Bon Appétit’s Earl Grey Yogurt Cake, Corrected

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.

Tea conversion

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.

Bon Appétit Earl Grey Yogurt Cake, Corrected

Microground tea gives a new uniformity of flavour and extra moisture to this easy snacking cake. The problem of chewy tea leaves is solved with no need to pull out your spice grinder.
Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American, British, Canadian
Keyword: #earlgrey, #earlgreytea, #microgroundtea, #snackingcake, #teaandchocoalte, #teacake


  • 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
  • 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.


Earl Grey Cream Cheese Frosting is the perfect accompaniment. 
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

NYT Earl Grey Tea Cake With Dark Chocolate and Orange Zest, Corrected

Sorry New York Times! You are the best at all things food-wise, except tea. The sooner you embrace the microground, the better for all concerned.

This delicious tea cake combines a classic flavour trifecta: Earl Grey, orange and chocolate. It embraces good quality loose-leaf tea (quite right!) and it skips the unnecessary step of infusing the tea (bravo!). All in a lovely, rich, simple-to-make afternoon tea cake. But it could be better.

Microground tea is the key to this upgrade. If you’re new to this ingredient, microground is tea just very finely ground tea. Known as latte blend, tea powder, superfine tea, it is tea (or sometimes other botanicals) that has been slow-ground into incredibly small particles, almost to matcha specifications. (And no, you cannot do this in your food processor.) It has that same texture and resulting versatility, except it’s made with black tea instead of green. In this case, we are using Earl Grey.

I am not opposed to chewing tea leaves in a salad or with tea-pickled onions, but it’s a bit much in your cake. Especially mid-morning. And then you get a bit of bergamot flavour throughout, but more concentrated flavour in the leaves, and it’s just not the best approach.

Microground tea will disperse the tea flavour throughout the cake, evenly and seamlessly. You can add a little for a hint of flavour, and a lot for a wallop. I love adding this ingredient for its complexity. You could just source some bergamot oil and add a drop of that. But the tea leaf itself adds a maltiness and slight bitterness that rounds out and balances the other ingredients. Tea is also hydroscopic, so it add to the tenderness of the crumb and a touch more moisture.

Microground tea is also a wonderful ingredient for dairy-based dishes that don’t receive liquid well, such as custards, mousses, ganaches, meringues and whipped cream. I have used it in crème brûlée, cheesecake, cream cheese frosting and now, the NYT fabulous tea cake. Made more fabulous with microground Earl Grey tea.

One more thing: the NTY frosting recipe incorporates mascarpone into lightly whipped cream. By adding it in at this point, you can be left with lots of little tiny mascarpone lumps. But the recipe warns you not to overmix. Thus, I have switched up the order according to the instructions of the Original Kitchen Goddess Herself, the Cake Bible Lady, Rose Levy Beranbaum. She would have you mix the sugar (and tea) into the mascarpone first. This results in a nicer, smoother texture, not a lump to be found.

NYT Earl Grey Tea Cake with Dark Chocolate and Orange Zest, Corrected

An ingredient swap makes an incredible upgrade to this almost perfect tea cake.
Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American, British, Canadian
Keyword: #afternoontea, #chocolateorange, #earlgrey, #microgroundtea, #teacake, #teatime
Servings: 8



  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp microground Earl Grey tea
  • ¼ cup superfine or granulated sugar
  • ½ cup mascarpone


  • ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 1⅓ cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp microground Earl Grey tea
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp, heaping fine sea salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp freshly grated orange zest (from 1 large orange)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • ½ cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • ¼  chopped dark chocolate (use best quality, bean-to-bar for best results)


To make cake

  • Prepare the cake: Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch round cake pan and line with parchment paper.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, tea, baking powder and salt.
  • In large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the orange zest and beat to combine.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  • Beat in the flour mixture on low, until just combined, then beat in the milk. (Don’t overmix.)
  • Add the chocolate and fold it in using a spatula. 
  • Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top. 
  • Bake just until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes.
  • Transfer to a rack to cool for about 15 minutes. Then tip the cake out onto the rack to cool completely.

