Earl Grey Tea Cake with Buttercream Frosting

A Tea Cake That Doubles as A wedding Cake

Recently our Hospitality Director, Ali and her husband, Francisco tied the knot. The pair hosted a small reception at our Estate. To celebrate the occasion, our team decided to bake them a cake.
As office mates, we know that Ali’s favorite tea is a double bergamot Earl Grey, so the search commenced for the perfect Earl Grey tea cake recipe. This recipe is an adaption of a few we perused—after baking a test cake, we decided to amp up the Earl Grey to really concentrate it’s floral and citrus flavors throughout this rather dense, buttery dessert.
Ali and Franciso's Wedding

Photo by Linda Steely.

The recipe can be readily adapted to make the perfect afternoon tea cake. At its simplest, it can be baked in a bundt pan and finished with a light dusting of powdered sugar. To add moisture, and even more flavor infuse it with a simple syrup. Or, go all out and slather it (judiciously!) with a decadent vanilla bean buttercream frosting. 

For Ali’s cake, we tripled the recipe and used tiered 3″, 8″, and 10″ springform pans lined in parchment paper. We sliced each cake round in half, which gave us a total of six layers. The cake is frosted sparingly—the fashionable term you’ll see for this method is a “naked” cake. Ours turned out to be  more of a semi-naked cake. Successfully executing this kind of half-dressed styling takes research and patience, though we found several YouTube videos that do an excellent job explaining the technique. You’ll need a pastry bag, a sturdy icing spatula, and bench scraper to achieve the look. 
We served this with a glittery flute of our 2018 Mia Mousseux Brut Rosé, a pairing that proved to be as magical as the event itself. 



1 1/2  cups whole milk

3-4  tea bags Double Bergamot Earl Grey tea


2 1/4  cups all purpose flour

2        teaspoons baking powder

1        teaspoon loose Double Bergamot Earl Grey tea, finely ground

3/4    tablespoon salt 

3/4    cup butter at room temperature 

1 1/2  cups granulated sugar

3         large eggs at room temperature

1 1/2  teaspoons vanilla bean paste

1       cup Earl Grey-infused milk, cooled


1/2     cups butter, at room temperature

1 1/2  teaspoons vanilla bean paste

2       cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted 

2        tablespoons milk


1/2     granulated sugar

1/2    water

2       tea bags Double Bergamot Earl Grey tea

2        tablespoons whole milk


Preheat oven to 350°

Bring milk and tea bags to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and steep for ten minutes. 

Grease and flour two 9″ cake rounds (for a single cake) and line with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, tea, and salt until combined. Set aside.

With a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high until pale and fluffy, around 2-3 minutes. Reduce speed and add the eggs one at a time, and mix until fully incorporated. Add the vanilla bean paste. Alternate adding flour mixture and Earl Grey-infused milk, and mix until just incorporated.
Evenly distribute the mixture between the two cake rounds and bake each round for approximately 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Place the rounds on a wire rack to cool, then turn them out onto wire rack. Allowing cakes to cool completely before icing them is key.
For the optional simple syrup, place sugar, water, and tea bags into a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer 5 minutes, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from heat and steep for 5 minutes, then discard the tea bags and cool it completely.
For the frosting, cream the butter with a hand mixer until smooth and fluffy. Incorporate the vanilla bean paste. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until fully incorporated. Add the milk and beat for an additional 2-3 minutes.
To assemble the cake, place one layer of cake on a cake stand or serving plate. 
Top with approximately 2/3 cup of buttercream frosting and spread evenly. Repeat with remaining layer. Use an icing spatula to and smooth frost the outside of the cake. Use a bench scraper to remove excess the frosting. 
Wedding Cake and Flowers

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