breakfast milk tea & honey pound cake

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I’m going to push my opinion-quota by saying that the US is the least tea-cultured among the other places I’ve lived in (Taiwan, Vancouver, Hong Kong… Beijing).  Americans aren’t particularly keen on tea, evidently as some may now defensively refer to Snapple’s along this line as a clownish counter-argument, and now… they shall stand to be mocked by public (no, it’s too late to take it back).

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It’s their loss because just like coffee or chocolate, tea is a great agent that brings aroma and flavor to any pastries (or even savory dishes).  An ordinary pound/loaf cake can be brought to a unique territory fused with a slightly bitter refreshment by a heavy dosage of say… black tea leaves (aka Irish breakfast tea/Assam black tea/etc), a common Indian variety that…  ….Al’right, you know what.  I don’t wanna talk today really…  The afternoon I baked this cake was followed by a night of nightmares-realized.  My oldest 13-years-old dog, Dumpling was practically diagnosed with something incurable-by-China-standard.  So no.  I can’t talk right now.  I’m going to leave you the recipe of this wonderful cake with a best pitch saying “double shot of caffeine for breakfast YAY!!”.  …Yah, that’s the most cheer I can pull off right now, at least not without a couple days of coping.  Sorry guys.  But this cake is really good.  Make it.

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UPDATES:  09/26/2013.  Due to some reader’s comment on the batter being too runny, and request for the recipe in metric, I’ve finally tested the recipe again myself and weighted everything (well… almost).  In terms of the runny batter-issue, thanks Elaine for pointing out that it might have been the black tea-milk being too warm and therefore melting the butter, resulting in a very runny batter.  My recipe said to wait for the milk to “cool down to room-temperature”, but when in doubt, chill it in the fridge until it’s COLD.  It’s much faster than leaving it on the counter to cool, PLUS… better safe than sorry.

Ingredients: derived from Martha stewart’s coconut-buttermilk pound cake

  • 3 heaping tbsp (12 g) of black tea/Irish breakfast tea/Assam tea leaves
  • 1 cup (207 grams) of whole milk
  • 1 1/2 stick (170 grams) of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (106 grams) of granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs (not extra large), room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (96 grams) of honey + 3 tbsp
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (270 grams) of cake flour, or all-purpose
  • 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp of fine salt
  • Honey whipped cream:
    • 1/2 cup of heavy cream, cold
    • 2 tbsp of sweetened condensed milk
    • 2 tbsp of honey

Preheat the oven on 350ºF/175ºC.

Grind black tea-leaves in a spice-grinder until coarsely ground (like the consistency of ground coffee for French-press), then add to the milk in a small sauce pot.  If you don’t have a spice-grinder, combine tea-leaves with milk in a blender, and blend to the same consistency.  Bring to a simmer on medium-heat then turn the heat off.  Leave the ground tea-leaves in the milk and let steep while cooling down to room-temperature (NOTE: see update!).

Cream the butter and sugar together with a stand-mixer/hand-held mixer until light and fluffy, approx 3 min.  Add the eggs one at a time and beat it into the creamed butter until the mixture is light and fluffy again, 2 min for each egg.  Then add 1/3 cup of honey and vanilla extract, beat until smoothly combined.

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.  Beat the flour-mixture and the black tea-milk (that’s cooled down to room-temp) alternatively into the creamed butter-mixture, starting and ending with the flour-mixture.  Basically: 1/3 of flour-mixture + 1/2 of black tea-milk + 1/3 of flour-mix + 1/2 of black tea-milk + the last 1/3 of flour-mix.  Mix each step until just smooth and don’t over-work the batter.

Butter the inside of a loaf-pan and dust with flour.  Make sure to tap the pan to release excess flour.  Pour the batter into the pan, and swirl 3 tbsp of honey into the batter with a spoon.  Bake in the oven until golden-brown on top and a wooden skewer comes out clean from the center of the loaf, 50~60 min.

Let the cake cool off slightly.  Meanwhile, whisk heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk and honey together vigorously until soft peaks form.  Chill in the fridge until needed.

Serve the sliced cake with honey whipped cream.  And you know what goes well with this?  A cup of strong black milk tea.

