Baking with Tea – How To Get the Flavor of Tea Into Your Baked Goods
I’m officially hooked on baking with tea. I’m craving baked goods with chamomile, oolong, and chrysanthemum. Why? I learned the trick to getting a vibrant tea flavor in my baking and I’m going to show you how to make tea-infused cakes and cookies and other desserts with one simple trick.
I’ve tried baking with tea before, but I couldn’t get the tea flavor to come through strongly enough. I’ve tried:
- Grinding tea and putting it directly in the batter. This doesn’t release the tea flavor and people don’t like finding leaf bits in their cupcakes.
- Steeping the tea in milk and using the tea-infused milk. I imagine that this could work, but not all recipes contain milk – and if they do, it’s not always enough to strongly affect the cupcake flavor.
- Steeping tea bags in butter. The butter boiled, the flavor never changed, and the tea bags disintegrated. People like pieces of tea bag in their cupcake far less than they like leaves.
So what’s the best way to bake with tea?
I learned the secret to tea-infused baked goods from a now-defunct blog post by Robert Wemischner (author of Cooking with Tea [paid link] and The Dessert Architect [paid link]) on T Ching (I love the name!). The trick is…
…unsalted butter and…
…strong, loose tea.
Using the two, you can make a tea-infused butter to use in your recipe – any recipe – in place of plain butter!
Using Tea to Color Your Desserts
If you are using an herbal tea with a color, such as hibiscus tea, you can use this method to naturally color your baked goods and frostings.
Note: Be sure to stir the butter well to evenly distribute the color.
How To Get the Flavor of Tea Into Your Baked Goods
What you'll need for tea infused butter
- Slightly more butter than your recipe calls for. When you make the tea-infused butter some of the butter will get stuck on the tea leaves and you'll end up with less usable butter than you started with. How much more butter should you use? You'll have to experiment. It will vary depending on the type of tea that you use and how good you are at pressing the butter out of the wet tea leaves. I found that I needed 1 cup of butter to end up with 3/4 cup of butter.
- 2 grams or approximately 1 1/2 teaspoons of whole-leaf tea per tablespoon of butter. As Robert says, "The key to flavor is freshness so be sure that you are using only tea that is highly aromatic and butter that has no off aromas or flavors."
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter until just liquid.
- Add the tea leaves.
- Continue heating the mixture for about 5 minutes on low heat.
- Remove from the heat and allow to stand for another 5 minutes or until the butter is discernibly tinted by the tea leaves.
- Pour the mixture through a fine sieve, pressing hard on the tea leaves and then discarding them. This is the part where you will undoubtedly end up with some butter that you can't get off of the leaves. I encourage you to press as hard as you can, but not to obsess about lost butter - it's for a good cause.
- Let the butter come to room temperature and then use it as you would regular butter in your baked goods.
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