The Earl Grey buttercream that surrounds this stunning layer cake is as creamy and delicious as its drink namesake - the London Fog latte. Layers of classic chocolate cake are filled with this tea and vanilla-flecked frosting before being drizzled with salted caramel sauce.
To my surprise, this London Fog Cake turned out to be the number one fan-favorite cake from my cookbook, Layered. And while a traditional London Fog is heavy on the milk and vanilla side of things, I am thrilled that my combination involving classic chocolate cake turned out to such a winner.
A London Fog tea is essentially an Earl Grey tea latte sweetened with vanilla syrup. Here, I’ve infused the butter for the frosting with a generous dose of Earl Grey before whipping it up in my favorite Swiss meringue buttercream recipe. The loose tea flakes and vanilla bean seeds freckle the silky smooth buttercream.
The caramel drip far from traditional here, but I know you’ll forgive me once you taste all of these flavors together. And if you don’t trust me, then trust the readers - the love it too!
"Tea-flecked and silky smooth, Earl Grey buttercream is slathered between layers of classic chocolate cake before being blanketed over the entire thing. The cake layers themselves are extremely moist and versatile – the quintessential cake to fulfill any chocolate craving. To top it all off, homemade Salted Caramel Sauce! Any recipe that calls for boiling sugar might sound a little scary, but it really isn’t as hard to make as you might think. Several of the recipes throughout the book call for this staple recipe, and once you make your own, you’ll abandon the store-bought stuff for good. Trust me, fudgy chocolate cake, creamy Earl Grey, and salted caramel – it doesn’t get much better than this!"
London Fog Cake
For the chocolate cake
1 ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
½ cup grapeseed or canola oil
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
¾ cup whole milk
1 cup hot coffee (or water)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 6-inch cake pans and set aside.
Sift together the flour, cocoa power, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the oil and sugar on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.
Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Stop and scrape down the bowl. With the mixer on low, stream in the coffee. Mix on medium-low for no more than 30 seconds, or until the batter is combined.
Evenly divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Let them cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.
For the Earl Grey Buttercream
1 ½ cups unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons loose Earl Grey tea
3 large egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
Place ¾ cup of the butter in saucepan with the loose tea. Heat over medium heat until the butter melts, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the tea steep for 5 minutes. Strain the butter through a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl and refrigerate the butter until it reached the same consistency as softened butter, about 30 minutes. Small bits of tea may remain in the butter.
Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Gently whisk until combined.
Place mixing bowl over a pan of simmering water to create a double-boiler. Whisking intermittently, heat the egg mixture until it registers 160°F on a candy thermometer (or very hot to the touch). Carefully transfer the bowl back to the stand mixer.
Using the whisk attachment, whip the egg mixture on high for 8 to 10 minutes until medium-stiff, glossy peaks and the outside of the mixing bowl returns to room temperature. Turn the mixer to medium-low and slowly add both the remaining plain butter and the Earl Grey tea butter (a couple tablespoons at a time).
Stop the mixer and switch to the paddle attachment. Add vanilla and mix on medium-high until silky smooth, about 3 to 5 minutes.
For the Salted Caramel Sauce
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
2 tablespoons water
½ cup heavy cream,
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place the sugar, syrup, and water in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring the sugar mixture to a boil and cook without stirring until the mixture turns a medium amber color. Once it reaches the correct color, remove from the heat.
Immediately ( but slowly and carefully) whisk in the cream (the mixture will bubble up a bit, so use caution).
Whisk in the butter until melted.
Transfer the caramel to a heat-safe container and stir in the salt and vanilla. Let cool until thickened.
For the buttercream:
- If after the butter has been added and the buttercream appears to be curdled, the butter was probably too cold. In this case, just keep mixing! Instead of the standard 3 to 5 minutes, it may take longer (up to 10 to 15 minutes!) for the butter to completely emulsify into the meringue mixture. If the buttercream remains “broken",” try gently reheating the buttercream over the double-boiler then mixing again.
- If after the butter has been added and the buttercream turns soupy, the butter was probably too warm or the meringue didn’t completely cool before the butter was added. In this case, pop everything (the bowl and buttercream) into the refrigerator for about 10 minutes then mix until smooth.
For the caramel:
- The darker and longer the sugar cooks, the deep the caramel flavor
- Make sure all of the ingredients are measure before starting. Once the sugar turns amber, everything moves very quickly
- When pouring the caramel onto the cake, make sure it is no longer hot. It should be fluid enough to drip off the edge of the cake without melting the buttercream. If made in advanced and stored in the refrigerator, gently microwave the caramel until pourable.
- Follow the same technique for this Chocolate Drip Cake.