Metaphorically, of course - you know the saying; the early bird catches the worm! In real life, of course, I would probably never touch a worm if I could help it - ever. I squirm at the slightest touch of insects, or creepy-crawlies. Nasty little things. (To me, not to some though - I have friends who find them cute, so...)
I am a self-confessed selfie queen (ahaha) and one of the things I do when I'm bored is take my friends' phones and well, take selfies with them. Until one day, my friend set a picture of some bug as his wallpaper and I never touched his phone for quite a while...
But back to worms. Metaphorical worms. I woke up early today to bake an earl grey loaf cake, the first in a series I am starting called loafs of love! Basically, the inspiration for this stemmed from a questionnaire I was doing the other night. They aren't related, but well, I suddenly thought of my beautiful loaf pan and I started daydreaming. I came up with multiple flavour combinations for loaf cakes, complete with sketches of each of them... The power of imagination indeed!
But, well, early morning loafing... I probably should have had my cup of coffee before I started baking, not after putting my cake in the oven, for it took me almost one whole lemon for me to realise that I was using a cheese grater to zest the lemon, and wondering why I couldn't seem to get the zest going the right way. Not to mention, strips of lemon zest were going everywhere - the kitchen table was a mess this morning. Oops.
I love the smell of citrus on my fingers after baking. It's so fragrant; so fresh. Complete with the smell of earl grey brewing in the background, it makes getting out of bed totally worth it. Also, the fact that this recipe can be thrown together in a saucepan (read: no mixer required!) is another motivating factor to jump out and throw some ingredients together, create some love in the oven.
One of my favourite parts about baking is the room for spontaneity it encourages, to be creative, to be daring, to just throw it in and (pray). And that is exactly what I did this morning. My lemon glaze just didn't seem to set as beautifully as that seen on topwithcinnamon's, so I decided to jazz up my earl grey loaf with some four red fruits jam I bought from London's Le Pain Quotidien. It's also my new favourite jam in the world. Big words, yes, but it's really good! Tart, but with just the right amount of sweetness to it, and berry bits inside.
How I wish I could go back to London...
Earl Grey Loaf Cake Adapted from here
For the cake:
- 85g butter (i used salted, but if you use unsalted butter do add in 1/4 tsp of salt!)
- 65g granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 earl grey tea bags
- 0.5 cups of boiling water
- 60ml (1/4 cup) buttermilk / yogurt (I used buttermilk)
- zest of one lemon
- 200g all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 0.5 tsp baking soda
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius! Grease your loaf pan liberally with butter, as always. Steep your two earl grey tea bags into your half cup of boiling water, leave it alone.
- Melt your butter in a saucepan over a low heat, remove from heat once completely melted.
- Beat in your sugar and eggs, followed by your buttermilk and lemon zest.
- Remove the tea bags from the water and pour the tea into the saucepan, stir it all together.
- Here's the fun part! Cut your tea bags open and pour the tea leaves in and mix! I only used about 1.5 tea bags worth of tea leaves though - I felt it might be a bit too much to add all two. You might want to give your hands a quick rinse after this step, for the tea leaves tend to stick your hand quite a bit...
- Add the flour, baking powder + soda and salt (if using), stir together until just combined.
- Pour the mixture into the loaf pan, and tap it against the surface of your table (I do this to remove air bubbles in the mixture).
- My cake baked for about 25-30 minutes, but the original recipe calls for 45-55 minutes, so I would just advise you to watch your cake and do the toothpick test (I did this at about the 25th minute and the toothpick came out clean from various points in the cake, so I took the cake out). Go with your gut! That is important.
- Leave it to cool for about 10 minutes in the pan, before transferring it to a wire rack.
For the glaze:
The glaze was a tricky one to make. Initially, I followed the instructions on the original recipe but pouring the glaze onto warm cake resulted in the glaze somewhat melting into the cake, so I just made a light cream cheese frosting (read: a few squeezes of lemon and a tiny slab of cream cheese, stirred together) and slapped it on top. Here's the recipe for the original glaze anyway, if you would like to give it a try:
- 65g icing sugar
- juice of one lemon
Method: Combine the icing sugar and lemon juice until a thick yet pourable texture is achieved. Pour atop cake while the cake is still warm.
The cake has a nice crumb, with an earl grey flavour and a zesty tang to it. My sister felt that the cake alone was a bit dry (as the glaze didn't come out very well from the morning), hence the decision to add on some lemony cream cheese on top. I'm a firm believer in the perfect cake to icing ratio, but then again, loaf cakes just aren't your average cake.
Serve warm, with a cup of tea on the side. Don't forget your slice of lemon!