Earl Grey & Cardamom Tea Loaves

There is nothing I love more than baking recipes with unusual ingredients to surprise people. So when I found a recipe which combines my love for tea and a spice commonly found in Asian dishes I knew I was onto a winner. 

To look at, these mini loaves appear very simple and could be an ordinary sponge cake. But then you’re hit with the most amazing aroma of cardamom which makes your mouth water; that’s when you know these are much more than a just an ordinary cake. 

This recipe is taken from Pippa Middleton’s food column in the March 2014 edition of the Waitrose Kitchen magazine. I have to say, up until now, I haven’t been hugely impressed by Pippa’s column but this recipe makes up for it!

100ml whole milk
1 tbsp loose leaf Earl Grey tea
8 Cardamom pods
175g unsalted butter, softened
175g light brown soft sugar
3 eggs
175g self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder 

For decoration:
Pinch loose leaf Earl Grey tea
110g icing sugar
Rose petals (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Heat the milk and tea in a pan until steaming. 
2. Meanwhile split open the cardamom pods. Crush the seeds in a pestle and mortar, discard the pods.
3. Take the milk off the heat, add the cardamom and set aside for 20 minutes.
4. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar for 3-4 minutes using an electric beater, until pale and fluffy. One at a time, beat in the eggs.
5. Strain the infused milk into the creamed butter mix and beat in well. 
6. Mix the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt together and then fold into the wet mixture until combined. 
7. Divide between 8 mini loaf cases and place on a baking tray. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden on top and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. 

8. Leave to cool on a wire rack before icing. 
9. To decorate, steep the tea in 1 1/2 tbsp. boiling water for 10 minutes, then strain and mix into the icing sugar. 
10. Pipe the icing over each loaf
11. Serve to friends or family who have been salivating over the smell in the kitchen for the past hour!

I decided to take these into work for my colleagues to sample, as I often do (much to the disappointment of my family!) Rather than tell them what flavour they were, I decided to make it more interesting by asking them to guess. It was great fun for me listening to them um and ah over what it could be. I didn’t think it would be too difficult as cardamom has a very distinctive smell and taste and quite a few of my colleagues have Middle Eastern or Asian heritage. However it took quite a while before anyone guessed correctly. Two people guessed ginger and one person guessed pistachio but eventually two of the guys guessed correctly. It definitely brightened the mood in the office on a rainy Monday morning. 

Hannah xx


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