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Earl Grey Lavender Cake

This earl grey lavender cake has the perfect balance of flavor, from the delicate floral notes of lavender to that distinct earl grey flavor!

image of an earl grey lavender layer cake decorated with buttercream flowers

How to Make This Earl Grey Lavender Cake

To make sure this cake turns out as amazing as possible, let’s walk through each step together! I’ve also included a video tutorial of the process below.

I figured it might be helpful to know what tools I use too, so I’ve shared a list below.

Not all of these are mandatory, but they make the process a lot easier. If you don’t have all these things on hand, feel free to improvise and work with what you have.

Step 1: Bake the Earl Grey Lavender Cake Layers

First, we make the earl grey lavender cake batter following the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans and bake for 32-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Remove the cake layers from the oven and let them cool in the pans for about 10 minutes.

Gently run an offset spatula around the rim of the cake pans to loosen them, then flip them into wire racks to finish cooling.

Once cooled, use a serrated knife to level the top of each cake layer.

image of earl grey lavender cake layers that have been leveled with a serrated knife

If you’re making these in advance, you can wrap and freeze them at this point.

Step 2: Make the Earl Grey Lavender Frosting

While the cake layers bake and cool, make the earl grey lavender frosting.

I like to use my Swiss meringue buttercream as a base, because it isn’t too sweet and really lets the flavors in this buttercream shine through!

image of lavender Swiss meringue buttercream being mixed in a KitchenAid mixer

If you aren’t a fan of SMBC, I’d recommend making a batch of my American buttercream or my hybrid buttercream and adding the lavender milk to them.

This frosting can also be made in advance if needed and kept in the fridge for up to a month.

Step 3: Stack and Fill the Cake Layers

Then it’s time to assemble this cake! Stack and frost cake layers on a greaseproof cake board or flat plate. Use a dab of buttercream to help stick the first cake layer to the board.

Spread an even layer of buttercream on top of each cake layer with a large offset spatula.

Repeat with the remaining cake layers and place the top cake layer upside down to make it easier to frost.

image of earl grey lavender cake layers that have been stacked and filled with buttercream frosting

Step 4: Crumb Coat the Cake

Spread a thin coat of frosting around the cake to fully cover the cake layers.

image of an earl grey lavender cake that's being crumb coated with buttercream

Smooth using a large offset spatula or bench scraper, then chill the cake in the fridge (30 minutes) or freezer (10 minutes) until the frosting is firm to the touch.

Step 5: Add the Second Layer of Frosting & Decorate

Then add a second, thicker layer of frosting to the cake and smooth using a bench scraper.

If you’re having a hard time getting your frosting smooth, I recommend checking out my post on how to frost a cake smoothly for all my tips!

Or if you’re more of a visual learner, I also have a detailed video tutorial on YouTube.

image of earl grey lavender buttercream being smoothed onto a cake with a bench scraper

The next step is totally optional, but I like to decorate the cake with a ring of buttercream flowers.

Place each color of frosting in its own piping bag fit with couplers and pipe a floral design around the sides of the cake like in the picture below.

I used a Wilton 325 tip to pipe the leaves, a small french tip and an open star tip to pipe the flowers, and a Wilton 5 tip to pipe the little dots.

image of an earl grey lavender layer cake decorated with buttercream flowers

Substitutions and Swaps – Earl Grey Lavender Cake Layers

This recipe uses quite a few ingredients and I know you might not have them all on hand. Or if you have food allergies or restrictions, I’ve got you covered.

Below are some swaps and substitutions that can be made in this cake recipe.

  • Cake Flour – This recipe turns out best with cake flour, but you can use a gluten free flour blend or all purpose flour if that’s all you have on hand.
  • Granulated Sugar – I do not recommend reducing the amount of sugar because it will change the texture of the cake layers.
  • Unsalted Butter – If you only have salted butter on hand, you can use it in place of the unsalted butter in this recipe. Just be sure to omit the salt that this cake recipe calls for. You can also use vegan butter in its place (and also omit the salt)!
  • Egg whites – I like to use the pasteurized egg whites that come in a carton, but you can also use 7 fresh egg whites or 4 whole, large eggs. If you have an egg allergy you can use flaxseed eggs or an egg replacer.
  • Sour Cream – You can also use full fat yogurt, whole milk, or an alternative yogurt or milk (almond, soy, oat) if you’re dairy free.
  • Vegetable Oil – You can use any flavorless oil in this recipe. Canola or even sunflower oil would work great!
  • Culinary Lavender – I like to use culinary lavender in this recipe that I order on Amazon. You can also find it at some specialty food stores.
image of dried lavender and earl grey tea

Substitutions and Swaps – Earl Grey Lavender Buttercream

  • Unsalted Butter – If you only have salted butter on hand, you can use it in place of the unsalted butter. Just be sure to omit the salt that this frosting recipe calls for. You can also use vegan butter in its place (and omit the salt)!
  • Heavy Cream – Whole milk or alternative milk (soy, almond, oat) will work fine in this frosting recipe if that’s what you have on hand.