To make frosting

  • Stir together sugar and microground tea. Place it a mixing bowl with the mascarpone and beat on medium speed with a whisk attachment.
  • Slowly pour in cream, beating continuously. If it curdles, keep going, it will smooth out again.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Very, Very Fine Indeed:

The Many Glorious Uses of Microground Tea

Have you tried microground tea yet? If you have, you know that it’s easy to use, delivers intense flavour, and is incredibly versatile. If you haven’t tried it yet, this is your chance to get ahead of the trend. Microground tea isn’t commonly used or even known all that well—yet. But I’m willing to bet that here in Canada, microground tea is going to be the next big thing. 

What is it? Microground tea—also known as tea powder, superfine latte blend, and tea espresso—is not the same thing as instant tea (which is made from brewed tea). Also, it’s not always tea. 

Like matcha, microground tea is a superfine powder, meant for dissolving into liquid, like you would cocoa powder. Like cocoa powder, microground tea is often made in milk, and is easiest made into a paste first. It makes for a much quicker tea latte than steeping extra strong tea to add to your milk. Nor is it as not as messy as extracting tea bags from a simmering pot. And it makes for a much stronger cup, since, like matcha or cocoa, the actual tea leaf is dispersed into your liquid base of choice. 

For a little more detail, I asked Dave O’Conner of Genuine Tea how matcha is made. The dried leaf is slowly stone ground to Japanese specifications matcha specifications – around 10-16 microns. (A micron is one millionth of a metre, also represented as 1/1000 mm or 1/25,000 of an inch.) Real matcha is ground to 4 -16 microns. There are other subtle differences, though. 

Real matcha does not require sifting, as Marina Porter of Sloane Tea points out, since the supple, shade-grown leaves are deveined before being ground into tencha. But a product like microground malasa chai will necessarily involve ingredients other than tea. “Hammer mills are used for spices with high oil content such as cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Milling machines (similar to grinders) are used for black teas, green teas and ingredients with low moisture and oil content. The ingredients then undergo a thorough sifting process.” 

The use of the term matcha to refer to drinks made with botanicals rather than tea has always been a bugbear for true-tea lovers. And it can feel a touch disrespectful to the painstaking effort that goes into making matcha, which is a highly cherished, traditional Japanese delicacy. But this imprecise use of the word has been a handy shortcut to the consumer’s imagination. It has been borrowed to create products like red matcha (hibiscus), pink matcha (dragonfruit) and blue matcha (butterfly pea flower). But those same products, referred to as microground teas, are just as easy for tea lovers to understand. And easily avoids the casual cultural appropriation. 

Isn’t it equally inaccurate to refer to powdered plants other than camellia sinensis as microground tea? Technically, yes, but it’s long been common parlance. 

“It stems from the fact that we are accustomed to referring to any hot beverage that we consume like tea as “tea”. For example, peppermint tea is not technically tea, but we consume it as a hot beverage and so we often refer to it as “peppermint tea”. If you take our Blonde Chai, it features ingredients that in non-ground form, would be very similar to our Ginger Turmeric tea,” according to Johanna Martin, Director of Marketing for Tealish. 

And indeed, Blonde Chai, also known as a Golden Milk latte or Tumeric Golden Latte, is one of the original non-tea microground teas. Tea vendors are also making some innovative blends. While the dominant microground teas are a classic Earl Grey or masala chai, there are some very tempting new tea lattes available now. Tea Squared offers Vanilla-Almond Matcha Latte, Decadent Chocolate Chai Matcha and everyone’s seasonal favourite, Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte. Frank Weber, owner of Tea Squared, offers both unsweetened and sweetened microground tea blends to allow for personal choice. “Let the consumer decide.”

At Sloane, they take the same approach. “When we created our microground teas, it was important to us that we ensure the authenticity of its true flavour. Tea lattes [ in coffeeshops] are often made from pre-made syrups and the sweetness level cannot be adjusted. We made sure that our microground was completely sugar free so that the flavour is at the forefront.” Both companies sell their teas direct to consumers and to restaurants. But many coffee shops make a tea latte with an intensely sweet syrup, meaning that the flavour of the tea is in competition with sugar to dominate your taste buds. 