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55 Comments

  • really does the USA not like teas? In Australia we have a shop called T2 which has so many kinds of tea and flavoured sugars. I love this shop.
    Assam bold is my favourite black tea. I find it works well with dried dates and dark chocolate. This is a beautiful loaf, I can not wait to try this on the weekend.

    • Mandy L. says:

      Belinda, in the us tea is more like a sweetened beverage I think. Not as commonly enjoyed un-flavored compared to say, uk or Asia. And mostly ppl there buy tea bags instead of actual tea leaves, which is generally of lesser quality.

      • Lia says:

        That’s probably true in many places – but on the West Coast and New England, at least, there’s just as many proper tea drinkers as anywhere else I’ve visited (and much more so than some Southern European countries). I worked in a cafe where we scooped tea leaves and tied our own tea bags; there’s boutique-y tea stores where you can smell different blends and vintages and so on. That being said, the “black milk tea” bubble tea I’ve been drinking now that I live in England does contain WAY more tea than American bubble tea!

      • Mariah says:

        I think your assessment of Americans and tea is fairly generalized. You have to remember that tea is largely part of the culture in places England and Asia, and coffee is more common in the States. It doesn’t mean one culture is more superior than the other, it’s just a difference in taste and culture. In my experience plenty of Americans enjoy regular teas (tea leaves included). It just depends on a person’s personal preferences. Most Americans aren’t brought up on tea so they wouldn’t necessarily have the refined palette of a culture that was. It’s not a shortcoming, it’s just a different culture. As far as Snapple is concerned… The actual Snapple company may market themselves as “tea”, but Snapple is a pretty dated product. I don’t really know many people who drink it!

        Enough of that. Thanks for the recipe – Looking forward to making it with my black tea leaves. Yep – I’m an American and I have a full stash!

        • Mandy L. says:

          Mariah, again, I didn’t say tea is more superior. It’s just as ridiculous as saying mustard is more superior than ketchup. I like coffee MORE THAN I LIKE TEA.

  • I pretty much live on tea and coffee, so this cake is perfect for me! I love that the milk is steeped in the tea leaves first like a real milk tea, so many (literal) tea cakes just stir the tea leaves in with the dry ingredients. That whipped cream with condensed milk sounds so interesting as well – reminds me of Thai milk tea where condensed milk is used as the sweetener.

    Lovely blog and gorgeous photos, by the way!

  • Rachel says:

    In the southeastern part of the US where I am from tea is served sweet and over ice. It is usually enjoyed at say lunch, dinner or just on hot days. However if you leave the south you will be hard pressed to find sweetened iced tea, it may only come iced or hot. But it is true we don’t usually find whole leaves without paying a lot of money for it but we do have shops even in the south, lol.

    • Mandy L. says:

      Rachel, haha yeah I know about sweetened iced tea which I consider more of a “beverage”. In Aisa there are SO many different types of teas it’s dizzying and most of them cannot be found in tea-bag form. I find whole-leaf tea carries more flavor and depth. But I will say that a sweetened ice tea (instead of hot brewed tea) definitely sound PERFECT in a hot summer day like this one :)

      • Bea says:

        You mean Asia? Please don’t sound so snoby when speaking about the people in the USA being so “low class” when it comes to good things! I have lived in 8 different states of the Union, and I am glad to say wether I have lived in the heart of Dixie or lived in Great Lakes tea is very much appreciated in its true form.

        • Mandy L. says:

          Bea, I try not to argue/jam space on the comment area but I’m lost at where the snobbish-ness come from? I like COFFEE more than tea, and simply said (a fact by the way) that COMPARATIVELY America has LESS tea culture. Have you lived in Asia? It’s a fact.

  • The batter looks amazing. As does the resulting cake itself.

  • Lisa says:

    Oh my this looks so pretty. I will try to bake this yummy after my wedding!

  • Michele says:

    I love going to tea shops here in the north west (Oregon) this pound cake looks amazing! Looking forward to trying it

  • Jeannie says:

    What a beautiful loaf of cake, i love drinking tea and do have a variety of tea at home…would love to try this cake soon! Thanks for sharing.

