The heart of innovation is being able to see an object as just that – an object, and not one tied to or defined by a specific use. So we can stop seeing tea as an ingredient that only comes alive in hot water. We can see it as an ingredient that has a life, right from the box or bag it comes in, one that can blossom as leaves, and in the absence of hot water.
And so the idea of using tea as a spice excites me. Where formerly it has only been a drink. Whether it is throwing a pinch in a batch of cookies, dusting a madeleine pan with some, spooning out teaspoonfuls to go in cake batter, or even tossing just-fried churros in fragrant tea and sugar, tea can take on new character, new life.
These Madeleines are amazing – they are beautifully speckled with a variety of tea leaves and spices, from rosehip to orange peel, hibiscus, apple peel, lemon grass, lemon peel and grapefruit peel.
And yes, I currently have 9 Meyer lemons in my kitchen – a wonderful gift from a friend who just returned from a US trip.
Master Patissier, Eric Lanlard provides the skeleton for this bake in his plain madeleines, but this contest gives me the platform and inspiration for the innovation. My introductions are the brown butter, the citrus tea spice, and the meyers, in their entirety. As well as separating the eggs and folding in beaten whites for added lightness. And the pleasure is almost all mine. The rest is shared with you....
This will work with your favourite tea - I'm a sucker for citrus but a chai version came out very nice as well. Go with your flow.
- Makes 18
8 tablespoons melted (brown) butter, (6 for batter, 2 for greasing the pan)
¾ cup all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons icing sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
'Citrus' tea-sugar mix, made by blitzing 4 teaspoons tea leaves (4 teabags) with 4 teaspoons caster sugar (I used Lipton's Pink Citrus tea)
2 eggs, separated ( Whites beaten till stiff)
Zest from 1 Meyer Lemon (or an orange/clementine)
Juice from 1 Meyer Lemon (or an orange/clementine)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 deg F (about 180 deg C). Prepare you madeleine moulds (I have a 9-mold madeleine pan - you will need two) by greasing with melted butter. Using half of the citrus tea-sugar mix, dust the molds, and tap out any excess. Reserve the other half and the excess for the cake batter.
- In a bowl, sift the flour, icing sugar and baking powder together. Add the remaining tea-sugar mix and whisk lightly to combine.
- Gently whisk in the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter, the egg yolks, meyer lemon zest, Meyer lemon juice, and the vanilla extract. Add the whipped egg whites to the mix and fold into the mixture.
- Spoon the batter into the molds, about two-thirds full (a heaped teaspoon). Bake the madeleines in the centre of the pre-heated oven for 10 - 12 minutes until golden and well-risen, with a bronzed rim.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Eat warm or cold.