Enjoy summer in the garden
At the beginning of summer, when the weather permits and it’s not yet too hot, I like to organize a chic little tea party in the garden to enjoy the beautiful roses and peonies, before they disappear all too soon, as they do every year. It’s also a chance for me to look forward to the days that herald a sweet, floral season. When I invite my family and friends over for a snack, I like to make something simple and gourmet, like a chocolate and pecan cake (but too heavy for the season), a sort of vacherin with a red berry coulis from the garden (find this delicious and easy-to-make recipe here) or an apple cake (but not really in season). The idea is to serve desserts that are both simple to make and effective.
A tasty citrus-flavoured cake
From time to time, I also get the urge to make what I call a « fresh » cake: a cake that’s fairly light, fruity and has a wonderful summer taste. Even if citrus fruits are not in season, I find that the summer period lends itself rather well to cakes with this type of flavor, like the one I’m presenting here, which turns out to be a Naked Cake in disguise (you’ll find the recipe here). Just like lemon cakes or lemon meringue tarts, these are desserts that lend themselves very well to the season, especially when the weather is warm. This citrus-flavored cake topped with a delicious lime cream is really very good, but I don’t make it very often because it requires a certain amount of preparation time, even though it’s not very complicated to make. I also use in this cake a blood orange and Grand Marnier jam that I make during the winter, inspired by a recipe by Christine Ferber, but you can perfectly well use any jams you have at home. If you have a mirabelle plum jam, for example, it will be perfect for this cake. I made this version last year, and my friends and family loved it.
A French style table setting
I usually make this cake at the very beginning of summer, when I take the opportunity to decorate it with flowers from the garden, and believe me, it makes a big impact! I add roses and peonies in profusion, especially in « Rose & Coral » tones (these come from David Austin and Pivoines Rivière), I also insert a few small field flowers like wild carrots and voilà, this decoration is self-sufficient. The idea of trying a more autumnal version with red fruits like blackberries is very tempting, and I’m thinking of decorating it with dahlias in burgundy tones…
For my summer tea party, I’m bringing out a pretty floral tablecloth and matching it with napkins in fresh tones like this pastel blue that I love so much and that I use in several table settings because I love this color so much. For an extra country touch (you can never have too much), you can place a small rosebud and attach it to each napkin with a rustic string. The twine I’m using here contains little green fabric leaves, and I found it at a garden center during the Christmas season. Just goes to show, you can make strange discoveries that won’t be useful right away, but will make sense one day!
I often talk here about my favorite color combinations, which are blue and pink, pink and green and blue and green. And I think that all these combinations can be found here in harmony and in soft, pastel tones with this country table.
In my article about how to organize a cosy autumn tea party, I wrote that there’s something terribly regressive about the idea of inviting friends and family round for a tea party, and that it requires much less preparation than a lunch or dinner party. So we can easily organize them more often, and above all, it allows us to enjoy our guests without spending our time running between the kitchen and the garden!