Earl Grey Poppy Seed Tea Cakes

Yield: four 3x2-inch cakes


This recipe requires four 1.75x3-inch pastry rings.  One cake is a very generous single serving, (and could probably serve 2).  They have a bright, fruity flavor that I liken to Froot-Loops cereal (no kidding! -or maybe I’m just weird).  The extra step of covering them in black fondant and decorating with luster dust is not necessary, but it sure makes them pretty.

 

Cake: 
3/4 cup extra-fine granulated sugar

1/4 cup loose-leaf Earl Grey tea

2 tbsp. poppy seed

4 eggs
1 1/2 tbsp. canola oil
2 tbsp. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 drop black food coloring (*optional)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Powdered sugar for dusting

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 11x14-inch jelly-roll pan with white vegetable shortening and line with parchment; grease parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine sugar, tea leaves and poppy seed.  Process for 2-3 minutes, or until the mixture looks well ground and is very fragrant.
  3. In a large bowl, beat eggs with a mixer for 5 full minutes (I suggest setting a timer).  Properly whipped eggs will lighten in color considerably and have the appearance of yellow cake batter.
  4. With the mixer still running, slowly add sugar mixture and oil to the whipped eggs.  Next, add buttermilk, and vanilla extract and food coloring, if using.
  5. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  Slowly add to the liquid ingredients.  Mix until well combined.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan and tilt pan to distribute batter evenly.
  7. Sprinkle a cotton tea towel with powdered sugar and rub sugar into the towel with your hands
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Check at 12 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back when pressed with fingers. 
  9. Turn cake out onto the powdered tea towel.  Dust surface with powdered sugar.  Let cool completely.
  10. Use 3-inch pastry rings to cut out 12 cake circles.  Set aside.

Earl Grey simple syrup:
3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup water

4 Earl Grey teabags

  1. Stir together sugar and water in a small saucepan.  Place over medium-high heat and bring to a bubble. Stir to make sure all the sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat and place the teabags in the hot sugar syrup to steep.  Infuse for 5-7 minutes, then remove and discard tea bags.  Set aside to cool.
Tip: You may have leftover syrup after assembling the cakes. Store unused syrup in the 'fridge and use it to sweeten your tea!

Zesty citrus buttercream:

1 cup of unsalted butter, softened

2 cups confectioners’ sugar - the finest you can find (usually 10x)

1 tsp.  clear orange extract

Juice of 1 small lemon

Zest of 1 small orange

Zest of 1 small lemon

* Milk or heavy cream, optional

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix together the butter and confectioners’ sugar.  Begin mixing on low speed until crumbly, and then increase to high and beat for 3 minutes.
  2. Add orange extract and lemon juice; beat again for another minute until light and fluffy.  Add zests and mix on lowest setting until evenly dispersed.  Transfer to a piping bag or zip-top bag with the end snipped (no decorator tip necessary).

Note: If you find the buttercream is too stiff, you may add milk or heavy cream 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture is piping consistency.

 

Assembly and decoration:

1 1/3 cups ready-made black vanilla rolled fondant

Silver luster dust

Small cup of water

Culinary stencil or other plastic non-toxic craft stencil

Small soft-hair artist’s brush

  1. Place 1 cake circle in each of the four pastry rings; brush cakes liberally with Earl Grey syrup (if you don’t have a pastry brush, you can drizzle two tablespoons of syrup over the cake).  Pipe in a layer of buttercream and top with another cake circle; press cake circles down into the buttercream to create an even layer.  Brush cake circle with syrup and add another buttercream layer.  Top with remaining cake circle and press down so that it is level with the top of the pastry ring.  Brush with syrup. 
  2. Chill cakes in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.  Press cakes out of the molds from the top onto a baking sheet.
  3. Lightly grease a work surface with white vegetable shortening.  Knead and roll out a 1/3 cup piece of black fondant.  Lift piece with a rolling pin (or your hands – it’s small enough) and drape over a cake. Smooth fondant down and around the cake and trim the excess with a sharp knife.  Repeat process with remaining cakes.  Place a stencil on top of each cake.
  4. Tap out a little silver luster dust onto a clean plate.  Dip the paintbrush into water and then into the luster dust; work it into a paint-like paste on the plate with the brush.  Repeat dipping/working until your brush is loaded with luster dust “paint”.  Gently apply in even strokes over the stencil.  Carefully lift stencil to reveal the design.

Tips:

Roll out a piece of fondant to practice your stenciling.

The stencils I used had a lightly adhesive backing.  I coated the sticky side with vegetable shortening and then wiped most of it off with a paper towel. This took enough of the stickiness away so that it would not damage the fondant’s surface. If you use the same brand of stenciling that I did (below), be sure to use this method and test the stickiness on a test piece of fondant before applying to the cakes.


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