For Sameer Mohamed of Fahrenheit Coffee, the use of microground teas makes his tea lattes stand out among the crowd. “They are unique. Not many shops do ground-tea chai or London Fogs. It also allows us to create great latte art in the beverages.” It’s also a product that requires little tea knowledge to make: just whisk and stir. So whether you are skilled artisans, like the staff at Fahrenheit Coffee, or want to make a tea latte at home, microground makes a more hearty, flavourful drink. 

Frank agrees that it’s that it’s a product that deserves a more prominent place in coffee shops—and in restaurants. “It’s a great item for coffee shops,” he says, “but it’s still not something that restauranteurs are capitalizing on. Just like in the early days of loose-leaf tea, it took time to build awareness. But they are starting to catch on.” 

El Katrin in the Distillery District is now carrying a chocolate chai from Tea Squared, which can be had with a shot of rum for a big finale to dinner. “If the consumer is the same person, why wouldn’t you be able to sell them that product in a restaurant after dinner? Especially when so many restaurants still don’t have the great offerings when it comes to tea.”

At Tealish in Toronto, their Peppermint Matcha Green Tea is a local favourite from winter into spring, especially when made with honey and steamed milk. “Our Turmeric Chai Black Tea powder makes an amazing chai latte but is also perfect in a protein packed smoothie,” says Johanna Martin, Director of Marketing. 

What does she see for the future? “We predict you’ll be seeing a lot more herbal microground beverages, with focus on plant-powered benefits as adaptogenic herbs and nootropics become more and more popular.”

The wellness market has already found an intersection with microground tea. Landish is a Canadian company that offers protein powders and powdered greens along with a line of latte mixes. Their Lion’s Mane Matcha Latte Mix mingles Lion’s Mane mushrooms with matcha, water lentils and coconut milk powder. The Maca Mate Beet Latte Mix contains organic yerba mate extract, organic fermented maca root, cordyceps mushroom and “upcycled” beetroot. There is no tea in the Reishi Chaga Chai Latte Mix, but there is a good dose of ashwagandha root, which is often used as a healing “tea,” and appealing for those who prefer to avoid caffeine. If Canadian tea companies wish to keep pace, they may wish to make a few more blends that feature such nutrient-dense plants and fungi. 

Why is Canada braced to be a great host-nation for this up-and-coming trend? The weather. We drink more hot tea. In the US, iced tea is so much more common, except in the northern part of the country. And while in theory you can pop some microground into a glass of water, the resulting murky brown water is not pleasant to behold, and the tea will eventually settle at the bottom of the glass (like matcha or cocoa). A smoothie, however, is a fine place to add some microground tea, as is hot chocolate. There are fewer treats as lovely on a cold day as an Earl Grey hot chocolate where the intensity of the tea meets that of the cocoa powder. And if you’re in a rush, a protein-enhanced tea latte works well as breakfast.

There are culinary uses for this adaptable product, too. Microground teas are joyfully embraced by pastry chefs, sometimes for their flavour, sometimes for their colour. Beetroot and butterfly pea powder are both use to colour pie dough, for those who want to avoid the chemicals in artificial dyes. (It’s also much less work than massaging a fat-soluble dye into the butter, lard or vegetable shorting.) And microground tea is so much nicer in a tea cake than loose tea leaves; the flavour is more even, and there are no chewy or bitter leaves lodged in your tender, buttery crumb. 

Microground tea is ideal for adding flavour to the kind of culinary concoctions that that don’t accept liquid easily; custards, meringues, and cream- or butter-based sauces. Have you ever noticed some cheesecake recipes for call for vanilla extract, and others for vanilla bean? It’s not just for the intensity of flavour; it’s also a way to ensure the success of your efforts. Any added liquid will loosen the texture of the aforementioned. Custards may weaken, meringues may collapse, sauces split. Sure, the small amount of liquid that you use in an extract is unlikely to ruin a dessert. But why take that chance? 

Microground tea also offers a quick hit of flavour. In the past, I made my Banana Chai Cheesecake recipe with pan-toasted, hand-ground spices and tea leaves. Now I just add microground masala chai. Shortcut, anyone? And just imagine…Earl Grey Cheesecake. Can you taste it already? 

