Earl Grey Sponge Cake with Hibiscus Frosting

March 21, 2017 (Last Updated: March 13, 2020)

Here’s a recipe created from two of my favorite teas: an egg free earl grey sponge cake made with Earl grey tea and a creamy hibiscus tea (sorrel/zobo) frosting all in one cake!

Earl grey tea cake coated with hibiscus frosting

I love cake! Can you tell? This year, I resolved to learn how to make great cakes, so I thought I’d start with one of my favorites: a sponge cake! Everyone who knows me, also knows that I absolutely love my teas. I am not talking about the simple yellow label stuff, but interesting fruit, herbal and unusual teas that have complex flavors you can enjoy without milk or sugar. Two of my favorite teas are earl grey tea and a hibiscus tea that is commonly known as ‘zobo’ in Nigeria also called Sorrel or bissap depending on where you’re from (If you’re looking to try that out by the way, I have a recipe for some refreshing  African hibiscus iced tea). I have tea and cake all the time, and I love both together so a “stroke of genius” hit me one day: what is the best way to enjoy both my loves at one time? Use the tea to make a cake! So here’s the recipe created from my favorite teas: an earl grey sponge cake with a creamy hibiscus frosting made without eggs! I bake my cakes egg free since I have an aversion to eggs, but you’ll be amazed at how good this earl grey sponge cake tastes without them!The result was incredible! I seriously hope you get to try because of how delicious this is. Who knew you could create something so good out of earl grey and hibiscus tea? You might have to make an excess of hibiscus frosting because if you’re like me, you’ll be licking a lot of the frosting before it even gets on the cake!

Earl grey tea cake with hibiscus frosting decorated with coconut flakes and roses

How to Make an Earl Grey Sponge Cake with Hibiscus Frosting

Sponge Cake Ingredients

  • 400 g all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • ¾ cup 175 ml oil (use an unflavored oil like vegetable or canola oil)
  • 8 bags of earl grey tea
  • ½ cup of plain yogurt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt

For the Earl Grey Syrup

  • 1 cup brewed earl grey tea
  • 1 cup of sugar

Hibiscus Frosting Ingredients

  • 1 handful of dried hibiscus petals aka zobo
  • 1 lb./ 16oz / 4 sticks butter
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt.

Prepare the Sponge Cake

  1. Boil 2.5 cups of water and brew 8 bags of tea for 5 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 340 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour two 8-inch-wide and 3-inch-deep cake pans and set aside.
  3. In a bowl combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and set aside.
  4. In another bowl combine wet ingredients: the yogurt, 1 1/3 sugar, oil, 1 cup of earl grey tea (it can still be warm), and vanilla extract.
  5. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, and mix until fully combined. Be careful not to overmix.
  6. Split the cake mixture evenly between the two prepared cake pans and bake in a preheated oven for 25- 30 minutes or until a skewer or toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes, and then cool on a cooling rack. Wrap the cake in plastic wrap, and keep in the freezer until ready to ready to frost or for at least an hour.

Prepare the Earl Grey Syrup

To make the earl grey syrup to soak the cake: Simply warm 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of the brewed earl grey tea over medium heat until the sugar is fully dissolved. Allow the syrup to completely cool before using

Prepare the Frosting

Heat the hibiscus petals in about ½ a cup of water for 5 minutes. Allow the hibiscus petals to steep in the water until it is completely cooled. Once the hibiscus tea is cooled, drain the petals and set aside.

Mix and Beat the Batter

In a mixer, beat together on low speed, the butter and half of the powdered sugar. Add in 3 tablespoons of the concentrated hibiscus tea. Add in the remaining sugar and keep beating on low speed until the sugar is fully incorporated. Increase the speed of the mixer, and beat the frosting until it is light and fluffy. If you need to lighten the texture of the frosting, add more of the hibiscus tea/ zobo, a tablespoon at a time.