  • Ginger says:

    I tried this today! I had a problem with it though, if you see this, Mandy, I’m hoping you can help–I followed your instructions pretty much exactly other than baking it in a small convection oven as my regular oven was broken, and using a square pan instead because I couldn’t find a rectangular one.
    It came out looking nice, but after letting it cool I noticed that most of it has sunk quite a bit and after cutting it open, most of the cake’s texture is kind of…gummy…I guess? Gummy and soggy with a really dark color. I put it in for like 60 minutes, and added almost 20 minutes after a toothpick test, so I don’t know how it can still be undercooked, and undercooked so evenly, too. Only the very extreme edges are harder. Would you by any chance know why this is?

    • Ginger says:

      Also, although it came out like that it actually tastes pretty good. I can only imagine how it’d taste if it actually came out properly :(

      • Mandy L. says:

        Ginger, oh boy I’m sorry to hear that! The only thing I would suspect is that the small convection oven created uneven baking since it’s such a small space, where the surface of the batter is so close to the heat source. The gummy/soggy texture, I’m assuming, is due to the fact that the center of the batter wasn’t even cooked yet.

        If you are interested in trying again, I would think that you be having a much bigger success rate reducing the size of the cake. Say, making it into a muffin-size to accomodate the small space (so the ratio of the cake VS the space it’s baked in is more similar to what I did). Good luck! and please let me know if you try it again!

  • Kasey says:

    I happen to be a frequent tea drinker, and live in the United States. I drik tea morning, noon, and night. But I have to agree with you, that the majority of American people don’t give tea it’s due credit. I like both southern-style sweet tea, classic blends of breakfast teas, and almost anything I drink hot, I do not put sugar in.
    I have been a fan of tea since I was a little girl. I just wish people gave tea the adulation it deserves! It is a wonderful drink to both get you out of bed in the morning, and put you to bed at night.

    I am really excited to try this recipe!

  • Gina says:

    I made this loaf and it was delicious! When I was busy making this loaf, I thought you probably wouldn’t be able to taste the honey that much, but you can and it is so good! Brought a loaf to my office and seriously the cake was devoured within 10 minutes!

  • christie f says:

    One of my favorite memories of my youth is having lived in Lowestoft, Suffolk, England for a year whenever I was 12-13 yrs. old. One day, my mother made iced tea, and one of our neighbor’s young sons- a teenager- had a glass for the very first time. He was so pleased with the glass of iced tea, he ran home and told his parents about it, and we took some over to them. They liked it, as far as we could tell. I always liked having hot, sweat tea in the winter time as a child, with sugar added for sweetness. Although I enjoy coffee more than tea, usually, I do still like to have a cup of hot tea sometimes, especially during the colder months. And, I do agree with those saying that tea leaves make a much more flavorful tea. Whenever I was the babysitter for a family from England in Texas, whenever the mom of the family would come home after a workday, she’d visit with me, making us some hot tea. I loved watching her going through the ritual, and really liked her Earl Grey tea. Somehow, it just isn’t the same with tea bags. And, somehow, even when making my own with leaves, it just doesn’t taste as good as her tea did to me. Good memories, those…

  • There’s a strong (and growing)tea culture in NYC and elsewhere in the US like Portland and the SF Bay Area. But I wish good tea was as commonly found as good coffee!

    This cake looks amazing; your photography is brilliant.

  • Jessica says:

    This recipe looks amazing and I cannot wait to try it. On another note, I am from the American South. Most people here do enjoy sweetened ice tea, but there are also many who enjoy tea in the traditional manner. We have tea shops throughout the South that sell many varieties of teas. Snapple is definitely not the preferred tea of most Americans.

  • caron says:

    can’t wait to make this! My parents are from Zimbabwe so we always drank tea. In fact I’m enjoying a hot cup right now. It always makes me laugh when people at work comment on how light my “coffee” is and I have to explain it’s my tea with milk. The looks I get are too funny. Thanks for sharing a yummy recipe

  • Raeann says:

    All these comments raging about tea in the US and none saying that I’m sorry about your dog, and that I hope you can enjoy the time you have left. Take care.

