Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Best Cake I Have Ever Baked (with chocolate, lavender, and red tea)

Last summer, Megan and I picked bushels of purple blossoms at New Oak Ranch lavender farm in Ojai.  I love lavender, and gazing out into the fields, something about it looks so majestic.  A sea of lavender, blossoms singing in the wind . . . unlike the actual ocean with its frothy crashes, this sea is soothing.

Projects abound.  Lavender sachets for closets and drawers; lavender lemonade; lavender scones.  While searching for recipes, I found one that caught my eye: a lavender chocolate cake infused with black tea.

This recipe is not my own, but a recipe from Amanda at  She calls it Fudgy Earl Grey Chocolate Cake, but this title doesn't sound decadent or delicate enough.

The cream cheese frosting is infused with lavender for a delicate floral note.  I opted for a Lichee Red tea from Teance, which added to the floral flavor, but not in an overbearing way.

This cake is moist, with a complex flavor that changes as you indulge.  Rich, sweet chocolate meets lavender and the dark flavor of tea.  The cream cheese frosting brings a lightness, and ties it all together.

More than just delicious, this cake is simple.  This recipe also makes equally delicious (and cute!) cupcakes, which only need less time in the oven.

Don't be surprised if you find yourself planning a garden party around this cake.

The recipe is below, but my changes are here: 

Instead of Earl Grey, I used a Lichee Red tea from Teance.  Play with this.

I skipped the ganache and instead used the cream cheese frosting as the middle layer.

For the frosting, I didn't include (or have on hand) a lavender extract but instead I infused the powdered sugar with lavender.  To do this, simply combine lavender blossoms with powdered sugar in a container and let it sit for a few hours, or even days.  Then, remove the blossoms.

Or, if you are short on time, you can sift the powdered sugar with lavender blossoms, and mash the lavender against the sieve to extract flavor.

As you can see from the photos, flecks of lavender blossoms freckle my cake.  I love this look, and if you do too, just add very finely crushed lavender to your frosting (or if you decide to sift lavender with your powdered sugar, flecks will come through this way).

Decorate with lavender blossoms as you wish.

A Chocolate Cake Recipe, by Amanda
Fudgy Earl Grey Chocolate Cake
Tea leaves from 6 bags of Earl Grey tea, ground into a fine powder using a spice mill/coffee grinder
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1 1/4 cups cake flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups (packed) brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
Lavender Ganache (recipe follows)
Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease two 9-inch cake pans with butter then line the bottoms of each pan with a circle of parchment paper. Set aside.
Place butter and tea powder into a small sauce pan over low heat. Cook for 10 minutes until the butter has melted and the tea flavors have infused into the butter, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
While the butter is cooling, place the cake flour, cocoa powder, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk to combine evenly.
In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs and buttermilk. Add buttermilk mixture and the cooled tea-infused butter to the bowl with the dry ingredients. Whisk or beat until just combined. The batter will be slightly lump and that is okay. Do not over work the batter or the cake will be tough and dense rather than light and fluffy.
Divide batter evenly between the prepared cake pans.
Bake cakes at 325 degrees for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck into the center of the cake comes out clean with only a few crumbs but no batter.
Cool on a rack for at least one hour. To remove cakes from pans, run a knife around the edges of the pans to loosen then place a plate over each cake pan and invert onto the plate. Peel off parchment paper and discard.
Place one cake onto serving dish. Tuck strips of parchment paper under bottom edges of the cake to protect the serving dish from getting messy while frosting.
Evenly spread the ganache over top of the first cake. Place the second cake over the ganache bottom layer. Evenly spread cream cheese frosting over the top and sides of the cake. For best results, use an offset spatula. You may not use all of the frosting. Once frosted, carefully remove and discard the parchment paper lining the bottom of the cake.
The cake can be stored, covered, at room temperature for up to 12 hours before serving or refrigerated for 2 to 3 days.
A Ganache Recipe, by Amanda
Lavender Ganache
4 oz heavy cream
6 oz good semi-sweet chocolate, chopped in chunks (or chips)
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp lavender extract
Place chocolate and sugar in a heat proof bowl and set aside.
Heat cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Pour simmering cream over chocolate-sugar mixture. Let sit for 60 seconds then whisk until all chocolate is melted and the ganache is shiny and smooth. Add lavender extract and stir until incorporated. Let chill for 20 minutes, until thickened slightly, before using as a filling for cake.
A Frosting Recipe, by Amanda
Basic Cream Cheese Frosting
2 (8oz) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick butter, at room temperature
16 oz powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp good quality vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
Place all ingredients into a large mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer. Beat at medium speed until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.

Happy baking and happy eating!



  1. It all looks so wonderfully yummy!!! And, if I had known you were there, I think I could have shouted from my house and you would have heard me : )

    1. How funny we were in yodeling distance! Was this at your old house or your new(er) home? And yes, this is the best cake I have ever baked, hands down.