Lavender London Fog Layer Cake

Fun fact: I'm going to Florida soon. Other fun fact: when I first visited Florida and passed a highway exit labeled "Tropicana Field" I 100% thought it was the place where the orange groves are located and got super excited and then basically melted of embarrassment when I was told it had something to do with sports. Other fun fact: it's Super Bowl Sunday. Again. And instead of a Super Bowl snack recipe, we've got a Valentine's Day recipe. Why? Because I un-apologetically care more about love than I do about which terrifyingly massive football player has hold of the ball.

Why does everything end up having something to do with sports? (said the girl who has to have the rules of football explained to her every. single. super bowl party in between trips to the buffet for more buffalo chicken dip.) Look, the Olympics are one thing. I think Molly Yeh might be the only person is who is more excited about the upcoming Olympics than we are around here. AGH. GO TEAM USA AND ALL THE ONES WITH COOL UNIFORMS!!! But when it comes to other sports I'm tepid as a cup of tea that has been sitting there for approximately one half hour. You know - the one who isn't cool enough to be iced tea and isn't hot enough to be Tom Hiddleston's tea My sports-enthusiasm and love-life summed up in one sentence. Cool.

Okay, let's talk cake. Are you madly in love? Or so single you're going mad? Or maybe you're just mad and need cake. However you slice it, this recipe could be perfect for you! After taking a poll, it seems like most of you associate flavors like raspberry, strawberry, and rose with Valentine's Day. And I agree - pink and red are the natural inheritance of a holiday built on love! But I wanted something a bit less predictable for this cake so when someone mentioned lavender, I started thinking about London Fog lattes. Look, if you want to feel embraced by a drink, you need to drink a London fog which is basically an earl grey latte with vanilla. And what could make a drink that feels like a hug feel even more like a hug? Adding lavender! Three smooth layers of silky, soft tea-flecked cake sandwiched together with a whippy, barely-there lavender Italian buttercream. If you, like my mom, aren't a fan of adding lavender to food, then simply skip the infusion and go with a traditional London Fog cake. I feel like lavender can lend a soapy flavor to some recipes so I put just the tiniest hint of lavender in this frosting. The cake itself is based off Sarah Kieffer's recipe in The Vanilla Bean Baking Book for a classic yellow cake, only I adjusted the recipe to make it Earl-Grey flavored. A tea-infused simple syrup brushed between the layers both seals crumbs in for easier frosting and anchors the idea that this is in fact a cake form. Last but not least, those little goat-shaped shortbread cookies? They're a nod to the fact that a cup of tea ought to be paired with some sort of cookie or biscuit if at all possible, but are also completely optional if you're like, "Hey, Rachel. I'm already making a cake - I'm not making shortbread as well." You do you, kid! There are two principle reasons I decided to cut these cookies to be the shape of goats. Okay, maybe three reasons. Ready?

  • My friends at the coffee shop bought me a goat cookie cutter for Christmas and I started the Whole 30 Challenge before I had a chance to use them and I've been thinking about the cookie cutter (and cake) all. month. long.
  • I feel like goats might eat lavender. If they had a chance. Also, "Earl Grey" wouldn't be a half-bad name for a billy-goat.
  • Goats are the perfect motif for everybody who doesn't have a Valentine this year. Why? Because....wait for's a "Lonely Goatherd" cake. GET IT? *sees self out*
Yes, this serene, delicious, goat-topped, hug-like cake is dedicated (if cakes are allowed to be dedicated) to all my single ladies (and men). May you make Beyonce proud. Regardless of your relationship status, I feel like everybody could use an extra cake in their lives. So live proud, friends. Make cakes and stick shortbread goats to the side of them. Stand behind that decision. And never forget that Julie Andrews is a queen.

To Win At This Particular Cake Game:

  • The frosting and simple syrup may be made two or three days ahead, as can the dough for the shortbread cut-outs! Though I was able to put this cake together in about two hours, if you'd like to split your time in the kitchen into several pieces, make these aspects ahead of time!
  • Please do not be intimidated by the idea of a stove-top frosting. If let your egg whites come to room temperature and make this frosting on a cool day with low humidity, it'll be perfect. If you feel a little cagey about my instructions, please read the recipe I based mine off of by Food 52's genius, Erin McDowell who is an expert and a very good explainer. I promise the foamy, ethereal frosting is a must for this cake and so completely worth the extra step of making a sugar syrup! Additionally, this recipe does not require any powdered sugar which A) saves you a trip to the grocery store and B) makes for a much lighter, less-cloying frosting with under half the sugar of a normal batch. I'm addicted.
  • Do not panic if your frosting deflates and looks curdled. The magic of buttercream frosting is how many awkward phases it goes through until it emerges as a fluffy beauty. Just keep beating. It'll re-inflate, promise!
  • I've instructed you to make the buttercream frosting as the first step. This is because you can save the egg yolks from the whites you've separated and use them in making the cake! I'm always down for less waste in the kitchen! Also because the least familiar step in this cake will probably be the Italian buttercream and it's worth using your fresh brain power if you're feeling intimidated.
  • The tea (and lavender) I used in this recipe came from my friends at Divinitea in New York! This isn't a sponsored post but they kindly sent me the tea to work with and I've loved every blend of the many I've tried from their company. For this recipe I chose to work with Organic Earl Grey's Passion which can be found here!

