Bue Grasso [Earl Grey Pound Cake]

thumb_dsc_0526_1024One of the things I love about the restaurant/food industry in Ottawa is the collaboration that exists between many business owners, entrepreneurs, chefs, brewers, etc. (In fact – I was lucky enough to write about that very topic in the latest Edible Ottawa magazine! Subtle plug, I know.) Through having the opportunities to write beyond my little neglected blog I’ve loved getting to meet and know many of the people that feed this city. It’s nice, too, that it sometimes overlaps with Tristan’s community, colleagues, and friends.

Matt Gardiner is one of those aforementioned entrepreneurial industry folk. After hosting a few Italian pop up dinners in 2016 (one at a butcher shop, and the others at a bakery) he launched Bue Grasso (Italian for Fat Ox) and now sells his pasta at Bread by Us in Hintonburg. Tristan was on hand at the pop ups to pair beverages with each delicious course, and so I just bought a ticket, sat back, and enjoyed being filled with excellent food and drink. If you want to be in the loop for the next Bue Grasso dinner – be sure to follow along (here or here, will do!).

Matt’s passion for handmade pasta was fuelled by a stint in Italy (this was before Aziz Ansari did it on TV and made Netflix viewers everywhere want to book plane tickets from their couch). I’ve enjoyed cooking a few different Bue Grasso pastas at home, and though I like making pasta myself (or attempting it, at least), the recipe I have below isn’t a pasta. Inspired by Bread By Us’ delightful Earl Grey scones, Matt baked an Earl Grey Pound Cake for the last pop up dinner I went to. It’s a simple cake; fragrant from the tea leaves, and is perfect dressed up or down.

Matt served his pretty cake rounds with a geranium ice cream, nasturtium, and haskap berries, but it’s lovely on its own, too. Or, with a cup of tea, if you want to drive those bergamot flavours home. (I improvised a little grapefruit glaze, which was a nice winter pairing.)

SONY DSCEarl Grey Pound Cake, from Matt Gardiner
Inspired by the Bread by Us Cream Earl Grey Scone

Yields 2 loaves (recipe halves easily if you’re keen on only making one loaf!)
Note from Matt: **ALL ingredients must be at room temp. Too hot or too cold and your batter will split. Patience is essential.**
20g cream earl grey tea leaves
2 cups unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
8 large eggs, whole
1/2 vanilla bean (1 tsp of vanilla extract works as well)
4 cups pastry flour, sifted
  • Preheat oven to 325.
  • Line 2 loaf tins with parchment paper, and grease lightly.
  • Steep tea in enough hot water just to cover, allow to cool to room temp.
  • Cream butter and sugar on high until light and fluffy, 5 minutes or so (this recipe is totally doable by hand if, like me, you don’t own a stand mixer). Scrape bowl down to incorporate well.
  • If using a stand mixer, gear down to medium speed and beat in eggs, one at a time, ensuring each is fully incorporated before adding the next.
  • Add vanilla, incorporate.
  • On low speed, add flour in increments until fully incorporated.
  • Drain tea leaves and either drink the tea or offer it to the cake gods.
  • Add tea leaves and mix on low until thoroughly mixed into batter.
  • Divide the batter between the loaf tins and bake for 60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.


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