Don’t forget cocktails and mocktails! Butterfly pea flower microground is often used to colour drinks blue or purple. Not as visually appealing, microground Earl Grey makes a thick, heavy simple syrup for a tasty tea-twist on a White Russian, especially with Canadian vodka; I call it an Earl Gray in Niagara. The Earl Grey simple syrup far more potent than when made with bagged tea. Not the prettiest looking concoction to have in your fridge, I’ll admit, but it is delightfully easy, and perks up my morning yoghurt as well, especially when adorned with chopped kumquats raw or roasted. 

My favourite way to use microground tea is to add it to crème brulée—see the recipe below. I make my crème brûlée and cheesecake in jars with a sous vide device, although I’ve provided instructions for making it in the oven. You can add microground Earl Grey to your own recipe, although I challenge you to find one better than this. The original crème brulée was given to me by the incredibly talented chef Brent Leitch. 

Earl Grey Crème Brûlée

Special equipment:

Kitchen torch

sous vide device

mason jars, 125 or 250 ml



shallow rimmed baking tray


160g                 egg yolk (approximately 11 yolks) 
90g                   sugar 
3g                     salt (1/4 tsp)
10g                   microground Earl Grey tea (2 tsp)

600 ml             35% cream

1 vanilla pod, optional

Sugar for topping, as needed 

If using a sous vide machine, heat your water bath to 80°C (176°F). 

If using an oven, heat to 150°C (300°F).

Whisk together egg yolks, sugar and salt. 

Heat cream gently in a small pot with microground tea and seeds scraped from vanilla pod, if using. Heat to 70°C (158°F). 

Slowly temper cream into egg mixture. 

Use a fine mesh sieve to strain mixture into a large measuring cup, then slowly pour into mason jars, stopping approximately 1cm from the top. 

Seal jars fingertip tight. Carefully place into the water bath using tongs. Cook for 1 hour. 

If using the oven, fill the kettle and set it to boil. Set ramekins into a shallow tray and fill. When the water is boiled, place the tray in the oven. then fill the tray with water until it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 40 minutes or until just barely set in the middle. 

Cool mason jars in an ice bath until fully chilled. (Or pop them outside in chilly November!) At this point, they will keep for a few days. 

When ready to serve, remove the lid and sprinkle the top with a thin layer of sugar. Blow-torch the top until deeply caramelized. Let the topping set for two minutes before adding garnishes. Serve immediately.


If you don’t have a kitchen torch, maple syrup with a few flakes of sea salt makes a lovely topping. Or heat up some Earl Grey microground tea or simple syrup in orange marmalade thinned out, possibly thinned out with a splash of orange liqueur. 

If you’re nervous about using a blow torch, it just requires a little practice. 

Warning: Use of a non-kitchen torch can shatter the glass jars. 

Chocolate Earl Grey Crème Brûlée

Add 20g or 4 tsp natural cocoa powder to the cream with the microground tea. The combination is divine! The tea lends the cocoa and cream a malted flavour. Chocolate sauce with makes a wonderful topping. Top with grated orange zest to candied orange peel for a little colour. 

Very Canadian Overnight Oats

In preparation for my live cooking demo next week, held by the Tea and Herbal Association of Canada and hosted by the stupendous Shabnam Weber, here are some soggy oats.

Kidding, of course. Soft and slightly custardy, actually, this recipe is healthy and full of things Canadians grow or consume a lot. We grow oats and blueberries and when we drink tea, we often have Earl Grey. It is the most popular scented black tea in Canada, second in popularity to plain breakfast tea. Bergamot is an enticing scent, and makes a lovely addition to baked goods as well as tea leaves. But here, we shall have both, and it will be delightful.

I have used microground tea here, as I did in my Really, Really Strong Earl Grey Simple Syrup. Cooking with tea often involves steeping and cooling, which is more work than you want for overnight oats. Sometimes it involves chewing actual tea leaves, which I’m not against at all, but might be a bit much at breakfast time. I’m so enamoured with the ease of microground tea and its smooth appearance in baked goods, as well as its intensity. Microground tea can be used as you would instant coffee, although in general it’s a much nicer product.

To learn more about why microground tea is such a versatile and flavourful ingredient, and how easy it is to use, please check my article on the topic.

