Earl Grey Lavender Cake

This Earl Grey Lavender Cake is a dessert fit for royalty and high tea. But even if you’re not a loyal subject in a former colony who loves floral flavor, you can enjoy this simple buttermilk cake. It’s made with a blend of Earl Grey tea and culinary lavender and frosted with an easy lavender cream cheese buttercream. Make it for your next tea party or celebration and imagine yourself transported to a world where you reign supreme!

Loved this recipe, I had made like 3 double batches and made my mother’s wedding cake and every one was raving. Thank you for an awesome recipe – El.

triangular slice of lavender frosted cake with frosting piped into stars on a white plate with black fluting.
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Backstory

I have a thing for culinary lavender and for purple. So I created this Earl Grey lavender cake recipe to balance out the chocolate in my 50th birthday cake extravaganza that included my tiramisu cake, fudgy triple layer chocolate cake, purple velvet cake, and chocolate peanut butter drip cake.

 

Ingredients

small glass bowl of powdered lavender and a small bowl of ground tea leaves.

Earl Grey tea

Earl Grey tea is a black tea flavored with bergamot oil. It’s reportedly named after a British Prime Minister in the 1800s who ended a monopoly on trade held by the East India Company.

You can use either loose tea or Earl Grey tea bags. Loose tea has larger leaves and provides more flavor. If you love Earl Grey tea, check out this Earl Grey scone recipe too.

Culinary lavender

Culinary lavender is lavender grown for use in cooking and baking. This is the culinary lavender I usually recommend. If you have one, use a spice grinder or coffee grinder to chop the culinary lavender as finely as possible.

You can use your culinary lavender in other lavender desserts like lemon lavender shortbread cookies, ice cream, blueberry pie, and jams; in salad dressings with herbes de Provence; or as a rub for roast chicken breasts or pork. Or make a lavender cocktail like an Empress gin lavender sour or lavender gimlet.

Please see the recipe card below for complete information on ingredients and quantities.

Variations and substitutions

Lavender can taste soapy in recipes, so I’ve gone easy on the floral flavor. You could easily amp up either or both of the lavender and the Earl Grey tea in the cake layer. Or brush the cake with a lavender sugar syrup, although it’s already a pretty moist cake. Or:

  • Skip the frosting and dust your Earl Grey lavender cake with some confectioners’ sugar.
  • Make a layer cake by cutting the cake into two layers and use about a ½ cup of frosting in between the halves. Here are some tips for how to cut a cake.

Recipe tips and tricks

Making the cake batter

Unbaked, the cake batter will come about halfway up the side of a 9 inch round cake pan.

cake pan filled halfway with white cake batter dotted with spices.

Piping

I am not a piping expert! To make stars like mine, use a piping bag with a large star tip like Ateco #824.

Fill your piping bag. If you don’t have an extra pair of hands, you can steady the bag in a large coffee cup as you fill it.

Squeeze the frosting to the bottom, twist the bag at the top of the frosting so it doesn’t squeeze up instead of down, and hold it gently with your non-dominant hand. Hold the bag vertically and, using your dominant hand, squeeze the top of the frosting in the bag gently as you pull the bag up.

piping the lavender buttercream on the cake.

Round and round. It helps to have a cake turntable so you don’t get tempted to reach across the cake and lose your 90 degree angle.

lavender frosted cake on a cake stand partially piped with lavender buttercream from outside in and missing the center piping.

Recipe FAQs

Can I use lavender extract in place of the lavender flowers?

You certainly could, but extracts vary so much it’s hard to know exactly how much to use. You might use just a tiny amount in the cake layer and then focus the lavender flavor in the buttercream, where you could add it in a little at a time and taste it as you go.

Why do my cakes turn out dry?

There are a couple of reasons and potential solutions. The first way to avoid this is to weigh out your ingredients to make sure you are using the same amounts as in the recipe. There can be a huge variation in the way people scoop!

Second is because there’s also a lot of variation in the accuracy of oven temperatures. You only want to bake your cake layers until a toothpick into the center comes out free of crumbs. I usually start looking at cake layers 5 to 10 minutes before the cook time in a recipe, and I start checking with a toothpick every few minute or two once the cake stops wobbling. Moist cakes are so much better than dry cakes!

Lastly, one solution for a dry cake layer is to soak it with a simple syrup. You can use my lavender simple syrup or create one of your own with equal amounts of water and sugar plus a flavoring, brought to a simmer until the sugar dissolves, and then cooled slightly.

Can I prepare this cake in advance?

Almost all cakes taste best when served on the day they are made, but there are a few things you can do. Unfortunately your refrigerator dries out cakes and homemade breads, so avoid this if possible. A better idea is to freeze cake layers. You can also make the lavender buttercream and refrigerate it for a few days or freeze for a few months. Let the buttercream come to room temperature before re-beating and frosting your cake.

edge of lavender cake showing the single layer and detail of the piped lavender stars.

