Earl Grey tea weekend loaf

Earl Grey tea weekend loaf

Paris Pastry Club
1 large loaf cake
Helen Cathcart

If there ever was to be a tale about this cake it would involve a countryside cottage where you’d be locked inside, escaping a storm. Winds would blow, trees would block roads, candles would bring the only light. Of course there’d be a wood-fired oven. And cake would be made. A simple loaf cake. Light and deeply perfumed with lemons. And with a generous amount of crème fraiche to keep it moist for days.

In France, we simply call loaf cakes cakes, pronounced ‘kek’. But whenever cream is added to the batter it becomes a ‘weekend cake’, with the underlying meaning being that it’ll last over the weekend, making it the perfect getaway food. Sometimes I’ve even found it labelled in shops as ‘cake de voyages’. Who knew a loaf cake could be so poetic?

If you don’t have any crème fraiche you can use double cream instead. But, of course (and this is said with a heavy French accent), I can only advise you to have a constant stock of the stuff in your fridge. I love to serve this cake with a clémentine confit and a thick dollop of crème fraiche. If you can’t find clémentines, small mandarines, tangerines or even seedless oranges will do.

For the cake


Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon early grey tea leaves
250g caster sugar
4 eggs
200g plain flour
1 bergamot orange, zested, (optional)
1 teaspoon baking powder
150g creme fraiche
50g butter, melted
softened butter, extra for piping

For the confit

Quantity Ingredient
350g clementines, around 3–4 fruit
200g caster sugar
1/2 vanilla pod, with its seeds
150g water
20g cornflour, diluted in 40 g cold water

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
extra creme fraiche


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Butter and flour a 1 litre loaf tin.
  2. Finely blend the loose Earl Grey tea leaves with around 50 g of the caster sugar until powdery. Place in a bowl along with the eggs and the remaining caster sugar and whisk for around 4 minutes, until light in colour. Mix the flour, bergamot zest (if using) and baking powder in another bowl.
  3. Fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture, then pour a little of this into the crème fraiche and melted butter in a separate bowl and mix well. Transfer back to the main batter mix and fold in gently using a spatula. Pour into the prepared tin.
  4. Put the extra softened butter into a piping bag and cut a very small hole, around 4 mm wide, then pipe a line of the butter across the cake. Bake for 5 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 170°C for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature again to 160°C and bake for a further 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  5. Cool on a wire rack for 10–20 minutes, then turn out and set aside. If you’re not planning to eat it right away, wrap tightly in clingfilm and store in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  6. While the cake is cooling make the clémentine confit. Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Plunge in the clémentines and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove the fruit with a slotted spoon and pop them into a bowl of ice-cold water. Repeat, using fresh water, then chill the clémentines until they are cold enough to handle.
  7. Slice very finely and add to a saucepan with the sugar, vanilla pod and seeds and water. Simmer for 30 minutes or until reduced and almost candied. Then vigourously fold in the cornflour mixture. Allow to boil for a couple of minutes, then transfer to a bowl. Chill until needed.
  8. Serve slices of the cake topped with a spoonful of clémentine confit and a dollop of crème fraiche.

Getting a neat crack on the loaf

  • This is perhaps my favourite tip: to get a beautifully cracked loaf, the easiest way is to pipe a thin line – around 4 mm – of softened butter across the unbaked loaf. when the batter starts to rise, the butter will sink in, creating a neat crack in the crust of the cake. voila!
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