I've been feeling uninspired lately. It just happens sometimes. When you bake as often as I do, you're bound to have phases where you can't come up with a recipe idea that sounds interesting or exciting. It's best not to force it. It's not the time for crazy rainbow cakes or salted caramel brownie oreo-stuffed peanut butter s'mores concoctions. When these moments occur I always go back to the basics. I think about what I enjoy baking and what I feel like eating.
For anyone who's read my blog for long enough, it should come as no surprise that I ended up using black tea in these cupcakes. I am a big tea fan. I come from a family of tea drinkers and I married into a family of tea drinkers. I've used Earl Grey and Jasmine tea in desserts before, but this time I just wanted to use some good ol' black tea. The milk for these cupcakes was infused with black tea leaves, and I mixed some of tea leaves straight into the cupcake batter to ensure that you get a strong hit of tea flavour when you bite into it. I topped them with a super tangy lemon icing on top, making these cupcakes taste a bit like ice lemon tea.
I baked half of these in my silicone tea cup cases, I couldn't resist the novelty of it. The rest I baked in plain paper cases but then presented them in my favourite china tea cups. They looked so adorable, I think they would make a great dessert or afternoon tea treat, served with little dessert spoons or forks to eat them straight out of the tea cups.
The important thing to remember is to make sure you don't over-bake the cakes. Because I based it on a muffin recipe the dry to wet ingredients ratio might be a little high for a cupcake, but I took them out as soon as a skewer inserted into the centre came out clean and they were super soft and fluffy. But if you find they are on the dry side then you might need to reduce the flour amounts a bit. I also added a tiny bit of honey to the batter to temper any bitterness that might come through from the tea leaves. You can't go wrong with honey, lemon and tea.
Black Tea Cupcakes with Lemon Icing
(adapted from this Earl Grey Muffin Recipe)
3 black tea bags (or about 3 tsp loose tea leaves)
250ml (1 cup) milk
155g (3/4 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
125g (1 stick plus about 1 tbsp) butter, softened
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tbsp honey
350g (about 2 1/2 cups) self-raising flour
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F) and line a 12-hole cupcake tin with cupcake papers (or you can use these silicone tea cupcake moulds). Empty the tea leaves into a small saucepan with the milk and warm until it is nearly boiling, whisking reguarly. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. At this point you can strain out all the leaves, I kept about half the leaves in the mixture to ensure a strong tea flavour in the final cupcake. Place butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high until light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until well combined. With the mixer on low, add honey, followed by 1/3 of the flour. Then add 1/2 the milk mixture, another 1/3 of the flour, then the remaining milk and flour and gently mix until just smooth. Spoon mixture into the cupcake liners, filling them about 2/3 full and bake for 15-20 minutes or until they start to turn golden and a skewer inserted into the centre of a cupcake comes out clean. Try your best not to over-bake them as it will dry them out. Cool in tin for 5 minutes then remove and cool on a wire rack completely
For the icing:
250g (about 2 1/4 sticks) butter, softened
500g (about 4 cups) icing/confectioner's sugar, sifted
3-4 tbsp lemon juice (about 1 lemon), adjusted to taste
Place butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy. Gradually add icing sugar and lemon juice, then beat on high until smooth, fluffy and pale. Place in a piping bag with a star tip and pipe over cooled cupcakes. Serve as is or in tea cups with dessert spoons or forks. Can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for several days, serve at room temperature.