This Earl Grey Cake with Orange is easy to make and combines the citrus notes of Earl Grey tea with zesty orange. The tea adds a subtle fragrance to what would otherwise be a basic orange loaf cake. I have added an orange drizzle, using orange juice and icing sugar, to make the cake extra moist and flavoursome. It is topped with a tangy orange-flavoured cream cheese icing which has a mouth-filling richness to complement the fresh tasting cake.
Earl Grey tea is flavoured with the oil of bergamot, a citrus fruit which is thought to be a hybrid of lemon and bitter orange. It is likely that the Earl Grey blend is named after the 2nd Lord Grey who was British Prime Minister in the 1830s and who reputedly received a gift of tea flavoured with bergamot oil.
Last year, we went on a family holiday to Northumberland and visited the Grey family’s beautiful ancestral home, Howick Hall. The Grey family’s story is that Earl Grey tea was specially blended to suit the water at Howick Hall as the use of bergamot offset the taste of the local water which is very alkaline. If you visit the Howick Hall gardens, you can have a cup of Earl Grey tea in the lovely Earl Grey teahouse!
I sometimes make this cake using the less well-known Lady Grey tea, rather than Early Grey tea. Lady Grey tea is a modern invention, created by Twinings in the early 1990s to appeal to those who found Earl Grey tea too strong in flavour. Lady Grey differs from Earl Grey in that it has a stronger citrus taste as it contains additional lemon and orange peel as well as bergamot oil.
This easy loaf cake combines the citrus notes of Earl Grey or Lady Grey tea with orange.
For the cake:
50 ml boiling water
1 Earl Grey or Lady Grey teabag
125 g butter
175 g caster sugar
175 g self-raising flour
Zest of half an orange
100 g icing sugar
Juice of 1 orange
For the icing:
150 g butter
50 g icing sugar
200 g cream cheese
Zest of half an orange
Set your oven to 180 degrees centigrade or Gas Mark 4.
Put the boiling water into a small jug or cup and add the Earl Grey or Lady Grey teabag. Allow the teabag to steep in the water for 5 minutes and then remove it. The tea will be stronger than you would like to drink!
Grease a 450 g loaf tin and line the bottom with baking parchment.
Cream the butter with the sugar. (I usually soften the butter for about 30 seconds in the microwave first as it makes it much easier!)
Gradually add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture. If it looks as if it is going to curdle, add some of the self-raising flour.
Once the eggs have been incorporated add the rest of the self-raising flour.
Add the Earl Grey or Lady tea and half the grated zest of your orange.
Spoon the cake mixture into your prepared loaf tin.
Put the tin in the oven and bake for 45 minutes.
While the cake is baking, combine the juice from your orange with 100 g of icing sugar to form a thick syrup.
Remove the cake from the oven and immediately pour the syrup over the top.
Leave the cake in the tin to cool completely before removing. If you try and take it out while it is still warm it may fall apart as it will be very moist due to the syrup.
Make the icing by creaming together the butter and icing sugar. Then mix in the cream cheese and the other half of your orange zest and stir until smooth and combined. You can keep a little of the orange zest back to decorate the cake.
When the cake is completely cool, spread the icing on top of it and, if you wish, decorate it with the retained grated orange zest.
I came up with the idea for this Carrot Tart with Orange and Ricotta on a particularly grey and rainy February day. I felt that I needed to make something that would bring a burst of colour and flavour into my life – and that is exactly what this Tart does. It uses ingredients found in the winter – carrots, orange, coriander – to liven up both your taste-buds and your table!
I love the natural sweetness of carrots, which is enhanced by sharp, citrus flavours. In this recipe I use the zest and juice of orange to bring out the sweet, earthy flavour of the carrots. The carrots are set on a pillow of creamy ricotta, flavoured with orange zest and coriander which adds a mouth-filling creaminess as a counterpoint to the sweet and sharp topping. Lemon is also a great flavour-enhancer for carrots as in Spiced Carrots with Honey and Lemon. If you like the flavour combinations in this Carrot Tart, I strongly recommend it.
As I felt a need to banish the greyness of February when I was making this recipe, I chose “heritage carrots” from my local greengrocer. You can make this Carrot Tart with any type of carrots. However, I would recommend buying the ones with the green fronds still attached as you know they are fresh and they generally have a lot more flavour. Carrots in a range of colours are now quite widely available and combining red, yellow and purple with orange will make your tart look particularly beautiful.
This Carrot Tart will bring zest to your taste-buds and your table. Beautiful, sweet, earthy carrots, flavoured with orange and coriander, set in creamy ricotta on a crisp pastry base will brighten up those grey winter days!
320 g frozen puff pastry
150 g carrots
Salt and pepper
125 g ricotta
50 g feta cheese
Small bunch of fresh coriander (finely chopped)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Set your oven to 200 degrees C/gas mark 6.
Roll the frozen pasty into square or rectangle. Using a sharp knife, cut it into four evenly sized squares or rectangles. Cut a 1 cm strip of pastry around the edge of each of the squares or rectangles.
Break and whisk the egg. Using a pastry brush, paint the beaten egg around the edge of each square or rectangle. Place the strips of pastry around the edge of each square or rectangle. These will form the “walls” around each of your tarts.
Put the pastry squares or rectangles onto a baking sheet.
Prepare the carrots either by peeling them or scrubbing them to remove any dirt. If they are large, cut each one in half lengthwise. Place the prepared carrots in a saucepan of boiling salted water and simmer for around 10 minutes. You want them to be slightly softened but not fully cooked. Remove the carrots from the saucepan and run under cold water to cool them enough so they can be easily handled.
While the carrots are cooking, mash together the ricotta and feta in a medium-sized bowl. Add the grated zest of the orange and the finely chopped coriander. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Spread the cheese mixture onto each of your four pastry squares or rectangles.
Arrange the carrots on top of the cheese mixture on each of the four pastry squares or rectangles.
Put the tarts into the oven and cook for about 15 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden.
While the tarts are cooking, put the juice of your orange, sugar and balsamic vinegar in a small pan. Cook gently uncovered until the liquid has reduced by half. This will form a glaze for the tarts which will add flavour and also give them an attractive sheen!
When the tarts are cooked, remove them from the oven and paint the glaze over the carrot topping.
The tarts can be eaten either hot or cold. If you are planning to eat them cold, place on a baking rack to cool so that the pastry remains crisp.
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These Candied Blood Orange Slices are a great way of decorating cakes, such as Blood Orange Cake, and puddings. They look attractive – I love the fresh citrus colours – and also taste good and are very easy to make.
You can make these slices with all types of citrus fruits, such as lemon and limes, grapefruits or little kumquats, in addition to oranges.