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Monday, November 11, 2013


Today we’re joined by TJ Brown, the author of the Summerset Abbey series. TJ also writes young adult novels as Teri Brown. You can read more about her at her website

Even though she was the governess’s daughter, Prudence Tate was raised to be a free thinking independent woman by her guardian, Sir Philip Buxton, a man far ahead of the Edwardian time period in which they lived. When Sir Buxton dies, Prudence is compelled to move with his daughters to Summerset Abbey, where she is relegated to the servant’s quarters. One marriage and one book later, Prudence is a Camden Town housewife, completely unprepared for the cooking and cleaning involved in her new role.

Fortunately, Prudence gets cooking lessons from a friend and is soon learning to cook basic English dishes such as bangers and mash and Kippers. She tries her hand (more or less successfully) at traditional English treats from the era. Sponge cake was an English favorite and often served with afternoon tea.

When I decided to tackle a sponge cake, I wanted one fit for a queen. The first one didn’t cut it and instead turned out flat and rather eggy. After reading the reviews (which I SHOULD have done first,) I learned there had been a typo and it should have read 3 eggs and not 8! Big difference. Big, big difference.

This recipe turned out like a dream, light and airy. I spread strawberry jam between the two layers and topped it off with homemade whipped cream and though I admit to preferring my cake with coffee over tea, I have to say it was delicious.

Sponge Cake with Jam and Whipped Cream

4 eggs, room temperature
1-3/4 cups sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup milk (whole or 2 %)
1/4 cup butter (salted or unsalted, whatever you have on hand)
2 cups pastry flour, (though all-purpose flour can be substituted)
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup of good quality jam. (I prefer homemade strawberry.)

Preheat oven to 325

This recipe works best with a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment. Beat eggs for five minutes. Add one cup of sugar. Mix until just combined then add the 3/4 cups of sugar and continue mixing for another 4-5 minutes until light and pale yellow.  Add vanilla and stir on low.

Sift together dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add to the egg mixture until combined.

Heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan on low heat until the butter is melted. Don’t allow mixture to get too hot.  Mix into the batter until combined. Pour the batter into two greased and floured 8" round cake pans.

Bake until the cake is light golden brown and the middle springs back when touched.  Remove from oven and place pans on wire racks for ten minutes. Turn out onto the cooling racks and cool completely.  Stand in pans for 10 minutes. Then turn out onto wire cooling racks and cool completely.

Add about a cup of jam to the top of one of the cakes and place the other on top. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with freshly whipped cream.

Summerset Abbey
Reminiscent of Downton Abbey, this first novel in a new series follows two sisters and their maid as they are suddenly separated by the rigid class divisions within a sprawling aristocratic estate and thrust into an uncertain world on the brink of WWI...

Rowena and Victoria, daughters to the second son of the Earl of Summerset, have always treated their governess’s daughter, Prudence, like a sister. But when their father dies and they move in with their uncle’s family in a much more traditional household, Prudence is relegated to the maids’ quarters, much to the girls’ shock and dismay. The impending war offers each girl hope for a more modern future, but the ever-present specter of class expectations makes it difficult for Prudence to maintain a foot in both worlds.

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Anonymous said...

The cake looks amazing and your story sounds so interesting. My daughter is a HUGE DA fan. I am going to be recommending the book to her.

Rose Anderson said...

Looks great. I'm a DA fan too..though a little miffed they killed off Matthew. Really, he didn't go through enough with the war? The cake looks awesome. Best luck!

TeriBrownwrites said...

They didn't have a choice on the Matthew killing. The actor didn't want to renew his contract, but I don't know how it's going to be the same! I am going to make the sponge cake for a Downton Abbey viewing party!

Evelyn Cullet said...

The series sounds wonderful, and it's so timely. You must have done a lot of research about that era. I admire you for that, and I love the book cover.

Vamp Writer said...

Oh, my wife and I LOVED DA but so much misfortune befell the family that I don't know how the story will be able to continue...but I do hope it will. The work of R.J. Mitchell, development of Chain-Home stations and Bletchley-Park beg to be highlighted and I'd love to see England's "finest hour" through the eyes of what is left of the characters on DA!