Earl Grey Lavender Cake
This Earl Grey lavender cake is the perfect cake for you if you love floral flavors. It’s a simple buttermilk cake made with Earl Grey tea and culinary lavender and frosted with a lavender cream cheese buttercream.
I have a thing for lavender. I love it for its floral aroma. I also seem to have a bit of a purple food theme going. So when I needed a cake for my cake collection to balance out the chocolate cakes, I created this Earl Grey lavender cake recipe.
This cake is the fifth cake for my 50th birthday cake-a-palooza.
Cake #1 was the tiramisu cake – all the goodness of tiramisu without raw egg.
Cake #2 was the fudgy triple layer chocolate cake – the cake for chocolate lovers.
Cake #3 was the purple velvet cake – for those who like a little chocolate and a lot of fun.
Cake #4 was my favorite and the prettiest so far -a chocolate peanut butter drip cake.
Key ingredients: Earl Grey tea and culinary lavender
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.
I’ve gone easy on the lavender in the recipe. 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.
You can use Earl Grey tea directly from tea bags or as loose tea, but you’ll need to grind the lavender finely in a spice grinder. If you don’t have a spice grinder or coffee grinder, just chop the lavender as finely as possible.
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.
I am not a piping expert! To make stars like did, 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.
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.
You certainly could, but extracts vary so much in terms of potency. It would be 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.
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 boil until the sugar dissolves, and then cooled slightly.
- Skip the frosting and just dust it 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.
Love lavender? Make one of the other lavender recipes like the lemon lavender shortbread cookies or one of the lavender cocktails like The Lady Bridgerton or lavender gimlet. Or add a teaspoon of lavender to these Earl Grey scones.
Or just browse the Ugly Duckling Bakery cake archives for other single layer cakes and quick breads like this coffee and walnut loaf cake.
Earl Grey Lavender Cake
- Stand mixer or hand mixer
Earl Grey lavender cake layer
- 2 cups (280 grams or 8.1 ounces) cake flour plus more for flouring the pan
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 stick (113 grams or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened plus more for greasing the pan
- 1 cup (200 grams or 7.1 ounces) 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
- 1½ 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
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 (280 grams or 8.1 ounces) cake flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 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 4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened, 1 cup (200 grams or 7.1 ounces) 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, room temperature, 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
If you make this Earl Grey lavender cake, I would love it if you would share a pic or comment and let me know.
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I love earl grey anything! This looks delicious. I will definitely give this a try! Thanks for sharing the recipe with us.
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!
Can I substitute a lavender syrup for thr ground lavender? If so, how much should I use?
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.
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.
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!
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!!!
Thanks so much! I’m so glad you liked it.