  • Riz says:

    I work for an herb and tea store. I baked two versions this morning–one with Soluna Breakfast Blend, the other with cream Earl Grey–left samples out for the customers and everyone has been raving about this (including the kids, who kept sneaking back for seconds). The scent of the freshly baked loaves on the way in drove me nuts, smelled so good. Only had one issue, and that’s with the baking temperature/time. Setting for 350 left the first cake not baked enough in the center and the top too browned; I increased the temp to 375 for the second one, which cut the time a little and gave an evenly cooked loaf. The high humidity here in Boston right now could be a part of the problem. *shrugs* Whatever–it worked. :-)

    Thanks for an awesome recipe!

    (Also, this was put out ONLY for samples, not for sale, and your website was included on the sign to be sure that proper credit was given.)

  • Teresa says:

    This is the first recipe I read in your blog. I’m delighted. Even though brazilians are big coffee drinkers, I always enjoyed tea. Can’y wait to see if I can find the proper teas to bake this…

    On another note: I failed to see anything snobbish or prejudiced in your post. I guess people read what they want to read… That’s a shame. I loved your writing style, very to the point. And I do wish all the best to your dog, let’s hope he enjoys more happy years!

  • Anna says:

    I am from Virginia on the border of North Carolina. My grandfather was born (1919) and lived in a secluded, rural county. I still cannot find any of his ancestors that were born outside of the U.S…so far I’ve gone back to 1700s. So no recent tea culture brought by recently immigrated ancestors. Though his maternal grandmother’s family was Native American on most records.

    Anyways, he made typical Southern food while I was growing up (collards with fatback or side meat, flat cornbread, succotash). It’s interesting because I don’t think I can recall a day that man did not have at least one to two cups of unsweetened hot tea. I agree, that he may have been more of an exception to the norm. He did live into his nineties.

    I don’t find your post offensive. :}

  • Vashti says:

    this has become my ‘go to’ cake recipe! it is my favorite. Thank you for sharing.

  • Nik says:

    Hi, I tried your recipe today and can’t figure out where I went wrong. For some reason the batter is really loose, like there’s too much liquid in the recipe except I followed the instructions exactly. It’s in the oven at the moment so I’m just going to cross my fingers and see how it comes out.

    • Mandy L. says:

      Nik, that’s bizarre… I haven’t tried this recipe again since this post but some commenters seemed to have success out of it. Let me know how it went. PS, I’m sure you are aware of this but just to make sure, the heavy cream doesn’t go into the cake batter.

      • Riz says:

        Nik, it could be a couple of things (I’ve made this recipes about a dozen or so times). The first time I made it, I realized I needed to set my oven at a higher temperature–I bake this at 375. Also, it could be the size of your loaf pan. If you’re baking in an 8″ loaf pan, you may have a bubble over–I usually bake this in either a 9″ or 10″ pan and put about a cup of the batter in a mini-loaf pan.

        Good luck!

        (BTW, you can also substitute maple syrup for the honey in a pinch.)

  • Elaine says:

    Just put the batter in the oven. Doesn’t bode well. The barrería isn’t like the usual thick butter cake texture but very very runny. Am sure I followed the instructions closely and I am beginning to suspect it is the measuring cup used. Would probably need to try this again sometime soon. Would you be able to give the measurements in metrics instead so that it can be as accurate as possible? Thanks in advance. I really wanted this to work…-_-!

    • Elaine says:

      Oh and suffice to say, there was no swirling of the honey in the end…*heartbroken*

      • Mandy L. says:

        Elaine, sorry to hear that! I will test this recipe again this week and update the metric-ingredients list!

        • Elaine says:

          Thanks, Mandy! Anyhow, the taste still came out good, though slightly rubbery. I believe I have isolated the problem. The moment it started becoming really runny was when I added the milk tea mixture. So I suspect it could be that the milk did not cool for long enough and in the hot and humid climate I am in, it just wasn’t helping. Basically, the temperature of the batter was just too warm by the end of the mixing.

          • Mandy L. says:

            Elaine, the metric is up ;) I tested the cake again and the batter wasn’t runny. I think you were right about the milk being too warm, because I chill the tea-milk in the fridge to help it cool down faster, and it was more “cold” than “room-temperature” when it went into the batter. Hope you have success again with the recipe!

