Recipes

Pregnancy Cravings: Tea and Cake

This weekend I had my in-laws and my mother over for tea after a lunch to make up for the fact that they couldn’t come to my baby shower. I wanted to do something a little special, and I’ve been craving an autumn-spiced cake, so I thought I’d make a cake. No sooner had I had this thought, than I received an email from the Nourished Kitchen with this beautiful recipe for a maple-sweetened harvest cake with a maple frosting. Unfortunately, I don’t have an electric mixer, so making a Swiss meringue buttercream was out of the question. I discussed it a bit with Jenny on social media and decided that the best course would be to make a whipped maple cream cheese frosting.

Because my mother-in-law and my mother are both careful about caffeine intake, and my mother-in-law loves the spices from masala chai, I thought I’d make a home-blended spice tea to go with the cake. The afternoon was lovely and everyone enjoyed the cake. In fact, as soon as my in-laws left, my mother-in-law text me asking for the recipes for both the tea and the cake. While I gave her a general idea of how I made both, I thought I’d post the official recipes, with my substitutions and alterations for the Nourished Kitchen recipe, for posterity.

Harvest Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

(based on this recipe from the Nourished Kitchen)

For the cake:

1-1/4 cup of einkorn all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp. ground Ceylon cinnamon

2 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp. allspice

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

2 eggs

2 Tbsp. melted butter or ghee

3/4 cup maple sugar (or 1/2 cup maple sugar and 1/4 cup brown sugar, if you run out of maple sugar like I did)

6 oz. container of plain yogurt

4 oz. grated butternut squash

2 oz. grated apple

2 oz. grated pear

For the frosting:

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

4 oz. unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup of dark maple syrup

Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8″ square pan and line it with parchment.
  2. Whisk together the flour, spices, baking soda and powder, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and maple sugar until light and fluffy, then stream in the melted butter slowly, whisking constantly to emulsify.
  4. Add the flour mixture in thirds and the yogurt in halves, alternating and stirring after each addition. Fold in the grated fruit and veggie.
  5. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes, or until a cake test comes out clean.
  6. Cool completely, and then frost.
  7. To prepare the frosting, beat together the butter and cream cheese until fluffy, then add the maple syrup a little at a time, beating until combined and fluffy. If you aren’t using it right away, store in a covered container in the fridge, and let stand at room temperature for half an hour and beat again until fluffy before using.

Masala Spice Tea:

2 Ceylon cinnamon sticks

6-8 cardamom pods, crushed

8-12 allspice berries, crushed

1.5″ piece of fresh ginger, sliced

3-4 pieces of fresh orange peel

Instructions:

  1. Crush the cardamom and allspice, just until cracked and the pods inside the cardamom are exposed. Break up the cinnamon.
  2. Add spices and peel to a saucepan and add 4 cups of water.
  3. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then cover and steep for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Strain into a teapot and serve with honey.
Advertisements
Food and Drink, Recipes

My Herbal Pregnancy Tea Blend

NB: I am not a medical professional or a licensed herbalist. Please do your own research and consult your doctor about any herbal supplements you take, especially during pregnancy. What follows are what I have chosen to use during pregnancy, not recommendations for anyone else.

Herbal teas can be tricky to navigate while pregnant. There are all sorts of restrictions and recommendations, and even conflicting information about what’s safe and what’s not. Then, there’s the fact that some of the teas that are specifically supposed to be beneficial for pregnant women are, well, not terribly tasty. Now, most wisdom is that herbal tisanes (i.e., not tea, which comes from the camellia sinensis plant) that are drunk for flavor contain such a small amount of active constituents that they’re unlikely to cause harm. But there are still proscriptions. Pregnant women are advised to avoid licorice root and certain hormonally-active herbs.

Then there are the total surprises. When I was in Barcelona, I learned that the standard mint blend that is served in cafes isn’t just peppermint or a blend of peppermint and spearmint, but also commonly contains the herb called “poleo” in Spanish. Since it smelled a little licorice-y when I was steeping up a cup of Mentha-Poleo tea one afternoon, I did look it up and found out that “poleo” is the Spanish word for pennyroyal, an herb I certainly didn’t want to consume while pregnant (it’s used in large amounts as an abortifacient).

So once I got home I decided I was going to make my own herbal blend, partly to have a more enjoyable way to drink some more red raspberry leaf (now that I’m solidly out of the first trimester, the warnings against it are less dire), and partly to have a caffeine-free hot drink to enjoy in the afternoons, especially after yoga sessions that I finish rather late in the say. So I started doing my research, as well as looking at some commercial “pregnancy teas” at the store and online. Obviously, a very common pregnancy tea ingredient is red raspberry leaf, for its supposedly uterus-toning abilities, but commercial pregnancy teas also commonly contain nettle. Personally, I don’t care for the taste of nettle tea (if I’m being totally honest, I think it tastes like overcooked spinach that has been boiled in urine), so I thought I’d make my own blend.

A side note: I will say that I’m rather enjoying Yogi Tea’s Mother-to-be tea, despite the inclusion of nettle. Although that’s probably because they tend to be rather heavy-handed with the flavoring herbs, and I find it tastes more of mint and cardamom than anything else.

While researching herbs to include in my personal blend, I decided that flavoring-levels of lemon verbena, rose petals, and citrus peels were probably safe. I stayed away from mint, although I might add it to a future batch, mostly because I find that the peppermint from Mountain Rose Herbs is often so potent that it overpowers any other flavor, and I wanted something a bit delicate and floral. And then I made the base of the tea red raspberry leaf. Interestingly enough, I get a strong hit of rose aroma and floral flavor from the rose petals, which blends rather nicely with the herbal citrus notes of the lemon verbena and peels, plus the slight tannic bite of red raspberry leaf.

Loose-Leaf Pregnancy Herbal Tea:

(A note about amounts: I used parts by weight, so the citrus peel will be a much smaller volume than the fluffier herbs. Using 1/2 oz. as a part, I got enough bulk tea to fill one quart-sized jar and one 8-oz. jar)

4 parts dried red raspberry leaf
1 part dried lemon verbena
1 part dried rose petals
1 part dried and cut orange peel
1 part dried and cut lemon peel

Mix all herbs well in a bowl and then store in an airtight jar in a dry place. To prepare, brew about 1 tablespoon of dried herb blend in 8-12 oz. of boiling water for 5-10 minutes. It’s particularly nice with a slice of lemon and a drizzle of honey.