Monday, October 5, 2009

Amelia Bedelia's Tea Cake

Like I said, I love Amelia Bedelia.  I promise every post won't be about her cooking, or even involve unusual foodstuffs, but I couldn't resist this idea.

In Amelia Bedelia Helps Out, also by Peggy Parish, Ms. Bedelia is asked to make a tea cake for tea at Miss Emma's house.  (It is unclear who Miss Emma is, because our heroine works for Mr. and Mrs. Rogers, but I assume she's a friend of the family.)  This book is also special because Amelia Bedelia is working with the company of Effie Lou, her neice.  I know it's not the point of the book, but I can't help but wonder what the heck "Effie" is short for.  I wondered when I read it, and I'm still wondering now, and I've yet to come up with any ideas.  It's distracting me from the task at hand.

Right.  The task at hand.

In the book, Amelia Bedelia is asked to make a tea cake, but she has never heard of it, so she improvises.  She mixes batter for a regular cake, and empties a tea bag in with the spices.  I also added nutmeg, and the resulting flavor is somewhat like chai, which I love.  The loose tea leaves in the batter give the whole cake a faint but noticible tea flavor, and though the black flecks resulting are not pretty, they don't do any harm.

Also.  Despite the fact that illustration clearly shows that the tea cake is a layer cake, I've made the executive decision to make my version a pound cake, because I personally think that pound cake works better with tea both in taste and in the fact that it doesn't crumble as easily and mess up your white cotton gloves and lacy dress.  (That is what you wear to a tea party, right?  I haven't been to one since I was four and the tea wasn't so much tea as it was water in a plastic pot.)  I did keep the pink frosting, though, and added sprinkles for that festive touch.

I adapted this recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens Complete Step-By-Step Cook Book from 1978.  If you plan to pick this book up, I'd like to tell you that the food tastes much better than the photos lead you to believe.  One more note before we proceed:  You will definitely want to use an electric mixer for this cake, as there is a lot to mix, and creaming butter by hand is no fun (trust me, I've done it). 

Amelia Bedelia's Tea Cake
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tea bag (I used vanilla caramel black tea)
 Pink frosting and sprinkles (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 325. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9x3x5 loaf pan.  Bring the butter and eggs to room temperature.  (Note: My great-grandmother always said this gives the eggs room to expand.  I'm not sure what that means, exactly, but she always did it by putting them in a bowl and pouring warm water over them, and letting them sit a few minutes.)
2. In a bowl, beat the butter at medium speed with your electric mixer until creamed and fluffy, pushing the butter through the beaters with a rubber spatula if necessary.
3. Gradually add the sugar, beating until light and fluffy, about six minutes.
4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating about a minute after each addition.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
5. In another bowl, stir together the flour, salt, nutmeg, and the contents of the tea bag.  Add this gradually to the wet mixture and beat until blended.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth out the top with a rubber spatula; the cake will dome on its own.
7. Bake in the center rack of your oven for 60 to 65 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.  Cool at least 10 minutes in the pan before taking the cake out.
8. If desired, frost with pink frosting and decorate with sprinkles.  Enjoy with milk or tea.

Additional notes: Though I followed AB's advice and dumped in a tea bag, I have to wonder what the cake would have tasted like if I brewed the tea first and added it in with the wet ingredients.  I'll experiment and post a note if I can come up with a tea-cake-with-tea-in-it recipe that I like.


  1. I love your blog! Very creative idea! I have always had the urge to make food from books or picture books because they always looked to yummy to me as a kid. If you can, try making the mysteriously delicious "Pink Cake" in "Amelia Bedelia and the Baby." It looks so good, but I believe no one really knows what flavor it is and I was curious to see what you imagined it to be. Thanks!

  2. Whoops, it's been a while since reading the Amelia Bedelia Series but I think what I meant to say was the "Pink Cake" from "Amelia Bedelia Helps Out."