Tea sommeliers are quick to point out with matcha comes increased antioxidants, because the whole leaf is consumed, rather than just drinking an infusion. You’re eating it, really. Well, same thing with microground tea. And it, too, has health benefits. They are not lesser than matcha’s benefits, just different and not as well studied. Instead of the high amounts of EGCG, a flavonoid found in green tea, microground black tea has thearubigens and theaflavins, as well as amino acids, phenolic acids, and methylxanthines, all of which are terribly good for you. Don’t ask me why, look it up for yourself.

I’v added a lot of chia both for the texture and also because they are good for you. If you want to add sunflower seeds or nuts of some kind, you can soak them overnight to make them easier to digest, or add them on top for crunch.

Fresh blueberries are lovely in season, but thawed from frozen is great, too. You can spoon blueberries artfully on top, or you can mix them throughout, but you will be changing the colour. However, the oats are grey to start, so pick your palette, and enjoy. I don’t find the juices overwhelm the Earl Grey flavour, but I do prefer them as a last minute addition.

Please join me next week on March 25th at noon for a more detailed conversation about the glory of cooking and baking with microground tea. More info to come!

Very Canadian Overnight Oats

Overnight oats featuring Earl Grey microground tea along with blueberries and maple syrup. All the good things, the healthy version.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: Canadian
Keyword: #blueberries, #overnightoats, yoghurt
Servings: 7


  • ½ cup full fat plain yoghurt
  • 1 cup milk, water or cold tea
  • ½ cup large flake oats not steel cut and not instant
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup (or honey) (or to taste)
  • ¾ tsp Earl Grey microground tea (also known as superfine latte powder)
  • fresh or frozen blueberries, thawed


  • Stir everything together and let it sit overnight in the fridge. Make sure to stir well to thoroughly dissolve the tea powder.
  • In the morning, give it all another stir before serving up individual portions. If you want it to be a little looser, stir in more liquid, a little at a time.
  • If you want to add protein powder, do it at the time of serving. Letting it sit overnight will allow it to develop an unpleasant sour taste.
  • Top with fresh blueberries if you have them, thawed from frozen if you have those. Frozen with their juices actually make a lovely runny topping that disperses more blueberry flavour to the oats.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Afternoon Tea Week

Did you know there was such a thing? A whole week dedicated to Afternoon Tea? Well, we celebrate everything else on earth, so why not afternoon tea? And you need a week, really, not just a day, so you can sample the offerings of all the tea houses in your area.

Afternoon tea can be stiff, unimaginative, and poorly executed. It’s often expensive as well, which leaves me feeling foolish for indulging in something fancy that I didn’t really enjoy. When it is done right, however, it is divine.

Grey de Luxe, scented with Lemon Myrtle, native to Australia.

While in Melbourne, I had to try the Champagne Tea at The Hotel Windsor, the city’s longest running afternoon tea service. Very often, when visiting an iconic hotel, you come for the history and the ceremony, and hope the tea is good. Often it is not. But The Windsor was very, very good indeed. Better than good, by quite a bit.

We were greeted at the door by the most charming host, who delighted us with his explanations and accompanying witticisms. He poured our champagne promptly and with a generous hand. It was a warm welcome that put us at ease right away.

The champagne arrived first, Louis Roederer, to have with our sandwiches and savouries. While it was not inexpensive, the pricing was clear both for our meal and any additional glasses (which of course we had to have).

The savouries and sandwiches were very nice. Fresh, not soggy as happens in some famed Toronto establishments, with classic flavours done well. We had artichoke mini-quiches and a mushroom-truffle bit of decadence before our traditional trio of chicken Waldorf salad, egg salad and cucumber fingers. We were too hungry to snap a photo before we devoured the tray, so you’ll just have to trust me that they were lovely.

The tea came next with the sweets. Clearly, tea treated with reverence here, as cherished as coffee is to coffee lovers. Each selection was brewed perfectly. The signature black tea was a blend of the harvest of three Ceylon teas, with notes of honey and wet cedar. I had the Grey de Luxe, which uses Australian lemon myrtle in place of the traditional bergamot. A softer, less bitter finish, best had straight up.

