Janet's Notebook
Tea Is For Terrific!

Earl Grey Tea Cake

We love getting mail about what you all are cooking (and eating!) There are perennial favorites - casseroles, chili, homemade cookies - but occasionally we'll get notes about recipes that are delightfully unusual. Such was the case recently with Deanne Dyer's Hot Cranberry Tea. A few weeks ago I mentioned how much we've been enjoying her fruity take on hot tea... and it turns out that a lot of you agree! Deanne's tea has gained a fan club of its own, and inspired us to explore other recipes that use tea in fun and inventive ways.

Ever tried a tea-infused cupcake? That's what Andrea Runnels pondered as she set to experimenting in her kitchen.

"While melting butter on the stove one day, I got busy and accidentally made brown butter," says Andrea. "I love chai tea and thought the brown butter would complement it. So, of course, cupcakes came to mind."

As usual, Andrea's finished product was nothing less than to-die-for. Starting with a simple white cake mix, these light bites get infused with the richness and flavor of common tea bags. (No additional calories, but tons of added flavor!) When topped with her homemade brown butter icing, there's not a thing common about these cupcakes. They're the perfect meal-ender... and conversation starter!

Another tea-riffic dessert idea comes from Christine M. of Medford, MA. Her crafty recipe calls for the unlikely combination of chai and whiskey!

"I took a few notes and combined a few recipes to come up with this [Spiced Apple Cake,]" explains Christine, who encourages those seeking a kid-friendly dessert to simply omit the alcohol in her recipe in favor of more chai. "This cake taste more 'muffin-like' than 'cake-like,' as it is not overly sweet. Goes great with vanilla ice cream, coffee, and/or tea!"

I just love the notion of taking prepared chai - a mix of tea and aromatic spices - and using it in such an unconventional way. By no means is it the only type of tea that works well in baking, though.

"I love Earl Grey tea and this is just delicious!!!" exclaimed Doreen Fish when she shared with us her recipe for Earl Grey Tea Cake. "It's just a little bit different and the taste is surprising!!"

Doreen's cake is a winner on account of its lightly sweet flavor AND its delectable aroma. The Test Kitchen smelled absolutely wonderful while the cake was baking! While a lovely dessert idea, we particularly enjoy serving this cake for breakfast. The subtle essence of tea carries over into the cake's glaze - a simple mix of powdered sugar and brewed Earl Grey - and pairs spectacularly with both coffee and hot tea. Oh my, I do believe I feel a spontaneous ladies' lunch coming on! One bite and your guests will be clamoring to know the secret to this comforting stunner.

The boldness of coffee can often overshadow the more subtle nature of its cousin the tea leaf, but these recipes are proof positive that the humble tea bag can wield tremendous power in the kitchen. Whether you're relaxing with a cup of green tea or infusing cupcakes with exotic chai, there truly seems to be a tea for everyone. All we are saying is give teas a chance.

Happy baking!

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kashmira vyas - Jan 21, 2013
Creative ideas for tea. Tea lovers try also hot apple cider with fresh grated Ginger, with Cinnamon sticks and whole Cloves. It is very tasty for this winter dsys and healthy.
la Davis - Jan 12, 2013
...as soon as I start getting winning comments I am going to become a member. Goal: 25 positive comments, questions and or critiques of my recipes.
la Davis - Jan 12, 2013
Tea is for terrific! Check my cookbook out: euroclydonlad.
linda O - Jan 12, 2013
Hi! How many cooks in JAP and recipes? I know it changes everyday, but at the beg of the month. New Person LOL Linda Orman
sallye bates - Jan 8, 2013
Pam Ellingson - Jan 8, 2013
My girlfriend has a teabag hanging from her rearview mirror. I asked her about it and she told me it was her way of remembering "Women and teabags are very similar. You don't know the strength of either one until they get into HOT water." I loved that thought.
sallye bates - Jan 8, 2013
I love tea, hot or iced, green or black, herbal or full of spices, but I don't like sugar in my tea (or cream). Just give it to me straight, baby.
Polly Anna - Jan 8, 2013
The idea of loose tea in the cake batter is a new idea to me, n the Earl Grey Tea Cake, I may have to experiment :-)
Rose Rauhauser - Jan 8, 2013
Thanks all you wonderful ladies for giving me a Blue Ribbon for my Cheesecake with Raspberry Gran Mariner Sauce, I'm still getting so many comments and thanks from so many people and just love that this recipe has spread all over the country for people to enjoy and share life together while eating great food. Your all awesome.