I was introduced to Earl Grey tea at a dryland ski training camp in high school, when I wanted a pre-rollerski perk-up and it was the only black tea we had at the cabin. Since then, it’s become one of my go-to morning drinks. Recipes for Earl Grey cookies (a la Smitten Kitchen, for example) and more adventurous dishes have intrigued me for a while, but I’m hesitant to bake with caffeine because I usually eat cookies and such in the afternoon or evening.
The obvious solution: make something for breakfast time, duh! I stumbled across a loaf cake recipe and thought it sounded so good that I was tempted to go out and buy a loaf pan. Then I remembered another obvious solution in the form of our house’s muffin tin and the many, many paper liners I still have stashed in my kitchen cupboard. In the end, I decided that the method most likely to work was to make a few alterations to a King Arthur Flour recipe for spelt muffins, adding tea leaves, vanilla extract, and orange zest and swapping granulated sugar for brown (which I love, but I was worried that the dark molasses flavor would overwhelm the tea).
Notes from my taste testers: this recipe is really not very sweet, which I like, but some people may want to increase the sugar to 1/3 cup. I’d also consider adding more vanilla and maybe another teaspoon or two of tea, since I didn’t find these flavors came out much in the final cakes. They also stuck quite a bit to the liners, so I’d recommend the “grease the pan” route… or maybe use nicer liners than the ones from the pound/dollar store. The sticking is also mitigated by letting them cool overnight. As a basis for future experimentation, this recipe is a real winner! I’m looking forward to trying more muffin/teacake variations, and this one is a darn good start.
Earl Grey Teacakes
Yield: 12-14 muffins (I got 14).
2.25 c spelt flour
1/4 c granulated sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
2 Tbsp finely ground Earl Grey tea leaves (3-4 bags)
1/4 tsp salt
1.25 c milk or plain yogurt
3 large eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp sunflower oil or melted butter
2 Tbsp orange zest
Grease and flour a 12-cup muffin tin, or put in liners.
Combine all the dry ingredients, except orange zest, in a mixing bowl. Mix together the milk, eggs, vanilla extract, and oil/melted butter and combine with the dry ingredients and orange zest, stirring for 20 seconds and no more. Let sit about 10 minutes to allow flour to hydrate. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 425 F/ 218 C.
Fill the muffin cups two-thirds full and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown.
Serving suggestion: toasted, spread with butter and/or marmalade (and/or cream cheese), accompanied by your favorite black tea!