Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Earl Grey's Birthday Tea Cakes



Today, we're wishing a "Happy Birthday" to Charles Grey, 2nd Earl of Grey, who was born on March 13, 1764.  He was Prime Minister of Great Britain and Ireland in the early 1830s, but is most noted these days for being the man for whom Earl Grey tea was named.

This heavily scented tea is either adored or scorned - there doesn't seem to be any indifference to it.  Either you love the perfume of the bergamot orange oil that flavors Earl Grey or you loathe it.  Let me state the obvious: it is one of my favorite teas, or else I wouldn't be celebrating today!

And how did the tea earn its association with Earl Grey?

According to Wikipedia: "... the tea was specially blended ... for Lord Grey, to suit the water at Howick Hall, the family seat in Northumberland, using bergamot in particular to offset the preponderance of lime in the local water.  Lady Grey used it to entertain in London as a political hostess," and it was very well-liked.

In honor of today's occasion, it only seemed fitting to bake some small sweets appropriate for an afternoon tea, an indulgence that I love but don't get to enjoy often enough.  Small cakes struck my fancy, and somehow the tea needed to be incorporated.  It only made sense that the flavor would be more noticeable in the glaze rather than baked in.

These are very quick to make - stir together the batter, bake the mini cakes in just a short amount of time, and then whip up a 2-ingredient glaze once the cakes cool.  That's it!

A small treat and a cuppa tea ... what a perfectly charming way to toast the Earl of Grey.

Mini Jam Cakes with Earl Grey Tea Glaze

Cakes:
3/8 cup sugar
1 cup unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup vanilla soy milk
1/4 cup olive oil
1 egg
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/8 cup blueberry jelly (or other fruit jelly)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease 16 mini muffin cups in a tin.

In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, baking soda and salt.  Combine soy milk, oil, egg, vinegar and jelly; the mixture won't fully blend, and there will be small dots of jam throughout.  Pour liquid into the dry ingredients and combine well.  Divide batter among the muffin cups.  Bake for 15 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean and the cakes are golden.  Let cool completely on a rack.

Glaze:
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons cold Earl Grey tea

Whisk confectioners' sugar and tea together.  One by one, take the tea cakes and dip the tops into the glaze; turn right-side up and place onto a rack to let glaze set.

Makes 16 tea cakes.

3 comments:

Cranberry Morning said...

I'm definitely a friend of Earl Grey. I like it! But what an interesting history. I had never thought about that before. So he would have been Prime Minister when Elizabeth Gaskell was writing North and South and when Victoria was about to ascend the throne. Mary, I'm going to be thinking about that all day - and all the other connections. What a sweet treat, those little tea cakes and a cup of Earl Grey while I'm pondering the British timeline. :-)

Jenn said...

Well happy birthday to Earl!! What a great way to celebrate! The tea cakes look wonderful!

Candace said...

These look soooo yummy, Mary! I'm not a tea drinker except for iced green or chai; but I'm intrigued by the glaze that you've made for these. I would love to share one of these and a cuppa with you.

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