Several houses and towns ago, my neighbor enjoying hosting a few ladies for coffee and tea. She usually orchestrated it so that those of us who were working could enjoy a lovely weekday morning together.
It wasn’t anything elaborate, but it was very thoughtful and pretty.
One thing she always did was to purchase some beautiful paper napkins. You know the ones with the gorgeous designs that are too pretty to use?
She would set her table with special dishes. Pieces she picked up here and there from antiquing. They didn’t necessarily match, but everything always looked beautiful.
And of course, there were flowers. Usually something from her yard or garden, quickly assembled.
Want to know the best part of this sweet occasion?
I always felt special when I sat at her lovely table.
It was fun chatting with a few friends and being refreshed by my friend’s hospitality.
Have you ever invited a few friends over for tea.
Have you ever been invited to join a few friends for tea?
My friend usually hosted these little gatherings in the morning just after the kiddos got off to school. It worked for me because I could somehow manage to get away from the office for the morning on a rare occasion. But, you could host a tea or coffee any time that works for your schedule.
The menu doesn’t have to be elaborate.
In fact, the simpler the better.
A plate or dish of fruit and a sweet bread or croissants with butter and jam would be enough for a morning tea.
If you get together in the afternoon, you might want to have a chicken salad in addition to the above.
Providing you have the time or the energy, you might want to make or purchase something a little bit special, but it’s not necessary.
Of course, you already know that I would do something just a little bit extra for you. [wink]
Okay….for our tea today…I went all out.
I made something that I’ve never before made.
Don’t they seem perfect for tea?
Another friend of mine has this wonderful book that is filled with all things cake and decorating cakes: Decorating Cakes (The Wilton School).
Recently, I was looking through it with her as she was trying to decide what she might make for her niece’s wedding reception. Instead of the usual cake, the bride asked family members to make little desserts for the wedding guests. I spied the petit fours and said she ought to make those. I also made the comment that I’d like to try my hand at them and share them on the blog.
Having not made petit fours before, my cake decorating friend suggested that I make them for you as sort of a test run.
They were a test…that’s for sure! And a labor of love.
Whatever price they charge for them at the bakery, they are worth every penny.
Let me take you through the steps I took to make these sweet cakes.
First, bake a 9×13 cake. This is the easy part!
I used a yellow mix and added milk in place of the water, and an extra two extra eggs and a teaspoon of almond extract. Raise your hand if you love almond flavoring. Yum!
The cake was baked in a parchment lined pan instead of a floured pan to make for easy removal and less crumbs.
Once the cake was cooled and the parchment removed I used this handy Wilton cake leveler to slice the hump off the cake. Then I adjusted the wire device again, and sliced the cake in half horizontally, leaving the two pieces still intact with the cut between them.
Using some tall cookie cutters I then cut the cake into rectangle and round shapes.
While the cake was cooling, I whipped up a delicious buttercream frosting flavored with almond extract for the filling and crumb coating.
This is when the project started to get a little bit tedious….
I got to work spreading a layer of frosting on the bottom layer of the tiny layer cakes and then adding the top to make little sammies.
Then, in groups, I sprayed the tiny layer cakes with a Crumb Coat Spray according to the directions. It makes spreading a crumb coat of buttercream icing on the little cakes easier.
You know, patience is a virtue and I certainly was exercising my patience as I carefully coated each little cake with buttercream.
Once they were done, I placed them in a covered container for the night. A wise decision on my part to put the project on pause.
The next afternoon it was time to make a quick-pour fondant recipe from the book, Decorating Cakes (The Wilton School).
This is an easy cooked glaze to which I added almond extract and and a wee bit of coloring.
I am totally a newbie at this cake decorating thing and I quickly learned…a little bit of coloring goes a long way. At first I panicked because I thought it was too pink, but later when I placed the finished petit fours on the plates I found it was perfect. Whew!
If you should choose to make petit fours with the quick-pour fondant, I have a few suggestions:
- Should your fondant get too thick, add a half teaspoon of water at most and stir it in well to get it thinned down. I had to do this several times as I coated the petit fours. I also kept the pan on the cook top to help hold its warmth.
- Find a small wire rack, the one I used was from the tray in the toaster oven, and place your tiny cake on it, in the corner.
- A teaspoon worked best for pouring the glaze over the cake.
- I poured the glaze while holding the wire rack over the pan of warm glaze, so that any extra glaze could fall into the pan. You might need to scrape some off the bottom of the rack as it starts to set up.
- I tried this with the wire rack sitting over a piece of freezer paper, but it was much messier.
- Be careful holding your cake on the rack over the pan. In my zeal I dumped a cake in the glaze. After rescuing this not exactly presentable petit four, I did what anyone would do….I had a bite. Oh. My. Yum. It was soooo good. Delicious! And perfectly almond. And very sweet.
- For an elegant touch, I placed pearls on the fondant. You’ll want to use tweezers to place the pearls if you decorate with them, and you’ll want to do it immediately after pouring the fondant on the cakes so that they stick and don’t roll off.
After the glaze hardened, I tried my hand at decorating the cakes with flowers, after a wee bit of practice. Fortunately the cake decorating book had all the instructions on how to make the flowers and stems, and my friend has quite a few tips and frosting bags so that was really helpful.
The frosting I used to make the flowers was leftover buttercream. Again…I freaked out at the color when I tinted it…but on the plates it looked great. The flowers….well let’s just say they aren’t perfect. [wink]
The moment of realization.
I have to tell you that after all that work, I thought the petit fours were just okay. In fact I really didn’t want to serve them to you. But, since it was so much work, I was hopeful that you would extend me grace for my effort. Besides, they really do taste great.
When I placed these pink cakes on each plate, I was amazed at how sweet they looked.
And then I had an ah-ha moment.
If this were your table I was seated at, and you told me you made these little petit fours for me, I would be thrilled. I wouldn’t be analyzing them for the lack of perfection. Nope. Quite the opposite.
And it was at that moment that I loved them.
Imperfectly perfect petit fours for tea.
I hope you like them too.
It’s tea time!
The menu for our tea is as I mentioned before. Simple.
I like tea, but if your prefer coffee, that’s what I’ll serve you.
More than our fruit, croissants, sweet cakes, coffee or tea is the joy in sitting down with you.
As special as I’ve tried to make the table and the menu….if I could sit and chat with you over just a glass of water…that would be pretty special to me, too.
If you’re wondering about the tablescape details….
- The teacups, dessert plates, and luncheon plates are all from TJ Maxx.
- The blue birds and ceramic pot are from JoAnn.
- The napkins are from Goodwill.
- The doily placemats are from Dollar Tree.
- The pink crab apple blossoms were what was left on the tree following the pounding rainstorm.
- Shot glasses from TJ Maxx make the best tiny vases.
I hope you’ll join me. Tea or coffee?
Thank you for stopping by today.
I appreciate you and your sweet comments make my day.
Wishing you An Extraordinary Day!
P.S. My friend is not going to make these for the wedding reception.
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