Take a Dip: Herb Tea Loaf

This tender cake is lighter than pound cake and well suited for dipping in fondue.

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 Makes 1 loaf 

• 2 cups unbleached flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 2 to 3 tablespoons minced mint or lemon balm leaves, 11/2 to 2 teaspoons fresh lavender or anise hyssop blossoms, or 1/2 teaspoon dried blossoms
• 1/2 cup milk
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
• 1 cup sugar
• 3 extra-large eggs
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan.

2. Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt and set aside. Stir the herbs into the milk and set aside.

3. Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until the mixture becomes light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and blend well.

4. Add the flour alternately in three parts with the milk. Pour the batter into the pan, spreading it evenly. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. The loaf is done when the top is golden brown, the edges pull away slightly, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

5. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn onto a rack. When cool, cut into 1-inch cubes and use as fondue dippers.

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