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Author Notes: I always loved adding spices to my baked goods. And when I saw a recipe for 'Black Tea Cake' up on a blog called Pastry Affair, I was in love. And obsessed. I spent 3 days planning this cake for my birthday, I wanted it to be perfect. And big enough to feed my freaklishy large family. This cake is the epitome of spiced goodness. It's so moist, fluffy and deep flavored, it would be great even on it's own. Which leads me to a sensitive topic: frostings. I made this buttercream with more decorative intentions than anything else, although very delicious, it is, indeed, quite sweet. So, if you're not a fan of buttercream, or overly sweetened desserts, this cake alone will be just perfect for you. If you are making it for a celebration, like I did, this frosting is a great pair, slightly floral from the black tea, and more than ready to satisfy any sweet tooth. —Laura Biscaro
Serves 8-10 people, easily
For the cake:
- 2 cups whole milk
- 6 black tea bags, cut open (or just use about 6 tbsp of the loose tea)
- 110 grams butter, unsalted and room temp.
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 350 grams all purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 2 teaspoons black pepper corns
- 6 cloves
- 3 cardamom pods
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
- 5 cm pieces ginger, peeled
For the buttercream:
- 2 black tea bags, cut open (or just use about 2 tbsp of the loose tea)
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 220 grams butter, unsalted and room temp.
- 3 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (or more, if needed)
- FOR THE CAKE: Place your 2 cups of milk in a small sauce pan, along with the cinnamon sticks, black pepper corns, cloves, cardamom pods, nutmeg and ginger (you can totally add a star anise here, if you'd like, I hate it, so I just left it out). Bring it to a boil. Once it's boiling, turn off the heat, and add your 6 black tea bags. Put on a lid and let it go completely cool.
- Preheat your oven to 180ºC/350ºF. Grease and line the bottom of two 22 cm (9-inch) round cake pans with parchmen paper. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together your butter, sugar and oil, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing very well after each addition. Sift in your flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Give it a nice whisk until almost combined. Fish your spices out of the milk and add it to the batter (I left the tea leaves in the batter, but you can totally strain everything, if you want to). Mix until it's all combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake it for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let it cool completely once it's done
- FOR THE FROSTING: While your cakes are cooling, heat up the 1/3 cup of milk in the microwave until nearly boiling (or on the stove), add the content of the 2 cut open black tea bags, give it a mix and let it cool. In a bowl of a standing mixer, with the paddle attachment (or use a hand mixer), pour in your 220g of butter, give it a mix until it's smooth, then add your icing sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating until it's very light and fluffy (it'll also be very stiff). Add the 1/2 tsp of salt and 2 tbsp of your black tea infused milk. Mix again until combined. Now, it's up to you how you want this frosting to be: if you want it looser, add more milk (I added about 4 tbsp), or add less if you like it stiffer, if you want it less sweet, add more salt, and keep ajusting, until you think it's good.
- DECORATION: Take one of your cakes and place it on your serving platter. Take the other half and place it on a baking sheet, or anything like it (if you put random pieces of parchmen paper in your platter before placing the cakes, it'll help you get a cleaner finish). Cut out the top of both cakes, to make it even (you don't have to do this what so ever, I did it because I think it looks prettier when it comes to naked cakes). Now, you can decorate this however you like, I decided to make a naked cake, but really, follow your heart and do whatever floats your boat lol Take out the pieces of parchmen paper and serve! This cake can also be made in advance, just leave it in the fridge and take it out about 20 minutes before serving.