Spiced tea and lemon bread or like my good buddy Megan calls it, “spiced tea and lemon delight”. It sounds better. So much better. I just really wanted you to know that this is a type of bread (such as banana bread, pumpkin bread, ginger bread, etc.) and thus feel compelled and obliged to include the name “bread” in the title. But you know what it is. Still, I insist. This is a spiced tea and lemon bread.
And just like any quick bread that requires baking time, there is a good 40-50 minutes of waiting time. When I’m home alone, I usually find important things to do during that magical downtime when the ingredients and the oven are working harmoniously to create the glorious final product. You know, important things such as licking bowls, sweeping off crumbs, looking for a toothpick, putting my sore feet over my boy’s lap and then tapping him with my toes (oh, he’s been politely programmed to rub my feet as soon as he feels that gentle tap. It’s kind of an automatic reaction by now).
Well, today I spent that time doing even more essential things because one of my best friends was with me. You know how it goes…when two good friends get together…really important things take place: baking, facebook stalking, slicing cucumbers, applying a facial mask onto face, placing sliced cucumbers onto eyelids, listening to Enya during this “spa time”, chatting about irrelevant/vital topics, relaxing, and of course taking silly pictures of each other with that junk of a facial mask (best known as a homemade concoction of smashed bananas, yogurt, and honey) on our faces. Yes, all of that and more can take place during those special minutes when a quick bread is in the oven…
Oh yeah. It suuuuure can.
* For this recipe I will use the quick bread ratio 2 (flour) : 2 (liquid) : 1 (eggs) : 1 (butter) and play with a few additions and flavor options.
* Yields one 9″ loaf pan *
– The tea will add bitterness while the lemon in the quick bread and in the glaze will add sourness. Sugar (sweet) + Early Grey (bitter) + Lemon juice/Lemon zest (sour) + salt = 4 tastes that will satisfy your palette to the fullest.
– Infusing the milk with tea, cinnamon, and vanilla will add a much more interesting dimension and depth to this recipe as opposed to adding plain milk.
Materials/Ingredients for Quick Bread:
4 oz butter, softened
6 oz sugar
4 oz eggs
1 tsp vanilla
8 oz AP flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 T lemon zest
8 oz milk
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean
About 1/8 C – 1/4 C of earl grey or black tea, loose leaf and wrapped in a coffee filter
(1.5 – 2 tsp finely ground black tea)–> parentheses signifies that this ingredient is optional. However, I believe that after tasting the bread without it, incorporating this ingredient will boost the tea flavor. I shall try it next time! It was still delicious without this ingredient though.
Procedure/Recipe for Quick Bread:
1. Bring milk to a gentle simmer and remove from heat. Infuse milk with cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, and tea for 20-30 minutes. Cover pot with lid during infusion time.
2. Meanwhile, get your mise en place in order.
3. Strain infused milk and reweigh it. Be sure that the liquid still measure 8 oz. (Since infusion causes some of the liquid to be absorbed by the solids, some of the liquid is “gone” and it is important to make up for it by adding more liquid to end up with the original amount of 8 oz). Place liquid in a cup/bowl and onto a scale. Figure out how many ounces has been lost and add half of that portion with freshly squeezed lemon juice and the other half with water that has been infused with the same type of tea. For example, if your liquid now weighs 5 oz, you will add 3 oz to end up with the original amount of 8 oz. So add 1.5 oz of lemon juice and 1.5 oz of brewed tea to the infused milk. (Note: The infusion time should be much less when brewing the small amount of water, about 4 minutes and the same tea that was used to infuse the milk can be used again).
4. Split the vanilla bean in half with a pairing knife and scrape off the seeds. Add vanilla seeds to liquid.
5. Cream butter and sugar together on medium-high speed for about 2-3 minutes until mixture is soft and fluffy.
6. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until they are fully incorporated into the batter.
7. Add vanilla extract.
8. Sift dry ingredients (flour, salt, and baking powder) and add lemon zest to sifted ingredients. Stir to combine.
9. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Incorporate dry ingredients and infused milk to mixture, alternating between the two and starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
10. Pour batter into a 9″ loaf pan 3/4 full and bake at 350 F for about 45-50 minutes, until a tooth pick that has been inserted in the center comes out clean.
11. Allow bread to rest for about 5 minutes. Turn the bread out onto a rack to finish cooling.
12. Pour lemon glaze all over spiced tea & lemon bread with a tray placed underneath to catch the drips. You may recollect the glaze at the bottom and re-pour it over bread…Extra yumminess if you ask me.
Materials/Ingredients for Lemon Glaze:
3/4 C 10x sugar
4 T lemon juice
2 T water
1 1/2 tsp lemon zest
Procedure/Recipe for Lemon Glaze:
1. Combine the lemon juice, water, and sugar in a bowl. Stir well to combine.
2. Stir in lemon zest.
3. Taste glaze to check the sweet-sour balance and consistency. Adjust as necessary.
– All four tastes (sweet, sour, bitter, salt) came out very distinctively.
– The bread was very tender and it looked pretty with the tiny black specks of vanilla.
– The bitterness of the tea definitely came through, but it was not overpowering. The bitterness was well-balanced by the other flavors. (The degree of bitterness that is achieved depends on the amount of infusion time. The longer the tea is infused into the milk, the more bitter it will be. If yours comes out too bitter, decrease the infusion time. This involves experimentation and a bit of trial and error).
– On that note, I wish that the flavor of tea was actually more prominent. I think next time I will finely grind the dried tea leaves in a spice grinder and add it to the batter. I need to actually get a spice grinder before that can happen….Oh! But I do have a mortar and pestle that I can use for grinding!
– The lemon glaze complemented the tea-flavored bread very nicely while creating a sharp, sweet, and citrusy bang!
Results/Conclusion: This is one of those recipes that I will make countless times, not only because of its simplicity and attainability, but also because of how delicious it is!!