To fend off an imminent apocalypse the world needs a champion, and every good champion needs a wise mentor. But tensions are rising between saviour-of-the-world Lottie Thorn and under-appreciated guardian Lady Peruvia Ashlington-Voss, in Ash & Thorn #3. In previous installments of Cook Your Comics, Melissa Brinks whipped up some apocalyptic gingerbread and Wendy Browne got sucked into battle cookies.
One of the many reasons why Champions are traditionally young is it makes them much more amenable to being bossed around, as Peruvia has been struggling with since issue 1, so she suggests an obvious solution: a dream-sharing ritual. Involving tea, of course, as we get to see in this exclusive preview of Ash & Thorn #3, available next week from Ahoy Comics.
Whilst Lottie and Peruvia battle their inner demons and desires, guardian-in-training Sarah learns that it is always a bad idea to play games with the Fae as they never play fair.
Speaking of Pickle, the sweet-toothed fae guided me through the third recipe of our Ash & Thorn “Cook Your Comics series to make:
Tea & Time Cake
If you’re going to attempt to traverse the cosmic realms between realities, time, and space, you need sustenance. This tea cake will help keep you sane.
I love to cook and bake which I credit mostly to my mum, who passed her natural talents for it down to most of her kids, as well as spending countless hours patiently baking with me. Although her efforts paid off when, at age 13, I could be tasked with making a cake for her [insert social event] and left to my own devices. The final baking utensil I got from my mum is this set of scales and weights which I learned to bake on and that I had to save from the donation pile when they moved. I am clearly more sentimental than her. Plus they look very cute in my kitchen.
As much as these scales create an element of error when weighing, I do believe that using them helped me hone my baking instincts. The ones which tell you, even if you have weighed everything to the gram, that your batter is not quite right and needs a pinch more of this or splash of that.
1 cup Butter (cashew works best!)
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2-4 Vanilla Chai tea bags
2 cups flour
1tsp baking powder
1 cup milk
With a little conversion of cup measures to grams (240g butter, 180g brown sugar, 300g flour, and 240ml milk), I was off! My favourite part of baking is creaming butter and sugar together, I always love watching them get fluffy and change colour with the added bonus of an upper arm workout to help balance out the vast amount of cake I am going to eat later on.
My biggest deviation from the recipe involved the vanilla chai tea bags called for. My local, small grocery shop did not have any chai tea at all, and I didn’t want to venture to my large supermarket for 1 item in these near-apocalyptic days of a pandemic. So I made up a chai spice mix and used some loose black tea as a replacement. I ground 1 star anise, 3 cardamom pods, and 1/8th teaspoon each of ground cloves, ginger, and cinnamon. Once crushed, I used about 1 tsp of the spice blend and 1 tbsp of black tea.
This is a classic sponge recipe, familiar to most bakers, and easy to follow for a beginner. I think it would work well with any of the dairy-free options provided, and even with a vegan egg substitution. The cake rose beautifully in the loaf tin I used, and I can imagine it would make a lovely layered cake in a round tin, all you would need was some extra icing or a filling of your choice.
The cake came out fluffy and with a very delicate spice and tea flavour, no doubt from my guesstimation of the spices and tea, which was very pleasant but could also be amped up depending on preference. I will probably double my spice and tea next time I make this, because I will definitely make it again.
I went for the option of icing the cake once it had cooled, to get a lovely layer on top. It survived an hour drive across London and went down very well with my husband and friends whose garden we were escaping to for a socially distant barbeque; seconds were had and thirds were strongly considered.