As flattered as I am that people ooh and aah over this Thai tea cake every time I bring it to a food-centric gathering and tell me what a great idea it is, I can’t help but feel a bit like a fraud. This is because there’s no such thing as Thai tea cake. A Thai tea cake is a cake — any cake — that contains or has been infused with Thai tea.
Since the whole idea is to make a cake that features the flavors of prepared Thai tea which many of us love so much, i.e. sweetened tea and milk, I serve this plain cake simply with sweetened whipped heavy cream. That’s it. You can dust some powdered sugar on top of the cake, but that’s not even necessary.
You don’t have to use my recipe; any plain cake recipe which has served you well will do. Watch out, however, for ingredients that may clash with the delicate flavor of the tea. Add-ins with strong flavors, such as lime zest, should be left out. Olive oil should be replaced with melted (and cooled) butter. If the recipe calls for floral perfuming agents, such as orange blossom or rose water, they should also be omitted. These are just a few examples.
Thai tea leaves are crumbled into very small pieces and softened almost readily upon contact with liquid even before being baked, so you can add them into your cake batter if you don’t mind a bespeckled cake. I certainly don’t. Be sure to add the tea at an early stage to allow it to thoroughly infuse the batter.
But if you don’t want black specks in your cake, infuse some of the liquid your cake recipe calls for with the tea first before adding it to the batter. For example, if you’re using a hot milk sponge cake recipe, infuse the milk with the tea first and strain it before adding it to the batter. If no liquid of any kind is called for, then make about 2-3 tablespoons of very, very concentrated tea, strain it, and add it to the batter at the butter-sugar creaming stage; that little amount of liquid shouldn’t destroy the wet:dry ratio of the batter.
But if you want a mildly-sweet cake with soft and spongy texture, you can use this basic génoise recipe.
- 6 large eggs, must be at room temperature
- 1¼ cups sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (or better yet 1¼ cups cake flour)
- 3 tablespoons Thai tea leaves (not a Thai tea mix with added sugar and whitener)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (one stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled completely
- Line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper and grease the bottom and sides of the pan.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- With an electric mixer, beat the eggs, tea, sugar, and salt on high speed for 10 minutes until the mixture has tripled in volume.
- Sift (you must sift, as opposed to simply adding, the flour into the egg mixture to prevent lumps. Sift in the flour ⅓ at a time and fold it in gently.
- Gently fold in the melted butter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, place the pan in the middle of the oven, and bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and springs back when lightly pressed with your finger.
- Let the cake cool completely, at which point you can dust some powdered sugar on top, if desired.
- Serve the cake with heavy whipping cream with added powdered sugar added, whipped to a soft peak.