Afternoon Tea Party on the 4th of July

The spread for afternoon tea
Tower full of food Brownies  from Simply Divine Brownies and Chocolate Gourmet served with Republic of Tea's Raw Green Bush Mango Chili Tea Teas to drink for the afternoon tea
Setting; The spread with sweets from Chocolate Gourmet and a birthday brownie from Simply Divine Brownies; tea line-up

Over the July 4th weekend, I threw an intimate afternoon tea party for a few friends. Even though it’s kind of British to do this type of affair, I kept it in the American perspective by keeping the tea menu grounded to mostly fine American tea companies (Paromi, Republic of Tea, and Kusmi (royal Russian heritage in St. Petersburg but from Paris, France).

The food menu is quite lengthy that my guests can arrive to my home starving. The savory options are tea sandwiches are smoked salmon with peppered sour cream, open-faced cucumber sandwiches laid on creme fraiche and topped with red onion. There also homemade three-pepper scones (the trio of peppers were coarsely ground (by mortar and pestle) black pepper, pimentón, and cayenne). The sweets were abundant. I served Meyer Lemon olive oil cake with lavender cream, homemade fruit tarts, homemade dried sour cherry scones, brownies from Simply Divine Brownies and Chocolate Gourmet, Je & Jo’s mint ice cream.

Sounds like a food coma rolling in? It pretty much did the trick… I almost wanted to throw in espresso shots toward the end of the party but some of my friends couldn’t handle it.

Homemade Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Cake filled with Lavender Cream with Paromi Earl Grey tea Je & Jo's mint ice cream with fresh berries
Homemade Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Cake filled with Lavender Cream with Paromi Earl Grey tea and Je & Jo’s mint ice cream

When I posted these photos earlier on my Flickr page, a follower of mine requested the recipe for the Meyer Lemon olive oil cake with lavender cream. To fulfill that request (and not really from this party, my homemade Paromi Papaya Yerba Mate ice cream), here are the recipes:

Meyer Lemon olive oil cake with lavender cream

Adaptation from Gourmet (March 2008)

For cake

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, for brushing pan
5 large eggs, separated + 1 egg yolk
3/4 cup sugar, divided
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon grated Meyer lemon zest plus 3/4 cup Meyer lemon juice (see Cooks’ note, below)
1 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
1/2 teaspoon salt

For lavender cream

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons mild honey
1/2 tablespoon dried lavender blossoms
1 tablespoon cornstarch


Equipment: an 8-inch springform pan
Garnish: powdered sugar (or what I did, lavender chocolate ganache)

Make cake:
Preheat oven to 325°F with rack in middle.

Invert bottom of spring form pan and lock on side. Brush pan with melted butter, then chill 2 minutes to set. Line bottom of pan with a round of parchment paper, then brush pan and parchment with another layer of melted butter and chill 2 minutes more. Dust with flour, knocking out excess.
Beat together yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and thick, about 3 minutes. At medium speed, beat in oil and lemon zest and juice until just combined. Sift in flour and mix at low speed until just combined.

Beat whites with salt in another large bowl with cleaned beaters at medium-high speed until foamy, then add remaining 1/4 cup sugar a little at a time, beating, and continue to beat until whites just hold soft peaks. Gently fold one third of whites into yolk mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly. Transfer batter to springform pan, smoothing top, and gently rap against counter once or twice to eliminate any air bubbles. Bake until golden brown (top will crack slightly) and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then remove side of pan and cool cake to room temperature, about 1 hour (sides will cave in a little).

Make filling while cake cools:
Bring cream, honey, and lavender blossoms just to a boil in a small saucepan, then remove from heat and let steep, covered, 30 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding solids. Take the same saucepan, add the cornstarch, stream in the lavender cream and cook until it starts to simmer. The cream should coat the back of your spoon. If it’s too thin, add a slurry (equal portions cornstarch to water) and a add little, stir, and let it simmer to see if it is thick enough. You do not want a thick, lumpy filling. Once it’s ready, dump it into a clean bowl and chill lavender cream, covered, until cold.

Assemble cake:
Invert cake and discard parchment. Cut cake horizontally into 3 even layers with a long serrated knife. Transfer 1 layer, cut side up, to a cake plate. Lightly whisk filling to loosen, then spread half of filling evenly over cake layer on plate, leaving a 1/2-inch border around edge. Place a second cake layer over filling and spread with remaining filling in same manner. Top with remaining cake layer, cut side down, pressing gently so that filling is spread to edge of cake.

When you’re ready to serve, drizzle the slightly cooled lavender ganache or dust with powdered sugar.

Paromi’s Papaya Yerba Mate Tea Ice Cream

Recipe based on The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

1 cup (250 m0 whole milk
2 cup (500 ml) heavy cream
3/4 CUP (150 g) sugar
1/4 cup (16 g) loose Paromi Papaya Yerba Mate tea leaves (basically, I cut open the sachets and empty out its contents into a small dish/bowl)
5 large egg yolks

Warm the milk, 1 cup (250 ml) of the cream, sugar, and tea leaves in a medium saucepan. Cover, remove from the heat, and let steep at room temperature for 1 hour.

Rewarm the tea-infused milk. Pour the remaining 1 cup (250 ml) cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer into the cream,pressing gently on the tea leaves to extract the maximum flavor from them, then discard the leaves. Stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

For more photographs of this tea party, please see my slideshow below:

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Have questions on the recipes? Please ask by commenting below.


I shoot, eat, and drink. My full time job is a hospital administrator. Moonlighting as a freelance photographer and food and travel writer.