This earl grey lemon cake features earl grey infused cake layers with earl grey buttercream and tangy lemon curd between each layer.
This earl grey lemon cake is everything I want in a cake. It has the fragrant tea flavour of earl grey in both the soft cake layers and the simple American buttercream with a bright tanginess of lemon curd in the middle of each layer to offset the sweetness of the cake. I couldn't stop thinking about this combination before I made this cake and now I can't stop thinking about making it again and again.
For the star element of this cake, the lemon curd, you'll want to make one batch of my lemon curd recipe. You can see that post for more detailed instructions on how to make lemon curd that I don't go into here. That recipe will make just enough lemon curd to fill one 3-layered 6" or 8" cake.
How to make earl grey lemon cake
Infuse milk with tea: In a small pot, heat milk until just before it simmers. Stir in the earl grey tea bags, cover, and steep for 5-10 minutes. Use a spoon to press tea bags against the side of the pot to squeeze out all the tea-infused liquid inside before discarding. Reserve about 4 tablespoons of this earl grey infused milk in a separate small bowl for the frosting. Set aside to cool.
Mix dry ingredients: In a medium bowl, stir together cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
Mix wet ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together melted butter, oil, and sugar. Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract until all combined.
Alternate mixing in milk and flour: With the mixer on low speed, alternate adding in half the flour mixture into the wet mixture, then add half the earl grey infused milk at a time, until both are just combined. Don't overmix.
Pour into cake pans: Divide the batter evenly into lined cake pans. For 6" cake pans, I filled each with about 450g of batter.
Bake: Bake cakes for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let them cool in their pans for 10 minutes before flipping the cakes out upside down and letting them cool completely.
Make lemon curd: Make one batch of my lemon curd the day before assembling the cake or before making the earl grey buttercream to allow time for it to cool completely.
How to make earl grey buttercream
Cream the butter: In a large mixing bowl, beat the softened butter with an electric mixer and paddle attachment until it becomes creamy and light in colour, about 4 minutes.
Add powdered sugar: With the mixer on low speed, add in all the powdered sugar. As the sugar is combined, turn up the mixer to medium speed.
Whip in earl grey-infused milk: Add in the earl grey infused milk one tablespoon at a time. Beat the frosting until it becomes fluffy and spreadable, about 5 minutes.
Add gel food colouring: Divide a small portion of icing into a piping bag and snip off the tip of the bag. If you're doing additional icing colours, separate small portions of icing out into small bowls and stir in gel food colouring and transfer to their own small piping bags.
How to frost and assemble a cake with lemon curd
Spread buttercream on first layer: Level your cake layers if needed until they are flat on both sides. Lay down your first layer on a turntable. Use an offset spatula to smooth a layer of buttercream on top of the cake layer.
Pipe ring of frosting: With the buttercream you portioned out into a piping bag, pipe a thick ring of frosting around the edge of the cake. This will act as a wall or barrier to prevent the lemon curd from leaking out.
Fill with lemon curd: Spread 2-3 heaping spoons of chilled lemon curd into the middle of the ring and smooth out.
Repeat with other layers: Place your second layer on top and repeat frosting an even layer, piping a ring of buttercream, and filling the middle with lemon curd. Top with your last layer.
Frost rest of cake: Smooth buttercream around all sides and top of the cake and smooth out. Decorate with any designs you wish. I've opted for some tiny yellow lemons with green leaves on my cake by portioning out small amounts of buttercream and colouring them with yellow and green gel food colouring.
Tips for success
- How to prevent lemon curd from leaking out of cake: Chill your cake in the fridge after you've piped the ring of buttercream around the edge and only add the lemon curd in the middle once the buttercream ring stiffens. Use chilled lemon curd straight from the fridge while it's still thick so that it holds its structure better.
- What to do if the lemon curd leaks: Quickly wipe up the drips and spread buttercream frosting on the sides of the cake, concentrating on the area between the layers, especially where it is leaking. Chill the cake in the fridge immediately so that the frosting hardens a bit.
- For soft and fluffy cake layers: Use cake flour and a mix of both butter and oil as denoted in this recipe. Alternate adding half of the flour mixture and infused milk into the wet ingredients, briefly mixing between each addition and don't overmix after everything has been combined.
- Can this cake be made ahead of time?: The lemon curd and earl grey cake layers can be made 1-2 days before assembling the cake. Just ensure the cake layers are wrapped in plastic wrap. The cake layers can also be wrapped and frozen for up to 2 weeks and thawed in the fridge overnight before using.
- How to store this cake: This earl grey lemon cake can be well-wrapped and stored in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. Let it come to room temperature for about 10 minutes before serving.