A bit about Lady Sybil Branson:
Lady Sybil was the youngest child of the aristocratic and wealthy Crawley family. She was the family rebel - a very politically conscious woman who considered the lives and feelings of the underprivileged. Her aristocratic heritage was less important to her than finding love and a place in the world - as the youngest daughter she would have inherited very little, anyway. When her parents made her choose between her life of privilege and her marriage to the family chauffeur Tom Branson, Lady Sybil chose love. She was tutored in French by a governess, although she had little regard for it. -per wikia
Tea at Downton Abbey
Served between 3 and 5pm, "afternoon tea" was more of an elegant snack than an actual meal. Nonetheless, afternoon tea was not nearly as low key as it sounds—at least not for the cook! The menu usually consisted of several kinds of tea, finger sandwiches, scones, pastries, fruitcakes, and perhaps a more elaborate layer cake served as the grand finale...
Here's a treat for you to try from the table...
Yields 4 dozen cookies
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup golden syrup
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 heaping teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
Thoroughly grease a baking sheet.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Slowly mix in vanilla extract and golden syrup.
In another bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, ground ginger, and baking soda. Slowly add to wet ingredients and thoroughly mix together.
Roll sought into small balls, then place balls on greased baking sheet.
With the back of a spoon, gently press balls down.
Bake biscuits in preheated oven for 15 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, then store in an airtight container.
Times Gone By
What the British call biscuits American know as cookies or crackers. Other than Sybil's Ginger Nut Biscuits, other famous biscuits that date back to the Victorian and Edwardian eras include the Chocolate Digestive Biscuits and Classic Custard Creams (other recipes mentioned in book). All of these were inventented as a means to have delicious snacks that could last during long voyages or for long periods of time.
Tea intro, recipe and Times Gone By note excerpts from:
The Unofficial Downton Abbey cookbook
from Lady Mary's crab canapés to Mrs. Patmore's Christmas pudding
with more than 150 recipes from upstairs and downstairs
by Emily Ansara Baines
Download an excerpt from Goodreads here for more recipes. If you do, tell me in comments which one you would be inclined to try.
* image source: Sybil, ginger nut biscuits