I have the perfect cake for that tea lover in your life. This 6-inch Earl Grey cake has just the right balance of tea-infused with bergamot essence. Delicious on its own, or frosted with Italian meringue buttercream.
Grease and line 2× 6-inch baking pans with parchment paper. You can also double this recipe to make 2 x 8-inch round cakes.Pro tip - I am baking in 2 pans, so I can torte in half to make four. But, you can also use 3 x 6-inch round pans to make 3 layers. That way you don't have to torte.
Dry ingredients - Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt – set aside.
Earl Grey milk – Pour the milk in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add the tea bags. Alternatively, you can heat the milk in a microwave-safe bowl. Leave to steep until the milk is cooled. When cooled, squeeze lightly.Pro tip - While you want to get as much bergamot flavor do not squeeze too much as the tannin from the tea leaves will add a bitter taste to the cake.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, oil, and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure each is well incorporated. Pro tip - Adding eggs one at a time will prevent the batter from curdling.
Next, add the flour, sour cream, and Earl Grey milk in three batches making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl. Then, add the vanilla and bergamot extract and combine well.Pro tip - Do not overmix at this stage as we do not want to activate the gluten in our flour.
Pour the batter into the two prepared baking pans and bake for 20 to 25 minutes on the middle rack or until a center inserted in the center comes out clean. Pro tip - It is a great idea to use cake strips around my baking pans to prevent a dome. That way you don't lose much height on your layer cakes.
Once baked, leave in the pan for no more than 10 minutes. Then, invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Pro tip - Always frost cakes only when they are completely cooled. Otherwise, the frosting will melt.
Place egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed. Once the meringue is at the soft peak stage, turn the mixer on low to avoid over mix and wait for the sugar to reach the right temperature.
Meanwhile, heat sugar and water in a heavy bottom light colors saucepan over medium heat. Once all the sugar is melted, place a candy thermometer inside. Continue to boil until the sugar syrup reaches about 238 F on the candy thermometer (softball stage).Pro tip - Using a heavy bottom pan will distribute heat evenly and prevent the sugar from caramelizing. And using a light-colored pan enables you to see the color of the sugar as you work.
Turn the mixer on medium speed and start pouring the hot sugar syrup into the mixer bowl. The sugar should stream between the whisk and the edge of the bowl. Once all the syrup is in, turn the mixer on high and whisk for about 3 minutes. The outside of the bowl will be hot at first and then be barely warm.
When the meringue is cold and the bowl is not warm at all, start adding the butter, one cube at a time. Pro tip - This is where 90% of meringue buttercreams fail. DO NOT add butter if the meringue is not cold.
Continue to boil until the sugar syrup reaches about 238 F on the candy thermometer (softball stage). This takes about 5 to 7 minutes on medium heat.
Once all the butter is in, whip for another minute or two until you have a smooth and satin-like buttercream that light and fluffy. Then, add the vanilla and bergamot extract.
Earl Grey syrup
To prepare the Earl Grey infused simple syrup - In a saucepan over medium heat add the water and sugar until all the sugar has dissolved and the syrup comes to a boil. Take it off the heat and add the tea bags and leave to steep. Let cool completely, then strain the tea and use the syrup for the cake. Pro tip - Simple syrup is just sugar water that has been boiled and cooled. It is used to keep cake layers moist.
Watch this video showing how I level, torte, and fill the cakes.Pro tip - Make sure the cakes are completely cold. Otherwise, the frosting will melt. Plus, the cakes are more delicate to handle. Chilling the cakes makes them easier to work with.
Using a bread knife or cake leveler, cut the domes off the cake layers. Then, divide each layer in half horizontally so you have four layers (2 x 2 = 4 layers).
Brush each layer with the cooled simple syrup. You can add a few drops of bergamot extract to enhance the flavor of Earl Grey.
Place the cake in the fridge to chill for 10 to 15 minutes.Pro tip - Chilling the cake at this point will ensure the layers don't move when you frost the outside. Though, if you leave the cake uncovered in the fridge for too long it can dry out. So, 10 minutes is all you need.
Divide the remaining buttercream into three. Color each with gel food colors. I have used three different colors: pink, peach, and a golden yellow mixed in ivory.
Place remaining frosting in a piping bag with a star piping tip nozzle. Pipe straight lines vertically around and top of the cake. For the sides, start from the bottom to the top and from the top starting from outside towards the center. Decorate as desired.
Use room temperature ingredients especially butter and eggs as these can cause the batter to curdle.
Add eggs one at a time making sure each is well emulsified before you add the next. This will give a light and airy cake.
The cake layers will stay fresh for up to four days at cool room temperature, longer if kept in the fridge.
The cake layer without frosting can be frozen for up to a month or more.
The cake once frosted is best kept in the fridge.
The Italian meringue buttercream (IMBC) has egg whites which are considered perishable.
In good weather, a cake frosted with IMBC can be kept at room temperature for up to 2 days.
The nutrition information and metric conversion are calculated automatically. I cannot guarantee its accuracy. If this data is important to you please verify with your trusted nutrition calculator. Thank you