Thursday, June 14, 2012

Earl grey tea cake with lemon syrup

Earl Grey tea is one of my favourite scent, not drink. I love love love the smell of it, whether raw or freshly brewed, but I am a coffee person, period. Baking with tea, especially with Earl Grey tea, has always been on my to do list.

Last weekend, I finally got down to try experimenting with it. It went a slightly more winded route than I originally planned...

When I was making the cake batter, I felt something was amiss but couldn't make out what was it. The moment I mixed everything together in the final step, put baking pan into the oven and close the oven door, it struck me: I forgot the sugar!!

Too late to do anything but in order to salvage my effort, I thought glazing may be the answer if the cake batter can hold it's shape. So I frantically searched the Internet for glazing recipe that goes well with Earl Grey tea cake while the cake was baking in the oven.

Having found quite a few recommendations that lemon syrup compliments Earl grey tea cake, I set out to work, my heart wishing hard that the cake will not collapse or be too tough since it lacks sugar to hold the structure. According to Ask The Experts, sugar plays multiple roles in the science of baking.

In the mean time, from the window of the oven, I can see that the cake has risen well but that doesn't guarantee it will not collapse after being taken out from oven. When the baking time was up and toothpick inserted confirmed it was done, I took the cake out and poured all the syrup on the cake. 30 mins later and realizing that the cake was still holding strong, with all the syrup absorbed, my heart jumped with joy...

But wait, how about the taste?? Slicing one slice for myself, I almost couldn't believe that it was simply awesome! It was soft, fluffy and moist, with just enough sweetness and lots of flavours. Seriously, I think it was the most memorable cake I ever made, mainly bcoz I was expecting it to fail.

Too bad that the cranberries and chocolate chips all sank to the bottom, I should have floured them slightly, but the overall taste was good. As for the Earl grey taste, it was really mild. The next time I make it again, I will either increase the tea leaves amount or cut down on the cranberries, since I find it overpowering the tea taste.

So cake without sugar?? Not that I will go down that route often, but maybe for this recipe, I will try again :)

Earl Grey Tea Cake with Lemon Syrup

2 Earl Grey tea bags
1/4 cup boiling water
1/3 cup milk
100g unsalted butter, room temperature
2 eggs
2/3 cup caster sugar (totally missed out in my case)
1 1/4 cups self-raising flour (I use cake flour + 1 tsp salt + 1 tsp baking powder)
1 cup cranberries (optional)
1/4 cup chocolate chips

juice of 1 lemon
zest of 1 lemon
3 tbsp icing sugar

1. Preheat oven to 180 degree C, grease pan.
2. Empty tea leaves from tea bags into a cup and add the boiling water.
3. Set aside for 3-5 mins
4. Stir in the milk and transfer to a mixing bowl
5. Add the butter, sugar, eggs and flour.
6.  Use electric beater on low to beat until just combined.
7. Increase the speed to medium and beat until mixture is pale and creamy (may look slightly curdled)
8. Bake in a preheated oven for 20-22 mins or until toothpick inserted comes out clean

9. While cake is baking, add the juice, zest and icing sugar in a bowl.
10. Mix until the sugar fully dissolved.

11. Pour the lemon syrup onto the cake once it's out of the oven
12. Wait until syrup fully absorbed by the cake before turing the cake out from the pan

recipe adapted from nigella lawson's community recipe and flick your food for the lemon syrup.

Since I have done the cake without the sugar, I am not too sure if the cake will be too sweet  if full sugar amount is used. Unless if you have a really sweet tooth, I would recommend cutting down the 2/3 cup of sugar to maybe 1/2 or even 1/4 cup. And if you really have moderate capacity for sweetness like me (I like my dessert/cake/muffin mildly sweet but full of flavours), you may even try omitting the sugar? Well, part of the fun of baking is experimenting to suit your own taste right?

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