Never have I baked a cake that is more perfect for tea-time! As its name suggests, this Earl Grey tea and lemon cake is infused with oil of bergamot and drizzled with a lemon icing.
You begin by steeping Earl Grey tea in hot milk. We used a lovely loose leaf tea from Fortnum & Mason however Earl Grey teabags will suffice.
The recipe I used was by ex-Bake Off contestant, Urvashi Roe and it was originally for mini loaf cakes. I don’t have any mini loaf tins (yet!), so I used a single 500g/1lb loaf tin and upped the cook time to an hour.
I know that ‘lemony’ cakes often top the charts when it comes to people’s favourites (Justin included), but personally I’m not the biggest fan of lemon flavour – however, a little drizzle of the icing I could handle! I suppose I could supplement the lemon juice and zest with a little of my home-made elderflower cordial.
Teaming this cake with a cup of Earl Grey or full-bodied Darjeeling or Assam is tea-time heaven!
- 125ml/4½fl oz milk
- 4 tsp loose Earl Grey tea (or 4 tea bags)
- 115g/4oz butter, softened
- 225g/8oz caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 125g/4½oz self-raising flour
- 125g/4½oz plain flour
- ½ lemon, juice & zest
- 200g/7oz icing sugar
- Place the milk in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and immerse the Earl Grey tea in the hot milk. Cover the pan and set aside for 40 minutes to allow the tea to steep
- Strain the liquid from the leaves (or squeeze the liquid out of the teabags) and set the liquid aside to cool some more
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/355ºF/Gas mark 4. Grease and line a 500g/1lb loaf tin with baking parchment
- Cream together the butter and sugar using an electric whisk or free standing mixer with a paddle attachment. It takes a while - about 10 minutes and you'll need to scrape down the sides of the bowl from time to time
- Once the mixture is light & fluffy, add the eggs one by one and mix well. Add half the flour and half of the tea-infused milk and mix until combined. Add the rest of the flour and milk and mix until there are no traces of flour in the bowl
- Pour the cake batter into the prepared loaf tin
- Bake for 50-60 minutes until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes away clean
- Allow to cool in its tin on a wire rack
- Mix the lemon juice, zest and icing sugar together into a smooth paste. It should be quite gloopy so it doesn't dribble too much down the sides (though a little dribble is okay)
- Pour over the loaf and leave the icing to set for about 30 minutes
We mentioned these Robert Carrier recipe cards in a blog post just the other day – then lo & behold, we come across a set. Isn’t the Op Art tin box great? There’s something very Mary Quant about it.
We’d guess that this particular set dates from the early 1970s. Inside the tin are held a large number of cards divided into the various categories. Robert Carrier was a big name in cooking at this time with TV shows and accompanying merchandise. His style was quite theatrical and camp. American by birth, his wealthy parents went bankrupt in the 1930s Depression. They had to dispense with their servants, but maintained their social life by preparing their own elaborate dinner parties. This was no doubt an influence on young Robert – as was his French grandmother who also taught him to cook.
Initially, he trained and toured as an actor, but also began submitting cookery articles to magazines. He got a big break when given a weekly column for the Sunday Times colour supplement. This brought him fame and celebrity which then led to the books, TV shows and restaurants.
These particular recipe cards are very much of their time – the actual dishes, presentation, serving suggestions and so on. They pack a punch on the colour front, that’s for sure. There’s certainly something of the ‘fancy’ 70s dinner party about them. Abigail’s Party springs to mind – sardine stuffed lemons to accompany the Demis Roussos perhaps!
We’ll be putting them into our webshop soon, but drop us a line if you want first dibs – £22 for the tin and recipe cards.
We’re making an unusual real bread recipe this time, for our weekly Cakes & Bakes feature; Halloumi herb bread.
Classic Halloumi is made with mint, and the original recipe called for 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh mint leaves and 4 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh parsley leaves. I bought a pack of Halloumi from Lidl which was made with basil, so I tweaked the recipe accordingly.
