With the soothing scent of lavender, the calming properties of chamomile tea, and just the right amount of sweetness, this chamomile cake recipe is perfect for spring brunch or just about any other occasion.
The information provided on this site is based on my personal experience living with alpha-gal syndrome. I consistently cite and link to expert sources, but nothing published on this site should be perceived as medical advice.
Alpha-gal sensitivities vary by person. You should understand your dietary restrictions, making any adjustments needed, and directing any questions to your physician.
For a fresh twist on classic loaf cakes that go beyond the typical lemon or cranberry orange varieties, try this lavender chamomile tea cake recipe. With butter and milk that’s been steeped in chamomile tea, the cake batter is easy to make and bake. And the strawberry glaze uses freshly squeezed lemon juice, creating a sweet and tangy topping for this delicious cake with a light chamomile flavor.
Inspired by a recipe published by The New York Times.
In This Article
What is Chamomile Tea?
Chamomile tea is an herbal infusion prepared from the dried flowers of the chamomile plant. People have sipped chamomile tea for centuries, drinking in its calming and anti-inflammatory properties to help them relax before bed or to soothe their digestive systems.
Chamomile tea has a delicate taste, often described as sweet yet slightly bitter, with nuances of apple or hay. The taste can vary depending on how it’s prepared, and honey or lemon are often added to enhance the flavor.
Using Chamomile Tea in Baked Goods
Baking with chamomile tea adds a delicate floral flavor and calming aroma that complements other ingredients in this tea cake recipe, including vanilla, lemon, and strawberry. To incorporate herbal tea into cake or other baked goods, simply infuse it into existing ingredients. In this chamomile cake recipe, the tea is incorporated into both the butter and the milk to give the final dish a gentle flavor.
Key Chamomile Cake Ingredients
When selecting a chamomile tea for this recipe, start with loose-leaf chamomile tea or chamomile tea bags that are made purely of chamomile flowers. Be mindful that blends that contain other herbs or flavors may alter the flavor and aroma of your tea cake. I chose the chamomile and lavender tea from Traditional Medicinals that includes a blend of chamomile, lemon balm, and lavender because it’s caffeine free and oozes calm. But you can select whatever chamomile tea – or chamomile tea blend – your taste buds prefer.
Whether you select loose-leaf tea or cut open tea bags and pour the contents into a bowl, you’ll want the leaves to be finely crushed. The Traditional Medicinals tea was a perfect size when I poured out of the tea bags.
Sage Advice: If you like the calming fragrance and soothing taste of lavender in baked goods, you’ll also love this lavender cake recipe made with culinary lavender. Just be sure to make dairy-free substitutions for the yogurt, cream, and ricotta if you are an alpha gal who avoids dairy.
The freeze-dried strawberries used to make the icing provide both sweetness and tartness. They also give the cake a beautiful hot pink color that looks stunning when served.
Enjoying Your Chamomile Tea Cake
Properly storing your delicious cake is key to keeping it fresh. After the iced cake is cooled completely, it will stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for three to four days. While the tea cake does not typically need to be refrigerated, keeping it in the fridge is recommended if your house is really humid or if you want to enjoy the cake for up to a week. If you do store your chamomile tea cake in the refrigerator, be sure to bring it back to room temperature before serving it.
Lavender Chamomile Tea Cake with Strawberry Glaze Frosting
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons lavender chamomile tea, finely crushed (about 6 tea bags)
- 1 cup milk (see notes above)
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 large lemon (for zest and 3 tablespoons of lemon juice)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1-½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- ½ cup freeze-dried strawberries
- In a small saucepan, melt the unsalted butter over medium-low heat. In a large mixing bowl, add 1 tablespoon of lavender chamomile tea. Pour the melted butter over the tea and stir. Set the butter mixture aside to steep and cool completely (about 1 hour).
- In the same saucepan used to melt the butter (without washing it), bring the milk to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring frequently and ensuring that it doesn’t boil over. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir the remaining tablespoon of lavender chamomile tea into the hot milk. Set aside to steep and cool completely (about 1 hour).
- While the tea is steeping in the butter and milk, zest the lemon into a bowl. Then cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into a separate bowl. Set both aside.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Insert a piece of parchment paper into the long side of the pan, leaving several inches of overhang on each side to make it easier to lift the finished cake out of the pan.
- Add the sugar and salt to the bowl with the butter and whisk until smooth and thick (about one minute).
- Add the eggs one at a time to the bowl, whisking the mixture after each addition to fully incorporate each egg into the mixture.
- Add the fresh lemon zest, baking powder, and vanilla to the bowl and whisk until incorporated.
- Add the flour to the bowl and stream the chamomile milk into the mixture while whisking continuously until no streaks of flour remain.
- Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pan.
- Bake until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes.
- Cool the cake in the cake pan on a wire rack for 30-35 minutes.
- While the cake cools, make the strawberry icing. Begin by placing the dehydrated strawberries in a plastic zipper bag and crushing them into a fine red-pink powder with a flat mallet or rolling pin.
- Pour the powdered freeze-dried strawberries into a medium bowl and add 3 tablespoons lemon juice and the powdered sugar. Whisk until smooth. NOTE: You can add a splash of an additional liquid – like milk, water, or lemon juice – as needed to make the glaze your desired consistency.
- Gently run a knife around the edge of the loaf pan to release the cake. Holding the two sides of the parchment paper, gently lift the cake out of the pan and onto a plate, cake stand, or cutting board. Discard the parchment paper.
- Pour the strawberry glaze over the cake, gently nudging the icing to the edges of the cake with a spoon or rubber spatula. Let the cake finish cooling and the icing set.