Tag : tea
Tag : tea
Well, here’s another first: the first layer cake recipe of the blog (also the first cake recipe period if you don’t count the poundcake from a few years ago)!
I used to not really like cake or cupcakes (can you believe it?) I’m still not a fan of chocolate cake or strawberry cupcakes (but I am in the process of preparing some Independence Day cupcakes, and also learning to make jam, so that’s about to change.) There was a time when the only cakes I would deign to eat were angel food, lemon, and vanilla. I was so-so about frosting most of the time, but hand me a container of grocery-store chocolate frosting and a glass of soy milk, and I’ll be an elated camper.
Just keep the strawberry frosting to yourself.
I can’t remember a time when I was younger when I was enticed by cupcakes, either. They aren’t easy to eat, to be honest. Even when I moved to Los Angeles and was introduced to the world of Sprinkles, I was still a bit underwhelmed.
But everything changed when the fire nation attacked…I mean, when I had my first bakery experience doing an internship at a now-closed bakery in Durham. Not to imply anything about Sprinkles. It’s not their fault I only changed my tastes five years ago. Though, to be fair, I was still in Los Angeles four years ago, and Sprinkles was still there, too, so essentially, I had a second cupcake-ing before I graduated.
This former bakery started out as a cupcake food truck and cake catering business, and opened a store front bakery/cafe downtown, which closed its doors a few years later. I went into that internship knowing I wasn’t the biggest fan of cake, but I wanted to be there anyway.
It only took one day for them to change my mind. Not only were the cupcakes that good, but the vegan and gluten-free versions were simple. They tasted just like their dairy-full, gluten-ous counterparts, and didn’t require any strange ingredients! I was in love. They let me take home a few pastries each day, and I did just that: I filled my fridge and my guts up with cupcakes, cake, brownies, cookies, tarts, turnovers, and anything else I could get my grubby hands on.
I have since made cupcakes a few times myself, and I’ve experimented with alternative diet versions (but don’t hold your breath for any of those this year.) Last summer, I even tried to make red-white-and-blue cupcakes for Independence Day, but those didn’t turn out so well (also I didn’t start early enough…and I twisted my neck on July 3rd, so really everything didn’t happen.) I wanted them to be naturally colored, instead of dyed, and it’s more difficult than I realized to come up with something that’s actually blue, easy to find, and edible. I will not give up, though. I learned how to make strawberry puree a few weeks ago, I’m practicing jam as soon as my book arrives in the mail, and this July, I will have my cake and eat it with the side of Freedom that it deserves.
But before we get too caught up in American-ess, here’s a British-y cake that looks as interesting as it tastes good: earl grey cake with ginger-turmeric frosting (American buttercream-style.) The frosting recipe makes more frosting than you need for a modest coating, so frost liberally or keep the extra in the fridge in a sealed container (and use it for the crumb coat the next time you make the cake!)
This cake recipe uses less butter than usual and makes up for the wet ingredients with milk, producing a slightly thinner batter, and a lighter, airier final product.
I described below, as detailed as possible, how to frost a layer cake, but personally, I learned from watching YouTube videos, so here are some videos to help you visualize what to do:
earl grey cake with ginger-turmeric frosting
makes two 6″ layers, with more than enough frosting for the whole cake
120 g (1 c) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
dash of salt
2 bags of black tea, cut open (4 grams of tea leaves)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
150 g (3/4 c) granulated sugar
4 Tbsp (2 oz, 1/4 c) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs (2 ounces each), at room temperature
4 oz (1/2 c) milk, at room temperature
8 Tbsp (4 oz, 1/2 c) unsalted butter, softened
340 g (2 1/2 c) powdered sugar
dash of salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger or galangal
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp fresh grated turmeric or galangal
milk, as needed, for texture (2-4 Tbsp)
making the cake
Preheat the oven to 350 F/175 C. Grease and line two 6″ cake pans with parchment paper (the paper is so you can easily pull the cake out, but it doesn’t need to cover the entire surface.)
In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, tea leaves, and cinnamon.
In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar, beating for about 3-5 minutes or until light, pale, and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl occasionally with a rubber spatula.
Beat the eggs into the butter/sugar mixture, one at a time, mixing for 3-5 minutes after each one, until the batter fluffs up. Scrap down the sides and bottom of the bowl occasionally.
Starting and ending with the dry ingredients, alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk to the batter (1/3 of the flour, 1/2 of the milk, 1/3 of the flour, 1/2 of the milk, and finally the last third of the flour), mixing constantly and scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl occasionally with the rubber spatula.