          • Elaine says:

            Ooooh…thanks a big bunch!!!

  • Vicki says:

    I loved this recipe! Thanks so much for sharing :). It’s such a cozy reminder of nice, hot milk tea. And the whipped topping is great!
    Also, it gives quite a caffeine buzz… I made the mistake of making it at night and trying it…

    Note for other bakers: When I tasted the dough before cooking it, I was shocked by how sweet it tasted and thought I had over done it. However it comes out much less sweet once baked, which is good.

  • enas says:

    i have tried the cake twice exactly as per the receipe instructios and i get the same texture in your picture and i put it in 9*5 inch loaf cake but in each time the cake come out uncooked i use 175 degree oven tempreture i was dissapointed i realy want this receipe to sucsses what is the problem i don’t know?

    • ENAS: The only suggestion I can give is bake longer in your oven. I don’t know if our oven’s temperature is exactly the same so if your cake isn’t cooked in 50 min, then bake 10 to 15 min more and see how it works. If the outer surface gets too dark in the prolonged baking time, lower the temperature to 160 and see if that works. I’m so sorry to hear that your cake didn’t turn out expected. I’ve made this a few times and didn’t have a problem with it. Try what I suggested and see.

  • Jasmine says:

    I am American (NY) and I am NOT keen on tea, so you have me pegged perfectly. I’ve tried it sweet, plain, bagged, and loose leaf. None of it floats my boat and it tastes like swill to me. I suppose the only time I have truly enjoyed tea it’s been a green minty type with lots of ice, no sugar, on a sweltering hot day. And that’s about it.

    And that’s what I love about this blog. You share, we share (through commenting) and it should all be okay. I appreciate your opinionated self.

    I have been pinning your posts a ton the last few weeks. Your cooking speaks to me. Thank you so much for sharing. I am going to make an effort to comment more often (I rarely do on anyone’s sites), even if it is at times snarky.

  • David says:

    I couldn’t help, but facepalm at some of the comments on this post. Did these readers not realize the general conceit of your blog (“Home cooking with extreme prejudice”)? They are simply failing to understand that personal experience does not extrapolate to the general population. // I was fortunate enough to spend siginificant time in Haikou City, Hainan Province, China, and learned a great deal about Chinese tea procedures and tea varietals. Needless to say, I was blind, but now I see. // Thank you.

  • Bariza says:

    I made this cake today and the aroma whilst baking was AMAZEBALLS!
    I cooked it at 175ºC. for about 50 minutes and the middle was still not baked.
    Not sure if it was due to the size of my loaf tin OR the batter was too moist.
    But, i definitely chilled the milk tea and left it overnight just to let the flavours stew.
    Will try it again till i get it right!!

    • BARIZA: If your loaf is browning too quickly on the top and not cooked through in the middle, try a lower temperature for a longer baking time. Try it again! This cake is worth it!

  • Amy says:

    I’ve made this once before and it turned out wonderfully, but has anyone ever tried it with Earl Grey tea?

    • Riz says:

      Yes, I’ve made this recipe several times (and have made a few changes for my own tastes).

      I’ve made it with Soluna Breakfast Blend, Earl Grey, Cream Earl Grey, Scottish Caramel Pu-erh, Maple Magic (black tea with maple & did a maple swirl instead of honey), and Monk’s Blend. The verdict: pretty much ANY black tea works really well.
      One caution: if the cake is not consumed within a day or two, the tea can get slightly bitter.

      Just an observation.

      Otherwise, it’s a huge hit.

  • Riz says:

    One other comment, re: unbaked middles. The kind of pan (light vs. dark) and the size of the loaf pan also have a huge impact on how the cake bakes (and, of course, your oven).

    I have found baking it at 375 in a light-colored 9″ loaf pan works best; also, turning the cake 180 degrees half-way through is also helpful. LISTEN TO MANDY about chilling the tea–I put the hot milk tea in the fridge for at least half an hour before incorporating.

    This recipe is excellent–it’s been a huge jumping off point for my experiments with baking with tea.

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