Spring FestivalSpring festival is Cape May’s annual sigh of relief that Winter is over. This year we have a few new events that will get you in the spirit. First, if you’re a Downton Abbey fan, you can put your Easter bonnet on and have a Royal Tea at the Carriage House at the Physick Estate. There will be Royal Trivia to test your knowledge of all things regal. There’s a Spring Festivalnew tour called the Cape May Time Capsule, where characters from the nineteenth-century will guide you through there town.

And Chocolate too…

Spring FestivalSaturday, May 3rd will feature the Chocolate Championship tour, where you can benefit from the cuthroat competition among Bed and Breakfast owners for the honor and the trophy. You get to sample the goodies and vote for the best in show. April 26th, there’s a Murder Mystery Dinner at Alethea’s Restaurant, with a new mystery “Revenge is Sweet”  and  a delicious dinner. Earlier the same day (April 26) there is a Private Homes Tour, showing houses not ususally open to the public. Iboyd house love snooping in other people’s house and you will too.

Come stay with us at Leith Hall bed and breakfast and make it a festive Spring weekend.



We’re expecting the President and Prince Charles next at Leith Hall

We just had this wonderful article about Leith Hall published in the travel section of the Washington Post. Becky Crystal stayed with us recently – so now we expect ambassadors, noblemen, and foreign princes to beat down our doors.

Leith Hall bed-and-breakfast in Cape May, a Victorian charmer by the ocean

By Becky Krystal, Published: January 2

A biweekly staff review of East Coast and regional lodgings.

At many bed-and-breakfasts, there’s a thin lace line between historical accuracy and over-the-top frills. I’m happy to report that Leith Hall in Cape May, N.J., stays on the former side.

Those with an aversion to doilies and potpourri sachets (if not communal dining — we’ll get to that later) need not fear this B&B, located an enviable half-block from the beach.

Innkeepers Susan and Elan Zingman-Leith bought the 1878 Victorian in 1989 and have turned it into a veritable museum. Their goal: Restore it to what the home might have looked like in the 1880s. I can’t say that I have firsthand experience of what the 1880s looked like, but from my perspective as an amateur fan of historic homes, I’d say that they did a pretty bang-up job.

Which is why I was a bit nervous as my husband and I, bulked up in winter garb and carrying our suitcases, squeezed through the front door, into the demure front parlor and, after a brief orientation from Elan, up the narrow staircase. Meticulously painted walls, a plethora of framed art, antique knickknacks placed seemingly everywhere — I felt like a disaster waiting to happen. Hello, bull. Welcome to the china shop.

Our room, the Empire Room, put me at ease. There was nothing too fragile-looking. I fell in love with the mahogany sleigh bed; a gauzy canopy hung from the ceiling. A bay window with two chairs and a table offered ocean views. The mini-fridge and flat-screen television weren’t exactly period-appropriate, but I appreciated them nonetheless.

We didn’t spend too long admiring the decor, because afternoon tea was upon us. We’d passed on a fast-food lunch in anticipation of this treat, the inn’s site having boasted of Elan’s baking prowess. His chocolate chip bars and pumpkin-apricot cake didn’t disappoint, and it was only the presence of the rest of the guests that kept us from going back for seconds and thirds.

Ah, the other guests. Not long after we’d sat down and engaged in a highly choreographed attempt to balance tea cups, plates and silverware — antiques, remember — the rest of the overnighters began to trickle into the parlor. Soon, all the chairs were filled, and a few small conversations had evolved into — gird yourselves, B&B skeptics — one group discussion. With a list of sights to see and minimal knowledge of the topic at hand (wine), my husband and I began exchanging stealthy looks, wondering how to escape. Sometimes, though, the best solution is the most straightforward one. We politely excused ourselves and went on our merry way.

We didn’t encounter anyone later that night when we sneaked downstairs for a glass of sherry. I sipped it daintily while reading more about our room and the house, thanks to the notebook provided by our hosts. It told me why our room looked slightly different from the rest. The Empire Room was named after the American Empire style, a design movement that spanned a good part of the early 19th century. The idea is that, like your basement filled with college furniture, even a wealthy 1880s family would have had older pieces that they might have assembled in one retro room. So, this one was a little more Jane Austen than Queen Victoria.

Speaking of Victoria, I came face to face with the long-reigning monarch the next morning at the breakfast buffet. A small bust of the queen sat at right about eye level, flanked by those of her beloved husband, Prince Albert, and son Edward VII. I think that Edward, a man with a not altogether flattering reputation as a food lover, would have envied my plate of challah French toast.

Only moderately panic-stricken at the idea of a communal breakfast after the previous day’s tea, my husband — before piling up his plate — dashed into the parlor to secure us a tiny two-top. Us, social? Not so much, especially first thing in the morning.

Still, I found myself regretting the brevity of our stay at Leith Hall. Dripping with a carefully curated array of artifacts, its walls seemed primed to talk. Maybe if I stayed longer, I’d get better at it, too.


Leith Hall

22 Ocean St.

Cape May, N.J.