The batter will be a little thinner than expected, but the final product will be light and airy.
Fill the cake pans evenly with the batter and bake for 30-35 minutes, until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean, the sides are shrinking away from the pan, and the cake is plump like a foam ball when pressed lightly with a finger.
Remove the cakes from the oven and let cool in their pans for about 5 minutes, until you can handle the pans. Then, remove the cakes from their pans and let cool on a wire rack (with no parchment underneath them, so that the bottoms don’t get damp) until room temperature (or cooler) and ready to frost.
making the frosting
Cream the butter and a small amount (1/4 c, 30 g) of the powdered sugar until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Gradually add in the powdered sugar, about 1/4-1/2 c (30 – 60 g) at a time, beating until it returns to smooth frosting consistency after each addition and scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl each time.
After all of the sugar has been mixed in, beat in the rest of the ingredients until the mixture becomes smooth and frosting-like again. Taste and add either more powdered sugar, spice, or milk for texture. The frosting should have gained a significant amount of volume and be a little bit firm.
You want the frosting to be spreadable but if there isn’t enough sugar, the frosting breaks (the butter breaks or melts.) If you plan to add more wet ingredients (ie., fresh ginger and turmeric like I did), you need more sugar to compensate. Err on the side of too much powdered sugar. Besides, if you don’t have enough powdered sugar, your frosting will just taste like compound butter (not that compound butter is a bad thing but we’re making cake today, not steak.)
frosting the cake
**Usually, you would use a lazy susan or some type of cake stand for frosting, but you can also put the bottom layer of the cake on a square of parchment paper and spin that around as needed (I do. I find I don’t need a wheel to do the frosting.) Just make sure you cover the entire surface of your cake with frosting.**
Slice off the domed top of one cake layer. This will become the bottom layer. You can also slice off the top of the other layer, if you want.
Coat the top of this bottom layer with a thin layer of frosting, the crumb coat that helps you add more frosting without the cake crumbling into it. Let the crumb coat dry for a few minutes. Optionally, you can chill the cake after adding the crumb coat, so the frosting solidifies.
Add a thicker layer of frosting on top of the crumb coat, and place the upper layer of the cake on top. You now have two layers of cake with a thick center of the ginger-turmeric frosting.
Using an offset spatula, liberally frost the sides and top of the cake, and fill in the crevice where the cake layers meet. Smooth down the frosting periodically with the side of the offset spatula, the back of a knife, or the straight side of a bowl/bench scraper (angle the flat of the spatula, knife, or scraper towards the cake and run it around the perimeter, so that the frosting is distributed evenly, rather than removed entirely.) You can either chill the cake every once in a while or let the frosting dry out to make adding the rest of the frosting easier.
Continue adding layers and smoothing them down until all of the frosting is used up. Alternately, save some frosting to decorate the cake with a piping bag and tip.
Cut with a long slicing knife and enjoy!
Cake keeps for up to a week wrapped in plastic in the fridge. Theoretically, you only need to cover the cut surfaces of the cake and not the frosting, but better safe than sorry!
I’ll let y’all eat cake,
Nic le P’
previous monthly muffins
My first year in college, a friend of mine wanted to show me around Los Angeles, so we drove all over, exploring his favorite places (ie., his favorite date spots…) One of the places we visited, a place in which I would end up spending a significant amount of time over the next three years, was Little Tokyo. At this point I had been to Japan once, on a 2-week guided, structured tour, and was in the honeymoon phase of my infatuation with the Land of the Rising Sun.
We wandered around a Japanese grocery store in the little shopping village of Little Tokyo (Maru-something or other), where I found bags of powdered tea. This wasn’t green tea or matcha, mind you, but powdered Royal Milk Tea, one of my absolute favorite things from Japan (though technically it’s from England…and if we’re really splitting hairs, it’s originally from India.) I loved Royal Milk Tea. I still do, but due to developing lactose…problems…I can’t drink it unless I make my own non-dairy version (which I have done, and is almost as good as the dairy version.)
This excursion was in April, just before final exams and summer vacation, so I grabbed a box of the powdered tea and brought it back to North Carolina. The first thing I did when I got home was make earl grey muffins. It was an inspired act, and a brilliant decision: they were heavenly. Possibly the best muffins I had ever had. I haven’t been able to find powdered milk tea since then, but I’ve experimented a bit with black tea pastries (black tea spiced apple pie, black tea butter cookies, and a failed attempt at an earl grey bundt cake.)
