Frustrations and Tea Cakes

I really wanted to call this post frustrations and fruitcakes because it sounded better,
but it would have been false advertising, plus fruitcake are both unpopular and out of season.
While reading my friend's blog this morning I realized that bad days are universal.  No matter what you do for a living, you are bound to have one of those days that just levels you.  You get to work ready to take on whatever you are supposed to face that day and then you are steered into one too many wrong directions and you realize that you would have been better off sleeping through till the next day.  Monday was one of those days for me.  One aggravating situation after another turned the day into my own personal version of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. By 6:00 PM I was out the door, looking forward to a run to blow off some steam.  I was exhausted but figured that my day would probably benefit more from a run than an evening on my couch with my TV and Campari and soda, so off I went.  The weather was perfect and my run took me on a short tour around the monuments.
I am lucky live in a city where a short run means being able to take see such fabulous views.
As I turned onto P street I slowed down and did something I swore I would never do.  I walked into Whole Foods covered in a post run sweat.  I can't tell you how many times I've been waiting in line at Whole Foods and someone has stood behind me to check out smelling like the workout they just had.  This is probably because there is an absurd number of yoga studios and gyms within a 2 block radius of the store, but still.  Do you really not have time to shower before you shop for your dinner?  Embarrassed that I used to judge the person I had just become, I walked into the store to find something to cook.
A friend who tasted my mango sorbet suggested I try to make a pina colada version.  I picked up some pineapple and coconut milk and decided to give it a try.  After looking up a few recipes I decided to combine one from Holy Cannoli and one from a random Google search.  While the recipe mash up wasn't a great success, the work frustration that the run didn't get rid of was quickly squashed by chopping and pureeing an entire pineapple.  While the mixture that was to become a sorbet failure was chilling in the refrigerator, I decided to bake a cake.
Like I said, I had a really bad day and had to work it off.
A while ago I had the idea of making a poundcake and infusing it with Earl Grey tea scented simple syrup.  What better time than that night to try it?
Early Grey Pound Cake
Adapted from a recipe found on Piece of Cake
3 cups cake flour, spooned and leveled ( I used regular flour)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups sugar
6 eggs
1 cup sour cream (I used 2% milk because that's all I had in the fridge)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.  In a mixer blend the butter and sugar until completely incorporated.  Slowly add the eggs, one at a time.  Add the milk and vanilla to the mixer until completely blended.  Add half the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until well mixed in, and then add the other half. Pour into 2 buttered and floured loaf pans and bake for about 90 minutes.
It's a pretty standard pound cake recipe. What makes this cake a little different and a lot tastier is the early grey simple syrup.
I love tea.  I drink a lot of it during the winter.  Less so once it warms up.  My sister introduced me to a tea shop in Pike Place Market in Seattle where she lives and I bought a few different kinds just to try.  My friend gave me some pretty intense Earl Grey tea not long ago so I used it for this recipe.  Along with tea, I also bought little bags at Market Spice to make my own tea bags.  They are perfect if you have loose tea and just want to make a little bit of tea.
1/2 cup of confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tbs of earl grey tea leaves.
Put the sugar and water in a sauce pan and stir over medium heat until the sugar has completely dissolved.  Place the earl grey teabag in the syrup and let it steep over low heat for as long as you feel necessary.
I left mine in for a good half hour because I wanted it to be as flavorful as possible.  I ended up adding a little water because the syrup became too thick.
It should turn brown, like tea does.
This is where experimenting doesn't always work.  I poured my early grey syrup onto the two cakes right after they were removed from the oven.
I poked a few holes in the cakes and then poured it right on.  Looking back I would have waited about 20 minutes for the cakes to cool, removed them from the pans and then poured the syrup on them.  The syrup make the cakes stick to the bottom and the sides a bit which made it harder to remove them from the pans.  Live and learn.  If you aren't too concerned about esthetics, the cakes were great.
The syrup seeped into the cake and livened up the otherwise banal pound cake with the unmistakable floral tones of Earl Grey tea.  The sweet glaze finish wasn't bad either.


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