVE.IT! Two weeks ago was the last episode of the whole series. The director wrapped all the characters lives up very nicely.....but now it's over! There is such a let down when you get so involved in something when it comes to an end. To extend the moment a little longer, I hosted a Downton Abbey afternoon tea. Sort of a "geeked out" English tea party. I did some research (meaning a little binge watching of Downton Abbey) and made note of some of the foods the characters ate. I settled on Scones, (making sure to have lemon curd, real butter and jam) cucumber and salmon sandwiches, Apple Charlotte, Treacle Tarts, and Scottish Shortbread. (although we forgot about the shortbread, my daughter and son found it later) Next I made name cards, attaching little teacups and saucers (I found them at Michael's Craft Store) with ribbon. And since this is my party, all the women were given the title of Lady. I brought out my great aunt Catherine's china and set the table, making sure that everything was in place. Lace table runner, CHECK, fresh flowers, CHECK, china place settings, CHECK, food, CHECK, and tea. I had three different types of tea, 2 herbals and 1 Earl Grey.....all decaffeinated.
Now it was time to not look like the kitchen staff but clean up to look like the lady of the house. I put on my pearls and greeted my guests. We had such fun! We ate and talked about the show. I also printed Downton Abbey bingo cards. While watching an episode, as the different characters would do or say things listed on the card, we would mark off the square. At the end of the tea, I gave all of my ladies a framed quote that I came up with. It says: "I am the Lady of the house Housekeeper, Cook, Nanny, Lady's maid, House maid, Parlour maid, Chamber maid, Kitchen maid, Scullery maid, Laundry maid, Nurse above all I am the Daughter of the King of Kings!
II Corinthians 6:18 "and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty."
You see, I don't have to dream about being royalty anymore. I am a daughter of the King of Kings. Trusting in Jesus as Lord and Savior of my life grafts me into his family. As his children, we are not to act like snooty aristocrats, but be imitators of a loving Father.
Ephesians 5: 1-2 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Heavenly Father, may I strive to be more like you and less like me.
Serves 6-8 Ingredients:
Butter for greasing
5-6 Granny Smith apples
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9" springform pan with butter. Peel, core and slice the apples into 1/2 inch pieces. Add to a bowl and toss with lemon juice to prevent from browning.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom and salt. In a separate large bowl, place sugar and eggs and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until the mixture is roughly doubled in size, about 2-3 minutes. Turn off the mixer and gently whisk the flour mixture into the egg mixture until well blended. Fold in the sliced apples. Scoop out the mixture into the springform pan; even out the top with a wooden spoon.
3. Bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour, until the top of the crust is golden brown and the top springs back when pressed lightly. Place on a wire rack to cool slightly. Run a knife along the edges of the cake to help separate from the sides of the pan. Carefully release the springform band and lift to remove. Run a knife between the bottom of the cake and the base of the pan. Let cool on a wire rack for 15-20 minutes longer before removing from the bottom of the pan and removing the cake onto a serving platter. Serve warm or chilled.
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting 2 tbsp. sugar (or sugar substitute)
½ tsp. salt
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
2 large egg yolks (I freeze the whites for future baking)
½ tsp. vanilla
1 to 2 tablespoons cold water
1½ cups golden syrup
1 large lemon, finely grated zest
1 tbsp. lemon juice
½ tsp ground ginger
1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
Makes one 9 inch tart or 12 smaller tarts
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Combine the flour, salt, sugar. Work in butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs (if you must you may use a food processor). Add the egg yolks, vanilla and water until a smooth dough is formed. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill in the fridge for half an hour. Unwrap the chilled pastry and roll out as thin as you can (cuts the calories) to fit a 9 inch fluted pan, or you can cut into circles and press into muffin tins. Work the dough into the crevices of the pan. Line with tin foil, fill with baking beans, and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and bake for 5 minutes. Heat the Golden Syrup with the lemon. Add the ginger. Sprinkle the bread crumbs in the tart shell or distribute amongst the muffin tins. Pour in the syrup. Note, the syrup bubbles when cooking so the mixture should be not fill more than half way up the sides of your container…unless you are like me and love a crispy toffee crust from the overflow. Not great for your teeth, but yummy. Use the dough trimmings to make a lattice top on the large tart if you like. Bake the larger tart for 20–30 minutes, individual sized tarts for 10 – 15 minutes.
Amanda Williams is a forty-year old wife and mother of two who can still swing her pony tail and display just a tad of sass. She is also a Jesus loving girl who realizes she is nothing without the One who saved her. Amanda has two degrees specializing in serving students with special needs and is currently working in the field of Leadership Development. She is a Christian author, speaker, blogger, and publisher who loves serving beside her husband at her local place of worship, First Baptist Church of Ocala.