I don’t like to drink normal tea – by ‘normal’ I mean PG Tips, Tetleys, good ol’ Yorkshire, you get the picture – which is a fact my Yorkshire friends have never been able to comprehend. One of my flatmates got me into peppermint tea in my first year at uni though, so I now have an alternative hot drink (aside from hot chocolate which gets pretty calorific if you try and keep up with the tea drinkers) for those awkward moments when someone goes “WHAT?? You don’t like TEA??”
One particular afternoon earlier this week, I was relaxing on the sofa in our living room, eating a bowl of hot, fragrant casserole and reading my book. Ahhh. I am, however, currently wincing my way through Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho for my course, so it wasn’t all quite as cosy as it sounds. I had an sudden urge to bake – in reality probably just an excuse to put my book down, which is saying something for me – so I flicked through my ‘Cake Days’ book and came across a recipe for Earl Grey Tea Cupcakes, with a variation listed at the bottom… the Hummingbird Bakery had triumphed once again! Peppermint Tea Cupcakes were on the menu; the perfect combination of my taste in hot drinks and the available contents of my cupboard.
Not exactly light bedtime reading…
This is a really easy recipe, but also something a bit different. The peppermint flavour is subtle; steep the teabags for as long as you want (30 minutes minimum) but obviously the longer the time the stronger the flavour. You could also experiment with frostings and drizzles. I’ve used a (completely improvised) mint chocolate sauce that sets to a fudgey consistency, but a peppermint or chocolate buttercream would be really nice as well. Similarly, I’m all for tea diversity – go with the original recipe using Earl Grey, or try out fruit and other herbal teas. Make up a frosting to match; for example vanilla would be lovely with the earl grey cakes and decorate with corresponding petals/chocolates/sprigs..it’s all about the flavour-decoration coordination, guys.
- 3 peppermint teabags
- 3tbsp just-boiled water
- 80g butter (unsalted, softened)
- 280g caster sugar
- 240g plain flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder (yes, 1 tablespoon – I know its a lot!)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 200ml milk
- 2 large eggs
Step 1. Put the teabags in a bowl and cover with the boiled water. Leave to brew for 30 minutes or longer.
Step 2. Mix the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and salt (all the dry ingredients) together until the mixture looks like fine sand, or breadcrumbs. This is easier with an electric whisk but persevere by hand; it looks like it won’t ever come together, but it will. Trust your ingredients.
Step 3. Measure out the milk into a jug, then whisk in the eggs. Squeeze all the liquid out of the teabags into the eggs and milk, including any liquid left in the bowl from the steeping. If the tea is strong the mixture goes a nice milky-coffee-beige colour. KEEP THE TEABAGS if you want to make the Hummingbird frosting, which I will write out the recipe for below.
Step 4. Add about two thirds of the milk-egg-tea liquid to the dry ingredients and combine carefully. Add a little more til the batter is smooth, then beat in the last bit to get a lump-free mixture. Hummingbird cake mixture is runnier than normal; don’t panic! They rise beautifully and stay very moist that way.
Step 5. Ladle even amounts of batter into cupcake cases lining a 12 hole muffin or cupcake tin. The mixture will make more than 12 cakes, so if you have two trays, use two, if not, bake them in batches.The cases should be about 2 thirds full before baking to allow the mixture to rise.
Step 6. Bake the cupcakes in the oven at 190C/Gas Mark 5 for 18-20 minutes. Don’t open the door before the first 18 minutes are up! It will more than likely deflate the cakes. They are ready when the tops are golden and springy to the touch. Take them out, leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes or so, then cool completely on a wire rack before decorating.
Getting artistic (i.e. messy) with the chocolate sauce
So my ‘icing’ was something of an experiment – I didn’t have any icing sugar or butter left. Basically, I steeped the peppermint teabags used for the cake mixture in some milk (use fresh one if they split when you squeezed them out; I went through a complicated process of filtering through kitchen towel when this happened to me) for around half an hour again, then melted some dark chocolate, heated the minty milk and mixed the two together to make a glossy chocolate sauce. I’m afraid I have no idea of quantities; measure by eye based on what you think you’ll need. I always make too much icing, I find it goes further than you think. Don’t make the chocolate sauce too runny by adding lots and lots of milk – it won’t set as well. Drizzle over your cupcakes when the sauce is still warm and leave to go gooey. Pretty yummy for an experiment!
Alternatively, here is the recipe for the Hummingbird frosting for these cakes:
- 50ml milk
- 500g icing sugar
- 160g butter (unsalted)
Step 1. Put the peppermint teabags in a bowl with the milk and leave for half an hour to infuse.
Step 2. Whisk the butter and icing sugar together – on a low speed if using an electric mixer – until no lumps of butter are left. Add the milk, again squeezing out all the liquid from the teabags, whilst mixing slowly, then whisk vigorously until the frosting is soft and fluffy.
Step 3. Swirl onto the cupcakes with a palette knife or the back of a teaspoon. Enjoy!
Source: Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days Cookbook, ‘Earl Grey Tea Cupcakes’ (Variations). Thanks for reading 🙂