Rooms from $125.


Pumpkin Apricot Cake from Leith Hall

I served this pumpkin apricot cake this past weekend for afternoon tea. The simple syruppumpkin apricot cake makes it very moist and delicious. I like pumpkin and apricots together because they are so similar (orange color and gooey). You could use golden raisins, or dried cherries, or nuts. (Suzie doesn’t like nuts, so they seldom turn up in my recipes)You could use cream cheese frosting – either on a loaf or on traditional round layers.

Pumpkin Apricot Cake from Leith Hall

3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. each nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon
1 1/2 c. each granulated sugar and packed brown sugar
1 c. oil
2 c. canned pumpkin
4 eggs

2 cups dried apricots, cut up

Simple syrup= 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water, brought to a boil

Mix all of the dried ingredients together. Mix all of the wet ingredients together. Mix all ofpumpkin the ingredients (except apricots) together with a wire whisk. Mix in the apricots with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Pour into 2 parchment-lined and greased  9 1/2 x 5 1/4-inch loaf pans. Or bake in  plain or fancy bundt pans, or in layer cake pans

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 60 minutes (for a loaf or bundt, less for layers) or until cake is firm and springs back when prodded with a finger. Cool for 5 minutes. pour simple syrup on cakes when cool. Wait at least a couple of hours before unmolding and serving.

Come visit us at Leith Hall and sample Elan’s goodies at breakfast and afternoon tea !


Richest Bestest Almond Pound Cake

I recently served an almond pound cake at Leith Hall teatime, which is very rich and buttery. One of almond pound cakeour guests asked for the recipe, so here it is. It is actually very easy to make and is very impressive because it is so rich. I serve it on a footed cake stand.

Sometimes, I serve a bitter sweet chocolate sauce along-side it, just to paint the lily. There are few desserts that aren’t improved by being served with a bitter sweet chocolate sauce.

1 pound (3 1/4 cups) all-purpose flouralmond pound cake

1 tablespoon coarse salt

4 sticks softened unsalted butter

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon  vanilla extract or vanilla paste

9 large eggs

1 can of Solo almond pastry filling

Beat the butter, sugar and salt together in an electric stand mixer. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, along with the vanilla. Beat in the almond pastry filling.  Beat in the flour, a little at a time.

Bake in two paper-lined loaf pans or one tube or bundt pan. 325 F. for about 65 minutes. It almond pound cakeshould be golden and spring back when lightly prodded with your finger.

For the sauce:

½ c. bittersweet chocolate

½ cup wateralmond pound cake

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

Melt all three ingredients together in a Pyrex cup in the microwave oven (30 seconds at a time, repeated) mix well with a spoon. Serve with a small ladle.



Maple Pecan Squares

Maple Pecan Squares

This is the second recipe that Lindsay asked for. They are maplebed and breakfast Cape May syrup flavored cake squares with a handful of crushed pecans in the cake. Of course, you could use any nuts in the cake, or no nuts, or raisins, or any chopped dried fruit. You could also substitute honey for the maple syrup for a different flavor.

2 cups all-purpose flourbed and breakfast Cape May NJ

3/4 cup oat bran

1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoons baking sodaCape May bed and breakfast

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup well-shaken buttermilk

1/3 cup maple syrupCape May NJ bed and breakfast

1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 large eggs

1 cup (I use my hand to measure, so it’s probably closer to 2 cups) pecans

For the icing:

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

About 1 cup maple syrup


350 F.  8”x8” metal baking pan, lined with cooking parchment and sprayed with cooking spray.

Whisk together flour, oat bran, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, maple syrup, butter, and eggs. Add to dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until it springs back when lightly prodded with a fingertip.

To make the icing, beat the confectioner’s sugar with an electric mixer adding enough maple syrup to make it flow.

Cool cake. Turn out onto serving platter. Cut into sixteen squares, and then drizzle with maple icing.



Peach Upside Down Cake for Lindsay

Peach Upside Down cake for Lindsay

Cape May bed and breakfastLindsay asked for the recipe for this peach upside down coffee cake which I served at teatime last week. I cut it into four squares by four squares – for sixteen servings. The cake is plain, but the melted butter and sugar syrup takes care of that. I’ll post the other recipes that Lindsay requested afterbed and breakfast Cape May this one.

For the upside-down topping:

1 stick unsalted butter

1 cup brown sugar

Sliced peachesCape May bed and breakfast

For the cake:

2 cups all-purpose flour,

½ cup granulated sugar

1 Tbsp baking powderbed and breakfast Cape May New Jersey

½ tsp salt

1 cup whole milk

1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract

1 large egg

4 oz unsalted butter (½ stick)

1/3 cup sour cream

First, line an 8”x8” metal baking pan with cooking parchment and spray with cooking spray like Pam. Melt the stick of butter for the topping and pour it into the baking pan. Sprinkle the cup of brown sugar on top of the melted butter, then arrange the peach slices (or any other fruit) on top of the butter and sugar mixture.