Bakery Bits baked their Halloumi herb bread in a Pullman loaf pan, a bit of kit which I don’t own, so I just used a common or garden loaf tin.
A delicious, hearty, intense flavoured loaf was the result. A suitable accompaniment for an endless number of dishes… meat, fish or vegetable based – rice, pasta, couscous or salad.
I had it again the following day, toasted on both sides under the grill – very satisfactory leftovers.
- 5g/0.2oz dry yeast
- 175ml/6 fl oz warm water
- ¼tsp caster sugar
- 250g/9oz strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 25g/1oz strong wholemeal bread flour
- 4g/0.15oz salt
- 250g/9oz Halloumi cheese, cut into 1cm chunks
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbs finely chopped fresh basil leaves
- 3 spring onions, peeled and sliced fairly finely
- pinch of sea salt
- pinch of freshly ground black pepper
- In a small bowl, mix the yeast with 15ml/½ fl oz of the water at 30°C/86ºF and the caster sugar
- Allow to stand for about 15 minutes, until it has developed a slight froth on the surface
- Place the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine
- Add the yeast mixture and the rest of the water and use your hand or a dough whisk to mix everything together until there's no dry flour left and you have a shaggy dough
- Tip the dough out onto the work surface and knead for 10 minutes. By this stage the dough should be smooth and elastic
- Form the dough into a ball and place it back in the mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean, damp cloth and leave at room temperature for 1-1½ hours
- While the dough is rising, put the Halloumi into a medium bowl with the olive oil, basil leaves and spring onions
- Season with salt and black pepper. Stir, then cover and leave for at least 30 minutes
- Prepare a 500g/1lb loaf tin by lightly greasing the sides and base with butter and dusting lightly with flour
- When the dough has almost doubled in size, gently tip it onto the work surface and press it out to form a rectangle three times the length and slightly wider than your loaf tin
- Spread the Halloumi and herb mixture evenly over the top of the dough
- Working from one of the long sides, roll the dough up like a Swiss roll. Press gently on the seam with your fingers to seal
- Place the roll of dough in the prepared loaf tin, cover and leave to prove for about 30 minutes
- Preheat the oven to 190°C /375°F /Gas mark 5
- Bake for 1 hour or until the top of the loaf develops a golden brown crust and the base makes a hollow sound when tapped
- Remove the loaf from the tin and place on a cooling rack
- Serve with tomato salad
When I was buying ingredients for last week’s apple and raisin puff pastry tart I needed two cooking apples. However, the Bramley apples in the supermarket were being sold in packs of four. I’m making an apple and sultana crumble this week to use up the two that were left over.
I may have mentioned before that fruit crumble isn’t one of Justin’s favoured puddings – he thinks the crumble topping is too often soggy, floury and not very nice – especially if too thick or a bit undercooked.
I think my crumble topping recipe is none of those things; it forms large, crunchy, nutty morsels.
Sprinkle granulated sugar over the top of it just before it goes into the oven for extra sweetness and crunch. You can serve it with thick, cold cream, hot creamy custard or a scoop of vanilla ice cream – they’re all good!
- 2 Bramley (or other cooking) apples, peeled, cored & roughly chopped
- 25g/¾oz butter
- 100g/3½oz sultanas
- 50g/1¾oz Demerara sugar
- 50g/1¾oz plain flour
- 50g/1¾oz porridge oats
- 50g/1¾oz flaked almonds
- 50g/1¾oz Demerara sugar
- 75g/2⅔oz cold butter, cubed
- Preheat the oven to 175ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4
- In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium heat, melt the 25g of butter
- Add the chopped apples, sultanas and Demerara sugar and stir until the apples are just beginning to soften (about 5-10 minutes)
- Put the mixture into a greased baking/pie dish
- In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, oats, almonds and Demerara sugar
- Add the cold, cubed butter and rub into the dry ingredients - but not to much - you want the mixture to have quite large lumps
- Spoon the crumble evenly over the apple and sultana mixture so that it's completely covered
- Sprinkle a little golden granulated sugar over the top for added crunch (optional)
- Put the dish into the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes or until the crumble topping turns a lovely golden brown
- Serve with custard, thick pouring cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream
We are ‘pudding’ rather than ‘starter’ people and always have a sweet ending to our daily evening meal.
