Last updated by at .

Leith Hall Sour Cream and Chocolate Coffee Cake

Leith Hall bed and breakfast teatime vanilla

I made this teatime treat this past weekend and four different guests asked for the recipe. I’m happy to share it.


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperatureLeith Hall bed and breakfast teatime vanilla

1 1/4 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/4 cups sour cream

1 tsp. vanilla paste (or vanilla extract)cape may bed and breakfast teatime chocolate chips

350 agrees F.

line a 9×13 baking pan with cooking parchment

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at aa time. Mix all of the dry ingredients together and add to butter mixture in parts, alternating with the sour cream and vanilla. Turn about half of the batter into the baking pan.Cape May bed and breakfast teatime

Top with cinnamon chocolate mixture.


Mix together:

1/2 cup light brown sugar

2 tsp. flour

1 Tbs. cinnamon

1/4 cup Dutch cocoa (I use Droste’s or Rademaker)

1 Tbs. melted butter


Top with dollops of remaining batter.

Sprinkle with (60% chocolate) chocolate chips

Bake 30 to 35 minutes.


Meyer Lemon Cheesecake Squares for Bonnie

Leith Hall bed and breakfast lemon squares

Meyer Lemon Cheesecake Squares for Bonnie

Bonnie stayed with us last weekend and had these lemon squares for Leith Hall bed and breakfast lemon squaresteatime. I always serve something chocolate and something non-chocolate at teatime. Otherwise the guests rebel.

These are very easy to make. You could also use two or three packages of cream cheese, which will make lemon flavored cheesecake. You can sprinkle the squares with powdered sugar to serve, or you could decorate them with candied violets or rose petals.

preheat oven to 350 F.


1 ½ sticks (¾ cup) unsalted butter, melted

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 ½ cups flour

Mix the crust ingredients together and turn into an 8”x8” or 9’x9′ metal baking pan, lined with cooking parchment. Press the crumbs into an even crust on the bottom of the pan. A small measuring cup works well for this.


1 8 oz. Package of cream cheese

4 eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

¼ cup flour

2/3 cup Meyer lemon juice or regular lemon juice.

Grated zest of ½ lemon


Beat the cream cheese in an electric mixer, scraping the sides regularly, until the cream cheese is soft and smooth. Beat in eggs, ,one at a time, beating well after each addition, to avoid lumps. Then beat in all of the other ingredients and pour the mixture on top of the crust. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until just colored around the edges. Do not brown.

Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate ’till cold. Loosen the cooking parchment. Turn the cake onto a cutting board, peel off the cooking parchment, then turn again onto a serving plate,

Cut into squares with a small knife dipped into water between cuts.


Little Chocolate Cakes for Tea

This recipe is for Jackie. I serve these little chocolate cakes for teatime, using two silicone baking pans that make small straight-sided cakes. It would work as well in cupcake pans, or in two nine-inch cake pans, or in a Bundt pan. I like to soak cakes in a little simple syrup (one third cup sugar and one third cup water, brought to a boil plus a little vanilla) but it isn’t necessary.

Chocolate Cakes for Tea

2 cups flouralmond pound cake

2 cups sugar

¾ cup Dutch process cocoa (I use Droste’s or Van Houten)

2 tsp. Baking powder

1 ½ tsp. Baking soda

½ tsp. Salt

1 tsp espresso powder or coffee extract

1 cup milk

½ cup canola oil

2 eggs

1 Tbs. Vanilla extract

1 cup water.

Mix all the dry ingredients together. Beat the eggs, milk, oil, vanilla extract together. Beat the flour mixture into the liquid mixture. Beat in the water. Pour into greased pans. (greased and floured if not using silicone pans).

Bake 30-35 minutes for 9” layers, or about 12 minutes for cupcakes or mini-cakes, about 40 minutes for a bundt pan. I test them before the estimated time. Cake will spring back when touched if it is done.

I top each little cake with chocolate icing made of 1/3 cup butter melted with 1 cup of bittersweet chocolate.

If you’d like to sample our teatime treats, give us a call at Leith Hall bed and breakfast in Cape May, NJ. 

We look forward to seeing you.


There’s no such thing as too much chocolate !

