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Award winning Park Room at Grosenvor   House in London offers an Afternoon tea to celebrate S3 & the 1920s when they opened.

Welcome to Tea Tuesday, my weekly tribute to the art of having tea. “A Proper Tea is Much Nicer than a Nearly Nice Tea“- A.A. Milne.  Life is grand in the UK with the launch of Season 3, sad in the US as PBS won’t be broadcasting the new season until January.  However, there are the Emmys to look forward to this weekend.

Tea Tuesday was inspired by Christine, a young woman living in France who was curious about English tea traditions after watching a few episodes of Downton Abbey. The British may have failed miserably in other culinary areas, but they excel in the tea ritual. Join me every Tuesday as I dish on Downton Abbey, the Royal Family, UK tourism and other topical tea issues one might discuss at tea, served up with a tea treat recipe with a history. Today’s treat is Bakewell Tarts, an English tea favorite. Originally known as Bakewell Pudding, this confection dates back to the Tudor era.  Mrs. Beeton, the Victorian domestic goddess, even published a lovely version.

My Online Guide to the Tea Ritual

Taking a traditional “afternoon tea” is definitely a bucket list experience. To do it properly, I have created a handy guide to help you enjoy the experience. One follower reported this week she was thrilled to be able to find a tea house in her small town.  I suggested she use the tips to practice to become the queen of her tea house, train take on to take on London.  Downton Abbey Cooks Online Guide to Afternoon Tea.

We are So Social

A heart felt thank you for sharing my passion for Downton Abbey, history and food. We now have 120,000 views here since January when I started this particular blog, 5,400 twitter followers (@downtoncooks). Check out the posted links to Facebook and Pinterest.

If you do tweet, you may wish to join me @downtoncooks, and other fans of Downton Abbey and tea from around the world by entering the hashtag #downtontea Tuesdays at 4 pm GMT, 11 am EDT, 9 am PST. We just hang out and chat, not unlike what you would normally do over tea.  Please chat amongst yourselves, I may be in the kitchen making scones.

Dishing Downton: Spoiler Alerts

Who will you cheer and jeer in Season 3?

WARNING: if you wish to remain in ignorant bliss about that is going to happen in Season 3, I would suggest you scroll right down to our recipe of the day.

  • Season 3 has launched in the UK: As you may know by now, Season 3 of Downton Abbey premiered on ITV1, with nearly 9 million viewers.
  • Spoilers really didn’t spoil if for me: I have been following the Season 3 spoilers all along and still found the first episode rewarding.  The beauty of Downton is that it is so rich, there are many things to capture your imagination.
  • Americans look forward to this weekend’s Emmys: Look for your favorite Downton Actors on the red carpet this weekend as Downton takes on the Emmys.  Have you planned a Downton Emmy party? My menu ideas.
  • From Soaps to Downton: Our favorite actors earned their trade the honest way appearing first on our favorite UK soaps (go Corrie!) 
  • There’s an App for that:  Fans of Downton and iPads/iPhones will be interested in the new Downton Abbey app available in iTunes.
  • Chronicles of Downton Abbey: Jessica Fellowes new book, The Chronicles of Downton Abbey: A New Erawas just released and promises to provide a wonderful pictorial of the new season (yes, Spoilers).  I can’t wait for my own copy so I can review it for you all.  If you haven’t picked up her first book, The World of Downton Abbey,I highly recommend it which I reviewed back in May.
  • Other Books for Downton Abbey Fans:  Edwardian Promenade has provided a wonderful Facebook page with many historical novels to enjoy while you wait for Season 3 to debut on PBS Masterpiece in January.

Bakewell Tart

Bakewell tart- great taste & less filling.  Lord D treated me to the lovely DAC  cutting board.

The name comes from the town of Bakewell in Devonshire where the dessert originated. There are a few versions of how it was invented but essentially involves a cooking mistake where the jam was added before the custard.  Just goes to show that inexperience in the kitchen can lead to glorious result!

In my quest for healthy living, I have spent some time working with different variations, trying to create a version which would satisfy my Lord D, a former culinary magazine magnate in his own right.  In my latest taste test, the butter version prevailed, but I cut the amount of filling to cut some of the calories.  To help with portion control, individual tarts are also a great way to go.  I should have it all worked out by the time I launch my cookbook in December.


Serves 12

For the pastry

  • 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

For the filling

  • 1/4 cup raspberry or other jam (sugar free cuts some calories)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 1 cup caster sugar (or sugar substitute)
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 tsp. almond essence (optional)
  • 1/4 cup flaked almonds


For the pastry:

  1. Combine the flour, salt, sugar.  Work in butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs (if you must you may use a food processor)
  2. Add the egg yolks, vanilla and water until a smooth dough is formed.
  3. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill in the fridge for half an hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  5. Unwrap the chilled pastry and roll out as thin as you can (again 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.  You could prick and blind bake the crust for 10 minutes if you like.

you can also make tartlets

For the filling:

  1. cream the flour and sugar and lemon zest.  Add the beaten eggs,  then the flour, ground almonds, almond essence, and mix well.
  2. Spread the jam on the crust, then spoon the mixture over the jam.
  3. Top with flaked almonds, then bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the filling is baked through and golden-brown all over.

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