inspired and adapted from wearetea.com.
I have always sat on the fence with chamomile tea; whilst the flavour is pleasant, as is the aroma that wafts from the hot, comforting cup, to drink it in watery liquid form I have always found wanting, and each time my cup would be discarded three-quarters full, left to turn lukewarm on the side. Despite this, chamomile should not be dismissed. It’s name derived from the Greek “chamai melon,” which means “ground apple,” the dried flower has a deliciously sweet, crisp flavour which at the same time holds deep, soft warmth – an ultimately comforting flavour and scent renowned for it’s sleep-inducing properties. To me, this kind of flavour is not best matched to a watery infusion in a cup, but rather in slightly more solid yet soft form. Hence this recipe. Whilst the flavour is subtle and delicate – as it should be to avoid bitterness – it is the perfect embellishment to the creamy butteriness of a moist cake. Paired with a salted honey buttercream to cut through the wonderfully sickly sweetness, I find this loaf a far more satisfactory vehicle for the sweet dried flower, which, to me, works better on a plate than in a cup.
190g plain flour
3 tablespoons chamomile tea, loose leaf or from bags
190g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
0.5 teaspoon salt
1 heaped tablespoon greek yoghurt or soured cream
for the buttercream:
60g salted butter (soft)
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons whole milk
250g icing sugar
0.25 teaspoon sea salt
Grease and line a loaf tin. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C.
In a small pan, melt the butter. Add the chamomile, bring to a simmer for 1 minute and then take off the heat. Let infuse for 10 minutes.
Using a fine sieve, strain the chamomile from the butter, squeezing out all the flavoured butter from the soaked flowers.
In a large bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the infused butter with the sugar. Gradually add the eggs, vanilla and yoghurt.
Mix the flour with the baking powder and salt, and gradually add this to the wet mix. Beat well until combined.
Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove from tin and let cool completely.
While cooling, make the buttercream. Beat the butter with the honey and salt. Slowly add the milk and beat well before gradually adding in the icing sugar. Mix well until combined. Refrigerate until cake is cool.
When the cake is cooled, use a sharp serated bread knife to cut it in half through the side, creating a top and bottom layer. Spread half of the buttercream on the bottom layer, top with the other half and spread the rest over the top. With any buttercream that falls down the sides, use a wet knife or silicone spatula to smooth it around the entire cake to create a “naked” effect. Decorate with seeds or chamomile flowers, if you have them.