Chris Simpson for The New York Times. Food stylist: Maggie Ruggiero. Prop stylist: Sophia Pappas.
I recently made a lovely tea cake, and I'd like to share the recipe with you. It's a nice moist loaf cake, featuring chamomile and lemon zest.
The recipe below is reproduced from a recect article in the New Your Times by Eric Kim.
Chamomile Tea Cake With Strawberry Icing
Time 2¼ hours, plus cooling
Yield:One 9-inch loaf
½ cup/115 grams unsalted butter
2 tablespoons/6 grams chamomile tea (from 4 to 6 tea bags or 3 tablespoons loose Chamomile ground), crushed fine if coarse
1 cup/240 milliliters whole milk
Nonstick cooking spray
1 cup/200 grams granulated sugar
½ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
2 large eggs
1 large lemon (zest & juice)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1½ cups/192 grams all-purpose flour
1 cup/124 grams confectioners’ sugar
½ cup/8 grams freeze-dried strawberries (I substituted freeze dried raspberries)
Step 1 In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon prepared chamomile to a large mixing bowl. Pour the hot melted butter over the chamomile and stir. Set aside to steep and cool completely, about 1 hour.
Step 2 Use the same saucepan (without washing it out) to bring the milk to a simmer over medium-high heat, keeping watch so it doesn’t boil over. Remove from the heat, and stir the remaining 1 tablespoon chamomile into the hot milk. Set aside to steep and cool completely, about 1 hour.
Step 3 Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with the nonstick cooking spray and line with parchment paper so the long sides of the pan have a couple of inches of overhang to make lifting the finished cake out easier.
Step 4 Add the sugar and salt to the bowl with the butter, and whisk until smooth and thick, about 1 minute. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, vigorously whisking to combine after each addition. Zest the lemon into the bowl; add the baking powder and vanilla, and whisk until incorporated. Add the flour and stream in the milk mixture while whisking continuously until no streaks of flour remain.
Step 5 Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake until a skewer or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean (a few crumbs are OK, but you should see no wet batter), 40 to 45 minutes (need to bake longer). Cool in the pan on a rack for 30 minutes.
Step 6 While the cake cools, make the icing: Into a medium bowl, squeeze 2 tablespoons juice from the zested lemon, then add the confectioners’ sugar. Place the dehydrated strawberries in a fine-mesh sieve set over the bowl and, using your fingers, crush the brittle berries and press the red-pink powder through the sieve and into the sugar. (The more you do this, the redder your icing will be.) Whisk until smooth.
Step 7 If needed, run a knife along the edges of the cake to release it from the pan. Holding the 2 sides of overhanging parchment, lift the cake out and place it on a plate, cake stand or cutting board. Discard the parchment. Pour the icing over the cake, using a spoon to push the icing to the edges of the cake to encourage the icing to drip down the sides dramatically. Cool the cake completely and let the icing set.
I have to admit that my cake looked a bit different than the photo – don’t they always?! My cake was not as yellow, and the frosting was much more pink.
A few things I did differently than the original recipe are...
I used loose leaf chamomile that I ground down into a fine powder. The original recipe called for chamomile from tea bags. Though I don't think this would have made too much of a difference in the color.
My cake tasted mostly like lemon. The original recipe called for the zest of one large lemon. So I zested the entire lemon. The flavor was very good, but I admit to not tasting the chamomile at all. My husband called it a "lemon cake."
I used freeze-dried raspberries in the frosting instead of strawberries, because this is what I had on hand. I reduced them to a powder the same way the recipe called for. I used only 4 grams of the freeze-dried fruit instead of the 8 g that was called for and my frosting was a bright pink.
My takeaway from both the lemon zest and the freeze-dried fruit is that a little bit goes a long way. And that these items should be added "to taste."
Still even with these slight differences, it’s a nice cake. I love that it’s baked in a loaf pan. The size of the cake seems smaller and not as overwhelming as making a sheet cake, bunt cake, or tiered cake. I enjoyed my first slice with a cup of Ypsi.Land.Tea, which balanced out the lemon nicely.