The winter before last, December 2015, I dreamt up a recipe for black tea butter cookies, spicy shortbread discs with whole, loose earl grey tea leaves, perfect for balancing on the saucer of a cappuccino mug. After the November and December 2016 muffins, laden with chocolate and other delicious things, I wanted something light, something bordering on celestial.
Right on cue, in sauntered these muffins: earl grey nut muffins. Inspired by a long-ago memory of Royal Milk Tea and Royal Milk Tea muffins, and based on the black tea butter cookies, these muffins are subtly sweet, with the pleasant flavor and aroma of tea, none of the bitterness of caffeine, and an accompaniment of sweet, crunchy walnuts. As with most of my muffins, these are half all-purpose and half whole wheat flour.
And they’re a perfect breakfast treat.
earl grey nut muffins
makes 1 dozen
150 g all-purpose flour
150 g whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
a hefty pinch of kosher salt
4 bags of black tea (8 grams of tea)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
180 g granulated sugar
180 g milk
1 tsp almond or walnut extract
2 large eggs (~50 grams each)
120 g canola oil
120 g chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 F/190 C, and line a muffin pan with paper muffin liners.
In a small bowl, combine all-purpose and whole wheat flours, baking powder, salt, loose tea (cut open the tea bags with scissors), and cinnamon.
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, milk, extract, eggs, and canola oil.
Dump dry ingredients into wet mixture and combine, then whisk in chopped nuts and mix until almost completely combined.
Using a large spoon or cookie scoop, scoop the batter into the muffin pan so each cup is 2/3 – 3/4 of the way full.
Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until the muffin tops spring back when pressed lightly, or a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean.
Remove the muffins from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then remove them from the pan and let them cool on a wire rack.
Cheerio and all that,
A cold, rainy Sunday morning in December. No alarms going off, no work, and no plans. You roll around in bed, waiting to come to life, and waiting for your comforter to stop being so damned comfortable. Eventually, you get up, rip a massive yawn, brush your teeth, and start some coffee brewing in your moka pot, or drip brewer, or french press, what have you. Whole wheat english muffins with dill mayo and smoked ham, vanilla bean coffee, and black tea butter cookies for breakfast, accompanied by a gander at the news (which turns into reading Buzzfeed articles because really, who wants to ruin their day reading about politics?)
Sounds perfect to me.
I wanted to find/create a recipe for a cookie to go with tea, like a tea cookie. Something small, light, and easy to make, to add some sweetness to the morning joe. I found a recipe for chai tea cookies somewhere and played around with it until I had spiced black tea butter cookies (basically shortbread.) You assemble everything in a food processor, squeeze it together, wrap it, and chill until you’re ready to bake, then you slice them and pop ’em in the oven!
They’re delicate, butter-y, sweet, and spicy, and they go well with a cup of coffee or English breakfast tea.
black tea butter cookies
adapted from Chai Tea Cookies, on The Kitchn
makes one dozen
70 g all-purpose flour
30 g granulated sugar
dash of salt
2 bags of black tea, cut open, or 2 tsp loose black tea (Earl Grey, English Breakfast, etc.)
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ginger
2 ounces (4 Tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
Assemble everything in a food processor and pulse until dough forms a large clump.
Dump dough out onto a sheet of parchment paper and squeeze together lightly, so there are no loose or dry bits falling off.
Mold into a log, whatever width you like (I do about 3-4 centimeters), and roll up in the parchment paper, rolling into a cylinder and flattening the ends as you go.
Chill, wrapped in parchment, in the refrigerator until ready to bake.
When ready to bake, pre-heat oven to 375 F/190 C, and slice log into 1-centimeter-thick rounds with a serrated or chef’s knife (be careful not to push down too hard, or the dough will squish or crumble.) Arrange the discs on a baking sheet and bake 10 – 15 minutes, until just starting to brown on the edges. Remove, cool, and enjoy.
Enjoy your weekend, y’all
If yesterday’s pecan pie wasn’t enough, here’s another that you can prepare ahead of time and assemble on the day of baking!
I first learned to do apple pie at a workshop in downtown Durham, at Scratch Bakery. I’d been trying to do double-crust apple pie for a few weeks before but it was too much work so I gave up and decided to follow Phoebe Lawless’s method, covering the pie in streusel. The streusel itself is easy and you can really make it any way you want. Streusel is defined as “n., a crumbly topping made from fat, flour, sugar, and nuts/spices, often cinnamon, used as a topping or filling for cakes”, so you can add oats, brown sugar, different types of flours, spices, and so on. I like the streusel combination I used here (flour, sugar, oats, butter, salt, and cinnamon) and I’ll end up using it fairly often, like for the pumpkin streusel muffins.
