not my wedding cake

Earl Grey + Lemon Zest Cake with Vanilla Buttercream

Sometimes our family is not our family - this is an overwhelming cloud that hovers over my head often. Being adopted and coping with the lingering sense that I do not belong amongst the family that took me in haunts me at gatherings and around holiday season. More often than not, I feel more at home with those people that have carved out a place in my life. A chosen family of sorts.    

My dear friend, Morgan has become one of those people in my extend family. I don't see her often as she works long hours in her shop and I am treacherously busy. When we do find time to chat - our talks surpass the time we have allotted for it. Like a sister, she seems to know the rooted troubles in my mind. And thus poses the right questions to help me put anxieties into perspective. Candid and honest conversations with someone that isn't putting on a show and isn't just waiting for their turn to talk.

Morgan got married in mid-October. Prior to the occasion she asked me to make her wedding cake. She has fallen victim to my cookie deliveries since she moved to town, which prompted her to ask me. We tested to several recipes and landed on this one ... Earl Grey and Lemon Zest Cake with Vanilla Buttercream

Earl Grey + Lemon Zest Cake with Vanilla Buttercream
IMG_0254.Earl Grey + Lemon Zest Cake with Vanilla Buttercream
Earl Grey + Lemon Zest Cake with Vanilla Buttercream
Earl Grey + Lemon Zest Cake with Vanilla Buttercream

The recipe was adapted from Building Buttercream. It has a nice Earthy and smooth tone and taste. The buttercream is so sweet; it makes your teeth tingle while your tongue dances. Morgan is a vintage collector and had planned a rustic elopement for her wedding day - so the cake a rustic look rather than being perfectly manicured. Below is the adapted recipe:  


  • ⅔ cup milk
  • 4 earl grey tea bags
  • 2 whole eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon of earl grey tea ground to powder form
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon zest
  • 1¼ cups + 2 tablespoons (160 grams) cake flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened


  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour 3 baking pans (5 inch rounds) and line the bottom with baking sheet. 
  2. Bring the milk to a simmering in a saucepan.  Remove from heat, add the tea bags, and steep for 5 minutes.  Remove the tea bags and allow the milk to cool completely.
  3. Whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla in a small bowl.  Set aside.
  4. Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest, earl grey powder and salt in a large bowl. 
  5. Add the butter and cooled milk to the dry ingredients.  Beat until well mixed on low then increase speed for one minute.
  6. Add the egg/vanilla mixture in three additions, beating well after each addition.
  7. Divide the batter between the three pans and bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  8. Let cool for 10 minutes then remove the cake from the pans. 

Vanilla Buttercream + Simple Syrup:         

Before icing the cake, I coated the cake in a simple syrup glaze to keep the cake moist. To make the simple syrup combine ½ cup of water and ½ cup of sugar and heat in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved.  

For the buttercream, simply combine ½ cup of milk, 1 cup of soften unsalted butter, 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, and 6-8 cups of powdered sugar. 

Earl Grey + Lemon Zest Cake with Vanilla Buttercream

Rustic Block from Boehm Block and Board

Dessert Plates from Suite One Studio

All other pieces found at the Nashville Flea Market  

Maggie Pate4 Comments