Our many coloured sweet stack had a little bit of everything: apple and caramel, strawberry and rhubarb, yuzu and passionfruit, lemon poppyseed, and of course chocolate hazelnut. All quite as good to eat they were to behold, but the scones were the thing.

The scones were two distinct textures. The first was closer in texture to a traditional scone, but lighter and less flaky. The next scone was fluffier still, with slightly more distinct crumb, and heavenly flavours. Much like a hot cross bun, it was scented with a spice mixture and candied peel, but lemon rather than orange, just to remind you where you were. I found this extremely pleasing and will borrow this concept come Easter.

Oh and the clotted cream! Silky smooth, the barest hint of sour for complexity, and rich yet airy. We were encouraged to ask for seconds if we wanted them, and we did. And thirds.

As my companion said, it was all very traditional except for the palm trees outside the window, but that’s a very Canadian perspective. To Australians, this is the penultimate tea, the longest running tea service in Melbourne. Only the pandemic shut it down; it carried on through two world wars and the Depression since its opening in 1883. Christmas lunch was instituted in 1963 as the only variation from the daily schedule. Small wonder the whole event was flawless; they’ve had a bit of time to perfect it.

The Hotel Windsor was exactly what we were looking for in afternoon tea, and I’m grateful to have experienced such a delightful venue. So quintessentially Australian: proudly patriotic, dedicated to excellence and yet down-to-earth. A note to travellers: if you take afternoon tea on a Tuesday through Thursday, you are eligible for a discount on a room.

Wishing you happy sipping this Afternoon Tea Week!

Caramel & Almond Meringue Roulade, Revised

Of all the desserts I’ve ever made, this one has received the highest reviews and praise from family and friends. The absolute crowd favourite. And that includes crème brûlée and the River Café’s flourless chocolate cake. Mascarpone fluffed with whipping cream, bittersweet caramel, toasted almonds, all folded into a craggy, cracked meringue, then covered in more caramel sauce and crushed praline. How could this NOT be the new decadent dream?

Don’t let the many steps put you off making this recipe. The caramel sauce and almond meringue can be made ahead, so that once your meringue is done, you really don’t have much to do but whip together the filling and roll it all up.

Glorious in its lazy, soft rolled form. This dessert is heaven itself.

This recipe was given to me by my lovely friend Jan, who cut it out from a magazine. When I lost my physical copy the night before a party, I frantically messaged her and she kindly photographed it and sent it. Once armed with the document, I was determined not to lose it again, so I also photographed it and saved it. Thank goodness, because the digital copy she sent me has disappeared once again into the ether.

Now that I have the name, I performed an online search and found that it’s an LCBO recipe! Which makes sense, because Food & Drink recipes rarely let me down. I have made a few modifications, however, that I think are crucial to its success.

I have tried the egg washed toasted almonds several times, and they can easily turn tacky and gluey, unless you’ve got a lot of extra time to dry them out in the oven. It is far easier just to use plain toasted almonds, but I have made them into a praline by making extra caramel, which hardens on the almonds and is crushed into powder to be dusted on top. There is usually leftover for another dessert. If you like the idea of the crispy almonds toasted in egg white and sugar, then add a splash of water to the egg wash to dilute it a little. But because this dessert isn’t overly sweet thanks to the mascarpone, I say add some crunch and and burnt sugar with the easy almond praline.

I have also doubled the filling for a bigger, messier, more Nigella-esque concoction. Luxurious, decadent, a glorious caramel meringue schlump. Where I did keep to the original, however, was the caramel. I tend to favour a brown sugar/butter/whipping cream caramel sauce on top of butterscotch pudding, but this burnt sugar and water sauce really does offset the sweetness for a perfectly balanced flavour combination.

The last time I made it, I added some espresso powder to the caramel mascarpone filling, and it was divine. And I don’t drink coffee. But it added just the perfect note. Make this your deconstructed Yule log, and you’ll never look back.

This recipe really deserved a better photo shoot, so I’ll likely make it again for just that purpose. I’m sure I won’t have any trouble finding a home for this most beloved of all creations.

