Earl Grey Tea Cake

I am a major lover of all things British, from beans on toast to Mr. Bean.  My ethusiasm has recently extended to the upcoming wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, although on that front, my excitement has more to do with Princess Diana than it does Prince William. 

Lady Diana Frances Spencer married Prince Charles on July 29, 1981, and I was born less than 2 weeks later…perfect timing for a childhood of princess-worship.  I used to pore over photos of her in the women’s magazines at my Nana’s house, totally in awe of this glamorous real-life princess with sparkly tiaras and fancy gowns.  She wasn’t a cartoon princess – she was real!

No way was I passing this bottle up when I saw it in a charity shop in Edinburgh in 2003.

As I got older, I especially admired her for her work educating the public on HIV and AIDS in the earlier days of the disease, and for bringing critical and widespread awareness to the plight of those suffering from eating disorders – something she knew about firsthand.

Diana was insecure and never seemed to figure out what she needed to be happy, and I have a soft spot for that kind of loneliness.  I experienced a weird crush of grief when she died.  I was 16 that summer and I was glued to the television for weeks.  It was only last year that I finally threw away the enormous pile of commemorative magazines and newspapers I had saved.

So yes, my friends, I will be cheering on April 29th.  I will be celebrating for my favorite childhood princess, for the history nerd in me that can’t get enough of the ritual and tradition, and of course…for the food.

I am going to attempt to make a few British dishes over the next few weeks.  First up is the very British Earl Grey Tea Cake from “Eating Royally”, the part-cookbook, part-memoir from royal chef Darren McGrady.  A full 3/4 cup of tea leaves is steeped in 1 1/4 cups of boiling water for an hour to get a serious spot of Earl Grey goodness.

This cake proves it’s even more British by also calling for 4 CUPS of raisins.  FOUR.  That is a heck of a lot of raisins.

As a result, the sides look like they were designed by Whack-A-Mole machine.

Add some butter and honey, and you’re ready for a Royal Wedding.  Especially since it starts at 6 AM in New England.  You’re going to need some breakfast with your mimosa, especially if you’re going into work afterwards.

This cake smelled unbelievably good with the Earl Grey bergamot essence mixing with the raisins (the many, many raisins).  It tasted good, too.  The ground almonds enhance the nuttiness from the walnuts, so the whole thing is a fragrant, raisiny, nutty slice of class on a porcelain plate.

Do you care at all about the Royal Wedding?  Were you a Diana fan? 

Have I once again totally isolated my readers?  I hope not!

Pinkies up, everyone!

Earl Grey Tea Cake
Adapted from “Eating Royally: Recipes and Remembrances From A Palace Kitchen” by Darren McGrady

3/4 cup loose Earl Grey tea leaves
1 1/4 cups boiling water
1 stick unsalted butter (8 Tbsp.)
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup ground almonds
4 cups raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

  • Pour the boiling water over the tea leaves in a large bowl and set aside to steep for at least an hour.  Strain the tea and discard the leaves.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a loaf pan with parchment.  Butter the parchment.
  • In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • Fold in the flour and ground almonds.  Then add the raisins and walnuts.
  • Finally, add the tea and mix everything together.
  • Spoon the batter into the prepared pan bake for 1 hour, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.  I tented mine with foil halfway through because it was already quite brown, but not yet done.
  • When done, remove from the oven and cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
  • Serve with butter and honey, or creme fraiche. 

The author says this wonderful scented cake will keep moist for weeks.  Always a handy thing to know…

Print Version

26 thoughts on “Earl Grey Tea Cake

  1. Karis says:

    Although I’m not into the royal wedding, I do find it fascinating to see how Brits are planning their own celebrations. It reminds me of Oscar party prep on a much grander scale! I lived in the UK for 2 years, so I’ve been watching with interest as UK friends post their details on Facebook of dress shopping and party plans for the big day.

    • Aimee says:

      Hi Karis! I think that’s a great description – it’s a party that only rolls around every 30 years or so…that has to be a cause for major celebration. We just don’t have anything like it! I had thought of having an afternoon tea to celebrate it, but it’s on a Friday morning, so I guess I will just go to work and catch the highlights later.

