Now more than ever my baking urges have intensified, keeping me on my feet and distracted; focused on something else other than the news or being a Netflix potato. But most importantly, baking is a form of creative expression for me. It’s a fun outlet that produces delicious outcomes.
Just like for everyone else, this week has been a bit crazy. So crazy that I forgot that we’ve officially entered the Spring Equinox, and I’m not one to miss the shifts of seasons. It’s Spring, guys. Let’s embrace that for a second. What’s funny is that I had this recipe saved and intended for an official Spring welcoming post, but now with everything that’s happened, I’ve adapted it to be an inspiration to bake something other than banana bread. I know y’all baked banana bread this week.
This is especially exciting if, like me, you’re equally a huge fan of tea. This cake is made of tea. It’s elegant, fragrant, bright, and above all, it’s comforting.
Just like my lavender cookies and my lavender cake, using loose leaf tea in baking is a very similar concept to using dried florals. And that’s what’s amazing about food, the internet and being stuck at home: there are so many interesting recipes and flavours to try, that we might as well take the time to try something new now since we’re all indoors forced to keep ourselves safe, sane, and fed.
This recipe is simple, and doesn’t require an electric handheld mixer; just your favourite whisk and spatula. You’ve got your basic dry ingredients, and the lineup for the moisture of this cake is the yogurt and vegetable oil (or any other neutral oil like canola or grape seed oil), which you hopefully have in stock.
The recipe calls for regular Earl Grey, but I couldn’t help but to use my “fancy” Earl Grey: Sloane Tea’s Heavenly Cream: a rich blend of Ceylon and Assam black tea balanced with notes of Italian bergamot and creamy Madagascar vanilla. Creamy, which this tea certainly is, makes it so perfect for a cake.
And to clarify, I don’t mean brewed tea. The Earl Grey portion of this cake is actually made from its loose leaves, cornflower petals and all.
So yes, you will see the loose leaf tea speckled in your loaf, fragrantly welcoming you to breathe into its aroma before taking a bite, but rest assured it doesn’t have a weird texture in to your mouth. Each bite of this cake will melt in your mouth due to the moisture provided by the yogurt and the oil.
Speaking of the oil…
My only critique about the original recipe is that I found it called for way too much of it: 1 cup of vegetable oil (eek!). When I first attempted this cake, I followed the recipe despite my better judgement. The cake turned out delicious in taste, texture and aroma, but my assumption about the oil was right: I didn’t like that my plate had an oily residue, and I wasn’t a fan of the slight oily aftertaste. So lucky for you, I modified the oil measurement for this finalized recipe, which still makes it moist and much better balanced, in my opinion.
This heavenly cake pairs well with a fresh cup of coffee or, naturally of course, a cup of tea, Earl Grey or other. I would recommend serving this cake at room temperature, or accompanied by a dollop of jam.
If you’re not in the mood to try this recipe, or if you’re missing an ingredient and you don’t want to bother going to the grocery store to pick it up, don’t worry. Save this recipe for later. For when life gets back to normal. For when we can finally hug the people we love. For when we can finally gather and enjoy a meal together. For when things get better. Because they will.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
3 Tablespoons loose-leaf Earl Grey tea leaves (or ¼ cup tea from bags) **un-brewed**
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup vegetable oil (grapeseed oil or canola oil works fine too, just don’t use olive oil)
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar (for topping)
1. Preheat oven to 325°. Grease a 9×5″ loaf pan and line with parchment paper, leaving overhang on the long sides.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda until well combined. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, vigorously whisk 2 large eggs and sugar for 1 minute. Mixture should be pale yellow and frothy. Whisk in yogurt, Earl Grey tea leaves, and vanilla extract.
4. Gradually stream in vegetable oil, whisking constantly until incorporated. (Place a damp kitchen towel under your bowl to stabilize it so that you have two free hands). Add dry ingredients, and fold until well combined.
5. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Gently tap pan against surface to eliminate any air bubbles. Sprinkle evenly with 1 Tablespoon of sugar.
6. Bake cake for 60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
7. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes, then run a butter knife or offset spatula between the cake and pan to release. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Serve at room temperature. Perfect on its own, or paired with jam.