Friday, April 07, 2017

Tea Cake

Right after Christmas I purchased a holiday tea sampler from my favorite tea purveyor, David's Tea. It's a Canadian company with a handful of outlets in the US; I hit up the Bleecker Street branch just about every time I'm in NY. It used to be that I blew all my money on perfume when I went to NY, now it's tea. I order from their web site on occasion, but only when I need enough to qualify for free shipping ($50 minimum purchase)--not very often. But after the holidays, they had so much good stuff on sale for half off, I couldn't resist buying everything. One of those things was a star-shaped box with wee 3-tablespoon tins of several of their holiday teas. I figure that while I would drink some of them, others I would use to flavor ice cream (you know I love making ice cream with tea). And one weekend afternoon, when I had some rare free time, I decided to use one in a cake.

After sniffing all of the tins three times, I settled on "Coffee Cake." The web site description reads thusly: "There’s nothing more nostalgic than a classic coffee cake. Just picture it. That dense, yellow cake, dotted with fruit and topped with crumbled brown sugar." The list of ingredients includes pineapple, cranberries, and cherry juice. Huh? I suppose Canadian coffee cake is a bit different than the version I grew up eating. I don't recall any fruit in my cakes. And while the tin of tea did have what appeared to be a tiny piece of dried pineapple, it did not smell fruity at all. More maple-y, I would say (and Mr Minx concurs). In any case, it smelled lovely and it tastes great in this cake, too.

It would be quite the coincidence if you had the same tea at home, so use whatever tea you like. Something with warm spices, like a chai, would be lovely, I think. Earl Grey would work as well, or something with hints of chocolate or berries.

The glaze is optional. A dusting of powdered sugar would be just fine.

Tea Cake

2 tablespoons of your favorite loose tea, divided use
1/2 cup whole milk, plus additional for glaze
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Powdered sugar
Cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a standard bundt pan and set aside.

Add 1 tablespoon of the tea to the milk in a microwave safe bowl. Cover with plastic and nuke at high power 30 seconds at a time until the milk is boiling, 1 minute to 1 1/2 minutes. Set aside to steep. After about 10 minutes, strain out the tea leaves and reserve.

Grind the remaining tablespoon of tea to a fine powder in a coffee grinder. Set aside.

With a stand mixer, cream the butter, cream cheese, sugar, and the ground tea until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the sour cream, beating until well blended. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, then add them to the butter and sugar mixture, alternating with the tea infused milk. Stir in the vanilla and, if desired, some of the tea leaves left over from soaking the milk.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean or with a few dry crumbs.

Make a glaze with 4 tablespoons or so of powdered sugar, and 1 tablespoon or so of cocoa. Dribble in enough milk and stir to make a thick but pourable glaze. Drizzle over cooled cake and allow to set before cutting.

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