      What part of the UK were you in? I was in Edinburgh for 6 months after college and I miss it constantly. Mostly for the Hob Nobs. 🙂

  2. Karis says:

    Ha, love the Hob Nobs comment 🙂 We lived in Birmingham and loved every minute of it. We visited Edinburgh twice and that wasn’t enough, it’s such a gorgeous area!

    • Aimee says:

      Hi Anne! I am sure that would still work – maybe just smoosh a bunch into a 1 cup measuring cup and use those. The extra 1/4 cup measurement should help make up for the weaker contents. I bet it will still taste delicious!

  3. saVUryandsweet says:

    my coworker and i were just talking about how huge diana’s dress was the other day 🙂 i’m impartial to it all. my mother-in-law LOVES earl grey, i think this would be a nice treat for her, although i think i’m going to ease up on the raisins, perhaps swap in dried cranberries to make it more new englandy. also, she has the same set of orange measuring cups… xoxo

    • Aimee says:

      all hail the tupperware measuring cups! i love my set! 🙂 the amount of raisins in this is obscene – let me know if you ever make it and swap some for cranberries. i bet that would be tasty… and yes, her wedding dress was e-normous. with bows. 😦

  4. Maureen says:

    I laughed out loud at the whack-a-mole reference. Too funny. The bread looks wonderful!

    I was a Diana fan. I loved her style. I watched everything about her after her death. I think I still have the headline page of the Boston Globe from that day.

    • Aimee says:

      maureen, i am so glad to know i am not alone in that! john was pretty amazed when i showed him my collection. amazed meaning “wy on earth do you still have those??”

      i bet if it was larry bird memorabilia he wouldn’t have wondered… 🙂

      • Erin says:

        We had a farewell party for a coworker today and I made this and brought it in… it was hit! Super moist and great with some honey spread on it. I do have to admit I didn’t use all of the raisins… only about a quarter cup vs. 4. I was still happy with the overall nuttiness!

        As for the wedding, all I can say is that the gown was amazing!

  5. Megan says:

    designed by a whack-a-mole machine… love it. It’s a gorgeous-looking cake. Earl Grey is one of my favorite teas.

    I love your passion for Princess Diana’s life… and so interesting that you were born shortly after she became a princess… and also… it sounds like the big 3-0 is coming up. 🙂 Mine is this year as well.

    • Aimee says:

      2011 seems to be the unofficial year the boston food bloggers turn 30! 1981 was certainly a lucky year to be born! 🙂

  6. leashieloo says:

    Oh cry! I just got back from London (I’m also an admitted anglophile) and this post is making me all kinds of wistful! I’m also excited for the royal wedding (though I’m more of a Prince Harry girl, myself).

  7. brita says:

    On April 29, my mother got very nostalgic about watching Charles and Diana’s wedding while holding a two-week-old baby (me). I just found your blog and couldn’t be more excited, as a lifelong Yankee magazine reader, Marblehead native, and current Cambridge resident. I don’t always admit the Marblehead part so freely, but it seems relevant here, especially since I would LOVE for you to do a post about Joe Froggers! (Probably not appropriate for summer, but maybe in the winter? Sassy Radish, who went to school with me in Marblehead for a while, wrote about them last year.)

    Anyway, happy almost-thirtieth…I look forward to hearing how you celebrate.

    • Aimee says:

      Hi Brita! You must be gearing up for your 30th too, right? Any big plans? Glad to hear you can admit to some hometown pride – I grew up in a town I didn’t identify with too much, but as time passes I find I am growing a bit more fond of it.

      Also, I have been wanting to do a post on Joe Froggers!!! SR’s post on them was awesome – I love the cookbook she got the recipe from. It’s all about reinventing classic desserts. Heaven! Thanks for the extra push of inspiration.

  8. Megan says:

    I made this recipe from “Eating Royally” a while ago, but I couldn’t remember how to make it again. (Such a lovely read, wasn’t it?:) Thanks for coming to the rescue! I am making the tea cake today and will be trying to mix cranberries and raisins together…I’ll let you know how it turns out:)

  9. Blog Administrator says:

    I bet dried blueberries would work in this – and it would be a good pair with the citrus notes in the bergamot.

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