Making This Cake in Advance and Storage Tips

I recommend making the cake layers in advance and freezing them. It breaks the process up and makes it more approachable.

You can also make your frosting ahead of time too or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to a month.

Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.

If you cut into the cake and have leftovers, use any remaining frosting to cover the cut section to keep it moist and store in the fridge for up to a week.

image of a slice of earl grey lavender cake on plate that's been cut into with a fork

Tips for Making the Best Earl Grey Cake

  • Let the dried lavender and earl grey tea steep in the milk for 15 minutes to give this cake an amazing flavor!
  • Properly measure your flour. Either spoon it into the cup measure, then level with a knife or use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients.
  • Ingredients at room temp mix together better, so be sure to set out any cold ingredients ahead of time.
  • Chill your cake layers in the freezer for about 20 minutes before assembling the cake. This makes them easier to stack and frost.
  • Level your room temperature or thawed cake layers with a serrated knife to make them easier to stack.
  • Crumb coat and chill your cake, then smooth on a second layer of frosting. This will help make sure your final coat of frosting is crumb-free and beautiful.
image of lavender earl grey steeped milk being poured through a strainer

Let Me Know What You Think!

If you make this earl grey lavender cake recipe, I’d love to hear what you think of it! Let me know by leaving a rating and comment below.

Tag me @chelsweets and use #chelsweets if you share on social media so that I can see your amazing creations.

Other Recipes You Might Like:

Yield: 24

Earl Grey Lavender Cake

image of an earl grey lavender layer cake decorated with buttercream flowers

This earl grey lavender cake is so delicious and has the perfect balance of flavor between the delicate floral notes of lavender and the distinct earl grey flavor!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 55 minutes

Ingredients

Earl Grey Lavender Milk

Earl Grey Lavender Cake Recipe

  • 3 cups cake flour (360g)
  • 3 cups granulated sugar (600g)
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder (10g)
  • 1 tsp fine salt (6g)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (226g)
  • 1 cup pasteurized egg whites from a carton or 7 egg whites, room temperature (235g)
  • 1 cup full-fat sour cream, room temperature (250g)
  • 1/2 cup of earl grey lavender milk - made in above recipe (120g)
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil (28g)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (4g)
  • purple gel food coloring (optional)

Lavender Buttercream Frosting

  • 8 large egg whites (240g)
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar (450g)
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (454g)
  • 1/4 cup earl grey lavender milk, room temperature (60g)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (8g)
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt (3g)
  • purple, pink and green gel food coloring

Recommend Equipment

Instructions

Earl Grey Lavender Milk

  1. Pour 1 cup of milk into a small saucepan.
  2. Heat over medium heat until the milk begins to simmer.
  3. Remove the pan from the stove top. Add 2 Tbsp dried lavender and 2 earl grey tea bags in the milk.
  4. Let the mixture steep for 15 minutes, then pour the liquid through a strainer into a small bowl. You should end up with just a little over 3/4 cup (the lavender will absorb some of the milk).
  5. Set aside to cool completely before using in the cake batter and frosting.

Earl Grey Lavender Cake Layers:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C. Line and grease three, 8-inch cake pans or four, 7-inch cake pans with parchment rounds and non-stick spray (I used 7-inch cake pans).
  2. Mix together 3 cups cake flour, 3 cups granulated sugar, 2 1/2 tsp baking powder, and 1 tsp salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer on a low speed until combined.
  3. Mix 1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter slowly into the dry ingredients on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture looks like moist sand.
  4. Mix in 1 cup of egg whites on a medium speed until incorporated.
  5. Add 1 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup earl grey lavender milk (made in recipe above), 2 Tbsp vegetable oil, and 1 tsp vanilla extract. If you want to color your cake layers, add in a squirt of gel food coloring during this step. Mix on a low speed until incorporated.
  6. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then beat on a medium speed for about a minute to make sure everything is properly mixed together. This cake recipe uses the reverse creaming method, so this step is important to help give the cake layers a lighter texture.
  7. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 32-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs. Let the cake layers cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then run a small offset spatula around the perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. 
  8. Flip the cake layers out onto a wire rack to cool. Use a serrated knife to level the top of the layers once they're fully cooled.
  9. If you make these cake layers in advance and freeze them, let them thaw for about 20 minutes before making your cake. The cake layers should still be cold to the touch, which will make it easier to assemble your cake.

