”Talk and tea is his speciality,’ said Giles. ‘Come along inside… We’ll see if tea and buns can make the world a better place.”
There may be something quite twee about starting a post with a quote from Wind in the Willows, but I firmly subscribe to the idea that tea and cake does make the world a better place. Saying that, I also believe that having a slice of cake for breakfast, dinner and tea constitutes a balanced diet. It’s a balm for the soul – guaranteed to make even the worst of situations seem that little bit better.
I woke up on Sunday after a riotous few days of eating, drinking and dancing, and realised I hadn’t made a cake in ages. The past few weeks have been ridiculously busy with work, wedding planning and other life admin, and I wanted to calm my mood by losing myself in a frenzy of whisking, bowl licking and icing. So, I set about rummaging through my cupboards to see what ingredients I could combine to turn into something tasty.
Spring is in the air in Bootle at the moment, and, despite all the diurnal temper tantrums that March inevitably brings, there’s a real feeling of freshness, of the world reawakening after the long dark Winter months. I’d recently seen a recipe for Earl Grey Cake on the lovely baking blog Raspberri Cupcakes, and immediately knew that it was just the thing I was looking for.
The idea of putting bitter tea leaves into a sweet cake may seem like an odd one. But Earl Grey tea actually adds a lovely dimension to baked products, providing them with a lovely pop of citrus and bergamot without being overwhelming. A lemon glaze just gilds the lily slightly, adding a nice bit of zing. The overall effect is comforting and curiously addictive – both myself and Mr. Cay have kept creeping back to the kitchen over the past few days to sneak surreptitious slices. It may not look like much, but this cake might just be one of the best things I’ve baked this year.
EARL GREY CAKE WITH LEMON GLAZE
Earl Grey Cake recipe adapted from Raspberri Cupcakes
You will need:
For the cake
- 2 Earl Grey tea bags (about 3 tsp leaves)
- 60ml boiling water
- 80ml milk
- 100g butter, at room temperature
- 2 medium sized eggs
- 160g caster sugar
- 190g self-raising flour
For the lemon glaze
- 3 tbsp icing sugar
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp grated lemon zest
- 1 tbsp milk
- Preheat oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a medium sized cake tin. Empty the tea leaves from the tea bags into a cup and add the boiling water. Steep for 3 minutes then add milk to cup.
- Place butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Then, add the eggs one at a time, beating until smooth. Next gradually add the flour and tea mixture, alternating between wet and dry ingredients. Beat gently until just combined.
- Pour mixture into prepared tin and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. After around five minutes, turn it out onto a wire rack or a large plate.
- Whilst the cake is cooling, make the glaze. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and add the lemon juice, lemon zest and the milk. Beat until smooth and glossy (feel free to add more icing sugar to the glaze if you feel it looks a bit thin)
- Once the cake is sufficiently cool (this should take around twenty minutes or so), pour the glaze over it. I like to take a small pastry brush and brush the glaze over the sides so that it’s almost entirely covered with zesty sugary goodness.
- Serve immediately. This cake tastes good when freshly made, and even better when refridgerated overnight.