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Tea with Tumnus: Sardines on Toast and A Sugar Topped Cake

The Chronicles of Narnia were among my favorite stories as a little girl, read over and over again in my various nooks: behind the couch, in a blanket fort, tucked up on my bed.

Last week I had such fun making Turkish Delight, that magical confection that charmed and enticed me ever since I first read about it in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Another fond food memory from the book is Lucy’s scrumptious tea with Mr. Tumnus, the faun. I loved picturing them strolling arm in arm through the snowy woods, visiting away like old friends even though they’d only met moments before.

I adored Mr. Tumnus’s cave, and longed to have one of my own that I could decorate cozily. I spent many a happy moment imagining a roaring fire, thickly carpeted stone floor, walls lined with books and treasures, and two chairs (“one for me and one for a friend”).

Then there was the tea. That beautiful, wonderful tea, served in the glow of a crackling fire.

First there was “a nice brown egg, lightly boiled, for each of them.”

Then, “sardines on toast, and then buttered toast, and then toast with honey.” I’d never had sardines on toast before, but it’s really quite splendid! I liberally buttered piping hot toasted grainy bread, topped each slice with sardines, and added a sprig of fresh dill. Lovely.

Finally, “a sugar-topped cake.” Admittedly this was a little tricky to recreate since that is the only description given, so I gave my imagination free reign.

I thought it should be something wholesome, old-fashioned, yet utterly delicious. I settled on a banana bread batter studded with dark chocolate chips and baked in popover tins so they’d be nice and tall. When the muffins cooled, I sliced each one into five 1/2-inch layers, sandwiching each layer with pure sour cream. I drizzled each little cake with a sauce of sour cream thinned with rum and sweetened with powdered sugar. A light dusting of nutmeg finished them off.

Wow. I devoured the first one in minutes. The sour cream is absolutely heavenly mingled with the sweet cake and just a hint of rum-flavored sauce.

That Mr. Tumnus sure knew how to put on a good spread. 🙂

Sardines on Toast


4 slices grainy whole grain bread


1 tin sardines, drained

4 sprigs fresh dill


  1. Toast slices of bread and butter generously.
  2. Top with sardines and a sprig of dill.
  3. Serve warm.

Sugar-Topped Banana Cake with Rum Sour-Cream Sauce


banana bread muffins (use your favorite recipe and add dark chocolate chips. Bake in popover tins so they are nice and tall)

1 1/2 cups extra thick sour cream

1/2 cup sour cream

1 Tbsp rum or rum flavoring

1 Tbsp powdered sugar

Ground nutmeg


  1. Slice banana bread muffins into 1/2 inch layers.
  2. Sandwich layers with extra thick sour cream, then set on individual dessert plates.
  3. In small bowl mix 1/2 cup sour cream with rum and powdered sugar. Beat until smooth.
  4. Drizzle each muffin with rum sauce and dust with nutmeg.
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Lizzie - Hi! Wow this looks fantastic! Love the idea for the cake! I’m from England, and my mum and I have been eating ‘Tumnus Tea’ as we call it since I was old enough to chew toast. I just thought you may find it interesting that a ‘sugar topped cake’ is in fact more specific than it sounds (Although yours looks wayyyy nicer!), it’s actually just your standard victoria sponge, which traditionally has icing sugar sprinkled over the top for decoration 🙂 However, I LOVE the look of your banana cake, and will definitely be baking it as quirky addition to my own tea!

RamblingTart - Oh thank you, Duchess! I’m so glad. 🙂

RamblingTart - Thank you so much, Alina! 🙂

Duchess - so utterly charming!!! Im very much inspired.

Alina - I simply love your mouth watering pictures as well as a your recipes.
A fellow food blogger from France.

RamblingTart - I’m so pleased you like it, Abbie! 🙂 It was such fun putting it together. 🙂

Abbie - Wow…what a beautiful spread! I am so impressed.

danishlass - Thank you so much, Ozoz! 🙂 I’m so glad you like the pictures. 🙂 The cake is so yummy I had to make another one today. 🙂

Kitchen Butterfly - I love your large format photos and that cake stack looks superb, with the cream fountain

RamblingTart - Isn’t it marvy, Tracy? 🙂 It delights me so much I’m going home on my lunch break and making another to go with my afternoon tea. 🙂

RamblingTart - I’m so glad you like them, Marie! 🙂 Yes, by all means, eat! EAT!! 🙂

Tracy - What a feast. Sardines on toast! I love the tiny tower of cake too.

Marie - My mouth is literally watering as I look at the pictures of yummy food….guess it’s time for breakfast! Love reading your posts, Krista. Thanks for sharing!

RamblingTart - Aren’t they such splendid stories, Nancy? 🙂 I’m so glad you like them too. It was such fun recreating the teatime feast. 🙂

Nancy - Wonderful! The Chronicles of Narnia were a favorite of mine, too. Sardines on toast certainly are a treat – so quick and satisfying. I love the little banana cake – adorable and looks delicious.

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