Spring Festival

I think that it’s the Leith family motto – There’s No Such Thing As Too Much Chocolate. This year, it can be your motto too. The pastry chefs at one of Cape May’s finest restaurants, The Blue Rose, will prepare seven plated courses of chocolate desserts. Come visit us at Leith Hall bed and breakfast in Cape May and enjoy this special event, offered three times this Fall. The Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts is offering this feast in cooperation with The Blue Rose



Chocolate Chunk Cookie recipe for Millie

Cape May b&b

This recipe is for Millie, She and her family had these cookies at teatime this past week.  I make these chocolate chunk cookies or cookie bars all the time. Sometimes, I vary them by using just white  chocolate, lemon extract,  and perhaps some pignoli, or some pistachio nuts. The dough is endlessly versatile. If you add a few tablespoons of water to the dough, it will rise and be cakier. If you add butter and bake it a little darker, it will be crisper.

Ingredients:Cape May b&b
2 1/’2 cups of all purpose flour
1 ¾ cups of sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon salt

½ cup powdered milk

1 stick, ¼ lb., unsalted butter, melted
1 egg.
¼ cup molasses
1 Tablespoon orange extract

½ cup 72% chocolate, chopped
½ cup 60% chocolate, chopped
½ cup white chocolate, chopped
(I don’t really measure the chocolate. I use Trader Joe’s Pound Plus 72% bars, Ghirardelli 60% cholcolate chips, and Ghirardelli white melting wafers

Cape May b&bMix all of the dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix the molasses and orange extract into the melted butter. Add the melted butter mixture and the egg to the dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula until you form an even dough. If the mixture is too crumbly, add a pat or two of soft butter.

Fold in chopped chocolates until just mixed. If you fold too much the chocolate will melt. (Not a tragedy)

Scoop (with a small scoop) onto parchment-lined cookie sheets and bake at 4oo F. for 9 minutes. Cool on sheets for 10 minutes then on cookie racks. You can also bake these by pressing the dough into a parchment-lined jelly roll pan (mine is the insulated kind), then sprinkling the chopped chocolate on top and baking the same way. Then cut into cookie bars after it has cooled for 10 minutes.Cape May b&b

You can decorate these cookies with random squiggles of chocolate by melting some 74% chocolate, and a little butter. Squeeze this out of a ziplock bag with the corner snipped.

An alternate way to get these cookies is to come stay with us at Leith Hall. Just give us a call or make a reservation online.


Leith Hall Mexican Wedding Cake

Cape May bed and breakfast


We recently had two sisters as guests, Phoebe and Joann, who were a delight to talk to. Phoebe told me about a cake that she makes that isCape May bed and breakfast incredibly simple to make, very rich, and pleases all of her guests. She was right. She knows her stuff. It’s called Mexican Wedding Cake, though I suspect that it has nothing to do with Mexican weddings. It is made with an entire large can of crushed pineapple, and it looks like the batter will produce a light-colored cake. But it doesn’t. It produces a very dark, caramelized cake that is delicious when served with cream cheese icing.

Our recent guests, Erik and Lisa, had some and Lisa asked for the recipe – so here it is. Thank you Phoebe and enjoy it Lisa.

Mexican Wedding Cake

2 c. all [purpose flour
2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2Tbs. Baking soda
1 tsp. Vanilla extract (I use vanilla paste)Cape May Bed and Breakfast
1 can (20 oz.) crushed pineapple DO NOT DRAIN
1 cup. Roughly chopped pecans
9′ x13” metal baking pan, lined with parchment
350 F. 35 minutes

Cream Cheese frosting
1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter
8 oz. Philadelphia cream cheese
1 Tbs. Vanilla extract (I use vanilla paste)
3 cups powdered confectioner’s sugar

To make cake, mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl by hand. Turn into the baking dish and bake.Cape May bed and Breakfast

To make icing – Beat all of the ingredients in an electric mixer in order, starting with the butter. Beat until light and fluffy. Spread onto completely cooled cake.

Try making this cake youirsself. It’s incredibly simple! Or, come visit us at Leith Hall and I’ll make it.


