British people drink a lot of tea.
Excessive amounts really.
From an objective point of view, Wikipedia says the annual consumption per capita is 2.74kg, making the UK 5th highest on the list. Of course, I do not vouch for the reliability of this information, but if it was the case, that would equate to 1370 cups of tea a year, so 3.75 cups a day (Approximating that a tea bag weighs 2g) That seems like a fair bit to me, as your average cup is 250mL, so it's almost a litre!
The facts are there, guys. There's no denying the British love their tea. So why not, tea flavoured cake?
I started off with infusing the Earl Grey flavour. I use Twinings Earl Grey tea bags normally, so I just grabbed 4 of those (i.e. average daily consumption as per my calculations above).
I assumed the best way to extract the flavour would be to soak it in hot liquid. Water in large amounts is an unusual ingredient in cake, but milk is much more widely used. So I gently heated up some milk, and poured it over my tea bags to infuse for 5 minutes. Then, remove the tea bags and cool the liquid to room temperature.
I made this Earl Grey Tea loaf cake using a creaming butter and sugar method. So I took my butter out to get it to room temperature, and mashed it up a bit with a wooden spoon to make sure it was nice and soft.
Then I tipped in some golden caster sugar. Creaming sugar and butter by hand is not as straight forward as using a machine. At first, it seems like there isn't enough butter. So I find it easier to start by pushing the sugar into the butter, rather than aimlessly stirring it around. Then, once it seems to be incorporated, it's a matter of moving and spreading the mixture around the sides of the bowl. It takes a while of mashing and bashing, but eventually you will find that the volume of the mixture seems to have doubled, and the colour is lighter.
Make sure you do get it to a state with lots of air incorporated inside, as this relieves some of the density of the cake. The good thing is, you can't overcream, so there's no need to worry about that. Bear in mind that if you use golden or brown (as opposed to white) sugar, it will pale less, and also, if you use coarser granules, then the mixture will be grainy rather than smooth.
Add your eggs one at a time, beating it into the butter and sugar mixture well after each addition.
Prep your dry ingredients by sieving flour, baking powder and salt. Add it to your wet mixture slowly, in 2 or 3 parts, so it is easier to mix and lump free.
This is the reason I do cake by hand sometimes. When you folding the flour with the other ingredients, you want to handle it as little as possible because physical motion is what activates gluten, something good for breads, but less good for cakes.
Using a wooden spoon, you can fold very gently, until it is literally just combined, whereas using a stand mixer, I find it much easier to go a bit overboard.
Time to add your wonderful flavour! I poured in all my earl grey tea infused milk, and again stirred it only until it was just combined.
Although the colour was beautiful now, a rich milky tea colour, I thought that it could do with speckles of the tea leaves themselves. I ripped open one of my used Twinings Earl Grey tea bags, and emptied it in. Add more if you want more speckles!
It is quite a runny batter, at least more runny than what I am used to, but it works just fine so don't think anything has gone wrong.
It's done at this point, so all you need to do is line a loaf tin with some baking paper, and pour your batter in.
I baked it at 160˚C in my fan-oven and it was done in 40 minutes. I think it depends a lot on the depth of your cake, so just keep an eye on it. It's done when you press on the top, and it springs back, or you can check with a toothpick inserted in the middle, which should come out clean.
Let it cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then take it out and let it cool some more. I like to take the baking paper off when the cake is still warm, but not hot, as I find that has the least chance of sticking.
When it's cool, it's easier to cut into without the cake crumbling to bits.
TWININGS EARL GREY TEA LOAF CAKE by Sam | Svelte Salivations
A moist and dense, yet soft loaf cake for Earl Grey tea-lovers out there.
Makes 1 loaf with 8 slices. Takes 1 hour of your time: 20 minutes to prepare and 40 minutes to bake.
What you need:
- 4 Twinings Earl Grey teabags (or any of your choice)
- 200mL milk (I used skimmed, but any will do)
- 100g butter, room temperatures
- 200g golden caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 150g plain flour
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- large pinch of salt
How you make it:
- Preheat oven to 160˚C fan / 180˚ normal.
- Gently heat milk in a pan until just simmering, take off the heat and infuse all the teabags in it for 5 minutes. After that, remove and set aside the tea bags, and let the milk cool to room temperature.
- Cream together the butter and sugar. To make it easier, mash up and soften the butter first, and slowly incorporate the sugar. Beat lots of air into it so it turns out nice and pale and fluffy.
- Add eggs one at a time, and beat it into the mixture when after each one.
- Sieve flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl, then add 1/3 of this into the wet mixture. Fold with gentle strokes, as if you don't want to disturb it, and do the same with the rest, adding 1/3 at a time. Stop as soon as it is just combined!
- Pour in the tea-infused milk, and stir so it's mixed together. If you wish, stir in the contents of 1 (or more) teabags to add a speckled look to your cake.
- Line a loaf tin with baking paper and pour in the cake batter.
- Bake for 40 minutes or until done, all the while enjoying the smell of tea perfuming your kitchen.
- Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then take it out of the tin and baking paper and cool completely.
- Dust with icing sugar and enjoy!