This delicious cake is scented with aromatic Earl Grey tea, filled with silky Swiss meringue buttercream and drizzled with Earl Grey caramel. Perfect as a layer cake but equally gorgeous dressed down as a bundt cake.
I have been obsessively baking this Earl Grey Cake the past couple of months and I am so glad to finally be sharing the recipe with you! I made it so many times because I could not decide which way to present it on the blog. As a layer cake with whipped cream and fresh berries? As a bundt cake with lemon glaze (see below)? As cupcakes?
Decisions, decisions… Well my dithering is your gain because you can bake this in different ways with equal success and I guarantee you that not a single crumb will be left behind. And even those who are not tea fans will be seduced, mark my words.
If you are not familiar with Earl Grey tea, it is a black tea flavoured with bergamot, a highly aromatic citrus fruit. It is a very popular blend in the UK and it just happens to be my favourite tea.
I always drink Earl Grey with a slice of lemon, but there’s a popular Earl Grey Tea Latte called ‘London Fog’ made with Earl Grey, steamed milk and vanilla syrup. This influenced the buttercream I went with in the end…
This cake uses loose leaf Earl Grey, ground to a fine powder in a pestle and mortar, in the batter which gives it a subtle aroma that I find irresistible. If you haven’t got loose-leaf tea you can empty the contents of a couple of tea bags.
I also used Earl Grey in the caramel which is drizzled over the layers and over the cake. If you are intimidated by caramel, I am here to tell you don’t be! Once you make it you will realise how easy and incredibly delicious homemade caramel sauce can be.
The recipe below will make quite a lot but leftovers can be kept in the fridge for up to 10 days… unless you eat it with a spoon. Which I have never 😉
When it came to the buttercream I could not make up my mind (see above) but in the end opted for vanilla Swiss buttercream which is deliciously silky and perfect for piping.
Swiss buttercream is very similar to Italian buttercream, but instead of sugar syrup being added to beaten egg whites, the egg whites and sugar are first heated over a double boiler before being whisked. Then you add quite a lot of butter – this is not a frosting for the faint-hearted – which stabilises the buttercream.
Make sure the mixing bowl has cooled to room temperature before adding the butter otherwise the butter will melt. If that happens, chill the buttercream for 5-10 minutes and they try beating it again. If the buttercream looks a bit curdle then the butter was probably too cold. You want the butter to be soft enough to incorporate into the buttercream.
The recipe makes one large layer cake or one large bundt cake or at least 24 cupcakes. I baked mine in small tins and then halved the sponges hence the many layers of this cake. It would be perfect as a birthday cake or as a baby / wedding shower cake.
I made this cake when I visited Aimee of Twigg Studios recently and somehow added only half of the milk required as I was making the recipe from memory. Amazingly, the cake came out alright – slightly denser than usual but no less delicious.
I hope you will make it and let me know how you like it! I am always so thrilled when I see your recreations on Instagram, so please tag me and make my day!
For more cake inspo, take a look at these recipes
- Lemon and elderflower wedding cake
- Orange sour cream bundt cake
- Red velvet layer cake with vanilla and strawberry frosting
- Showstopping Christmas layer cake
- Tiramisu naked cake with mascarpone frosting
Earl Grey layer cake with Swiss buttercream and Earl Grey Caramel
Earl Grey caramel
- 150 g | 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp Earl Grey tea
- 1 tbsp honey
- 120 ml | 1/2 cup double cream
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp vanilla paste
For the cake
- 350 g | 12.3oz | 2¾ cups plain flour
- 330 g | 11.6oz | 1⅔ cups caster sugar
- 60 | 2oz | 1/3 cup ground almonds
- 2 tbsp Earl Grey tea
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 large eggs
- 200 g | 7oz | ¾ cup + 1 heaped tbsp cold unsalted butter cubed
- 200 ml | 7 fl oz | 3/4 cup + 1 tbsp whole milk
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- zest of 1/2 orange
- 150 ml | 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp egg whites
- 250 g | 1 1/4 cup sugar
- 450 g | 2 cups | 4 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla paste
Make the caramel
- Put the sugar, tea, honey and 3 tablespoons water in a saucepan. Stir to combine and then cook over high heat, swirling the pan, until it turns a golden colour. This can take up to 10 minutes.
- Take off the heat and whisk in the cream – be careful as this will cause the caramel to rise in the pan.
- Add the butter and vanilla and stir to combine. You can reduce the caramel further by cooking it over low heat for a bit longer.
- Strain the caramel into a clean jar (makes around 240ml / 1cup) and discard the tea leaves. Leave to cool before using.
Make the cake
- Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Spray three 20cm (8in) cake tins with cake release, lining the bottoms with baking paper.
- Add the tea leaves to a pestle and mortar and grind until you have a fine powder.
- Add all the dry ingredients - flour, sugar, ground almonds, tea, baking powder / soda, salt, orange zest - in the bowl of your stand mixer or food processor. Briefly mix or pulse to combine.
- Add the cubed butter and mix with the paddle attachment on low speed until the batter resembles breadcrumbs. If you are using a food processor pulse a few times to achieve this texture.
- Add the eggs and beat to combine, scraping the sides of the bowl to ensure everything is well mixed.
- Add the milk and lemon juice and beat until the batter is completely smooth, again scraping the sides of the bowl.
- Divide between the cake tins and bake for 28-30 minutes until cakes are well risen, springy to the touch and coming away from the tin edges. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean.
- Cool in the tins for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
Make the buttercream
- Put the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer and stir with a balloon whisk to combine.
- Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water.
- Keep whisking until the mixture reaches 70C (160F) on a digital thermometer - or until hot to the touch.
- Fit the mixing bowl onto the mixer and beat with the whisk attachment at high speed for about 10 minutes, until you have peaks and the bowl is barely warm to the touch.
- Reduce speed to medium and start adding the butter, one big chunk at a time. Once the butter is incorporated, add the vanilla paste, turn speed to medium-high and beat until the buttercream is smooth and forms peaks.
Assemble the cake
- Transfer the buttercream into a large piping bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe a generous amount of buttercream over the bottom cake layer.
- Drizzle with some of the caramel and top with the second layer.
- Top the second layer with buttercream and caramel and then add the top layer.
- You will have enough buttercream to cover the entire cake with frosting if you like. Alternatively pipe more buttercream on the top and drizzle with the caramel.
- To make a bundt cake, grease a 10-cup bundt tin and add the batter. Bake for 50 mins –1 hour. Drizzle with a simple lemon or blackberry glaze.
- You can bake this in four 15cm (6in) cake tins which will make for a smaller but tall cake. Instead of the Swiss buttercream, you can use freshly whipped cream and decorate the cake with fresh berries.
- Cake will keep in the fridge for 3 days .
- Caramel sauce will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.