While I was living in Germany I got used to cake-and-coffee time at about three in the afternoon, and while it doesn’t happen every day anymore, it happens sometimes! True, this isn’t cake; even though it isn’t tea, you can call it afternoon tea if you’d like (though tea time is four o’clock rather than three!). I see no reason not to blur the lines between the two. If you’re like me, you are likely to be feeling peckish by the middle of the afternoon. The obvious solution is to feed yourself, preferably with something delicious and elegant!
Nothing beats lemon tarts. Even in the middle of winter, when you don’t have freshly plucked berries to go on them. I was inspired to make some lemon curd after seeing the series of desserts using it in the most recent Southern Living. Instead of the microwave lemon curd in that issue, however, I used the tried-and-true Martha Stewart recipe. I don’t think making it on the stove is really any more trouble – even though you don’t have to stir it constantly, you still have to periodically. Martha Stewart’s recipe hasn’t let me down yet, so I stick with it.
Another favorite of mine is the crust. I use it for everything: tarts, pies, pot pies, quiches, you name it. It is quick, easy, and one of the few things I eat that doesn’t contain lots of butter, believe it or not. It’s just flour, salt, oil, and milk. Stir it up, roll it out, and bake it! Don’t forget to prick it with a fork so that it won’t bubble up. I sometimes even use this as a substitute for a shortbread-type crust. Just keep in mind that it is thinner and more delicate.
Since it’s not actually strawberry season, I cut up the strawberries and let them set with some sugar on them for a little while before I put them on the tart. I find that when they are fresh (I get mine from a pick-your-own place nearby) you don’t have to do this step – you can just rinse them off, cut them up, and enjoy!
You can, of course, use any berries that you would like. I usually use strawberries because when they are in season they are easy to get where I live, and blueberries provide a nice contrasting color to the strawberries and lemon curd, and provide me with something in the tart that I can tell myself is healthy. Raspberries are a great option for these tarts as well, but can tend to be expensive. Don’t hesitate to try anything, though – the lemon brings out lots of different flavors well. Just make sure that they are either bite-sized or cut into bite-sized pieces. If they are all about the same size, it makes it easier to arrange them in an attractive way on the tart. If they aren’t, they are still delicious piled on haphazardly!
To make your personal tea party an event, break out the nice china – even if you’re by yourself, drinking out of a pretty cup just makes the coffee taste better!