A lovely, simple, oil-based loaf cake made with Earl Grey Tea. The original recipe gives you the choice of either loose leaf tea or tea bags cut open. Either way, the comment section was full of people mentioning chewy tea leaves and offering tips on how to grind the tea in a spice grinder. You certainly can use a spice grinder or use bergamot oil instead, as one reader suggested. But with microground tea, you get the flavour of the bergamot AND the tea, and you get the extra moisture and slightly more delicate crumb that comes from the tea itself. Tea is hydroscopic, so it does make any cake moister than the original, with a more even distribution of flavour.
I enjoyed the chocolate chips in the NYT Times Earl Grey Tea Cake, Corrected so much that I’ve added them again, but this cake would be equally nice without. Bon Appétit suggests toasting and buttering it the next day, which sounds like the perfect breakfast with a mug of Earl Grey. But it would also do well underneath some Earl Grey Scented Stewed Rhubarb and a spoonful of crème fraîche or yogurt. Or roasted apricots, or studded with wild blueberries instead of chocolate. Or mascarpone and strawberry jam. Or lemon curd. It’s a wonderful canvas for whatever you fancy.
One word of warning: it is easy to underbake this cake, since a skewer poked in the middle at three quarters done will come out with only a few moist crumbs on it. So give it the full hour, relying on time rather than testing. Especially as chocolate chips might confuse the matter further.
The BS recipe calls for a loaf pan. I made this in a square pan and it turned out just fine. If, it sinks a little, you’re alright. If it sinks quite a bit, well, leave it in longer next time and know that it won’t dry out with just a few more minutes in the oven. The tea, as I mentioned, is hydroscopic and gives you a little buffer.
When translating from a recipe that lists whole tea leaves to microground, the rule I’ve discovered is basically to use half the amount specified in the original recipe. At least the first time, and then you can play it up or down according to your tastes. It’s not always an easy translation, although it is easier here since we are just adding it to the batter, not steeping it. In this case I used one tablespoon and found that enough, even though the original called for three tablespoons. Less than half, yes, but baking is equally art and science, so you’ve just got to play with it.
Speaking of adding it in, another rule of baking with microground tea is to add it into the dry ingredients. I stirred all the dry ingredients in together, and then transferred them to parchment paper and into a sieve over the bowl or a light sifting, to get rid of any little balls of tea or baking powder.
The add-to-the-driest-ingredient rule works for cream-based recipes, too. When making Earl Grey Scented whipped cream, cheesecake or crème brûlée, I stir the microground tea into the sugar first. Neatly quells any possibility of clumping.
For an Earl Grey Cream Cheese Frosting, which would be nice here, too, I also use my Really, Really Strong Earl Grey Simple Syrup. I often make it with a vanilla pod, which means you have a two-in-one solution for vanilla and Earl Grey. Since it’s a liquid—thick and dense but still liquid—you could add it to the eggs and yoghurt mixture, and save your microground tea for lattes.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ tsp fine grain sea salt
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tbsp microground Earl Grey tea
- 2 large eggs
- 1¼ cup white sugar
- 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- ¾ cup mini-chocolate chips or wild blueberries, optional
- Preheat oven to 325°. Lightly coat a 9×5" or 8½x4½" loaf pan with vegetable oil and line with parchment paper, leaving overhang on long sides. A square pan works too.
- Whisk flour, sea salt, baking powder, baking soda and microground tea in a medium bowl to combine.
- Vigorously whisk eggs and granulated sugar in a large bowl for one minute or until pale yellow and frothy. Whisk in yogurt and vanilla extract.
- Gradually stream in vegetable oil, whisking constantly until incorporated. Add dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Stir in chocolate chips or blueberries, if using.
- Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Gently tap pan against surface to eliminate any air bubbles.
- Sprinkle evenly with large crystal sugar, if you have it. Bake cake about 1 hour, or until a skewer or toothpick inserted into the centre comes out absolutely clean, not even a few damp crumbs. Melted chocolate doesn't count, obviously.
- Let cool 15 minutes in pan, then run a butter knife or offset spatula between the cake and pan to release. Lift it out using parchment overhang and transfer to a wire rack.
- Serve warm or room temperature. It's nice plain, topped with stewed rhubarb, strawberries or blueberries. Earl Grey Cream Cheese Frosting is also perfect to fancy it up for company.