The Components:
- three 6" layers of earl grey cake
- earl grey simple syrup
- lavender Italian buttercream
- shortbread cut-outs

Lavender Italian Buttercream Frosting
makes 4 cups
6 ounces (about four large) egg whites at room temp.
12 ounces (1 3/4 cup minus 1 Tablespoon) granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried lavender (optional)
6 ounces (3/4 cup) water
1 pound (2 cups) unsalted butter at room temp.
1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
  2. Combine the sugar, water, and dried lavender in a medium, heavy-bottomed pot and stir over medium heat until it comes to a boil. When it begins to boil, stop stirring and attach a candy thermometer to the pot (if any sugar crystals creep up the sides, brush them away with a pastry brush dipped in cool water. Cook without stirring till the syrup until it reaches 240° F or the "softball stage." Strain the lavender bits out.
  3. As soon as the sugar hits 230° F, start to whip the egg whites on medium-high speed so that the egg whites are at foamy, soft peaks when the sugar reaches the 240° F.
  4. With the mixer running on low, add your strained sugar syrup in a slow, steady stream. Continue to whip (now on high speed) until the mixture reaches stiff peaks and the bowl is no longer noticeably warm to the touch. Your meringue will be silky with a shine, not dry or clumpy.
  5. With the mixer still running, gradually add room temperature butter in 1/2-tablespoon chunks, beating well after each addition. Continue adding and mixing until all of the butter is incorporated and the buttercream is light and smooth.
  6. Beat in the vanilla and mix to combine. You can use the buttercream immediately or refrigerate it in an air-tight container to use later. Coloring can be added now if you are going to pipe any decoration on your cake.
Earl Grey Cake
makes three 6-inch layers

3 large eggs
2 egg yolks (reserved from frosting recipe, preferably)
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 c sour cream
1/3 c. milk
4 Tablespoons loose-leaf Earl Grey tea (or four teabags)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 c (284 g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c (297 g) sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 lb (2 sticks; 227 g) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter three 6-inch cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan heat 1/3 cup of milk until steamed and reduced to about 1/4 cup. Steep 2 tablespoons of Early Grey tea in milk for 5 minutes, then strain. Add lemon juice and allow to sit for several minutes.
  3. In a large bowl mix together eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, sour cream, and tea-infused milk till well combined.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the butter one piece at a time with mixer running until mixture resembles coarse sand.
  5. Grind the remaining 2 tablespoons of Earl Grey tea in a blender or coffee grinder till fine, then add to dry ingredients.
  6. With the mixer still running on low, add in half the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Increase speed to medium and beat for about 30 seconds.With the mixer running on low again, add the rest of the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 20 seconds. The mixture may still be lumpy but this is okay. Scrape the bowl with a spatula and mix by hand a few seconds.
  7. Divide evenly between your three pans and tap the pans on the counter a couple times to pop any air pockets. Bake on the center rack in the oven for 25-30 minutes, rotating pans half-way through for an even bake.
  8. When a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, take cakes from oven and cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before flipping out and removing parchment paper. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
Earl Grey Simple Syrup
1/2 cup water
2 Tablespoons loose-leaf Earl Grey tea or 2 teabags
1/2 cup sugar
  1. Bring water to a boil on the stove. Remove from heat, add tea leaves, and steep for 5 minutes.
  2. Strain, then return to the heat, adding the sugar. Simmer, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until sugar crystals are dissolved and mixture has slightly thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool before using.

Shortbread Cut-Out Cookies
makes approximately 1 dozen cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  1. Cream together butter and sugar in a stand mixer, then gradually add flour. Beat until the mixture comes together.
  2. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1/2 hour. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  3. Roll dough out on lightly floured surface. Cut shapes and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes, checking occasionally, or until cookies have begun to turn pale gold. Allow to cool before assembling cake.
Cake Assembly:
Level the tops of each layer of cake. Brush cut tops with Earl Grey simple syrup. Stack by frosting between layers with buttercream, one on top of another. Frost with a "crumb coat," then chill in the fridge for 15 minutes to set frosting. Frost with a final coat, pipe designs if desired, and attach shortbread cut-outs.


  1. This looks like the most scrumptious thing!

    1. Thanks, Skye! It really is delicious - and unusual. Which is an ideal combination to my mind. :)

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