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pine cake

I'm making some unusual cupcakes for a holiday party and I wanted to do a batch of "christmas tree". What's the best way to give something--specifically cake--a pine flavor?

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  1. Someone had a thread about this yesterday and I suggested rosemary, which to me, smells very piney.

    1. Survival guides often mention making a tea from pine needles. It is supposed to be both flavorful and a good source of vitamins (C mainly). So you could start with using the tea as a flavoring ingredient in cake batter - for example, where it calls for milk, use a combination of the tea and powdered milk. I have not idea, though, whether the flavor would be strong enough, or pleasant in this use.


      1 Reply
      1. re: paulj

        I saw Bear Grylls make some Pine Tea on Man vs. Wild. He said it was healthy but it was mostly for therapeutic reasons as it was so cold outside. That man is amazing.

      2. Lapsang Souchon tea is smoked with pine needles. You could substitute that for some of the liquid in your recipe. A sugar cookie or tea cake might be a better bet for this than cake.
        Experiment first!

        1. While rosemary does smell a little piney it definitely tastes like rosemary.

          The biggest problem so far has been just isolating the pine flavor. Things like coriander (which has a lemony-pine flavor, I'm told) and the lapsang souchon, while maybe adding pine notes to the cakes, would also add whatever else, and then they would end up more like coriander or lapsang souchon cupcakes than tree cakes.

          I'd thought about a pine tea, but wasn't sure where I'd find pine needles. I mean, off a tree sure, but I live downtown so there aren't really many options.

          2 Replies
          1. re: cluckers

            My wife took a tour of the gardens at Sooke Harbor House near Victoria, a lodge that specializes in fancy, locally based cooking. She was told they make a pine sorbet, probably by steeping the needles (or needle tips) in the a syrup. I've made a lemon-rosemary sorbet that way.

            I'm not sure if it the type of pine matters or not. The most abundant around Seattle and Victoria would be shore pine (~= lodge pole pine). I have one behind our house, and am continually sweeping up its needles. I'll have to try making some tea.


            1. re: cluckers

              You probably can find pine essential oil, but you should make sure it's edible. Euell (Ewell?) Gibons used to say "many parts of a pine tree are edible" on an old Grape Nuts commercial!

            2. If you can find very fresh pine nuts they actually give off rather nice pine scent. I find the ones that are thinner, more oblong, rather than the almost triangular type, to have more pine scent.

              2 Replies
              1. re: HLing

                Funny that you find the oblong ones to have more pine scent. In a recent thread discussing the pros and cons of the Italian (oblong) v Asian (triangular) pine nuts, several posters had the opposite observation. It may come down to freshness, and maybe processing. The scent may something that disappears with age and cleaning.


                1. re: paulj

                  Paulj, you're right! Thanks for pointing that out.

                  I've committed discrimination based on shape alone (and possibily by nationality, though I didn't know which shape was from which country) when I should have realized that there are fresh, piney tasting oblong ones, as well as fresh, piney tasting triangular ones, and that just because I happened to have tasted some fresh oblong pine nuts, and maybe some not so fresh triangular ones, that neither have anything to do with shape, nor what country they came from.

              2. i was at my locale market today & noticed there was a fir tea ..... it's Madison Market in seattle ... I bet you could make a very strong tea & then reduce it (i'd test first it might become bitter) .. anyway maybe you could call the market & see if they could send it to you. I've also seen a fir needle liqueur made by a distillery in oregon

                1. I don't know whether the "Douglas Fir Tea" mentioned in this cocktail recipe would work for you but, I found it quite interesting. You can buy douglas fir tea from Juniper Ridge, http://www.juniperridge.com/sumbc_tea.... Cocktail Times e-newsletter had the following this morning.

                  Evergreen Martini

                  - 1 oz unprocessed simple syrup*
                  - 1/2 fresh squeezed lemon juice
                  - 2 oz Douglas Fir Tea*
                  - 2 oz vodka
                  Ganish: small evergreen branch or candied ginger

                  Add all ingredients to ice-filled cocktail shaker and shake for 10 seconds. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with either a small evergreen branch or a piece of candied ginger. *Making simple syrup with unprocessed sugar gives a rounder sweetness to simple syrup. In airtight container, mix 1c sugar and 2c water. Shake every twenty minutes or so until completely dissolved.

                  Brew tea and allow to steep for ten minutes as you would a regular cup of tea. Do not add milk or sugar. Chill in fridge until ready to use. (Cocktail by Gwen Sutherland Kaiser, Photo by Mary Claire Miraldi)

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: vonwotan

                    hi there, i created the above recipe, and yes, the douglas fir tea was from juniper ridge. however, you can make your own. just pick the new bud growth on the trees in early spring and dry them. voila, tea! pick randomly so as not to stunt the growth of the trees. i think all pine / fir varieties are non poisonous, and btw, they contain loads of vitamin c too. honestly, it is one of the best flavors i think i've tasted-ever. almost citrusy. i also made a fir tip syrup where i boiled sugar and water and then strained out the leaves. so good. i also infused gin with the tips and again, surprisingly delic. i go into furthur detail on my blog, intoxicatedzodiac (dot) com/blog. scroll down to the bottom and enter a search for "fir tiptini" or go to the link below:


                    cheers! gwen

                    1. re: gweny

                      Thank you for the tips and for the link to your site. I originally found your recipe on Cocktail Times. When I lived in France (Languedoc) and in Long Island we had quite a few pine trees and did have friends who gathered and dried some of the new growth for tea. Since I moved north, between work and other commitments I spend far too much on my time in the urban jungles of the northeast and don't have much opportunity. In that time I've become quite fond of the Juniper Ridge products and my girlfriend will occasionally use their incense.