If this is the only recipe I ever post on here, I will be proud.
Firstly, I have a confession to make. I drink two to five cups of tea daily, but they are all of one kind: the cornerstone of British culture that is known these days as ‘English Breakfast Tea.’ I am not proud of my limited palate, but previous attempts to diversify have failed. On a school trip to China eight years ago I drank green tea with total abandon because no English tea was available, but have scarcely touched it since. Jasmine tea tastes like bathwater to me. And don’t get me started on fruit teas.
I only drink Earl Grey tea if someone has accidentally given it to me instead of English Breakfast, and I’m too embarrassed to point out their mistake. It’s a tea I’ve always liked the principle of (its delicate scent) but not the practice (its actual taste). However, I woke up yesterday with a weird urge to bake something with Earl Grey in it, wondering if its glories might reveal themselves to me through the medium of cake.
Naturally, I took to Google, with some difficulty. I guessed that the ideal cake would include lemon as the other main ingredient, and I didn’t have a bundt tin, or any lavender (ew) lying around like half the recipes I found online suggested. I didn’t want to make cupcakes or a sandwich cake; I thought a loaf might work as it would with an ordinary drizzle. Thankfully I found a promising recipe from Christine at Crunchy Bottoms (great name, Christine).
But I needed to seriously modify the recipe:
- I don’t like walnuts, so decided to swap them in for poppy seeds.
- I didn’t have enough honey, so topped it up with golden syrup.
- I didn’t have enough icing sugar, so topped it up with caster sugar.
- I had no idea what cakeflour was – a quick Google confirmed that it was unavailable in the UK. Using some dodgy maths and Nigella’s website, I decided that, as an alternative, 16% of the flour I used should be cornflour, and the rest plain flour.
What I ended up making: the cake:
- 135g plain flour
- 25g cornflour
- 165g softened unsalted butter
- 3 large eggs
- About 2 tbsp poppy seeds (optional)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 30g honey
- 20g golden syrup
- 1.5 tbsp Earl Grey tea leaves (the contents of about 3 teabags)
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 105g icing sugar
- 25g caster sugar
- Preheat oven to gas mark 3.
- Line and/or grease a 1lb tin.
- Sift plain flour and cornflour together then combine with the tea and lemon zest.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until pale yellow and fluffy.
- Add the eggs in to the creamed butter and sugar, one at a time, mixing each until incorporated.
- Add the honey, vanilla extract, flour mixture, salt and mix for about 3 minutes.
- Fold in the poppy seeds gently.
- Fill the loaf tin with the batter until about 3/4 full (no more than this).
- Bake for about 40-45 minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out dry (a crumb or two is ok). Don’t let the cake get too brown – cover the top with tinfoil if this happens before the baking time is up.
- Let the cake cool slightly in its tin before turning out and putting on a wire rack. Leave to cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing.
What I ended up making: the drizzle:
Christine didn’t include drizzle in the original recipe, but I thought it could add sweetness and levity to a potentially sombre cake. This is where it all went a bit haywire. Whenever I’ve made a drizzle in the past, I’ve never felt I’ve got the right proportions of sugar and lemon and whatever an extra ingredient may be. In the end I went for something like:
- Combine the juice of 1.5 lemons with 50g caster sugar and 50g granulated sugar
- Prick holes all over the cake while it’s still warm and pour on the half of the drizzle, letting it absorb before finishing it off.
I initially feared this would drown the cake in stickiness; in the end it was fine and not overly sticky but there was a lot of excess liquid lurking at the bottom of the tin when I turned the cake out. Next time I will experiment with a more substantial topping, aiming to combine icing sugar with perhaps a small amount of freshly-brewed Earl Grey.
How I felt:
All in all, the cake was a success both with myself and my
guinea pigs family. I’m proud of my successful improvisations, and I know where to improve for next time. (I expect I will update this post with a better drizzle recipe when I find one.) I found the cake satisfying and just on the right side of moreish. However, I did wash it all down with a nice cup of PG Tips, so what do I know?