Wednesday, July 6, 2011

good food matters: Fresh and simple tastes, recipes and stories from Chef Nancy Vienneau

good food matters: Fresh and simple tastes, recipes and stories from Chef Nancy Vienneau

July 6th, 2011
Time for Tea, and Raspberry-Peach Buttermilk Cake

Pausing, midday, for a cup of hot tea is one of those treats I rarely allow myself. That shouldn’t be the case. Taking time to step away from the stove, or the computer screen, is so beneficial to my general well-being; it should be a natural part of my day. That moment to regroup, restore, and refill the creative well is as easy as bringing water to a boil.

I was reminded of this when I was asked to sample some organic herbal teas for a company, Sacred Rose. I set aside my work, took out the only tea cup left from a set that once belonged to my grandmother, and poured a delicious, heady brew. That bit of self-nurturing was just what I needed–and the non-caffeinated concoction gave me a little boost, without the spike and drop of coffee.


Sometimes, it’s nice to take the pampering a step further.

I follow a blog, Darjeeling Dreams. Here, Joyti has written much about the world of tea: the types and blends, tisanes and infusions, the rituals of steeping and sipping. She also has some wonderful recipes–mostly desserts—many of which are perfect to enjoy with that vibrant midday cup.

One recent recipe caught my eye. It had all the right elements–a pleasing aesthetic, and an intriguing complexity in flavors created in a simple preparation. It is also her friend’s favorite: a one layer, unfrosted, fresh Raspberry Buttermilk Cake.


One day, I decided to make it, although with slight variation. I had just a handful of raspberries in the house, and a couple of very ripe peaches. Peaches and raspberries baked onto a buttermilk cake sounded appealing, too.


It’s the sort of cake that you can whip up by hand. I like that. No need to lug out the stand mixer. There’s a wee bit of preplanning: be sure to have the butter softened, so that it will cream nicely with the sugar. And, have the buttermilk at room temperature–it will more readily blend with the creamed butter-sugar mixture without clumping.

Joyti makes her cake with a combination of whole wheat and white flours. My pantry offered only unbleached all purpose white flour, so, again, there’s a slight variation.


It baked beautifully.

And the taste? Elegant.

This is a barely sweetened cake, and the buttermilk imparts a rich tang. The crumb is soft. The raspberries almost melt into the batter as it bakes. This aspect is what really makes the cake special, and if you have only raspberries–so much the better. The peaches, while pretty, remain sitting on top–their juices don’t influence the cake’s outcome so much.

One night, I served it to friends with a scoop of vanilla ice cream drizzled with peach and plum sauces I had made.

But now, it’s just me. So, I’ll steep a pot of this grounding tea, and have a slice. If you’re in the neighborhood, come on over. I’d love to share.


(adapted from Joyti’s Darjeeling Dreams)
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 T. Baking Powder
pinch Salt
1/2 Cup Sugar
6 T. Butter, softened
1 1/3 cups Buttermilk, at room temperature
Zest from 1 Lemon
1 Egg
1/2 Cup Fresh Raspberries
1-2 sliced Peaches
2 T. Demerara Sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9″ springform pan with parchment, and butter the sides.
Mix dry ingredients–flour/baking powder/salt in a bowl and set aside.
In another bowl, cream the softened butter and sugar together,
Whisk in the buttermilk, lemon zest, and egg.
Stir in the dry ingredients, and mix until well incorporated.
Pour into prepared springform pan.
Arrange sliced peaches around the circumference of the caketop. Place raspberries in the center.
Sprinkle with Demerara Sugar and bake for 30-35 minutes.
Allow to cool 15 minutes before removing .

Enjoy with a cup of tea.


Sacred Rose’s “Mother Earth Zest” (one of their 8 special blends) is a gently invigorating tea. Ginger and spearmint are the dominant notes, layered with fennel and sage. It is designed to refresh and to ground, and is pleasant tea to drink in the afternoon. It has lovely aromatics, too.

Sacred Rose is a planetary-conscious company, whose teas honor the energy and restorative powers imbued by the plant kingdom.


Posted in Beverages, Desserts, Recipes

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