Walking through my mother's garden proves to be a constant reminder that Spring is in full swing. Many of her trees are just a few weeks shy of letting me raid them of all their fruits, and her wild flowers seem to be sprouting up in every nook and cranny possible. Last week, I went deep into her garden and found a small shady spot where I was able to take a much needed break. I just sat there for a while, watching all of the humming birds and monarch butterflies enjoy a quick meal all because of my mother's hard work. I appreciate the effort she puts into her garden, I know it's not an easy hobby, but she loves it so much. And let's be honest, I have nothing but support for her since she always lets me walk out the door with an armful of fresh flowers and produce. Just the other day I realized she had some chamomile growing in a corner of her garden. I cut a few blossoms and threw them into some hot water to make some tea, and as the flowers were steeping, I starting dreaming of other ways I could use chamomile. There are so many ways to implement the flavors of tea into a recipe, so after a bit of debating, I decided to infuse the wonderful flavor of chamomile straight into this tea loaf.
So how does one infuse tea into a baked good you might ask? Well, as I was doing a bit of research I came across this blog that broke down the different ways to get the most tea flavor into whatever you are baking. All of Stefani's helpful tips come from Robert Wemischner (author of Cooking with Tea). He tried grinding tea and mixing that directly into the batter, steeping tea bags in hot milk (if recipe called for milk), or simply steeping tea bags in butter. All of these methods didn't work out too well, but what did work, was steeping the actual tea leaves in melted butter, and I couldn't agree more.
Making a infused butter might take an extra step or two, but the result is an utterly fragrant, and delicious tea infused baked treat, like this chamomile tea loaf. Moist on the inside and a little crisp on the outside, this loaf is so good. It's sweet enough to be enjoyed on its own, but I also included a recipe for a minneola & honey whipped cream, which adds even more flavor. I made this loaf the other day and took it to my mom, where we each enjoyed a slice while siting in her garden. It was such a peaceful moment, and I couldn't have been more thankful for it.
On another note I am SO happy to announce that my blog was nominated by Saveur magazine for Best Designed Blog. This nomination is such an honor, and I am so incredibly thankful to be nominated amongst such freaking talented people. Voting ends in 5 days, so if you have time, I would LOVE it if you would cast a vote in my favor. Click here to vote.
Yields 1 9x5 loaf
2 Sticks Unsalted Butter, plus 2 tablespoons
1/3 Cup + 2 Teaspoons Loose Chamomile Tea
3/4 Cup Evaporated Cane Sugar, plus a bit extra for sprinkling
2 Large Eggs
2 3/4 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Table Salt
2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 Cup Milk
1 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla bean paste, or extract
Zest of 1 Lemon
Sliced fruit for garnish, optional
MINNEOLA & HONEY WHIPPED CREAM
1 Cup Heavy Cream
4 Tablespoons Minneola Juice
4 Teaspoons Honey
Equipment: Standing/hand held mixer, 1) 1 9x 5 loaf pan, parchment paper, strainer
Pre-heat oven to 350 F and position rack in the center. Grease and lightly flour pan, tapping out excess. Line loaf pan with a piece of parchment paper, lay the paper across the width of the pan, letting a bit hang over.
In a medium sauce pan melt butter on low heat. Once melted add in chamomile and let steep on very low heat for about 5 minutes (do not let boil). Remove from heat and pour through a fine mesh sieve and into a separate bowl. Check butter to make sure you have 3/4 cup (see note above).
If a bit under simply melt a little more butter until you have 3/4 cup. Place butter in refridgerator to firm up before using.
In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and set aside
In a large bowl beat fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then add vanilla paste, and lemon zest.
In four additions, alternate adding the flour and milk into the butter and egg mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. After the last addition of flour, beat mixture until just combined.
Pour batter into prepared pan and place in the oven to bake fro 40-45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center. Remove from heat and allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes then remove and place on a cooling rack to cool completely.
For the whipped cream, place all ingredients in a bowl and beat until medium peaks form. Once tea loaf has cooled, serve with a dollop of whipped cream, and fresh fruit.