Mix all of the cake ingredients together in a bowl, then pour on top of the fruit. Smooth the top and bake at 350 F. for about 20 to 25 minutes until it is thoroughly baked. If the middle of the top seems soft, turn the oven down and return the cake to the oven for a few minutes ‘till the middle is firm. When it’s done, remove the cake from the oven and immediately reverse it onto a serving platter with a rim. Do this by putting the serving platter on top of the cake, upside down. Then flip the whole thing over. The sugar/butter topping will run everywhere, so the serving platter must have a rim.

Remove the metal baking pan and peel off the paper, being careful not to burn yourself on the molten lava of butter and sugar.

Or, you can skip the whole baking experience and come visit us at Leith Hall and let me bake for you.


Cape May Craft Beer and Crab Festival

Craft Beer and Crab Festival

cape may craft beer and crabThis coming Saturday is the second annual Cape May Craft Beer and Crab Festival. Last year’s party was a huge success and this year’s will be even more fun. There’ll be live music all day on the grounds of the Elmlyn Physick Estate and jugglers, the Little Circus, carnival games and more – Pulled pork sandwiches, hot dogs and burgers for the tradition-minded.  Local and regional brewers will offer their creations and there will be lots of crab, crab-cakes, and othercraft beer and crab summertime food. You’ll be able to get to the Physick Estate by free shuttle from the Washington Street information booth, or walk a block from the elementary school parking lot.

Last year kids had a great time with the entertainment and games and adults enjoyed the wide variety of beers available. Craft vendors and  a farmer’s market will contribute to the whirl of craft beer and crabthings to do. Come stay with us at Leith Hall and enjoy all the diversion that Cape May has to offer.


EAT DRINK AND BE MERRY –For Tomorrow we Diet

Eat Drink and be Merry!

eat drink and be merry Restaurant week
Cucina Rosa

Forgive the bad old joke, but this should be the motto of Cape May’s restaurant week, starting today, June 2, through June 9th. Many of Cape May’s great restaurants are participating, like 410 Bank Street, with Cajun and Creole food, the Ebbit Room at the Virginia Hotel – with “New American” cuisine, and the Sea Salt Restaurant – Cape May’s newest gourmet restaurant.

Some of our guests favorites, like Tisha’s on the Mall, Union

eat drink and be merry Reataurant Week
The Ebbitt Room at the Virginia Hotel

Park in the Macomber hotel, and the Washington Inn, will also be included.  The special prix fixe Restaurant Week menus let you dine in the most wonderful restaurants for much less than usual prices.

eat drink and be merry Reataurant Week
Martini Beach

Come stay with us at Leith Hall and sample Elan’s breakfasts and teatime goodies, saving room for a dinnertime feast.eat drink and be merry Reastaurant Week If you stay two nights midweek, (June 2-June 9) you’ll get 30% off the second night! (subject to availability and cannot be combined with other offers) Click on the Specials and Packages tab on our website


What’s better than the West Cape May Strawberry Festival ? (answer below)



Nothing’s Better Than The West Cape May Strawberry festival!

west cape may strawberry festivalThe West Cape May Strawberry Festival will be June 1 (rain date of June 2). Come out and enjoy strawberry smoothies, strawberry tacos, strawberry ice cream, chocolate covered strawberries, strawberry barbeque sauce on ribs and chicken and of course, strawberry shortcake You can buy strawberry t- shirts, hats, jewelry, art work and stained glass – not to mention antiques, crab cakes, and birdhouses

There’ll be live entertainment all day with Robin Hippell (who used to be our assistant west cape may strawberry festivalinnkeeper at Leith Hall, and is a pretty mean jazz singer) and Amy Hufana from 10-12, The Too Trio from 12-3, the crowning of the Strawberry King and Queen at 3 p.m. , Mark Jacopec and his drumming troupe from 3:15 p.m. to 4 p.m.

strawberry festival west cape may

One of the joys of the West Cape May Strawberry Festival is absorbing the atmosphere of West Cape May, with neighborliness, good feeling, and cooperation in a traditional small town setting.

lCome stay with us at Leith Hall and feast on strawberries in Wilbraham Park.



Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

I made these chocolate peppermint cookies for tea at Leith Hall last week and Bill from Absecon paid me a great compliment. He said that they were the best chocolate cookies he had ever had, and he doesn’t even like sweets!. They are very easy to make.

Chocolate Peppermint Cookieschocolate peppermint cookies Leith Hall

1 ¼ cup (2 1/2 sticks) butter

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla paste

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

2 cups flour

¾ cup Dutch cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

Icing – Melt together 1 cup of bittersweet chocolate and 1/2 stick butter plus 1 tablespoon light corn syrup. Add 1 tablespoon peppermint extract. Put one dollop on each cookie.


Beat the butter and sugar together until they are fluffy. Beat in eggs and extracts. Mix the flour, cocoa, soda and salt together and beat the mixture into the butter mixture. Drop by tablespoons full onto parchment lined cookie sheets. I use a scoop to get exactly even size domes. Bake for 9 minutes at 350F. Cool on cookie sheets, then again on cookie racks.