earl grey pound cake

I’m a big earl grey fan. Like I’ve said before, Andrew thinks that it tastes like fruit loops… but he likes the flavor so it’s not a big deal apparently. This earl grey pound cake is definitely the way to go for tea and cereal fans alike though.  It’s moist, it’s dense in all the right places, and it’s not so sweet that you feel guilty eating a huge ole slice right in the morning. Lavender scented cream helps pull it all together and add an extra level of luxe. You could make it without the cream, but I hope you don’t. An important note – you can see both the toothpick mark, and where the cat took a chunk when I was setting up for pictures and I smushed it back in…no shame. We’re here for each other.

I’m getting ready for my last semester of school, and starting to think ahead for the rest of the year. It’s funny, because I find myself thinking that creating a whole list of goals can be unrealistic…. and then I go ahead and make a huge list of goals, which I go over and consider deeply while I inhale this cake warm out of the oven.

I want to learn how to properly make croissants, and I’d like to keep up with my Italian – or what’s left of it. I’d like to post on here and make delicious recipes and also actually learn how to use a camera. With any list of goals, we’ve got to give ourselves a few gimmes. At this point in the game, graduating from college is a gimme. Trying to do more yoga is relatively a gimme. We’ll get there. You’ll get there, with your tough ones and your gimmes. This earl grey pound cake will help.

This cake will be there for you when you can’t remember how to conjugate yet another irregular Italian verb, and it’ll be there to rub your back when you melt a pound of butter out of your best-looking batch of croissants. It’ll also be there to celebrate when you successfully do 20 minutes of yoga, and when you snatch your diploma from the giving hands of whoever’s in charge.

earl grey pound cake
makes 1 nine-inch pound cake. adapted from the fearless baker cookbook.

8 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
3/4 cup whole milk
4 earl grey teabags
Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon lavender

how-to:

First, we will infuse the milk with the earl grey tea. Put the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring the milk up to steaming, but not boiling, and drop the four teabags in. Steep for 10 minutes, and remove the teabags. Re-measure the milk, and add back any any volume that you lost (I added back in probably about 50 grams, so don’t be worried if it seems like you lost a lot). Cool the milk to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 9 inch cake pan. In a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar on medium low until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating to combine after each addition. Add the vanilla, and mix to combine. Scrape down the bowl well to catch anything on the side. In another bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder. Add 1/3 of this mixture on low speed. Once combined, add half of the infused milk. Repeat until all ingredients have been added. Scrape into prepared pan, smooth top with a spatula, and sprinkle generously with the turbinado sugar. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 45-50 minutes. Cool in pan for 15 more minutes, and turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

For the whipped cream, heat the milk til steaming, and steep the lavender until it tastes good to you….depending on your lavender it can take different amounts of time, and you can kind of smush it up a bit if you want to extract more flavor. I did mine for 15 minutes. Strain and put the cream in the fridge and when chilled, whip in a stand mixer with a generous pinch of sugar until stiff peaks.

pistachio cake with rose buttercream

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Rose is a quirky flavor. Too much and it tastes like a bar of soap, but the right amount tastes light, floral, and summery. A coffee place in downtown Portland serves rose Italian sodas, and every time I’m remotely close I detour, buy one and greedily slurp it down. Rinse and repeat.

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Today, I mixed this rosy flavor with the earthy green of pistachios, which dresses down a floral flavor with a nice nutty cake. It’s a simple cake, with no frills. The best buttercream to make is an Italian meringue buttercream – where you make an Italian meringue with sugar syrup and whipped egg whites, and slowly beat in softened butter until you get a fluffy buttercream that is both stable to sit out and also delicious. Bonus – it’s going to impress everybody, but it’s not all that hard to do. I’m into these kind of combinations – pistachio and rose, easy and impressive. All good, all good.

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Plus – you get to decorate with real flowers – which is not only easy, but looks wildly professional. It’s like a garden on a cake! Perfect for garden parties and also for sitting with friends under shady trees eating with plastic forks. It’s a summer cake in all the ways a cake could be summery.

