Earl Grey layer cake with orange buttercream frosting.

Obviously, if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on bergamot oranges,
use those for the frosting. (Heck, you could even use real birthday candles…)


Loosely based on Whisk Kid’s Chai Cake and the frosting part of Minimalist Baker’s Ginger Sandwich Cookies.

This makes a full-size three-layer cake, and more than enough frosting to cover it.

2/3 cup milk
4 Earl Grey tea bags (or enough loose-leaf for four)

2 whole eggs + 1 yolk
1 tsp vanilla

160 g plain flour
1 cup caster sugar
2 + 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

110 g butter

Blue + red food colouring (optional)

For the frosting:
3 cups icing mixture
Zest + juice of one orange



  1. Preheat the oven to 175° C. Butter and line three springform tins (or cut three circles of baking paper and set two aside, if you only have one tin handy).
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk until it’s steaming but not simmering, then remove from the heat and add the teabags/tea. Steep for 3–4 minutes, then remove the bags and/or strain. Set aside to cool completely (or at least to room temp.).
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolk and vanilla until smooth/completely combined. Set aside.
  4. Soften the butter in the microwave (about 12 seconds).
  5. In the bowl of your stand mixer (or a large bowl, if you’re using hand beaters), sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  6. Add the butter and cooled milk, and beat on low speed until combined. Increase to medium speed and beat for another minute.
  7. Add the egg/vanilla in three stages, mixing til combined between each addition.
  8. Beat in a few drops of red and blue food colouring (if using) until the mixture is mauveish (or whatever says “Earl Grey” to you).
  9. Weigh out the mixture evenly into your three tins OR, if you’re reusing one tin, into three bowls.
  10. a) For the three-tin approach, bake all three at the same time for about 20 minutes, or until a bamboo skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
    b) If you’re reusing one tin, put one batch of batter into the tin (cover the others in cling wrap and leave at room temp.) and bake as above, then remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5–10 minutes before replacing the tin lining/rebuttering the tin, and repeating with the other two batches.
  11. For the buttercream: Sift the icing mixture into the bowl of your stand mixer (or a large bowl if you’re using hand beaters).
  12. Add the orange zest and two tablespoons of orange juice; whisk on low speed until combined. Continue adding orange juice a little at a time until the frosting is a spreadable consistency.*
  13. To assemble… okay it’s pretty obvious.
  14. Serve with a mug of Earl Grey (hot).


I always use a springform tin if I can (the cake is less likely to get stuck, especially if you need to use the tin again soon), but you could also use a good non-stick regular cake tin.

I made this the day before I needed it, carried it to work and assembled it onsite. The unfrosted cakes will keep for a day or two wrapped in cling wrap at room temperature; the frosting is fine in an airtight container in the fridge. Just remember to take the frosting out of the fridge about an hour before you want to frost the cake, so it’s not rock-hard.

*You want the frosting to be soft enough to spread at room temperature, but firm enough to hold three layers of cake together without sliding all over the place.



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