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Earl Grey Cake

Earl Grey Cake with Honey Buttercream and Blackberry Caramel

Orange flecked Earl Grey cake filled and frosted with honey Swiss meringue buttercream with a blackberry caramel drip. Topped with fresh fruit and sugar blossoms.
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Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Dessert
Servings 3 - 8" cakes


Earl Grey Cake

  • 16 oz (490ml) whole milk
  • 6 tea bags Earl Grey tea or 4 tablespoons of looseleaf tea
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 oz (57g) canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 14 oz (397g) cake flour
  • 14 oz (397g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons Earl Grey tea, finely ground
  • Zest of one large orange
  • 8 ounces (226g) unsalted butter, room temperature

Blackberry Caramel

  • 1 cup (170g) fresh blackberries
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water

Honey Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • 9-10 (300 grams) egg whites
  • 1 ¼ cups (250g) honey
  • 1 ¼ cups (250g) granulated sugar
  • 3 ½ cups (793g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • Fresh blackberries and figs
  • Candied oranges, optional


Make the Earl Grey Cake

  • Heat the oven to 350F. Prepare your cake pans. Brush the bottoms and sides of your cake pans with melted butter. Line the bottoms and sides with parchment paper.
  • In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to simmer until bubbles just start to form around the outside. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
  • Place the 6 tea bags into the hot milk and push them down with a spatula to submerge them.
  • Let the tea bags steep in the milk for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the tea bags, wrapping each around the end of a wooden spoon to get as much milk out as possible.
  • Measure out 12 oz/355ml of the tea milk into a measuring cup. If you don't have exactly 12oz, use regular milk to top it off.
  • To the tea milk mixture, add the eggs, oil and vanilla and whisk to combine.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, tea and orange zest. On low speed, mix for 1 minute.
  • With the mixer still running, add in the softened butter pieces, a few pieces at a time. Mix until the mixture resembles cornmeal. You should be able to gather a bit in your hand, squeeze and you have a solid piece. This means the butter is evenly distributed.
  • With the mixer still on low, slowly pour some of the milk/egg mixture into the bowl JUST to moisten the ingredients, about 4 oz or 1/2 cup of liquid.
  • Turn the mixer speed to medium (4 or 6) and whip for *two full* minutes. The mixture should be whipped up, thick, and lighter in color. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure everything is properly mixed.
  • With the mixer speed on low, add the remaining wet ingredients in three parts, scraping down the bowl after each addition.
  • Once all the wet ingredients have been added, give the bowl a final scrape and mix with a spatula. Evenly divide the batter among the prepared pans.
  • Bake the layers for 35-45 minutes. Check the cake at 30-35 minutes to test for doneness. If a toothpick comes out clean, and the top of the cake feels springy and set when touched, take the cakes out.
  • Tap the cake once, firmly against the counter to remove excess steam. If your cakes dome at all, use a clean kitchen towel to gently push the domes down. Cool the cakes for 15 minutes in the pans.
  • Run a palette or butter knife around the cakes in their pans before turning them out to cool completely on cooling racks.
  • Wrap the cakes in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator a couple hours to firm up.

Make the blackberry caramel

  • Place blackberries in the bowl of a food processor and process until pureed. Strain through a fine mesh sieve set over a medium bowl, getting as much from the pulp as you can. Discard the solids.
  • In a medium sized saucepan, combine the sugar and the water. Stir just until combined. 
  • Place the saucepan over medium heat. Let the sugar mixture cook, without stirring, until the sugar mixture turns a rich amber color. Take the mixture off the heat to stop the cooking process.
  • Whisk in the blackberry purée. If the caramel seizes, put in back on the stove on low heat, and whisk until smooth.
  • Let the caramel cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a glass jar to cool completely.

Make the honey Swiss meringue buttercream

  • Weigh out egg whites, honey, and granulated sugar together in a non-reactive bowl, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the bowl and place over a pot of simmering (not boiling) water, whisking constantly and gently until temperature reaches 160F.  
  • Using a sieve, strain the egg white/sugar mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer.
  • Mix on medium speed with the whisk attachment until the mixture is glossy, reaches stiff peaks and the outside of the bowl is no longer warm. You cannot add butter to the bowl if it is warm or the butter will just melt when added.
  • Once the mixture reaches stiff peaks, switch out the whisk attachment for the paddle attachment and begin mixing on low speed.
  • Add the softened butter cubes, a couple at a time, until incorporated. Now, just let it mix. It might curdle or look lumpy but that’s ok. Keep mixing. This could take some time.
  • The buttercream is ready when it is smooth, satiny and creamy. Keep mixing on low and add the salt and flavorings. Mix until everything is fully incorporated.  
Keyword apple cupcakes, blackberry caramel, earl grey cake, honey buttercream, layer cake
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