a journal of tea-inspired foods and recipes
If you love to cook, it’s hard not to bring your work home with you when you have a job in a test kitchen.
I bring home leftovers from what we cooked in the test kitchen that day (that is, anything that wasn’t gobbled up by our in-house tasters) or any groceries that would otherwise go bad. And, in general, I can’t turn off my brain when it comes to food. So I’m always “working”, jotting down recipe ideas for the test kitchen that I find when perusing my favorite food blogs or leafing through the pages of my cookbook collection. I even have a test kitchen “notes” file on my phone so I can write down ideas on the go.
Recently in the test kitchen, we’ve been working on creative simple syrup recipes. These are homemade syrups we flavor with different spices and then feature in other food and drink recipes. I’ve probably tested about 50 recipes in the last few weeks to end up with about 20 that we will publish.
Inspired by this creative syrup making, and using some leftover test kitchen groceries, I ended up making a fruity tea syrup at home—made with a hibiscus tea blend and blackberries—to put atop a lovely and easy cream cheese pound cake adapted from Epicurious.com.
For the tea, I used DAVIDsTEA’s Paradise Found, a fruity black tea blend with tart hibiscus and sweet mango that pairs perfectly with berries. The bright red hibiscus adds to the stunning color of the syrup, too. The syrup is super simple to make and can be spooned over crepes, pancakes and ice cream, or used to flavor cocktails, lemonade or iced tea.
The pound cake is a bit of a project because it starts in a cold oven and you increase the oven temperature several times as it spends a long time cooking low and slow. But it’s totally worth it. It’s perfectly dense and moist on the inside and beautifully browned and crusty on the outside. I’ve never had a pound cake turn out with this wonderful of a texture.
Happy cooking and sipping!
(Pound cake adapted from the Cream Cheese Pound Cake recipe on Epicurious.com. Syrup recipe by Zanitea. )
Makes 1 large pound cake and 2 cups syrup
For the pound cake:
1 cup (2 sticks), plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
8 oz. package cream cheese
3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
6 large eggs
4 teaspoons almond extract
grated zest of 1 large orange
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus 2 tablespoons unsifted flour
For the syrup:
juice of 1 large orange, plus enough water to equal 2 cups liquid
2 cups sugar
1 pint blackberries, fresh or frozen
¼ cup loose leaf flavored tea (I used DAVIDsTEA’s Paradise Found)
2 teaspoons rose water, optional
For the pound cake:
1. Bring the 2 sticks of butter, cream cheese and eggs to room temperature. Butter and flour a large Bundt pan with the 1 tablespoon of butter and 2 tablespoons unsifted flour.
2. Beat butter and cream cheese together in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add sugar and salt, and beat for 10 minutes, occasionally scraping the sides of the bowl. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Beat in almond extract and orange zest. Add flour 1 cup at a time and mix on low speed until flour is incorporated and batter is smooth; do not overmix. Transfer batter to the prepared Bundt pan.
3. Place Bundt pan in cold oven. Set temperature at 200 degrees and bake for 20 minutes. Increase temperature to 250 degrees and bake for 20 more minutes. Increase temperature to 275 degrees and bake for 10 more minutes. Increase temperature to 300 degrees and bake until tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let the cake rest in the pan on a cooling rack for 15 minutes. Turn the cake out onto the rack and let it cool completely. The cake can be stored at room temperature for a few days if it’s wrapped well.
For the syrup:
1. Whisk together the sugar and 2 cups orange juice/water mixture in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.
2. Remove syrup base from heat, add blackberries and tea leaves, cover, and steep for 5 minutes. Remove cover, mash berries with a potato masher or wooden spoon, then cover again, and steep for 5 more minutes. Strain berries and tea through a fine sieve, return liquid to a clean saucepan, bring to a boil, and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in rose water, and allow mixture to cool to room temperature. Store syrup in a sealed container in the refrigerator for a week or so.