Sometimes, I’ve got to the day and haven’t had the time to make a dessert. At times like this, there are a few quick sweet dishes that can be rustled up in about half an hour. One such is jam and coconut slice which is one of Justin’s favourites from his childhood – and also great for using up pastry scraps.
Another is an apple and raisin puff pastry tart – using a sheet of ready-made puff pastry, of course.
All it takes is a couple of cooking apples – peeled, cored and chopped; a handful of raisins (pre-soaking them for an hour makes them more juicy and adds another layer of flavour – strong tea, brandy or armagnac perhaps – so recommended but not a necessity if your in a rush); a pinch of ground spice and aforementioned packet of puff pastry.
Delicious served with cream, creme fraiche or vanilla ice cream.
- 75g/2⅔oz raisins
- 2 Bramley (or other cooking) apples
- 20g/¾oz butter
- 50g/1¾oz demerara sugar
- ¼tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 packet of ready-made, ready-rolled puff pastry
- Soak the raisins in a cup of hot, strong black tea for at least an hour
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4
- Peel, core and rough chop the apples
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter
- Add the chopped apples, soaked raisins, sugar and ground cinnamon
- Cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes until the apple just begins to soften
- Roll out the puff pastry and cut into two equal lengths
- Grease a 20cm/8-inch round or square baking tin and lay one of the lengths of pastry evenly into the tin allowing some overlap over the edge
- Spoon the apple and raisin mixture evenly on to the puff pastry
- Lay the other length of pastry over the top and brush with a little melted butter
- Sprinkle a tablespoon or so of golden granulated sugar over the top if desired
- Bake for 20 minutes or until the top of the puff pastry is a lovely golden brown
- Serve with vanilla ice cream or thick pouring cream
The first bag of Agen prunes I bought didn’t last me very long at all. I ate three a day, every day, from the day they arrived. I also used a handful or so of them in a prune and Armagnac tart. I’ve reordered the prunes from Amazon and this week and have made a prune and almond fruitcake; something a bit different to the traditional ones made using raisins, currants, sultanas and candied peel.
Justin, once again, requested an afternoon fruitcake to accompany a cup of tea. He likes to stop work for a short break about 3pm before charging back into his daily chores!
I had about 100 grams of marzipan leftover from my recent batch of simnel cupcakes so I sliced it into little cubes and spooned it through the cake mixture; a deliciously successful addition!
As with most fruitcakes, if you can resist the temptation of slicing and eating it straight-away, the texture and flavour improves if left for a day or two.
- 115g butter, softened
- 115g soft brown sugar
- 2 eggs, whisked slightly
- 175g self-raising flour
- ¼tsp almond extract
- 200g pitted prunes
- 1tbsp flaked almonds
- Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas mark 3
- Grease a deep 18cm/7-in spring-form or loose-bottomed round cake tin and line base & sides with baking parchment
- In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy
- Pour the eggs over the mixture, a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Add a tablespoonful of the flour between each addition to help prevent the mixture curdling
- Mix in the almond extract
- Fold in the rest of the self-raising flour and combine well
- Gently fold the prunes, stirring with a wooden spoon until well distributed through the mixture
- Spoon the mixture into the tin and level off the top with the back of the spoon
- Sprinkle the top with the flaked almonds
- Bake for 1&frac;12 hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes away clean
- Once done, remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool in its tin
- Store in an airtight lidded cake tin or plastic tub