Assemble the Cake

To assemble the cake: Place one of the 8 inch cakes on a cake board and drizzle on the earl grey syrup to ensure that the cake is moist. Spread some of the frosting on top of the cake and place the second layer on top of that. Soak the second layer with more earl grey syrup and then smooth on more frosting to the top and sides of the cake.

6-step photo showing assembly of  sponge cake layer by layer

I couldn’t resist feeling the texture of the cake… nice and moist!

finger touching a moist slice of earl grey sponge cake

Earl Grey Sponge Cake with Hibiscus Frosting Recipe

Here's a recipe created from two of my favorite teas: an egg free earl grey sponge cake made with Earl grey tea and a creamy hibiscus tea (sorrel/zobo) frosting all in one cake!
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: British, Global, Tropical
Servings: 10
Calories: 520kcal
Author: Yummy Medley

Ingredients

The Sponge Cake

  • 400 g all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • ¾ cup 175 ml oil (use an unflavored oil like vegetable or canola oil)
  • 8 bags of earl grey tea
  • ½ cup of plain yogurt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt

The Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup brewed earl grey tea
  • 1 cup of sugar

The Hibiscus Frosting

  • 1 handful of dried hibiscus petals aka zobo
  • 1 lb./ 16oz / 4 sticks butter
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt.

Instructions

For the sponge

  • Bring 2.5 cups of water to a boil, and brew the 8 bags of tea for 5 minutes. And set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 340 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour two 8-inch-wide and 3-inch-deep cake pans and set aside.
  • In a bowl combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and set aside.
  • In another bowl combine wet ingredients: the yogurt, 1 1/3 sugar, oil, 1 cup of earl grey tea (it can still be warm), and vanilla extract.
  • Combine the wet and dry ingredients, and mix until fully combined. Be careful not to over mix.
  • Split the cake mixture evenly between the two prepared cake pans and bake in the pre-heated oven for 25- 30 minutes or until a skewer or toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes, and then cool on a cooling rack. Wrap the cake in plastic wrap, and keep in the freezer until ready to ready to frost or for at least an hour.

To make the earl grey syrup to soak the cake

  • Simply warm 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of the brewed earl grey tea over medium heat until the sugar is fully dissolved. Allow the syrup to completely cool before using.

To make the frosting

  • Heat the hibiscus petals in about ½ a cup of water for 5 minutes. Allow the hibiscus petals to steep in the water until it is completely cooled. Once the hibiscus tea is cooled, drain the petals and set aside.
  • In a mixer, beat together on low speed, the butter and half of the powdered sugar.
  • Add in 3 tablespoons of the concentrated hibiscus tea / zobo.
  • Add in the remaining sugar and keep beating on low speed until the sugar is fully incorporated.
  • Increase the speed of the mixer, and beat the frosting until it is light and fluffy. If you need to lighten the texture of the frosting, add more of the hibiscus tea/ zobo, a tablespoon at a time.

To assemble the cake

  • Place one of the 8 inch cakes on a cake board and drizzle on the earl grey syrup to ensure that the cake is moist.
  • Spread some of the frosting on top of the cake and place the second layer on top of that.
  • Soak the second layer with more earl grey syrup and then smooth on more frosting to the top and sides of the cake.
  • Optional: I stuck some roses (food safe roses) on top of the cake and decorated the sides with some coconut chips.

2 Comments

  • Reply
    goodness anny
    March 29, 2017 at 5:30 am

    I love sponge cake.how can it be done.without sugar.what r d recipe in simple terms,I don’t know how to bake but will b willing to learn.thanks medley yummy.

    • Reply
      Ms. Yum
      March 29, 2017 at 5:45 am

      Hi Goodness Anny! I love sponge cake too, but I have not tried baking sponge cake without sugar. In this recipe, sugar helps not only with the taste, but also with the texture. I know a good baking substitute can sometimes be stevia or monk fruit, but you will have to use a significantly reduced amount, and may also need to adjust the recipe. You can do a little more research and experimenting, then let me know what you find. Thanks!

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