A great cake infused with Greek flavour
Although we enjoy it year round, the winter months are when we really appreciate a nice warm cup of Greek mountain tea or τσάι του βουνού (tsai tou vounou). This lovely tea made with a genus of flowering plants called Sideritis is sometimes referred to as ironwort or shepherd’s tea. It is identified by little yellow flowers, silver tinged leaves and light green buds and is usually sold in Greek markets in dried branches or stems.
Our love of mountain tea runs so deep that we decided to get creative with it. The result is this mountain tea infused cake, soaked with a mountain tea syrup, which is then topped with a mountain tea glaze. The mountain tea flavour is obvious, but not overpowering. The texture of the cake is moist and lovely and the glaze adds a perfect extra sweetness. All in all, we’re convinced that if you are a lover of mountain tea, this cake might be your new favourite dessert. So go ahead, bake the cake. And then we’ll let you guess what we would suggest you drink while enjoying a slice.
There is mountain tea in all aspects of this recipe, the cake itself, the syrup and the glaze. The easiest way to proceed is to brew your tea and to then use this to complete the various components of the recipe, as indicated. We first posted about Mountain tea over two years ago; you can visit that post by clicking here.
If you are like us and forget to soften your butter before baking, you can take your cold butter and grate it using a box grater (the way you would if you were grating cheese for a pizza for example). This solves the too hard and cold butter dilemma.
In order to be sure that the mountain tea is evenly distributed and infused in the cake, it is important to poke several holes into your baked cake as soon as it comes out of the oven. A wooden skewer, like a souvlaki stick, works perfectly for this. A toothpick will not pierce the cake deeply enough and so the syrup will not soak to the bottom of the cake.
Greek mountain tea cake
- Loaf pan ( 8 1/2 X 4 1/2 inches)
For the syrup:
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
- 1/3 cup (80 mL) strong brewed Greek mountain tea
- 3 inch piece of lemon peel
For the cake:
- 3/4 cup (180 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated white sugar
- 1 tbsp grated lemon zest
- 3 eggs
- 2 1/4 cups (330 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) milk
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) strongly brewed Greek mountain tea
For the glaze:
- 3/4 cup (96 grams) icing sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp strongly brewed Greek mountain tea
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Every component of this cake requires a certain amount of Greek mountain tea, the more strongly brewed, the more pronounced the tea taste will be in your finished dessert. Begin by brewing the tea, using a total of 1 cup of water and approximately 1/2 cups worth of mountain tea flowers and sprigs. Combine the water and the mountain tea in a sauce pot, bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 5 minute, covered. Remove from the heat and use this tea for your syrup, your cake and the glaze.
- Begin by making your syrup. In a small sauce pot, combine 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/3 cup of the tea and the lemon zest. Add a few more sprigs of mountain tea to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until the sugar melts. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Next, prepare your cake. In the bowl of your stand mixer combine the butter and the granulated sugar. Beat for 3 – 5 minutes until well combined. Add the lemon zest and the eggs. Mix well for an additional 3 – 5 minutes until it’s a pale yellow colour and smooth.
- In a small bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add 1/2 of this to the mixing bowl which contains the eggs, butter, sugar and lemon zest. Mix until well combined. Then, pour in the milk. Mix well until combined and then add the rest of the flour mixture. Mix until well combined and then finish by adding in the tea (which should be somewhat cooled). Mix this until well combined, being careful not to over mix your batter.
- Prepare your loaf pan by greasing it with some vegetable oil and lining it with parchment paper. Pour your batter into the loaf pan, spreading it evenly.
- Bake in the middle rack of your oven for approximately 60 minutes. Start to check your cake after 50 minutes; insert a toothpick into the center and your cake is done with the toothpick comes out clean.
- As soon as your cake is done, and while it is still in the pan, use a long skewer (a clean souvlaki stick works great for this) to pierce approximately 12 – 15 holes into the cake, going down as far as you can. Then pour the cooled syrup over the top of the cake; the holes you created allow the syrup to seep into the cake. Allow your cake to cool and reserve the mountain tea sprigs and flowers which cooked along with the syrup.
- When your cake has cooled remove it from the loaf pan and begin to prepare your glaze. In a small bowl whisk together the icing sugar and mountain tea. You should end up with a glaze which is thick but can be poured over the cake. Pour the glaze over the cake and then use the mountain tea sprigs which were cooked in the syrup to decorate the top of the loaf.