Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Magic Tea Cake: Mastering Floral Flavors in Pastry

A master dough allows a baker to use one pastry formula to support a variety of flavors, allowing experts and novices to experiment comfortably in the kitchen. The master dough for Magic Tea Cake (technically a "quick bread") was developed to complement floral flavors that are attractive to bakers, but difficult to execute without producing results that are perceived as “perfumey” on the tongue.

The secret to balancing floral flavors is the use of infused sugars. If you've ever made vanilla sugar you're already experienced with this technique. Glass Petal Smoke has developed three flavor formulas for Magic Tea Cake; Blueberry Lavender, Strawberry Rose and Almond Osmanthus. Infused sugars should be prepared at least one week in advance and allowed to sit undisturbed in a well-sealed glass jar. They are terrific in pastry and can also be used as a finishing ingredient in a variety of applications. 

Magic Tea Cake
Recipe by Michelle Krell Kydd
(Serves 9-12)
Ingredients for the Master Dough:
·      2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
·      ¼ cup golden flaxseed meal
·      1 cup raw cane or turbinado sugar (or custom flavored sugar made with ½ cup sugar and specified measurement of floral ingredients)
·      1 ½ teaspoons baking powder (non-aluminum)
·      ¼ teaspoon baking soda
·      ½ teaspoon sea salt (non-iodized)
·      1 cup low-fat, low sodium buttermilk (room temperature)
·      2 large eggs (slightly beaten, room temperature)
·      ⅓ cup sweet unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
·      1 teaspoon Penzeys® Double Vanilla Extract (or specified extract for custom flavor)
*Reduced sugar by ½ cup if adding 3 to 4 ounces of dried fruit of your choice.

Instructions for Making Infused Sugar:
·      Layer sugar and flowers in a mini food processor.
·      Grind ingredients together making sure that the sugar remains crystallized (over-grinding produces a powder). The result should be sugar evenly tinged with the color of the flowers.
·      Store in a cool, dark place until ready to use.

Ingredients for Floral Flavored Sugars (omit vanilla and sugar in the master dough recipe and add the following):
Strawberry Rose:
·      ½ cup raw cane (or turbinado) sugar
·      ½ cup dried red rose petals (culinary grade, ground to medium texture)
·      1 tablespoon Tahitian vanilla extract (must be Tahitian)
·      2 teaspoons rosewater
·      2 teaspoons McCormick® Strawberry Extract
·      4 ounces dried strawberries (chopped)

Almond Osmanthus:
·      ½ cup raw cane (or turbinado) sugar
·      ½ cup dried Osmanthus flowers
·      1 tablespoon almond extract
·      3 ounces golden raisins

Blueberry Lavender:
·      ½ cup raw cane (or turbinado) sugar
·      1 tablespoon plus1 teaspoon of lavender (culinary grade, ground to medium texture)
·      1 tablespoon almond extract
·      3 ounces dried blueberries

·      Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
·      Grease one 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan (or three 5.75 x 3 inch loaf pans) with cooking spray.
·      In a large bowl sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add infused sugar and flaxseed meal, blending well.
·      In a medium-size bowl, mix eggs, melted butter and extract/flavored waters. Add buttermilk and incorporate. If using dried fruit, add it to the wet mixture.
·      Make a well in the center of the bowl with the dry ingredients and add wet ones. Combine wet and dry ingredients together, folding gently with a silicone spatula. Be careful not to over mix.
·      Pour batter into prepared pans and spread evenly. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes (30 to 35 minutes for smaller loads), or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
·      Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and place on a wire rack to continue cooling.
·      Refrigerate or freeze for future use. The large loaf yields 10 to 12 slices, the smaller loaf yields 5 to 6 slices.

Culinary lavender and double strength vanilla can be purchased online from Penzeys®.

Culinary red rose petals and rosewater are available at Kalustyan’s.

Tahitian Vanilla Extract is available from The Spice House. You can also make your own using the recipe in this post.

Dried osmanthus flowers are available online from Tea Spring. The quality is superb and any flowers not used for baking can be infused with green tea for a delicious drink. Tea Spring ships directly from China so it is best to order a few weeks in advance.

Photos of Blueberry Lavender Tea Cake and Trio of Rose, Osmanthus and Lavender by Michelle Krell Kydd.