I have a friend with whom I make time to drink and appreciate tea. It actually has become something we do without really noticing.
I met Fred when I first moved to Ottawa and since then she has been there for great support and advice every step of the way. Since we do not live close to each other and our schedules are rarely compatible, it feels very special when we have the chance to spend time together.
And what do we do when we have a moment together? We drink tea.
There is something incredibly intimate about drinking a tea you chose carefully, infuse for the right amount of time, and share with someone important. I feel that sharing a pot of fresh tea makes things calm and much easier to catch up on life.
Carla Bruni covers a poem written by Wystan Hugh Auden named At Last the Secret is Out, a song I love just as much as the lyrics. The first stanza goes like this:
At last the secret is out
As it always must come in the end
The delicious story is ripe to tell
To tell to the intimate friend
Over the tea-cups and into the square
The tongues has its desire
Still waters run deep, my dear
There’s never smoke without fire
I love these words because they are true. With real friends, it is easy to be yourself and to practice honesty. Over the tea-cups and into the square, you can share your secrets with your intimate friends. It just sounds about right.
What does tea have to do with baking?
To be complete, I believe tea needs its squares.
Last weekend when Fred came over I didn’t have time to make biscotti or some old-fashioned squares to have with our Persian Apple tea (green tea, apple, pistachio, almonds, rose petals bought at David’s Tea in Ottawa). Normally we always eat something sweet with it, but this time I had run out of time to bake something.
As I was going through a new recipe book, I found these “Financiers poire-amande” that looked like the perfect companion for our next afternoon tea. A financier, I would learn, is a small French cake pretty popular in France. It is said that it got its name because when baked in its traditional rectangular mold, it resembled a bar of gold. Who knows if that’s true.
I made mine in a muffin mold since I do not have (yet!) a rectangular mold. Since I did not have pears, I decided to add some dried cherries, which was actually quite good!
The cakes were crisp on the outside but very moist on the inside, sweet yet not overwhelming. You could easily just make the cake without adding fruit, and it would be just as good. And, as I would test it, they worked great with tea.
So the next time you have a friend over for tea, try making these small and delicious cakes to have with it. Because, as it has been said, “The delicious story is ripe to tell to the intimate friend over the tea-cups and into the square.”
You will need:
6 egg whites
180g of melted butter
120g of almond powder
240g of icing sugar
110g of flour
What to do:
Sift together the almond powder, icing sugar, and the flour.
In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until you get a foamy texture.
Add the butter and mix with a plastic spatula.
Add the almond powder, icing sugar, and flour and mix delicately. But you want to make sure your batter is well mixed.
Pour into a greased muffin pan. Sprinkle sliced almonds on top.
Bake at 375F for about 20 minutes, or until golden on the sides. Let them cool on a rack for about 30 minutes, and enjoy!