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pistachio cake with rose italian buttercream
recipe adapted from food52

½ cup toasted pistachios
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
1½ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
¾ cup whole milk

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 13×9 inch baking sheet with parchment paper and grease with nonstick spray.
In a food processor, grind the nuts to a fine powder (but don’t make nut butter).
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until very light and fluffy. 4-5 minutes. Add the eggs and the egg yolk, only one at a time. Beat each until combined and scrape down the bowl after each addition (trust me on this one). Beat in vanilla and almond extracts.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the mixer, mix on low to combine. Scrape down the bowl, and add 1/3 of the milk and mix to combine. Repeat until all the flour and milk are used up, and fold in the pistachios.
Pour the batter into the pan, smooth the top with an offset spatula. Bake until cake springs back lightly when touched, about 15-20 minutes. Let cool for a bit in the pan and then turn out onto a cooling rack until completely cool. Using a small plate as a guide, cut out rounds. I used an around 4 inch plate and got three layers, but you can do whatever you’d like here.

rose italian buttercream

2 large or 3 small egg whites
1 cup sugar
Seeds from ½ a vanilla bean
Pinch of cream of tartar
2 tablespoons water
2½ sticks unsalted butter, softened and cubed
½ teaspoon rosewater

Place the egg whites, a sprinkle of sugar from the 1 cup, vanilla seeds and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer. and whisk well to combine.
Place the remaining sugar and water in a small saucepan. Stir around with your finger until the sugar is all saturated and sandy. Wipe down any crystals off the side with a wet paper towel. Place the pan over medium heat and when the sugar is melted and bubbling, brush down the sides again with a wet paper towel.
Once the sugar syrup is at a boil, turn the stand mixer onto medium speed. Cook the sugar until it reaches 250F.
Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and stream the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl. Increase speed to high and whip the meringue for 6-8 minutes until cool to the touch – so the butter won’t melt when you add it.
Add the butter a tablespoon at a time, gradually.  When all the butter has been added, and the buttercream is all combined, it should be smooth and fluffy. Don’t freak out if it looks curdled at some point in the process – just keep the mixer on high, walk away, and come back a couple minutes later and it should have come together!
Add the rosewater, whip until combined. Frost the cake and decorate with crushed pistachios and fresh flowers. Eat and impress.

cappuccino tea cakes

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I spent the last five months in Tuscany, hopping from museum to museum admiring priceless art and running up and down the country, but mostly I spent the whole time on food. Eating food, learning about food, eating more food… you get the gist. Somewhere along the way I fell head over heels in love with roman cacio e pepe, with tuscan wild-boar, and with sicilian cannoli. From the head to the boot of Italy I ate… and I ate and I ate and I ate. Wherever I wandered though, there was a sweet cup of foamy, milky coffee waiting for me to drink it. I’m not even the biggest coffee person, but I could slurp these down while imagining my next meal any day.

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In Italy, a cappuccino is an entire breakfast. Maybe add a pastry, possibly some Nutella, but once you add milk to coffee the Italians are pretty sure it’s a whole meal. Given the quality and ridiculous cheap pricing of those cappuccinos, I can’t find a fault with their logic.

But.

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We don’t like our cappuccinos to be as cheap here in the United States. They’ll run you around $4.00 instead of the adorable $1.20, and they’re often lacking in quality. Not only has my family taken to making them at home, but I’ve taken to shoving the milky, fresh, and bright coffee flavors into anything I can.

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This time, I made something that not only tastes like cappuccino, but it pairs with a cappuccino – or a warm cup of milky coffee, dealers choice. They’ve got a tender crumb, a sweet vanilla and espresso flavor, and they’re practically begging you to invite your friends over for coffee and cake.

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These cakes are just looking out for you and your well-being. Providing you with coffee intake on all levels, perfect for Monday mornings and Sunday afternoons. Go ahead. Give them a try.

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cappuccino tea cakes
makes 10 mini-bundts, adapted from gbakes

2 sticks unsalted butter, a bit cooler than room temp.
1½ cup granulated sugar
3 tsp vanilla
1 tsp vanilla powder (or sub a vanilla bean, or more vanilla extract)
5 eggs
2 tsp Kahula, or other coffee liqueur
2 cups cake flour
3 Tbs finely ground espresso coffee
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ cup heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks

how-to
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a mini bundt pan – making sure to get all the nooks and crannies.

