Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Earl Grey Tea Cake

No matter what else is going on in my life, there is one constant. I may be transitioning. I may have a lot on my plate. But I always have a cup of tea.
The season and my mood dictate the type I reach for. And my schedule may lead me to choose a bag of tea over a nicer loose leaf. No matter the variety, I can't actually remember the last day I went without a mug of tea. Or a cuppa, as the Brits call it.

Because I've been going pretty non-stop for the past few months, my body is run down. Travel, work, and settling into a new life in a new city have left me tired and a bit lackluster, so my usual cup a day has turned into mug after mug. I'll stop into the tea parlor down the road for a match a latte, having just downed a thermos full of Darjeeling at home.

I know it's not a cure-all, but it is comforting. And whatever else I put my poor body through (I am well aware that eating out and going out are not exactly easy on my system), I feel that tea helps me detoxify and decompress. And while I'm more than happy with a simple Genmaicha or Oolong, it is nice to have some accompaniment every now and again. And what goes better with tea than tea cake?

Earl Grey Tea Cake
Adapted from Paris Pastry Club
Makes 1 loaf

For the cake:
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Zest from two clementines
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
2 tablespoons Earl Grey tea leaves
4 large eggs, at room temperature
Beans from one vanilla pod
2/3 cup creme fraiche
3 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted

For the clementine confit:
4 clementines, thinly sliced
1/2 cup water
1 cup caster sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Beans from one vanilla pod

To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter one loaf pan and line with parchment paper. Butter parchment paper. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and zest. In a large bowl, rub caster sugar and tea leaves together until it is a fine meal and fragrant. Add eggs and beans from vanilla pod and whisk until light in color, about 4 minutes. Gradually fold in flour mixture, careful not to overbeat. Fold in creme fraiche and butter. Pour into prepared baking pan and bake for 40 minutes, or until golden brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack.

To make the clementine confit: Place clementines, water, caster sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla beans in a medium-sized pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes until clementines are soft and syrupy. Serve clementine confit over cooled, sliced tea cake.

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