Coring, peeling, and chopping the apples by hand was a pain the first few times I made the pie, so I bought one of those old-fashioned hand-crank spiralizers: 3-in-one, cores, slices, and peels the apples all at once. And it looks cool, too.
That being said, sometimes the most tedious aspects of cooking or baking can also be the most relaxing. If you have plenty of time, the kitchen to yourself, a bottle of red wine (it has to be red wine because red wine is the best wine), and your favorite Spotify playlist (I like anything acoustic or morning-oriented, even in the evening), then you can just focus on the apples and let everything else fall away. I like doing the repetitive, menial things because I usually have a hard time focusing on one thing or committing to anything, so these kinds of tasks help ground me.
I haven’t tried the recipe with very many different types of apples yet, although I bought some green apples to make today’s pie, then decided it might not be so good with green apples. Someday, I’d like to go through a few iterations of the tart trying out different types of apples. Maybe even different types of black tea.
So much to do! So little money to buy the things to do the things I want to do (*cries publicly*).
And now, after three months of wading through pies and tarts and apple skins and dark rum, one would logically assume that I’ll be taking a break from pie for, like, a full year.
One would be wrong.
Now it’s time to work on some winter crumb tarts and gluten-free recipes. I tried gluten-free pie dough earlier and it was…so-so. It’s kind of a pain to work with because, due to a lack of gluten, it doesn’t hold together so you can’t pick it up, turn it, flip it, etc. You have to roll it out on parchment or wax paper and transfer it gently to the pie pan, then press it in. I was getting frustrated with the dough so I figured I could simplify everything by working on crumb crusts.
Call me in a month to see how they’re turning out.
This apple pie is unbelievable, y’all. The crust is finally flaky and buttery (thank you, Phoebe Lawless, the Pie Pastry Queen), the tea is lightly fragrant and the spices are rich, perfect for the season. The apples soften while the cider thickens, and the crispy streusel just floats around in all of it. It can be a little messy or runny, or it can hold up with integrity. At the workshop, Ms. Lawless mentioned that she likes to change recipes to cram in as many different flavors as possible, and when I saw a recipe for chai spiced apple pie online, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to add one more flavor: buttery pie crust, spiced black tea, apples, and streusel.
apple chai-der pie with streusel topping
makes one 7-inch pie (with 9-in measurements in parentheses)
one 7-inch buttery pie crust, recipe here
45 g all-purpose flour (60 g)
30 g granulated sugar (45 g)
a dash of cinnamon (a dash and a half)
a pinch of salt (a pinch and a half)
1 ounce (2 T) unsalted butter (1.5 ounce/3 T)
250 – 300 g red apples (2 large apples) (350 – 450 g)
70 g granulated sugar (105 g)
20 g all-purpose flour (30 g)
1 tsp cinnamon (1 1/2 tsp)
1/2 tsp cardamom (3/4 tsp)
1 bag black tea, cut open (1 bag)
1/4 tsp each of ground ginger, black pepper, cloves, nutmeg (1/4 tsp)
a pinch of salt (a pinch and a half)
50 g apple cider (75 g)
Follow the recipe to make a disc of pie crust. The night before, or the morning of, baking, transfer dough from the freezer to the fridge, and when ready to roll out, take out of the fridge and let thaw on counter for 15 – 20 minutes before rolling.
Roll out on a liberally-floured surface, turning and flipping the disc as you go.
Lay dough into pie pan and crimp the edges. This doesn’t need any pre-baking so you can chill/freeze until everything else is ready.
In a small food processor, blend together everything except the butter.
Slowly blend in the butter. If it clumps up, break clumps apart with your hands or a fork.
Chill until ready to use.
Peel, core, and chop the apples (quarter and slice, or chop however you like.)
Mix together sugar, flour, spices, salt, and loose tea in a small bowl.
Combine apples and dry mix in a large bowl, then pour in apple cider and mix.
You can either save the filling for later or fill the pie shell now. Let the filling pile up a few inches above the rim of the pan.
Dump the streusel on top of the unbaked pie.
You can freeze the whole pie assembled and unbaked.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 F/190 C.
Bake the pie for 50 – 60 minutes until the streusel and crust are browned and the filling is visibly bubbling.
Let cool and enjoy!
Happy Food, y’all!