Earl Grey Lavender Swiss Meringue Frosting:

  1. While the cake layers bake and cool, make the earl grey lavender buttercream frosting.
  2. Before making the frosting, be sure to thoroughly clean your mixing bowl. If there’s any grease it can make it difficult to whip up the meringue.
  3. In a medium sized pot, add about 1 inch of water and bring to a simmer.
  4. Add 8 egg whites and 2 1/2 cups of granulated sugar into a large metal bowl.
  5. Place the bowl on top of the pot filled with simmering water. The bowl should create a seal over the pot. Make sure the water isn’t actually touching the bottom of the bowl, or it can cook the egg whites.
  6. Whisk the mixture constantly for about 3 minutes, until it reaches 160°F / 71°C. You can test the mixture to see if it’s ready by rubbing a tiny bit between your fingertips. The sugar should be fully dissolved, and it should feel super smooth and hot to the touch.
  7. Lift the bowl away from the pot and dry the bottom with a towel.
  8. Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on a medium high speed with a whisk attachment. Mix for about 10 minutes, or until you have stiff, glossy peaks that stick straight up.
  9. Mix in 2 cups of unsalted butter at a medium speed, 1 stick at a time. Then add in 1/4 cup earl grey lavender milk (made in recipe above), 2 tsp vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp salt, and a drop of purple gel food coloring and mix on medium until fully incorporated. The buttercream should be a light purple color. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
  10. The frosting should have a thick, whipped consistency at this point. If it looks lumpy or broken, keep mixing until it looks smooth and thick. If it doesn't seem to come together after an additional 10 minutes of mixing, check out my Swiss meringue buttercream troubleshooting guide.
  11. To make the frosting extra smooth, swap out the whisk attachment for a paddle attachment and continue mixing on a low speed for a couple minutes. Then set aside.

Assembling this Earl Grey Lavender Cake:

  1. Stack and frost cake layers on a greaseproof cake board or flat plate using a dab of frosting to help stick the first cake layer to the board.
  2. Spread an even layer of buttercream on top of each cake layer. Flip the top cake layer upside down to make it easier to frost and get sharp corners.
  3. Next, add a thin coat of frosting around the cake that fully coverd the cake layers. Smooth using a bench scraper, then chill the cake in the fridge (30 minutes) or freezer (10 minutes) until the frosting is firm to the touch.
  4. Then add a second, thicker layer of frosting to the cake and smooth using a bench scraper.
  5. The next step is totally optional, but I like to decorate the cake with a ring of buttercream flowers. To do this, color the remaining buttercream different shades of green, pink, and purple.
  6. Place each color of frosting in its own piping bag and pipe a floral design around the sides of the cake like in the pictures above. I used a Wilton 325 tip to pipe the leaves, a small french tip and an open star tip to pipe the flowers, and a Wilton 5 tip to pipe the little dots.

Notes

Making this Layer Cake in Different Sizes

One batch of batter is about 1800g, so I add roughly 600g to each of my cake pans (when using 3, 8-inch cake pans).

You can also use one batch of batter to make 2, 9-inch cake layers or 4, 6-inch cake layers.

I recommend using this recipe if you want to make a gingerbread sheet cake.

If you want to make earl grey lavender cupcakes, bake them at 350F / 175C for 18-21 minutes. One batch of batter will make about 3 dozen cupcakes (yield will vary based on the size of your liners).

Tips for Making the Best Earl Grey Lavender Layer Cake:

  • Let the dried lavender and earl grey tea steep in the milk for 15 minutes to give it this cake an amazing flavor!
  • Properly measure your flour (spoon into the cup measure, then level) or use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients.
  • Ingredients at room temperature mix together better. Set out any cold ingredients ahead of time.
  • Chill the cake layers in the freezer for about 20 minutes before assembling the cake. This makes it a lot easier to stack and frost.
  • Make a vegan or dairy free cake if needed! Use your favorite type of dairy free milk to replace the sour cream and heavy cream and use vegan butter sticks in place of the butter. For the egg whites I recommend using a powdered egg replacer.
  • If your hands run hot, wrap a paper towel, or thin kitchen towel around your piping bag to prevent the transfer of heat from your hands into the frosting.

Making This Cake in Advance and Storage Tips

Make the cake layers in advance and freeze them. This breaks the process up and makes this recipe more approachable.

You can make the frosting ahead of time too or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.

This cake can sit out at room temp for a day, in the fridge for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to a month.

Nutrition Information

Yield

24

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 349Total Fat 7gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 18mgSodium 299mgCarbohydrates 66gFiber 0gSugar 51gProtein 6g

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