Orange Tea Cakes

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I love the idea of sitting down for tea. You know what I’m talking about – sunny Sunday afternoons, a white table on a lawn, buttered scones and crumpets, a butler in coat-tails and possibly an English castle in the background. When I cannot recreate this scenario, however (which is surprisingly often), I like to pick up/make foods that are associated with tea-time. Scones (which I’ve attempted earlier) are one of my favorites but tea cakes come a close second.

The USP of tea food, I think, is that it’s sweet and pleasant but not too rich. Meaning, you can eat a lot of it and not sit in a dull, sugar-induced haze after. These tea cakes fit the bill perfectly – they’re spongy (no denseness at all, here), have citrus undertones, a dash of sweetness and a little crunch. They’re the sort of cakes you’d pile on a platter and eat (in one shot) while downing a pot of spiced tea.

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Each cake is made with light batter that fluffs up into a little cloud of sugar and butter while baking. They’re flavored with spoonfuls of orange rind and a hefty slug of juice, for a sweet finish. They are then covered with a little vanilla-orange glaze, before being topped with crushed walnut. The result is a fun combination of sugary, fruity and nutty flavors, which would make it both a kiddie and adult favorite.

Orange Tea Cakes

2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp vanilla

1/2 cup orange juice

1 tbsp orange rind, crushed

2 eggs

Cream together the butter and sugar for around three minutes. Break the eggs in, one at a time, and beat until everything is well incorporated.

Powder the sugar and then sift the flour, sugar and baking powder into a large bowl.

Stir the vanilla and orange rind into the orange juice.

Pour the flour and vanilla mixtures into the butter-sugar-egg mixture in batches, beating at the lowest setting until it’s all combined. The final batter will be thick and shiny, with the slightest tint of orange.

Grease a cupcake tray and pour in the batter (this much batter will make around 20 cupcakes).

Bake at 170 C for 15 minutes. It might take a little longer, depending on the size of your cupcake tray, so check with a toothpick before taking the trays out of the oven.

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Vanilla Orange Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 tbsp orange juice

1/2 tsp orange rind

Stir everything into a bowl and beat until well combined and sticky.

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Crushed Walnut

1 cup chopped walnuts

Toss the cup into a blender and pulse it until it’s coarse and crumbly. Make sure you don’t process it for too long, though, or it will start to leave oil and turn into a butter.

Once the tea cakes are cool, scoop them out of their trays. Add a spoonful of glaze on top of each (I turned them upside down, for fun) and then dip it into a bowl with the crushed walnut.

Eat it with a large pot of mint tea, with maybe a basset hound lying at your feet – preferably on a lawn somewhere.

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