This is the story of a cake that caught my imagination and wouldn’t let go, even when its first iteration turned out disappointingly dry. Thus can be the struggle of gluten-free baking — you’d like to adapt a recipe to gluten-free, but it’s rarely just a simple swap in flours. If you don’t use a purchased 1:1 gluten-free flour substitute (I don’t) or a homemade blend, getting the flour to starch ratio just right per recipe can involve more than one test. But this story does have a happy ending, in the form of an Earl Grey tea cake that exceeded my expectations and made me glad I didn’t stop at the first attempt!
Inspired by a New York Times recipe, this cake is a simple blend of three gluten-free flours mixed with whole milk plain yogurt and maple sugar. I decided on maple sugar here because I do love maple sugar (and syrup!), and reduced the sugar called for in the original recipe. Whole milk plain yogurt brings moisture to the gluten-free flours, and helps create a tender crumb. This cake baked up unbelievably light and fluffy, and both of my girls said it was “the best” — high praise, since they don’t care about gluten-free or not, less sugar or not.
Sometimes I hesitate to write recipes that call for more than two gluten-free flours, but I think three flours still keeps to my overall philosophy of “simple is best”. And in general minimizing added ingredients is a plus. Another reason I don’t like to use an all-purpose gluten-free mix is because I don’t think a general blend of flours always works flavor-wise in every recipe. It’s a bit more work to tailor flours to a specific recipe but I think it’s well worth it. Anyway, I don’t mind doing the testing!
In this cake, the sweetness of the oat flour is a nice backdrop to the distinctive Earl Grey tea leaves dispersed throughout, the almond flour bolsters the crumb, and a little sweet white rice flour lend enough starch to bring it together. I loved this cake infused with a mandarin orange glaze sweetened just slightly with honey, but I’ve also included instructions for making a honey cream cheese frosting. It’s a homey, wintry, holiday-ish cake perfect for right now.
Til next time — N x
Gluten-Free Earl Grey Tea Cake
This is a solid afternoon cake recipe – if you don’t prefer the taste of Earl Grey, you could leave it out completely, or sub in lemon zest, and do a lemon glaze. Try coconut oil that is solid but not hard in place of the butter if you wish.
1/2 cup/115 grams unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
3/4 cup maple sugar
3/4 cup/90 g almond flour
3/4 cup/90 g gluten-free oat flour
1/2 cup/75 g sweet white rice flour
1 tablespoon loose Earl Grey tea (about 3-4 teabags)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used Siggi’s, which is a thicker yogurt. You could also use Greek yogurt.)
- Grease with butter a medium bundt tin or an 8-inch cake round (and line with parchment).
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, tea, baking powder and salt.
- In large bowl, beat the butter and maple sugar with an electric mixer on medium until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Beat in the flour mixture on low, until just combined, then beat in the yogurt. If you can, let batter rest, covered, for 30 minutes.
- Heat oven to 350 F. Spoon the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top. Place in the oven and bake just until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool for about 15 minutes then tip the cake out onto the rack to cool completely.
- Two frosting options
- For bundt cake: juice of one orange or mandarin orange in a small saucepan, heat over medium heat, stir in one tablespoon of honey until dissolved. Let cool slightly then pour over cooled cake.
- For 8-inch round: place 1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature in a medium bowl with 1/3 package cream cheese, cream together with an electric mixer until combined and fluffy. Add two teaspoons honey or more to taste, beat well to combine. Spread over top of cooled cake.