I can almost never come to the conclusion that I´ve found the perfect recipe for anything. My interest and taste buds change. Not dramatically but they do. Food trends reinventing themselves all the time are to blame. A new combination is always around the corner and with it comes a new investigation of a certain ingredient. My new curiosity has to do with baking cakes containing tea. I know, tea as part of the liquid in a cake is nothing new, but I´m suggesting leaving the leaves inside, as part of the batter. A year ago I found a line of artisanal teas I really like. That started talks about using the different blends in baking products to have along with a cup of tea. I´m late for many parties, food-related, so it was no surprise I was late for this one too. Not terribly late but not on time either.
This cake caught my attention a while ago. Because of the tea, and also due to my increasing interest in finding more good recipes with white chocolate. With all the talk about it not being real chocolate, bla, bla, my experience is that it adds a very soft creaminess and moisture. So this almost sounded like the perfect cake. I used a tea blend that has mint, rose petals, cinnamon and honey. I thought about the lemon zest, should I or shouldn´t I, then considered orange zest and vanilla, but in the end omitted any other kind of flavoring. Let´s see if the tea delivers right?
The minty smell that wafted out of the oven when I took the loaf out was a welcomed surprise. It didn´t taste like it had much flavor going into the oven. The magic of heat.
This cake is a keeper. The flavors of the tea came through in every bite. I will certainly try many other variations. Perfect tea cake. Literally.
TEA –INFUSED WHITE CHOCOLATE CAKE
from Chocolate Cake by Michele Urvater
4 tea bags (suggested flavors: orange pekoe, Constant Comment, jasmine or herbal tea)
1/3 cup boiling water
2 cups (280g) bleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¾ sticks (200g) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups (270g) sugar
4 large eggs
3 oz. (85g) white chocolate, melted and cooled
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest or ¼ teaspoon lemon extract or 1/8 teaspoon lemon oil
Confectioners´ sugar for dusting
Empty the contents of the tea bags into a small bowl. Pour the boiling water over the tea and let it steep for as long as possible (30 minutes at least). I had to leave the house so I left mine 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350ºF/180ºC. Lightly butter a 9x5x3 inch (23x13x7 cm) loaf pan and line bottom with parchment paper (I always use aluminum foil).
Sift flour, baking powder and salt twice and set aside.
With an electric or stand mixer with the paddle attachment beat the butter for 1 minute. Add sugar, a few Tbs at a time, and when it has been added, continue to beat on medium speed for 4 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. It will look very light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the cooled melted chocolate, the lemon zest and the steeped tea leaves along with any remaining liquid. Combine well. Beat for 1 minute, until creamy.
With a spatula, in two or three additions, fold in the sifted dry ingredients into the batter, then beat for 1 minute.
Transfer batter to prepared pan, smooth the top, and rap the pan sharply on the counter a couple of times to break up any large air bubbles.
Bake for 45 minutes, lower the oven tº to 325ºF/170ºC and bake for an additional 30 to 45 minutes, or until tester inserted in center comes out dry.
Cool cake in the pan on wire rack for 20 minutes. Invert cake onto rack, remove paper and cool to room tº right side up.
Just before serving, sift confectioners´ sugar on top.
Storage: Keep at room temperature, wrapped tightly, for up to 3 days in cool place.
Serves 10 to 12.