Growing up we had tea for every occasion.
There was the mint tea my Brazilian grandmother used to make us, plucking leaves from the teensy mint plants that grew underneath the heavy, drooping white flowers of the lady of the night plant that hung over her backyard. She let us add as much sugar as we wanted to and my mom would shake her head as sugar cascaded infinitely into the rough brown ceramic mugs. There was also the lemon balm tea my nanny would make us when we woke up in the middle of the night from a nightmare. We would drink it in the kitchen, in Minnie Mouse pajamas and bare feet, as she reassured us that werewolves (and vampires and chupacabras) weren’t real. There was the jasmine tea we always drank when we out to lunch with my Chinese grandparents every Sunday. My grandmother would closely inspect the restaurant’s plastic tea cups with the well-worn pastel pink and blue flower decals for cleanliness, then instruct us to wipe them again with our napkins “just in case”. I would scrunch up my face at the unsweetened tea but then drink it anyways as we waited for orders of dumplings and lion’s head meatballs to fill our table.
This might be a given at this point, but I have always been a tea person. There are so many kinds of tea, how can you not find one kind you like? So when I started finding recipes that used earl grey tea (in cake), chai (in affogato), jasmine (in pancakes) and matcha (in babka) you can imagine how smitten I was. Chamomile tea doesn’t have as much as a strong memory for me although I have used chamomile shampoo my entire life, starting out with Johnson & Johnson’s Chamomile ‘No More Tears’ Shampoo and now graduating to Klorane. Although if someone knows of a great sulfate free chamomile shampoo please tell me! If you have light brown or blonde hair chamomile naturally highlights your hair and smells quite nice to boot. And if you add it to a whole wheat kamut poundcake with brown butter it adds a lovely delicate floral taste. And smells quite nice to boot.
Chamomile Kamut Pound Cake
Makes 1 loaf
- 1/3 cup of water
- 3 teabags of chamomile tea (or three tablespoons of chamomile flowers)
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup of kamut flour
- 3/4 cup of brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Heat the water to a boil and then add the hot water to the chamomile tea and let infuse for 5 minutes.
Turn on the oven and preheat to 350 F. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.
- Remove the tea bags (or strain the chamomile flowers) and let the tea cool to room temperature.
Once cooled, add the chamomile tea, eggs and vanilla in a bowl. Whisk to combine.
- In another bowl sift the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt.
- Cut the softened butter into chunks and incorporate into the flour mixture – note I browned half the butter (5 tablespoons) and its not absolutely necessary but I recommend it. See here for step-by-step browning instructions. Note if you do choose to brown half the butter, add the melted brown butter to the liquid egg mixture.
- Once the softened butter is incorporated into the flour mixture, add in half of the liquid egg mixture. Beat on low speed with a hand-held mixer just until the dry ingredients are moistened.
Increase the speed to high and beat for 1 minute only. Scrape the sides of the bowl.
- Add half of the remaining liquid egg mixture and beat for 20 seconds. Scrape the bowl. Add the rest of the liquids and beat for 20 seconds.
- Pour the batter into the loaf pan.
- Bake until a wooden skewer or toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about an hour or so. Tent with foil if it appears to be browning too fast.
- Let cool completely. Best served warm from the oven but like all pound cakes tastes best the day after.
Recipe and very precise mixing instructions adapted from Alice Medrich’s Kamut Pound Cake
Plain pound cakes can be immensely satisfying – one of my go-to’s was always Nigella’s Madeira Cake. They are perfect eaten plain hot from the oven, topped with jam and butter or toasted with a side of tea. This has the same comforting flavor of vanilla pound cake but with rich nuttiness from the whole wheat flour, kamut and browned butter as well as a perfume-y floral edge from the vanilla and chamomile.
Oh and although my preferred method of eating chocolate pound cake is cold out of the fridge with cream cheese for this guy it was best warm out of the oven topped with creamy cold full fat Greek yogurt swirled with honey.
P.S. Don’t be like me and try to make your own kamut flour. It takes forever and you will go half deaf with how long you have to leave the food processor going. It costs $4 dollars and besides Amazon I’ve seen it Sprouts, Whole Foods and other natural food stores.