Formed in 1915, The Women’s Institute has long been regarded as a leading authority on home cooking.
So it’s no surprise that their Vintage Teatime recipe book is a total treat.
Here are three classic recipes for you to try...
Strawberry Jelly Cake
Quintessentially British, strawberries and cream make the perfect addition to afternoon tea. Layer with buttery crumbs for a decadent dessert.
Preparation time: 1 hour + chilling
Cooking time: 10–15 minutes
- 110 g (4 oz) butter, softened
- 60 g (2 oz) demerara sugar
- 60 g (2 oz) walnuts, finely chopped
- 110 g (4 oz) plain flour
- 2 x 12 g sachets powdered gelatine
- 450 g (1 lb) strawberries, hulled and thickly sliced
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 175 g (6 oz) caster sugar
- 300 ml (10 fl oz) double cream
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Rub the butter, demerara sugar, walnuts and flour together. Scatter this mixture over a shallow tin and bake for 10–15 minutes. Leave to cool and then crumble into a mixing bowl.
Place the gelatine in a small bowl with 4 tablespoons of water and leave to soften for a few minutes.
Mash a quarter of the strawberries in a small saucepan and add the lemon juice and caster sugar. Bring this mixture to the boil, take off the heat, add the softened gelatine and stir until completely dissolved.
Put a little of this mixture through a strainer into the base of a 1.2 litre (2 pint) jelly mould and chill for 15–20 minutes to set.
Whip the cream until it just holds its shape and then fold in the remaining sliced strawberries.
When the remaining gelatine mixture is cold and on the point of setting, fold it into the strawberries and cream. Immediately fill the mould with layers of the strawberry mixture and crumbs, starting with strawberry and ending with crumbs, gently pressing the crumbs into the cream mixture after each addition. Chill for 2–3 hours to set.
To serve, turn out of the mould. Dip the mould briefly in hot (but not boiling) water, loosen the edge of the cake with a fingertip, cover the mould with a plate, turn upside down and then jerk the plate and mould to release the jelly.
Tip If you like, decorate up to 1 hour before needed. Whip 150 ml (5 fl oz) of whipping or double cream, just until it holds its shape, then pipe it around the base of the cake. Arrange a large sliced strawberry around the cream.
These scones cum rock-cakes were first made in Elizabethan times. Today, a well-known Yorkshire tea room makes about 350,000 annually.
Preparation time: 15 minutes + cooling
Baking time: 12–15 minutes
- 110 g (4 oz) butter
- 225 g (8 oz) self-raising flour
- a pinch of salt
- 25 g (1 oz) caster sugar
- 60 g (2 oz) currants
- 4–6 tablespoons milk
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5. Lightly grease a baking tray.
Rub the butter into the flour and salt. Add the sugar and currants and mix with enough milk to form a soft dough.
Drop spoonfuls of the mixture on to the baking tray or roll out on a lightly floured surface to 1 cm (. inch) thick and cut into rounds with a 5 cm (2 inch) cutter, if preferred.
Bake on the second shelf from the top for 12–15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
Tip If you like a sweeter cake, sprinkle with some crushed sugar lumps before baking.
Battenburg Cake (pictured top)
This chequered sponge is said to have first been baked to celebrate Prince Louis of Battenburg’s marriage to Princess Victoria in 1884.
Preparation time: 20 minutes + 1–2 hours setting + cooling
Baking time: 25–30 minutes
- 225 g (8 oz) butter or margarine, softened
- 225 g (8 oz) caster sugar
- 4 eggs
- 225 g (8 oz) self-raising flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- red food colouring
- raspberry or apricot jam
- 225 g (8 oz) marzipan
- icing sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Grease two 900 g (2 lb) loaf tins and base line with non-stick baking parchment or greased greaseproof paper.
Cream the butter or margarine and sugar together and beat in the eggs. Sieve the flour and baking powder together, fold into the mixture and mix to a dropping consistency, adding a little hot water if necessary.
Put half the mixture into one of the prepared tins. Add a couple of drops of red food colouring to the remaining mixture to make it pale pink and put it into the second tin.
Bake for 25–30 minutes until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for a few minutes and then turn out on to a wire rack.
When cold, trim the cakes and cut two lengths from each one, each approximately 3 cm (1. inches) square. Spread the pieces with jam and stick the four lengths together, the colours alternating. Wrap in greaseproof paper very tightly and leave for an hour or two.
Spread the outside of the cake with jam. Roll out the marzipan in a little icing sugar to an oblong the same width as the cake and long enough to wrap around.
Place the cake on the marzipan and wrap it around the cake, pressing it neatly and arranging the join in one lower corner. If you wish, crimp the edge and mark the top with a criss-cross pattern. Wrap the cake in paper again and keep for 3–4 hours in a cool place before eating.
The Women's Institute Vintage TeaTime compiled by Jessica Simmons, £9.99.
Daily tip from the lady archive
"It is not always she who appears most kindly in her interest who is the safe sharer of sacred (maybe sorrowful) secrets! Charming manners do not always connote sincerity of heart!”The Lady. In Confidence. 4th April, 1918