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Stop By and Experience a Victorian Tea
By Sonya Ellingboe
Lemon tarts, scones with jam and Devonshire cream, Maid of Honor cakes, tiny tea sandwiches and bottomless pots of tea will be delivered to your table by gracious women dressed as turn-of-the-century manor house maids in dark skirts and crisp white aprons.
The occasion? The 23rd Annual Daughters of the British Empire Victorian Tea, which will take place from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 15 at First Plymouth Congregational Church, 3501 S, Colorado Blvd., Englewood. Local chapters of the national DBE organization hold the tea each year to raise money for local charities and the group’s home for seniors in California.
A piper and a Beefeater will greet guests as they arrive.
In addition to the traditional tea service, members have a bazaar and bake sale in an adjoining room. (I try to find shortbread and currant jelly to carry home.) British imports are also for sale.
Raffle tickets offer a chance for prizes that include seven themed gift baskets, tickets to “Taming of the Shrew” at the Denver Center Theatre, plus cocktails and meet the cast — and more prizes. The drawing will be at 3 p.m. and you must be present to win.
There are 230 seats available for the tea (one seating) and the DBE hopes to sell all the tickets in advance, but there may be a few left at the door.
Colorado DBE president Chris Baumgartner, who lives in Foxfield, says there are seven chapters along the Front Range from Longmont and Niwot on the north to Parker and Highlands Ranch on the south. She says anyone interested in membership should go to the website, www.DBEColorado.org, and contact the organizer, who will help find the best chapter, based on meeting time and location. New members are welcome.
Former president Olive Aithie-Wilkinson, of Littleton, who will be at a family gathering in Scotland on Oct. 15, is baking 400 scones for the event before she goes, as well as shortbread for the bake sale.
She has shared her recipe for cream scones, which “are a staple food in the UK as well as in other countries in the British Commonwealth.” In addition to these cream scones, the ones tourists are usually served with tea, she makes cheese scones, herb scone, treacle scones, plain, rich and Victoria scones, to name a few.
Cream scones are typically served with strawberry jam and Devonshire cream.
Chris Baumgartner’s specialty is lemon curd, also served with scones and she is making many jars of it to fill those lemon tarts. Other members will make hundreds of dainty sandwiches and other goodies, such as Maid of Honour cakes, first developed to please Richard III.
Cream Scones — as served at a Devonshire Cream Tea
2 cups of unbleached flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup sugar
½ cup sultana raisins*
½ cup heavy whipping cream
¼ cuphalf and half or whole milk
2-3Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp sugar
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a sieve; shake contents into a medium sized bowl. Add the whipping cream and 1/4 cup milk stirring with a fork until the dough holds together in a sticky mass. You may need to add a tablespoon or more of milk until the dough holds together.
Turn dough onto a well-floured board. Very quickly knead the dough several times*** Pat dough into a circle about 3/4 inch thick.
Cut dough with a cookie cutter. I use a 2 1/4 inch diameter cutter for nice small scones.
Brush scones with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 15 minutes r until golden brown.
* Instead of sultanas, one may add cranberries or chocolate chips.
*** My grandmother said that the trick to “light” scones is to work quickly, keep cool and never use a rolling pin.
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