These Earl Grey Teacakes are the best reminder of this stunning season. Spring is one of my favorite times of year in our fair city. Everything is new, from the birds to the buds on the trees, and the cooler mornings and warm days (mostly) stave off the stifling heat of summer. I recently had the privilege of watching spring unfold in front of my eyes in a very different part of the world.
In the middle of March, my mother and I took a week-long vacation to Scotland. Scotland has always been on my “list;” I have been to London and the English countryside but never anywhere else in the United Kingdom. It was a truly magical whirlwind of a vacation. We hiked the craggy cliffs of the Isle of Skye and the rolling Highland hills. We strolled the idyllic cobblestone streets of Edinburgh and braved the Glasgow crowds on St. Paddy’s Day. We stayed busy, but the one thing we were never too busy for was afternoon tea.
Tea is an institution in Great Britain, and its nuances are hotly debated. In America, “tea” generally refers to the hot or iced drink (our sweet tea comes to mind) made from brewing water with tea leaves. In Great Britain, “taking tea” can also refer to the midday break, between lunch and dinner, at which one will relax, pour a “cuppa,” and eat a biscuit (which we call a cookie), or two.
If that doesn’t sound lavish enough, there is another thing altogether—the afternoon tea served at cafés, tea houses and luxurious hotels throughout the UK. This is pretty much a three-course meal with tea and Champagne, if desired, served between two and five in the afternoon, usually plated on a tiered stand.
The first course (bottom tier) is the savories: Scottish smoked salmon, curried chicken salad, ham and butter, and egg salad at our teas at the Balmoral and the Caledonian, the two grande dame hotels in Edinburgh. The second course (middle tier) is always a scone, clotted cream, and jam. This course alone is considered the daily “cream tea”. Then comes the pièce de résistance, the third and sweetest course, the top tier of pastries. We had tarts of all varieties (salted caramel, dark chocolate, and mango) cream puffs, chocolate tortes, cupcakes, and mini banoffee pies (a butterscotch and banana confection), to name a few.
And let us not forget the reason for all this indulgence: the tea! Most of the afternoon teas we had came with a multi-page menu of tea to choose. My favorites were a smoked white tea (delicate with an earthy undertone) and a very floral rose tea that stopped just short of tasting like an English Garden, in the best way possible.
When I returned home, I desperately wanted to cling to that languid, on-vacation glow, so I set about tinkering in the kitchen, trying to come up with a treat I could serve with a cup of tea that would transport me back to Scotland. These delicious and eye-catching mini Earl Grey and Rose Tea Cakes are worthy of the top tier, I can assure you. I used Earl Grey because it is my favorite tea, and it works so well in baked goods.
This recipe for earl grey teacakes is a basic pound cake gussied up with a sprinkling of tea leaves, which lend a jaunty, speckled appearance to the batter. I topped them with a lemon-almond glaze and decorated the tops with rose petals and whole tea roses, but you could even omit the almond extract and add a few drops (a little goes a long way) of rose water or syrup to the glaze to punch up the floral flavor.
Earl Grey and Rose Tea Cakes
These cakes, perfumed with rose and Ear Grey tea, are perfect for a bridal or baby shower.
- ¾ cup of unsalted butter room temperature
- 3 eggs room temperature
- ¾ cup of granulated sugar
- 1 ½ cups of all purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- pinch of salt
- ¾ cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 single-serve bag of Earl Grey tea
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon half and half
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice or extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract or a few drops of rose water or syrup
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter and flour mini bundt pan. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. With an electric mixer in a separate bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy, and then add the granulated sugar, beating one minute.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating in between additions. Add vanilla. Mixture will look grainy. Add the sour cream or yogurt, beating until incorporated. Add the flour mixture gradually, beating at medium speed until all combined. Add the tea leaves and stir.
Fill each bundt two-thirds of the way full. Bake for 25 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool for ten minutes, then invert and cool completely on a wire rack.
To glaze, whisk ingredients together in a small bowl. Glaze will be very thick but still pourable. While cakes are sitting on the rack, pour the glaze slowly over the top, working outward. Let them sit until glaze sets, about 15 minutes. Decorate with roses, petals, or other organic, edible flowers like pansies.
Where is your favorite place to take tea? Let me know in the comments!