In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until smooth, and add the granulated sugar. Cream together, scraping down the bowl occasionally, until very light and fluffy (this can take a bit). While this is creaming, sift together the cake flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and espresso into a medium bowl.

Add eggs, one at a time, on medium speed to creamed butter and sugar mixture, ensuring it is fully incorporated and scraping down the bowl at the end of each addition. Add the vanilla extract and powder.

Add the flour, and then fold in the whipped cream with a rubber spatula. Fill the cavities about half full, and bang the pan on your counter a few times to get out any pesky air bubbles. Bake about 20-25 minutes, until cake springs back when poked. Let cool for a couple minutes, then turn out onto racks to cool completely.

lemon loaf cake with basil glaze

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This lemon cake is zingy and filled right to the brim with lemon flavor. Lemon zest is worked into the sugar right at the base, and then the warm cake is poked full of holes and covered in a bright lemon syrup.

In other words, it’s not for the faint of lemon-heart.

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But, with all the lemon flavor, we can work in friends, like the humble vanilla bean and the bright basil. And I know, I know, basil doesn’t belong anywhere near a pound cake like this one – but give it a try, because we all should try something new once in a while. Right?

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Plus, this cake makes two loaves, so feel free to give one to your mother so she can see how together your life is. This cake hides all those corners of adult-hood that no one is ready for yet, plus it feels appropriate for breakfast.

I love a cake that feels like a good choice for breakfast. Cutting the corners of adulthood, one step at a time.

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I liked serving this cake with fresh strawberries – the combination of the strawberries and basil is killer, plus, if you serve this to your friends you will definitely look fancy. I don’t know about you but I need all the help I can get when it comes to fancy.

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lemon loaf cake with basil glaze
lemon cake adapted from joy the baker

for the cake:
2½ cup all-purpose flour
2½ teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
2⅓ cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, or two teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
6 large eggs
⅔ cup heavy cream
zest of 2 lemons, as fine as you can get it
15 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

for the syrup:
¼ cup sugar
⅓ cup water
juice of two lemons

for the glaze:
¼ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons chopped basil
1½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon of lemon juice (or more, to taste, if you’d like a more lemony flavor)

how-to:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 8½ by 4½ inch loaf pans, and cut out a piece of parchment that overhangs both of the long sides. This will help you pop out the cake with ease.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl, ensuring that it is totally incorporated.

In a large bowl, put the sugar and the lemon zest. Using your fingers, rub the zest into the sugar until the sugar takes on a lemony color and smell. You’ll know when it’s ready. Add the vanilla bean and rub to incorporate (if you’re using the vanilla extract, don’t add it now).Add the eggs into the sugar mixture and whisk to combine. Add the vanilla extract, if using. Whisk in the cream.

Fold in the dry ingredients in 3 additions, using a rubber spatula. Fold in the melted butter until uniform.

Split the batter between the two pans, and smooth the top with a spatula. Place pans on two baking sheets stacked together (or an insulated baking sheet), and bake for 55-60 minutes, until golden brown and a tester comes out clean.

While the cakes are baking, make the syrup. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan, and heat over medium heat, until the sugar has melted and the mixture begins to boil. Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice, and place in a bowl to cool.

Once the cakes have finished baking, place them on a rack to cool for 5 minutes before turning them out. Poke the cake with a thin object (like a small sharp knife, a skewer, or anything you have on hand) and make lots of little small holes. Slowly brush the syrup over the two cakes, making sure to give it plenty of time to sink in. Let cool to room temperature while you make the glaze.

To make the glaze, place the heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat, until steaming, hot, and with a ring of small bubbles around the edge. Be careful to not let it boil. Add the basil to the cream, and allow to sit for 7 minutes. Strain, and place the cream in a bowl. Add the powdered sugar in batches, stirring with a whisk or a fork to combine. Add the lemon juice. Adjust with a bit more cream, lemon juice, or powdered sugar to make the glaze thicker or thinner to your preference.

Once the cake has cooled, drizzle with the glaze, reserving any extra glaze for serving. Either top or serve the cake with fresh strawberries, and enjoy!