Earl Grey + orange cake

I write this as a free woman. My summer technically began on Friday with my last exam; I say ‘summer’ – the downpour on the roof of the sports hall where we were taking it kind of suggested otherwise! Apparently there’s a heatwave headed our way at the end of this week, so fingers crossed! I came home, set up a Netflix account and ate biscuits for a good portion of the day. The only thing I’ve watched so far is ‘Chef’s Table’ and it was pretty good, but now I’ve legitimately got the time to get hooked on a series or two! Anyone got any recommendations?

Unsurprisingly, I also put some of this new-found free time to good use by baking. It was around this time last year that I made my first tea cake, and was instantly converted to using tea in recipes. Earl Grey is probably my favourite kind of tea to drink, but instead of pairing it with its usual citrus buddy – lemon – I went for orange. Granted, it doesn’t have a huge ‘wow-factor’ when you look at it, but this quietly-unassuming number is probably one of my favourite recipes. {Proof: just ran down to the kitchen to grab my second slice, seconds after finishing the first. You’ve got to be quick in a student house!}

This is a great cake for afternoon tea. It’s light, fragrant and moist – and not overly sweet. I’ve used this kind of method before to make last summer’s lavender and vanilla cake, and the same milk-infusing process works really well with tea. I cut down the buttercream as much as I could though. That cake was slathered in it, but I’m not a big fan of the sweet stuff. Hence this cake just has a little, and it’s flavoured with orange juice to take the edge off.




  • 1 cup milk {240ml}
  • 2 Earl Grey tea bags
  • 60g soft, unsalted butter
  • 190g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs {room temp.}
  • 50ml veg. oil
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 200g plain flour
  • 1.25 tsp baking powder
  • 0.75 tsp bicarb. soda
  • 0.5 tsp salt

Orange buttercream:

  • 50g soft, unsalted butter
  • 100g icing sugar {+ more to decorate}
  • juice of half an orange


Pour the milk into a saucepan and heat until near-boiling. Take off the heat, add the contents of the tea bags, stir, and leave with the lid on for at least 30 mins.
Whilst the milk is cooling, you can get on with the rest of the recipe. Measure out the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt and sieve together. Set aside for now. Zest the orange, and set that aside too.
Preheat your oven to 170*C and line a couple of round cake tins with circles of greaseproof paper.
Cream the butter and sugar together in a big mixing bowl. Add the eggs one by one, and beat in the vegetable oil and orange zest too.
Add the sifted flour mixture, half a cup at a time, and fold through gently.
Finally, strain the milk through a sieve {this’ll remove most of the tea leaves, though not all of them}. Pour it into the cake mixture a little at a time and mix through. It’ll look quite soupy.
Divide the batter between the two cake pans and bake in the oven for around 25 minutes. Check with a skewer to see if they’re done, and leave to cool.


Measure out the butter and icing sugar into a bowl, and mix gently by hand before using electric beaters.

Add the orange juice and beat for a couple of minutes, until pale and fluffy. Spread on top of one cake, and stack the other one on top. Dust with as much or as little icing sugar as you like!

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