23 January 2012

Vanilla Bean Tea Cake

Is it a tea cake? Is it a bread? A young visitor insisted that my freshly baked offering wasn't cake at all as there was no frosting. So we offered it as vanilla bread instead, like banana bread, without the banana. He agreed that he might like banana bread without banana, and tried a bite.

Vanilla Cake

Where is the line between cake and bread. Is a muffin something in-between or is it something altogether different? What should we call muffins that are really sweet, fluffy cakes sold in paper wrappers in coffee shops? Are there lines at all, or is it just a continuum of floury goodness?
Should we worry less about what we call things and more about making them wonderful, and then offering them up to guests, even skeptical guests? Should we go bake up this moist, flavorful cake and then brew a pot of tea? Absolutely.

Three Kinds of
Banana Cranberry Bread, Vanilla Tea Cake, Gingerbread

I used vanilla bean seeds because it adds great vanilla flavor and the specks of bean add an interesting visual feature. I baked this in two mini-loaf pans from King Arthur Flour. I'm a little bit in love with these pans, because they're adorable and because it makes it easy to put part of the treat away for another time.

(Oh, and because this is made with the creaming method it is definitely a cake, but I won't contradict any guest who wants to believe otherwise.)

Vanilla Tea Bread
(adapted from Shammy's vanilla tea cake)

1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 vanilla bean
8 1/4 ounces cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teasoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Prepare two mini-loaf pans or one six-inch round cake pan.

Cream the butter and sugar together until the sugar is dissolved. Beat in the egg. Cut and scrape the vanilla bean (see video below), then beat the seeds into the butter mixture. Set aside.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk at least 30 seconds to distribute leavening.

Beat 1/3 of flour mixture into butter mixture, then beat in half the milk, half the remaining flour, the remaining milk and finally the remaining flour.

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Allow to cool in pans for 5 minutes then remove from pans and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.


  1. That gingerbread looks amazing. I hope it's coming soon... (I mean, to the blog, not my house; though I certainly wouldn't turn it away, but you don't have to pander to my every whim just to get a playdate.)

    1. Does this mean I'm invited up tomorrow?

  2. I tend to call something a "cake" if it has frosting. And a quickbread if it doesn't. But you're right, tea cakes land somewhere in the middle. Though this one almost looks like it's been iced ... and of course it doesn't matter, because I can smell it, and taste it, from here. *sigh*

    1. There might be a chance of a visit in April if you'd be willing to put me up for a night. I'd be happy to bring you some then.



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