Lemon Cheesecake for Joanne

Lemon Cheesecake at Leith Hall

lemon cheesecakeI often serve these for teatime. They started out as regular lemon bars. Then I thought, why not add cream cheese. Cream cheese is good in everything!  So now they are lemon cheesecake bars. Our guest Joanne liked them and asked for the recipe. So here it is –

Leith Lemon Cheesecake Bars

Start with a 13″x 9″ pan. I line all baking pans with parchment paper and spray them with Pam to make turning them out easier.  Melt 2 sticks of butter. Mix 2 cups of flour together with 1/2 cup of white sugar. Pour the melted butter on top of the flour mixture. Mix and cut the mixture with a rubber spatula and toss the crumbs into the baking pan. Press the dough into an even layer and bake for 10 minutes. Take out and let cool.lemon cheesecake

In an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until it is light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl several times. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, making sure that the mixture is smooth before adding the next egg. Add the lemon juice and grated zest. Beat. Add the 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1/4 cup  flour. Beat ’till smooth. Pour onto the crust and bake for about 23 minutes until the edges have a tiny bit of golden color and the filling is close to set. It will stiffen more as it cools.

lemonCool, then refrigerate for a few hours. I sprinkle it with powdered sugar when cold, then flip it onto a plastic cutting board, then flip back onto a serving dish. To cut into squares, keep a glass of water nearby and dip your knife into water between each cut. This will make the cuts clean and smooth. Or, even better, come stay at Leith Hall and let me make them for you.


Chocolate Salami?

Yes, chocolate salami!

Usually I wait ‘till a guests asks for a recipe before making it a blog post, but this afternoon I’m making chocolate salami for tea, andalmond pound cake I can’t resist telling you how to make it. The idea is Italian, so it looks like a Genoa salami, though people make it all over Eastern Europe too, with slight variations.
I use a combination of Ghirardelli 60% chocolate chips and some 70% Belgian chocolate from Trader Joe’s.

Chocolate Salami.

8 oz. unsalted butter
16 oz. chocolate
1 cup nuts, lightly crushed (Italians would use almonds and hazelnuts. I used pecans)
About 1 cup cookies, lightly chunked (Italians would use biscotti (cantucci) or amaretti. You could use any simple cookie like shortbread or digestives)
¼ cup rum, or coffee, or orange juice (I use rum)
Zest of 1 orange or ¼ tsp. orange extract.
1 cup raisins (Italians don’t often use raisins, but I like them)
½ cup powdered sugar for coating.

In Italy, the recipe includes raw eggs as they don’t have the salmonella problem that we do. This recipe has a little more butter tochocolate salami make up for leaving out the eggs.

Melt the butter, rum and chocolate together and mix. Mix all of the other ingredients together, then mix with the chocolate. Refrigerate the mixture for 1 ½ hours. Lay out a sheet of aluminum foil on your counter. Then lay out a sheet of plastic wrap on the aluminum foil. Turn the cold mixture out onto the chocolate salamiplastic wrap. Wrap with plastic wrap and shape it into a roll. Wrap the aluminum foil and shape again into a roll. Refrigerate. When ready to serve, unwrap the roll and dust with powdered sugar. Cut some slices and arrange them like an antipasto plate with the remainder of the roll.

Next, I’ll have to figure out some other trompe l’oeil sweets that look like savories.

Come visit us at Leith Hall and join us to afternoon tea!


Flourless Chocolate Cake

Leith Hall Flourless Chocolate Cake

More and more, guests often tell us that they are “gluten free”. Some of the best gluten free recipes are naturally gluten free because they didn’t include flour in the first place. This flourless chocolate cake is a good example. Another is a New York cheesecake – which will appear in a future post.

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup orange liqueur like Cointreau

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup sugar

18 oz. bittersweet chocolate

1 cup sugar

6 eggs, separated, whites beaten to medium peaks.

10″ springform pan, lined with parchment and wrapped in foil

larger pan half filled with boiling water for bain-marie

pre-heat oven to 300F.

flourless chocolate cakeHeat the water, liqueur, sugar and salt together. Melt the chocolate into the water mixture, Beat the butter into the chocolate mixture, one pat at a time. Mix the egg yolks into the chocolate mixture, one at a time. Fold the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture.

Turn batter into pan. Smooth top. Bake in bain marie for 45 minutes. Cool completely (overnight in fridge is good). Unmold onto cake plate. Can be served with raspberries, or strawberries, or raspberry sauce, or lingonberries (from Ikea)



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.