There's something so sweet and homey about a simple loaf. Hardy and adaptable, it can be wrapped in plastic and kept for days, or dressed up like it is here, with a spoonful of confit and some cream. This version, from Paris Pastry Club employs Earl Grey tea along with several sorts of citrus to create the finished product. It's lovely with coffee or, of course, tea. Make this on a Friday night before a long weekend, and you'll have something to look forward to every time you cut a slice.
Why this recipe works:
Tips: There's a step in the recipe that calls for softened butter to be piped across the unbaked loaf. That technique is what forms a crack on the top of the loaf. If that's not the look you're after, skip it, but remember that cracks only serve to hold more cream.
Tweaks: Yes, neither clementines nor bergamot oranges are in season, nor are they readily available. But substituting two standard mild, sweet oranges makes a fine confit. Or skip the process altogether for some tangerine or kumquat marmalade, which is easier to take along on weekend adventures, anyway.
- The tea in this little loaf is assertive yet subtle, which makes citrus its perfect complement. That said, you can always skip making the confit for a generous slather of marmalade.
- When using the tea, there's no messy steeping and straining required. Just blitz the leaves with caster sugar until powdery, and whisk with the eggs. It seems like a small step, but it's a welcome shortcut.
Excerpted from Paris Pastry Club by Fanny Zannotti (Hardie Grant). Copyright (c)2014 . Photographs by Helen Cathcart.
- Yield:Makes 1 large loaf cake
- Active time: 25 minutes
- Total time:55 minutes
- For the cake
- 1 tablespoon Earl Grey tea leaves
- 250 g (9 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
- 4 eggs
- 200 g (7 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
- zest from 1 bergamot orange (optional)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 150 g (5 oz) crème fraiche
- 50 g (1 3/4 oz) butter, melted
- softened butter, extra for piping
- For the confit
- 350 g (12 oz) clementines, around 3–4 fruits
- 200 g (7 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
- 1/2 vanilla pod, with its seeds
- 150 g (5 oz) water
- 20 g (3/4 oz) cornflour (cornstarch), diluted in 40 g (1 1/2 oz) cold water
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Butter and flour a large loaf tin.
Finely blend the loose Earl Grey tea leaves with around 50 g (2 oz) of the caster sugar until powdery. Place in a bowl along with the eggs and the remaining caster sugar and whisk for around 4 minutes, until light in color. Mix the flour, bergamot zest (if using) and baking powder in another bowl.
Fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture, then pour a little of this into the crème fraîche and melted butter in a separate bowl and mix well. Transfer back to the main batter mix and fold in gently using a spatula. Pour into the prepared tin.
Put the extra softened butter into a piping bag and cut a very small hole, around 4 mm (.5 in) wide, then pipe a line of the butter across the cake. Bake for 5 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 170°C (340°F) for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature again to 160°C (320°F) and bake for a further 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack for 10–20 minutes, then turn out and set aside. If you’re not planning to eat it right away, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to 4 days.
While the cake is cooling make the clémentine confit. Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Plunge in the clémentines and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove the fruit with a slotted spoon and pop them into a bowl of ice-cold water. Repeat, using fresh water, then chill the clémentines until they are cold enough to handle.
Slice very finely and add to a saucepan with the sugar, vanilla pod, and seeds and water. Simmer for 30 minutes or until reduced and almost candied. Then vigorously fold in the cornflour mixture. Allow to boil for a couple of minutes, then transfer to a bowl. Chill until needed. Serve slices of the cake topped with a spoonful of clémentine confit and a dollop of crème fraîche.