Caramel & Almond Meringue Roulade, Revised

Meringue wrapped around a tangy mascarpone frosting with bittersweet caramel and toasted almond praline. Original recipe by JOANNE YOLLES for the LCBO's Food & Drink Magazine.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, British, Canadian
Keyword: #almond meringue, #caramel, #meringue, #yulelog


Almond Praline

  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup sugar (preferably caster sugar)
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • ¼ cup water

Caramel Sauce

  • cup granulated or superfine sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 pinch sea salt

Aloud Meringue

  • 1 cup ground almonds (almond flour)
  • 1⅛ cup sugar
  • tsp cornstarch
  • ¾ cup egg whites (from about 6 eggs), at room temperature
  • 1 tsp  vinegar
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • ½ cup Icing sugar for decoration

Caramel Filling

  • 1 cup caramel sauce
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup mascarpone
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tbsp espresso powder (optional)


Almond Praline

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (150°C)
  • Place flaked almonds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until the almonds develop a light golden color.
  • Lined a rimmed baking sheet (if using the same one, remove almonds to a bowl (or plate) with parchment paper and paint with a thin layer of neutral flavoured vegetable oil.
  • Place sugar, salt and water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring it over medium heat. Swirl the pan regularly to distribute the heat and prevent burning. Once the sugar dissolves and turns into a beautiful golden colour, remove the pan from the heat.
  • Add sliced almonds and fold in gently with a spatula.
    Working quickly, spread them across the greased baking sheet until fairly uniform. Let cool for an hour.
  • Once cool, roughly break apart the praline and place it in a food processor. Pulse a few times until you have smallish crumbs. Measure out about 1 cup/150grams of the mixture and set aside until time to use.
  • This step can be done up to a week ahead.

Caramel Sauce

  • Place the sugar in a small saucepan and add the water. Place over high heat and cover the pot with a lid. As soon as the sugar is completely dissolved and boiling, remove the lid.
  • Continue boiling until the syrup caramelizes and turns a golden amber colour, approximately 4 to 5 minutes.
    Recipes for caramel always say not to stir but if you notice it getting too dark in one area (as can happen with gas or an uneven element), swirl very gently, getting as little as possible on the sides of the pot.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and gradually add 1 cup (250 mL) of the whipping cream (the mixture will bubble up), whisking until smooth. Pour the hot caramel into a heatproof glass measuring cup and refrigerate until completely chilled, about 2 hours.
    You can make the sauce a couple of days ahead.

Almond Meringue

  • For the almond meringue, set the oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
    Line a 12 x 17-inch (30 x43‑cm) sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a small bowl, combine the ground almonds, 2 tbsp (30 mL) sugar, and the cornstarch.
  • Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Begin mixing the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue beating to soft peaks. Add the remaining 1 cup (250 mL) sugar in a slow stream.
  • Once all the sugar is added, stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl using a rubber spatula. Continue beating until the whites form stiff shiny peaks. Add the vinegar and almond extract and mix just to combine.
  • Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently but thoroughly fold the ground-almond mixture into the meringue, one-third at a time.
  • Spread the meringue in the pan, levelling the top. Sprinkle with sliced almonds and very lightly press them in with your hand.
  • Place in the oven, and immediately reduce the temperature to 275°F (140°C).
    Bake until the meringue is set and light golden brown, about 40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
  • Sift icing sugar over a clean sheet of parchment paper and turn the meringue out onto the paper, almond-side down. Carefully remove the parchment liner.

Caramel Filling

  • To finish the caramel filling, place 1 cup (250 mL) of the cooled caramel, the remaining 1 cup (250 mL) of whipping cream, and the mascarpone in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat together until stiff.
  • If you like coffee, cream and caramel, add 1 tbsp espresso powder with the other ingredients. (HINT: it's amazing!)

Tie it all together!

  • Spread the cream evenly over the meringue. Starting at the long side farthest away from you, roll up the meringue, using the paper as a lever. The meringue will crack.
    Wrap the roulade in foil and refrigerate until serving time.
  • To serve, drizzle remaining caramel sauce all over and sprinkle with almond praline. Slice and devour.


Avoid making almond praline on humid days.
Caster sugar works best in this recipe, but granulated is fine, too. Granulated can easily become caster sugar with a few blitzing pulses in the food processor. has superfine almond flour which makes for a lighter meringue. But the No Frills brand works as well. 
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!