Tea cake is any kind of bread or cake served along with tea, usually evening teas. This variety of cakes has a moist texture and is seldom iced and is often rich in ingredients like butter, eggs, chocolate, etc. Tea cakes are sliced and served so that they can be easily picked up by fingers. Tea cakes are usually baked fresh and served hot out of the oven. Varieties of Tea Cake The English have a tradition of serving cakes along with evening tea, which marked the origin of Tea Cakes. English tea cakes are flavored with dried fruits, hops, spices, etc; one such variety is made suing yeast which is enriched with dried fruits. Wheat based soda bread is referred to as a tea cake in Sweden. Some dictionaries include cookies and biscuits served with tea as part of their tea cake definition. Americans mostly serve a cookie rather than a cake along with tea. This cookie, however, unlike other cookies is larger and less sweet. At times a spice cake dusted with powdered sugar is also served with tea in America.
A teacake is a small dessert cake that is traditionally served during afternoon tea. Most versions are baked but a few are created without leavening agents making them look just like large cookies. Traditionally, teacakes are not frosted. The size of the cake is also supposed to be small so that they can be eaten with fingers. The appearance of the teacake will vary according to regions and the teacake recipe though.
History of Teacakes
The Teacake has been attributed to several cultures across the globe. But the earliest recorded version consists of a British/ Yorkshire teatime pastry, often a round baked bread roll that was usually served with Earl Grey tea. But over time, the original recipe underwent several regional changes in the UK itself. In other parts of England, the same cake was baked with yeast to create a dense fruity bun which was split and toasted before eating. In Kent, the teacake is called as a HUFFKIN and is flavored with hops. Each culture adapted the original British version to create richer, denser or paler cakes that were served at tea time. In the US, the original teacake recipe was adapted in the late 18th century to form small cakes that were served with afternoon tea. Southerners added spice, lemon peel or orange zest to make the recipe for the teacake unique and individual. The Irish created their own teacake recipe which is a form of glazed coffee cake, while Mexicans created a much richer fruitcake that was served for tea as well as during festive occasion.
Ingredients Used and Popular Methods of Preparing Teacakes
The actual ingredients of a teacake will depend upon the region and the recipe. For example, a modern British teacake will be baked just like a cake with eggs, flour, butter and sugar. Chefs may add sultanas, seeds or other flavorings to the teacake to make them unique. In Europe, the teacake will be baked like wheat soda bread and served with butter and jam. Russians produce a unique recipe for the teacake which has ground nuts, flour, butter, sugar and water. These teacakes were very popular in the 18th to the 20th century and were also served during wedding celebrations. In the US, teacakes are provided in the form of large dense rich cookies made with the same ingredients but no leavening agent. Southerners have a teacake recipe filled with spices or fruits that is served with tea.
Serving and Eating Teacake
Regional variations will decide how a teacake is served. But traditionally, a good combination is serving at high tea or afternoon tea with clotted cream, jam and a high quality tea. But each culture will have its own traditions.
The size of a teacake serving is usually small. Most cultures will pre-portion small 100gm slices of teacake with tea and it will contain sugar, butter and white processed flour. Most of the calories are derived from the butter and sugar content but a few teacake recipes may contain lard which will add to the calorie count. Inquire about the exact ingredients to identify the nutritional significance of the dish.