Earl Grey Chiffon Cake



I love chiffon cake, as this was the default type of cake I ate when growing up in Malaysia. I like it ‘undressed’, but in the Far East the cake is often swathed in cream and fruit then presented as a birthday or celebration cake.

Because I like it plain, I had difficulty getting past my very aromatic orange chiffon cake and pandan chiffon cake. Having eaten too many insipid chiffon cakes, I  am constantly worried about how to get flavour into the cake without also making it heavy.

Last weekend Mr Gochugaru and I were in Berlin and we happened to pass by House of Small Wonder. On their cake menu they serve an Earl Grey chiffon cake. Earl Grey tea, with its distinctive flavour of bergamot oil, lends itself well as a baking ingredient. I have used it once before, in my Earl Grey tea (birthday) cake.

HoSW’s cake was light but the Earl Grey taste was not pronounced enough. This set my mind racing and throughout the flight back from Berlin to London I wondered how to make my own version. The restaurant promises a soon-to-be-released cookbook but who knows when that will be?


House of Small Wonder’s Earl Grey Chiffon Cake


After working through my previous chiffon cake and Earl Grey cake recipes, I came up with the recipe below. The whole recipe makes one very large cake or two smaller cakes. Making a chiffon cake is always time consuming. If possible, prepare all the ingredients the day before. There will then be less mess and clearing up on the baking day itself.

There are four stages to making the cake: making the milk tea, tea + sugar powder, egg yolk mixture and egg white/meringue. At the end everything gets combined, but initially everything must be made separately.

To amplify the taste of bergamot so that you get an instant hit, it is possible to use natural bergamot flavouring, available in the UK from Sous Chef. You will only need a drop or two. This is just as well, as the oil costs £1,000 a litre (you buy only 15 ml). I used some grated lemon and orange zest instead: for this, nothing beats a Microplane.


Earl Grey powdered sugar


The cake is baked in a speciality chiffon cake tin


A light sprinkling of icing sugar is all you need to decorate the cake


For the Cake (everything is weighed so it is fool-proof)


For the Earl Grey milk tea (to make 180 g tea):

300 g milk (semi-skimmed or skimmed)

3 tablespoons / 30 g Earl Grey loose-leaf tea


For the Earl Grey powdered sugar:

100 g golden caster sugar

2 tablespoons / 20 g Earl Grey loose-leaf tea


For the egg yolk mixture:

225 g self-raising flour

125 g unrefined caster sugar

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

125 g sunflower oil

125 g egg yolks (roughly 7 large egg yolks)

finely grated zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon


For the Meringue:

300 g egg whites (roughly 8 large egg whites)

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

45 g unrefined caster sugar



For one very large cake, you will need a 25 cm Angelfood Cake Pan, sometimes called a Chiffon Cake Tin. The tin has to be left UNGREASED.

The same recipe will fill two smaller chiffon cake tins, each with a width of 17.5 cm and 21 cm respectively. Bake the 21 cm cake for around 50 minutes, and the 17.5 cm cake for around 45 minutes. You can freeze one cake for another day, or gift it to a friend.

I used my KitchenAid but you can also use a handheld electric beater.

You will need two large mixing bowls, one for the flour and egg yolks and another for the egg whites. If you have only one KitchenAid mixing bowl, use that to whisk the egg whites and use any other large mixing bowl for the flour and egg yolk mixture.


How to Make:

Preheat the oven to 325°C/170°C.

Make the milk tea first so it can cool down: place the milk and tea leaves in a small pot and bring to boiling point, then lower the heat and simmer for around 3 minutes. Switch off the heat and let the milk infuse for 15 minutes, while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. To use, first strain the milk into a jug, leaving the tea leaves. You will need 180 g of milk tea for the cake.

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 TM bowl, then repeat). Set aside.

To make the cake, sift the flour, sugar and salt into a KitchenAid mixing bowl, or a large mixing bowl. Add the Earl Grey powdered sugar.

Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the oil, egg yolks, cooled milk tea and grated orange and lemon zest.

Using a flat beater or a flex-edge beater (KitchenAid) OR a hand-held electric beater, gently mix the ingredients to form a smooth batter. Keep this aside whilst you prepare the egg whites.

Place the egg whites in a separate KitchenAid mixing bowl (or a large mixing bowl) and using the whisk attachment, beat on a high speed until frothy (KitchenAid speed 6 for around 30 seconds).

Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form.

Sprinkle in the 45 g sugar bit by bit and continue to beat for about 3 – 5 minutes, until stiff peaks form. Keep watch over the meringue like a hawk so it does not overbeat, as the whites will then become dry and separate.

When the meringue is ready, fold it into the flour and egg yolk mixture, using a large balloon whisk or silicone spatula. Do this in stages, folding the meringue in gently until the mixture is well combined and there are no streaks of batter or meringue visible.

Pour the batter into the ungreased cake tin(s) and bake in the oven for 55 minutes or until the cake bounces back when touched. A metal skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Note: if using the smaller tins, reduce the baking times accordingly.


Berries are in season now so I served the cake with some blueberries, strawberries and raspberries. If I could get ripe tropical fruits, kiwi fruit, mango, pineapple and lychees would be good. In winter I would consider serving this with vanilla custard and perhaps some dried prunes poached in Earl Grey tea or orange juice, adding a little sugar if necessary.



Note: plates by Serax, which I bought in KaDeWe Berlin as it was heavily discounted. I know for certain it is available to purchase in London, but sometimes it is so much fun to have a souvenir of a holiday taken abroad.