It has not been an easy week.
My family lost a treasured member, someone who lit up a room with a smile so infectious, the Department of Health kept a team on standby if he was going into a public place.
I talked before about eating your feelings after a bad day, but this kind of thing, this loss, is different. For some, the idea of eating anything at all is utterly unthinkable at a time like this.Which is tricky when you’re paired with someone like me, where taking care of people the only way I know how (with food) is my solace. It’s what I do, and all I know to do.
Equally, when things go wrong, many people find the first words out of their mouths are, ‘Can I make you a cup of tea?’.
It’s not necessarily the tea itself that soothes us, it is however the act of giving ourselves over to a ritual; for even just a couple of minutes, a distraction from the real world and its battles.
Now, I’m not a big tea drinker. But even I know the healing powers of such a simple joy. Taking a minute, breathing.
And when the going gets tough, the tough get bakin’. Fact.
Here’s a gorgeous recipe that combines two forms of therapy, all wrapped in one amazing smelling, sweet bow.
It’s a slightly more dense cupcake than I’m used to making, though it’s not heavy, and delicately spiced by the tea in a way that is not overpowering. Perfect for afternoon tea.
Earl Grey Cupcakes
Adapted from Katiecakes
125 ml milk
4 Earl Grey tea bags
110g unsalted butter
225g granulated sugar
2 large eggs
¼ tsp almond or vanilla essence
125g self-rising flour
120g plain flour
115g unsalted butter
60 ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
500g icing sugar
Purple food colouring
1. Preheat oven to 180*c. Line a 12 hole muffin tray with cupcake papers.
2. Heat milk in a small pan over a medium heat until it begins to boil. Remove from the heat and add teabags. Cover with a lid and allow to steep for about 30 minutes.
3. Cream butter with sugar in a bowl until the mixture is smooth. Add extract and eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition until completely incorporated.
4. Combine the flours in a separate bowl. Add a third of the flour to the butter mixture and mix well. Pour in a third of the milk/tea mixture and beat. Alternate until all the flour and milk has been added. Carefully spoon mixture into papers, filling each one two-thirds full. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
5. To make icing, beat butter, milk, vanilla and half the icing sugar until smooth. Gradually add the rest of icing sugar until there are no lumps. Add colouring until the desired colour is reached.