I can never get enough of Earl Grey tea. Next to good ol’ green tea (without jasmine, please), I don’t mind drinking cups after cups of Earl Grey tea. But, I’ve yet to taste a dessert with a very distinct flavour of said tea.
Maybe it’s luck, but recently, these daydreams which later turned into little kitchen experiments worked wonders. I was craving for a cake that will deliver the flavour of the tea, and I wasn’t content with just emptying tea bags into the batter. I’ve done that for previous loaves, and found that the flavour diminishes after a few days. I read up online and found a few recipes that infused milk with tea bags. Genius, I thought.
I promptly started on kitchen experiment #1: Earl Grey Cupcakes. I used my no-fail vanilla cupcake recipe, omitted the vanilla (I thought it would mask the earl grey flavour – just a wild guess, I may be wrong!), and infused the milk with two tea bags. What ensued was a fragrant batch of earl grey cupcakes that were good enough to be eaten sans fancy frostings. True enough, I baked a batch in a loaf pan for my sister a few days later.
You may not notice the tea in the first few bites, but in the third (or maybe fourth) bite, you’ll be greeted with a strong tea flavour which grows on you on subsequent bites. This is it, I thought. (Hence this entry.)
Of course, I felt that the cupcakes need to have a swirl to call its own, hence kitchen experiment #2: Lemon Buttercream. I substituted the vanilla essence in the original vanilla buttercream recipe with freshly squeezed lemon juice, and …that’s about it. I suppose you could add some grated zest, but again, I didn’t want the lemon to be overpowering. (For this batch, at least.)
Few of my friends know about how I am struggling to get my frostings to stay in shape and not taste cloyingly sweet. I managed to fix the former (cornstarch does wonders!), but the latter needs plenty of work. Back to the drawing board, I guess?
Earl Grey Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream
Makes 10-12 cupcakes
(for the cupcakes)
- 120g all-purpose flour
- 120g caster sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- a pinch of salt
- 40g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 120ml milk + 2 Earl Grey tea bags
- 1 egg
- Preheat oven to 170 C.
- Heat the milk in a saucepan just before it comes to a boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat, add the tea bags, and let it infuse for about 10 minutes. Let it cool before using.
- Put flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.
- Remove the tea bags (you may save a tea bag for later) from the infused milk, and gradually pour in half the milk and beat until the mixture is just combined.
- Whisk the egg, vanilla essence and remaining infused milk in a separate bowl, then pour it into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated. Optional: you may wish to add in tea leaves from the tea bags you set aside earlier.
- Scrape down the bowl, and continue mixing for a couple more minutes until the mixture is smooth. Do not overmix.
- Spoon into prepared cupcake pans (about two-thirds) and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until light golden brown and the cake bounces back when touched.
- Leave the cakes to cool slightly in the pan before turning them out on a wire rack to cool completely.
(for the lemon buttercream)
- 250g icing sugar, sifted
- 80g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- Optional: tea leaves for garnish
- Beat the butter in a mixer, before adding the icing sugar gradually.
- Add the lemon juice, and beat at a high speed for a few minutes until everything is light, fluffy and well-combined.
- Frost cooled cupcakes, and you’re done.