Browse the Ugly Duckling Bakery cake archives for other single layer cakes and quick breads:

Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-heart 💜💜💜💜💜 rating in the recipe card below. Let me know how much you loved it, or any problems you had, in the comments section further down.

Recipe

Earl Grey Lavender Cake

5 from 2 votes
Category: Cakes
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Cooling time: 2 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 423kcal
If you love floral notes in Earl Grey tea, you will adore this easy-to-make Earl Grey lavender cake made with lavender cream cheese buttercream frosting.
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Equipment

  • Stand mixer or hand mixer

Ingredients

Earl Grey lavender cake layer

  • 2 cups (256 grams) cake flour plus more for flouring the pan
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (113 grams or 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened plus more for greasing the pan
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon loose Earl Grey tea (or 2 tablespoons from 4 tea bags)
  • ½ teaspoon ground culinary lavender
  • 2 eggs room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Lavender cream cheese buttercream

  • 1 cup (227 grams or 8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup (113 grams or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • cup (175 grams or 6.2 ounces) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground culinary lavender
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 drop red and 1 drop blue food coloring, if desired

Instructions

Earl Grey lavender cake layer

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Lightly butter a 9 inch round cake pan, line the bottom with a round of parchment paper, butter the parchment paper, and then flour the pan.
  • Sift the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a small bowl.
    2 cups (256 grams) cake flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon salt
  • Using a stand mixer or a hand mixer and medium bowl, cream the butter, sugar, Earl Grey tea, and lavender until the butter is light and fluffy, scraping down as necessary, about 3 to 5 minutes.
    1 stick (113 grams or 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened, 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon loose Earl Grey tea (or 2 tablespoons from 4 tea bags), ½ teaspoon ground culinary lavender
  • Add the eggs and vanilla, one addition at a time, beating on medium speed for a minute after each addition and scraping the bowl down as necessary.
    2 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Add approximately half of the flour mixture, and beat on low until it is just incorporated. Add the buttermilk, and beat until just incorporated. Add the remaining flour and beat until just incorporated. During this process, scrape down the bowl as necessary.
    1 cup buttermilk
  • Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan, and give the pan a few thwacks on the countertop to remove any air bubbles.
  • Bake on a middle shelf in the oven for about 40 minutes, until a toothpick into the center comes out free of crumbs. I usually start looking at cake layers 5 to 10 minutes before and start checking with a toothpick very few minutes once the cake stops wobbling.
  • Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, and then turn the cake out onto a cooling rack and let cool completely before frosting.

Lavender cream cheese buttercream frosting

  • Cream the cream cheese and butter together on medium speed.
    1 cup (227 grams or 8 ounces) cream cheese, softened, ½ cup (113 grams or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • Add the sugar and lavender and beat on low speed initially (until the sugar doesn't fly out of the bowl) and then on medium speed until well mixed.
    1½ cup (175 grams or 6.2 ounces) confectioners' sugar, 1 teaspoon ground culinary lavender
  • Add the vanilla and food coloring (if using) and beat until completely incorporated.
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 drop red and 1 drop blue food coloring, if desired

Notes

Variations:
You can up the lavender flavor in this cake by increasing the lavender in the frosting. Or brush the baked cake layer with a lavender simple syrup.
The cake layer can be cut in half. Spread about one half cup of the lavender buttercream frosting in between the halves, then frost the rest of the cake.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 423kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 91mg | Sodium: 319mg | Potassium: 90mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 33g | Vitamin A: 799IU | Calcium: 73mg | Iron: 1mg
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Are you an adventurous home cook looking for inspiration in your weeknight meals and weekend baking? Get inspiration here:

 

8 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Made this for my best friends 22nd birthday! Paired it with ube ice cream! If purple had a taste, I feel like this cake definitely fits it! It has a very strong flavor too! Definitely did not need to add sugar syrup or extra lavender.

    I didn’t have a grinder so I did use a blender cup which oddly seemed to work.

    I am by no means a cake decorated so I tried my best with the frosting!

    It was definitely a big hit and I would definitely make it again so thank you so much for posting this recipe and all the details. Also, for having the measurements under each direction! That was really helpful!!!

  2. 5 stars
    Loved this recipe, I had made like 3 double batches and made my mother’s wedding cake and very one was raving. Thank you for an awesome recipe.

    1. omigosh, I feel so honored that you trusted me and my Earl Grey Lavender Cake with such a special occasion! I’d love to see a photo of the cake if you have one and are able to share. Cheers to the couple!

    1. Hi Lydia, you could, though I haven’t tried it, so I can’t promise how it would turn out. If you’re using a 1 to 1 sugar syrup, you’d want to reduce the amount of buttermilk in the cake batter, and I wouldn’t use more than a tablespoon or two. And it would depend on your syrup how much lavender flavor that would give. It might be safer just to flavor the cake with tea and add use the lavender syrup to replace the vanilla in the frosting.

  3. I love earl grey anything! This looks delicious. I will definitely give this a try! Thanks for sharing the recipe with us.

    1. Hi Heather. Let me know if you have any questions. And if you do make this, please let me know how it turns out for you!

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