Earl Grey layer cake with Swiss buttercream and Earl Grey Caramel
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 (see notes).
450g| 2 cups | 4 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
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.