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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.

      paulj

      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.

            paulj

            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.

                paulj

                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.