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Earl Grey and Lemon Mug Cake

Earl Grey and Lemon Mug Cake
Mug cakes are a lot of fun to make because they allow you to bake up a cake in less than five minutes, start to finish. I tend to experiment with flavors in mug cakes even more than traditional cakes because I know that I’m not sacrificing a lot of time or ingredients if a flavor combination doesn’t turn out to have the “wow” factor that I’m looking for. This Earl Grey and Lemon Mug Cake is a flavor combination that really worked, as I happen to be a fan of classic Earl Grey tea. And what could be a better way to serve a tea cake than to bake it right in a tea cup!

This cake uses Earl Grey tea to infuse the cake with surprisingly complex layers of flavor and really sets the cake apart from the usual spice cake or chocolate cake. The whole tea blend is used, not brewed tea, in this case. The whole tea leaves – yes, that means you should cut open a tea bag or use loose-leaf tea – add a lot more flavor than a few teaspoons of brewed tea would add, and they give a nice look to the finished cake! I also used fresh lemon zest in the cake to give it a bit of color and add a little brightness to each bite. Earl Grey has an orange note to it from the Bergamot oranges used to make it, so orange zest would be a great substitution for the lemon juice if you want to try it with different types of citrus.

The cakes have a wonderfully fluffy texture, like a good sponge cake. They aren’t quite as moist as an oven-baked cake would be, but they are meant to be eaten warm when they first come out of the microwave, so you won’t really notice this much as you eat. The cakes can be served as-is, along side a cup of coffee or tea, or they can be topped off with a little bit of whipped cream or ice cream to add some extra richness to each serving. I have been known to make these for breakfast – they are the perfect quick-fix tea cake for two – so I typically eat them plain.

Earl Grey and Lemon Mug Cake

Earl Grey and Lemon Mug Cake
2 tbsp butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp Earl Grey tea (whole tea leaves)
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp milk
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

In a medium-sized micowave-safe bowl, combine butter, lemon zest and tea. Cook for 45-60 seconds on high heat, until butter is melted. Allow mixture to cool slightly. Whisk in sugar, egg, vanilla extract, milk and lemon juice.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Add in to wet ingredients and whisk until batter is well-combined. Divide evenly into two 10-oz coffee mugs.
Microwave on medium for 60 seconds, then stir the batter with a fork. Microwave on high for an additional 90-120 seconds, until cake is firm and set.
Allow to cool for about a minute, then serve as-is or topped with ice cream.

Serves 2.

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  • Linda
    February 16, 2015

    Is it possible to bake this recipe in the traditional way in an oven or would it need to be modified to bake like that?

  • Joshua Hampton
    February 17, 2015

    I love this cake. I see it as an excuse to eat cake in the morning. Thanks for the recipe.

  • Nicole
    February 17, 2015

    Linda – This cake would not be quite the same if baked in an oven, however it will bake if you were to pour it into a muffin tin instead of a coffee mug. I would recommend adding Earl Grey to a different lemon cake recipe if you want to make one that is more traditional. For instance, you can add tea to this recipe, melting it into the butter and omitting the poppyseeds: http://bakingbites.com/2014/08/greek-yogurt-lemon-poppyseed-loaf-cake/

  • Elle
    February 17, 2015

    I’ve been obsessed with Earl Grey lately! This looks really good!

  • Shan
    February 18, 2015

    Looks fantastic!! And I may seem foolish for asking, but when you say 1/2 tsp Earl Grey tea, do you mean brewed tea, tea leaves, or a powder mix? I can’t imagine 1/2 tsp brewed tea providing very much flavor…

  • sk
    May 12, 2015

    Waiting for a reply since I have the same/similar question.It mentions tea leaves in the ingredient list but they seem too big.

  • Nicole
    May 13, 2015

    Shan – I mean using 1/2 teaspoon of earl grey tea (the dried leaves, such as you might find in a box of tea or the interior of a teabag), not brewed tea.

  • Shan
    June 26, 2015

    I checked back here today, and I saw your response and revision in the recipe–thank you so much!! I tried it just now with half the butter, and it’s DELICIOUS! Plus I was able to make a glass of lemonade with the remaining lemon juice I squeezed. 🙂

    SK–I crushed the tea leaves a little bit before I put them into the butter, and it worked out great!

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