Earl Grey Tea Cake



I love birthdays. In the week I made this Earl Grey Tea cake for Niece Number 2 I had already made two other birthday cakes, one lemon and one chocolate, for church friends celebrating their birthdays.

Admittedly I had never made such a cake before but could work out a recipe, based on the many other cakes I have made previously.

To start with, it is necessary to use some good quality Earl Grey tea leaves. You could also enhance the flavour of the cake and icing by adding a drop of bergamot oil which is extracted from the peel of Italian bergamot oranges. However it is easier to source and use some grated orange zest or regular orange oil.

The quantity here makes three 20 cm cakes, iced with a cream cheese frosting. It will feed 12 very hungry and 24 less hungry guests.



For the Cake:

450 g plain white flour

250 g golden caster sugar (plus 50 g powdered tea sugar, see below)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

½ teaspoon salt

3 large eggs

150 g sour cream

1 drop bergamot oil OR 1 teaspoon orange oil

175 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled

125 ml corn oil

300 ml hot milk + 1 tablespoon Earl Grey loose-leaf tea (to make a milk tea)


For the Cream Cheese Icing:

180 g unsalted butter, softened

360 g Philadelphia cream cheese

100 g icing sugar, sifted (plus 50 g powdered tea sugar, see below)

1 drop bergamot oil OR 1 teaspoon orange oil


For the Earl Grey powdered sugar:

100 g golden caster sugar

2 tablespoons Earl Grey loose-leaf tea


You will also need three 20 cm baking tins. it is possible to bake one large cake and then cut this into three horizontal layers before icing. In this case please increase the baking time to 55 minutes.



How to Make:

Preheat the oven to 180°C/ 350ºF/ Gas 4. Grease and line the baking tins.

First make the powdered sugar by blending the sugar and tea leaves in a coffee grinder. I used a Thermomix (10 seconds / speed 10. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and repeat).

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, 50 g powdered tea sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt.

In another bowl or wide-necked measuring jug whisk together the eggs, sour cream and bergamot or orange oil until blended.

Using a freestanding or handheld electric mixer, beat together the melted butter and corn oil until just blended (you will need another large bowl for this if using the hand whisk; the freestanding mixer comes with its own bowl), then beat in the cooled milk tea.

Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix together on a slow speed. Add the egg mixture, and mix again until everything is blended and then pour into the prepared tins.

Bake the cakes for 25 – 30 minutes, or until a cake-tester comes out clean. Leave the cakes to cool slightly in the tins before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.



To make the icing, beat the butter with the cream cheese and bergamot or orange oil for a few minutes until the mixture is smooth. Using a freestanding or handheld electric mixer makes a smoother icing. Add the remaining 50 g powdered tea sugar and beat again until everything is light and fluffy.

Use an icing knife to spread over the icing layer by layer before swirling the remaining frosting around the entire cake. Decorate any which way you like. These days we can get Earl Grey-infused chocolates (try Janice Wong in Singapore or Paul A Young in London) and this might make a nice topping dotted here and there.