The secret ingredient in this gluten-free tea cake is Mélange du Cap, a delicious herbal tea blend combining all-natural rooibos with cacao nibs and vanilla pods. The tea lends rich color and heightens the flavor of this good-for-you treat studded with walnuts and orange zest. Perfect for a morning or afternoon tea break.

Walnut Tea Loaf

Ingredients

Canola oil cooking spray
1/2 cup prepared Mélange du Cap Rooibos tea by Le Palais des Thés (see brewing note), at room temperature
1 1/4 cups gluten-free flour mix
3/4 cup almond flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tsp grated orange zest
2/3 cup chopped walnuts

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat an 8-inch x 4-inch loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In small bowl, whisk together the gluten-free and almond flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, combine the applesauce, oil, and tea. Set both bowls aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer until well blended and airy, about one minute.

Add the white and brown sugars, beat together, then add wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients and zest and mix just until they are combined with other ingredients; there will be many small lumps. Using rubber spatula, blend in most of the small lumps, taking care not to over-mix. Stir in the nuts. Scoop the batter into the prepared baking pan.

Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a straw inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Turn the loaf out of pan and cool completely.

This tea loaf is best served after wrapping in foil for 8-24 hours, which allows flavors to ripen and loaf to become more moist.

Makes 8 servings.

Adapted from Something Different by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and Cook & Freeze: 150 Dishes to Make Now, Serve Later.

Brewing Note: In a heatproof measuring cup, steep 1 tablespoon Mélange du Cap in ½ cup of 195 degrees (not-qu ite-boiling) water for five minutes. Strain out the tea leaves, and cool to room temperature.

Mélange du Cap is available at www.palaisdesthes.com; $10 for 3.5 oz/100g resealable pouch of loose tea.