I’ve been following Karen Burns-Booth fabulous food blog, Lavender & Lovage, pretty much since its inception. Now, we have the cookbook, newly published this month, Lavender & Lovage: a culinary notebook of memories & recipes from home & abroad. Read on for my review and a recipe for Earl Grey fruit cake with orange icing.
I’ve had my eye on this tea bread ever since I bought Paul A Young’s book Adventures with Chocolate last year. I’m not quite sure why it’s taken me so long to actually make it, but with tea being this month’s special ingredient for We Should Cocoa, I was spurred into action. Assam tea was Paul’s tea of choice, but as I didn’t have any of that I used Earl Grey instead. Earl Grey is a black tea but has the addition of Bergamot which gives it a lovely scent and flavour. Bergamot is also meant to be uplifting and helps relieve anxiety, so combined with the antioxidants in the tea and chocolate as well as the anti-inflammatory properties of ginger and detoxifying cardamom, this loaf is positively loaded with health giving goodies.
This is what I did:
- Made 200ml of very strong Earl Grey tea using 4 tsp of leaves.
- Poured this over 100g raisins and 250g crystallised ginger.
- Ground the seeds from 20 cardamom pods and added this to the tea together with 2 heaped tsp powdered orange zest.
- Stirred in 1 large duck egg.
- Sifted in 200g flour (100g wholemeal spelt, 80g white, 20g quinoa) and 2 level tsp baking powder.
- Finally stirred in 100g chopped 70% dark chocolate.
- Spooned mixture into a lined 2lb (1kg) loaf tin and baked at 160C for 1 hr and 20 mins, reducing the temperature to 150C after first 45 mins.
- Cooled in tin for 30 mins then turned onto a rack to cool completely.
The house smelt absolutely wonderful throughout the process of making this cake. First a wonderful scent arose from grinding the cardamom seeds, then soaking the fruit in tea and orange was highly fragrant and finally the long baking released a heady mix of all of the above with the addition of ginger.
CityHippyFarmGirl reported that she was disappointed with this when she made it last year, but I was really pleased with it. True, this is not for the faint hearted: it has strong robust flavours and tasted quite strongly of tea; in my youth, I would not have liked this loaf. The smell and taste were quite similar to chai and the butter smothered on top helped to reinforce that impression. The loaf was moist, not too sweet and cut really well. It also lasted well over a week (only because we were away for a few days). CT thought it was good restorative provender following a few hours slogging away outdoors; he pronounced that a little went a long way and one slice was enough. I can, however, vouch for the fact that he did actually enjoy it and managed to have one slice on quite a few occasions.