Alan Benson

You'll never guess the secret ingredients in this tea cake

I DRINK bucketfuls of chamomile tea each day and olive oil cakes are my favourite treat, so this is my idea of a perfect afternoon tea. Use chamomile flowers if you can. They're widely available these days and their flavour is intense, almost tangy, but tea bags also work nicely.

Chamomile and honey olive oil cake


125 ml milk, plus extra if needed

3 tbs chamomile flowers or 4 chamomile tea bags

250 g self-raising flour

150 g caster sugar

1 tsp baking powder

agenerous pinch of salt

250 ml mild olive oil

70 g honey


For the lemon icing:

150 g icing (confectioners') sugar, sifted

finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

a splash of milk.

METHOD: Preheat the oven to 160C. Oil a 20cm round cake tin and line the base with baking paper.

Pour the milk into a small saucepan and warm through without letting it reach the boil, then remove from the heat and add the chamomile flowers or tea bags. Set to one side for a good 10minutes so the milk and chamomile can infuse and cool.

Now, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, honey and eggs.

Strain the chamomile flowers from the cooled milk, or remove the tea bags, and measure how much milk you have - you need 125ml, so add more milk if necessary. Stir the infused milk into the oil mixture. Pour this mixture into the flour mixture, mixing until well combined and lump-free, but don't over beat it.

Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 40-50 minutes or until the cake is golden and a skewer comes out almost clean. Leave the cake in the tin for five minutes, then turn on to a wire rack to cool.

While the cake is cooking, stir together the lemon icing ingredients, keeping some of the lemon zest for the top of the cake and adding just enough milk to give it a loose pouring consistency.

When the cake is completely cold, drizzle with the lemon icing and sprinkle with the reserved lemon zest. Makes a 20cm cake.

Recipes and images from Easy Mediterranean by Sue Quinn (Murdoch Books), available from August 1 in all good book stores and online.