Gracious Entertaining:
A Cup of Tea and the BBC

Gracious Entertaining

For those of us who dream in romantic images of the English countryside, sitting down to watch a British costume drama provides a delightful escape. Whether we indulge in a current Masterpiece sensation or revisit a past favorite, the cares of the modern day seem to fade as stories of old come to life on the small screen.

A friend who shares my affinity for period pieces introduced me to Lark Rise to Candleford, a BBC television series that aired from 2008 to 2011. Set in nineteenth-century Oxfordshire, this charming adaptation of novelist and poet Flora Thompson’s autobiography follows Laura Timmins as the young woman leaves the humble comforts of her hamlet to begin an apprenticeship as postmistress in the nearby market town.

As an ode to the show—available now on DVD through Netflix and online via Amazon Prime —I developed a pastry treat worthy of the Candleford Post and Telegraph. Luscious fruit filling spills from these dainty envelopes, baked until the crust is flaky and golden brown.

 What could be more enjoyable than settling in for a wintertime marathon of a beloved melodrama or mystery? The only bliss greater might be savoring the poignant story lines over teatime with like-minded viewers.

Melissa Lester, Associate Editor, Victoria magazine

 To see more of Melissa’s teatime ideas, visit her blog.  

Special-Delivery Tart
Yields 4
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  1. 1 refrigerated piecrust
  2. 1 peach, sliced
  3. ½ cup raspberries
  4. 2 teaspoons sugar, divided
  5. 1 teaspoon flour, divided
  6. Sugar sprinkles
  7. Garnish: fresh raspberries
  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. Using a sharp knife, cut piecrust into 4 equal pie-shaped sections. Cut rounded edge from each wedge to make a square. Cut decorative shapes, such as the scalloped-heart accent shown above, from scraps of dough.
  3. Center a few peach slices atop square of piecrust, and nestle a few raspberries around peaches. Sprinkle fruit with ½ teaspoon sugar and ¼ teaspoon flour. Repeat to assemble remaining 3 piecrust squares.
  4. Fold first piecrust square into an envelope by pulling 3 points toward center, gently pressing seams. Add decorative shapes to dough, and top with sugar sprinkles. Repeat to assemble remaining 3 envelopes.
  5. Transfer envelopes to prepared baking sheet, and bake until golden brown, about 14 minutes. To serve, prop a warm tart against a scoop of ice cream. Garnish with raspberries, if desired.
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  1. I came over from your link on your personal blog. That is such a neat idea! Thank you for sharing. I adore Lark Rise to Candleford, as well as most BBC period productions. If you haven’t seen Cranford, it is currently on Prime, and worth the time to spend drinking tea and watching.

  2. I have enjoyed many years of Victoria and saved the copies. I always enjoyed the fact that I didn’t feel obligated to make the recipe or sew the pillow covers, but could just enjoy seeing them! While reading Victoria, I always felt peaceful and that things were beautiful and in order, sometimes in contrast to my house! It made for a very relaxing time…and a cup of tea and a lovely sweet such as the special one shown today, always went well with the reading! It was always a treat to find the next issue in my mailbox!

  3. I am going to make this for my hubby of 47 years for Valentine’s Day. Fruit filled goodies are his favorite. He doesn’t like cake goodies so this is just perfect for a perfect hubby. Thank you!

  4. I really fell in love with this idea. My only problem is not understanding how you cut the envelope. I wish I could see this done just once so I could be sure of how to make it.
    I would love to make this for my family including 4 grandchildren. I know they would love it as much as I do.

    • Hi Suzanne, we cut four squares from a circular refrigerated piecrust. First, we halved the dough, resulting in two semi-circles. Then we halved each semi-circle, which gave us a total of four pie-shaped wedges of dough. We cut each wedge into a square by trimming the curves, then used the scraps to cut extra shapes, such as the heart garnish you see in the picture. I hope you and your grandchildren will give this recipe a try!

    • Hi Marsha, This china is a Homer Laughlin Eggshell Georgian pattern called Arcadia. It features a center bouquet surrounded by a band of pale pink. Thank you for your comment!

  5. Appreciating the commitment you put into your website and
    in depth information you provide. It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same unwanted rehashed information. Fantastic read!
    I’ve saved your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google

  6. I have made these adorable love letter envelopes four times BUT the first 3 times I made them using the refrigerated pie crust, and the 4th time I made my own pie crust. The store-purchased pie crusts leave a weird aftertaste. At first I thought it was the fruit, but I mixed it up and tried different kinds and always that aftertaste…until I made my own crust. The first 3 times I made these, my guests gushed over how cute they were, but no one said a thing about how good they tasted (not a good sign). But when I made my own crust, I did get many positive comments. Trust me, if you’re thinking about impressing someone, make your own crust and just cut out squares in the size(s) you wish. It will be such a grand gesture, especially for Valentine’s Day, anniversary, birthday., etc.


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