Delicately earl grey flavoured London Fog Cupcakes topped with a tangy lemon cream cheese frosting are another tasty addition to my Small Batch recipes. A simple to follow, easy to make recipe, the bergamot from the earl grey tea leaves provides a beautifully fragrant, soft sponge that pairs so well with the citrus lemon frosting.
I created this small-batch recipe when we first went into lockdown in 2020. The realisation that we couldn't visit family or friends, and wouldn't be bringing that multilayered 9-inch cake to work to share with colleagues, was real.
Some of my favourite small-batch recipes on my site were born during this time, Banana Chocolate Chunk Muffins, Dark Chocolate Walnut Blondies and my Double Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies are to name a few.
These London Fog Cupcakes are made with a tender sponge infused with Earl Grey Tea. The heady scent and taste is intoxicating, soft and floral. If you've never tried baking with Earl Grey, now is your chance! Flavours like chocolate and blackberries pair beautifully with Earl Grey and so does the lemon that shines through in the cream cheese frosting. These are an absolute delight to make and enjoy!
Why you'll love this recipe
- Incredible combination of flavours. Earl Grey Tea is often drunk with a slice of lemon in it, so we are marrying those two wonderful flavours in these cupcakes creating tangy, sweet, heavenly cupcakes.
- Comes together easily. Infusing the cupcakes with tea is a simple process that I explain thoroughly and making the cupcakes and buttercream has zero complicated steps.
- Perfect for any occasion. These London Fog Cupcakes are absolutely delightful to enjoy at home. Once life resumes back to normality after covid restrictions these will suit afternoon tea, baby showers, picnics or family celebrations.
London Fog cupcakes
- Earl grey tea leaves- The tea leaves are added in two different ways. Firstly by infusing milk with an Earl Grey teabag and then by adding ground tea leaves straight into the batter. I used a teabag to infuse the milk with, and then the contents of another teabag for the batter. It couldn't be easier.
- Milk - Whole milk provides the perfect richness for and vestibule for the tea leaves to flavour which carries through into the sponge.
- Butter - I always bake with unsalted so that I can control the level of salt in the rest of the bake. Just make sure it's at room temperature so that it creams easily with the sugar.
- Sugar - Regular white granulated sugar is perfect for the floral tea flavour and tangy citrus hit in the frosting. The sugar not only adds sweetness but also structure to the sponge.
- Egg - One medium egg is needed to bind 6 cupcakes. Place in a bowl of warm water for ten minutes if you forget to bring it to room temperature before baking.
- Vanilla extract - The vanilla extract sits well with the earl grey flavours.
- Flour - Plain (all-purpose flour) is used in these cupcakes. I recommend weighing the flour with digital scales so as not to overmeasure and create a dry sponge.
- Baking Powder - just a small amount is needed as the leavening agent for the sponge.
- Salt - Use fine salt to create balance in the sweetness of the sponges and frosting.
Lemon cream cheese frosting
- Lemon - Both the juice and zest are added to the cream cheese frosting for that tangy lemon hit.
- Powdered icing sugar (Confectioners' Icing Sugar) - if you have large lumps then pass the sugar through a sieve, otherwise use a fork to whisk it quickly to remove any small lumps.
- Cream cheese - use full-fat Philadelphia Cream Cheese for superior quality and flavour.
- Butter - make sure the unsalted butter is at room temperature when you beat the frosting as it aerates and provides some structure to the frosting.
There are only two components to these London Fog Cupcakes, the earl grey sponge and the lemon frosting. The milk is infused with the tea whilst you make the sponge batter and then add in the milk in the last step. Once the cupcakes are baked and cooling, the lemon frosting is made in only a matter of minutes.
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list & instructions!*
Make the Earl Tea infused sponge cakes
1. Infuse the milk with Earl Grey Tea. In a small saucepan, place the milk and one of the two teabags. Don't cut it open- just pop it in like you would be brewing a cup of tea. Heat the milk gently over low heat until a few bubbles start to appear.
You really just want warm milk for the tea to accelerate its infusion. Remove the pan from the heat and then stir the tea bag around, squeezing it on the side occasionally. Then set aside until needed later on in the recipe. (Image 1 & 2)
2. Cream butter, and sugar. In a bowl, using a handheld electric beater, cream the butter and sugar until pale and thickened. As mentioned in the ingredients list, the butter needs to be at room temperature so that you can aerate it sufficiently and help the sugar to dissolve whilst creaming (Image 3 & 4).
3. Add in vanilla extract and egg. Add in the vanilla extract and egg and whisk until combined. It may look a little curdled, don't worry though, adding the dry ingredients in the next step will fix this (Image 5 & 6).
4. Sift in the dry ingredients. Right into the mixing bowl, sift in the flour and baking powder (no need to sift it into another bowl and make more washing up!). Add the tea leaves from the teabag by cutting open the teabag and pouring them in. If you have teabags with larger tea leaves, then use a mortar and pestle to grind them down. Add in the baking powder and salt (Image 7).
Beat until the dry ingredients are just combined.
5. Add steeped milk. Remove the teabag from the warmed milk. Make sure to squeeze out all the earl grey tea goodness. After all, we can't call these London Fog Cupcakes without the prime ingredient, earl grey tea! Pour the milk into the mixing bowl and mix until just combined (Image 8 & 9).
6. Fill cupcake cases and bake. Divide the earl grey batter evenly between the six cupcakes. I find an ice cream scoop is the easiest way to do this. Then bake in a pre-heated oven for 18 minutes, until the sponge just springs back when pressed in the centre. Once baked, remove from the oven and cool in the cupcake tray for ten minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool fully (Images 10 to 13).
Make the lemon cream cheese frosting
1. Make the frosting. Add the lemon zest, powdered icing sugar, cream cheese and butter into a bowl and beat for 3 to 4 minutes until creamy and thick. Add half the lemon juice and mix again until combined. Check the consistency. If you want to pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes then leave it as is. If you want to have a looser consistency to dollop on top, then add more lemon juice and mix (Images 14 to 16).
2. Decorate cupcakes. Pipe or spoon the frosting onto the top of each London Fog Cupcake. Decorate with lemon zest and dried lemon slices (Images 17 to 19). This is optional but looks really pretty!
Earl Grey is one of those flavours that is distinctive but also versatile. It works beautifully in baked goods and sits well with plenty of other flavours. Here are some ideas to create variety with your London Fog Cupcakes.
- Earl Grey And Chocolate Cupcakes: Top the cupcakes with chocolate buttercream and some grated chocolate. These two flavours work surprisingly well together. Or try a whipped white chocolate ganache as on my White Chocolate Cupcakes.
- Blackberry Curd Earl Grey Cupcakes: A favourite recipe on my site. These are filled with homemade blackberry curd and topped with cream cheese frosting. The blackberry curd with the earl grey is dreamy.
- Earl Grey & Lavender Cupcakes: Culinary grade lavender is added to a vanilla base buttercream for a stunning fragrant hit.
- Use room temperature butter and egg. You won't get the same aeration in the butter when creaming it if you use cold butter. Also using a room temperature egg means that the proteins in the egg can be broken down more easily and air incorporated into the batter. Having these two simple ingredients at the correct temperature can help create a tender, light sponge.
- Steep the milk overnight. The earl grey taste is subtle and flora. If you want to create even more flavour, then follow the instructions to warm the milk gently and steep the teabag in it. Rather than removing the tea bag, leave it inside and place the milk in the fridge overnight. The next day, remove the milk (with the teabag in it), from the fridge, bring it to room temperature before using and then remove the teabag. You'll have a really strong infused milk that will pack a punch in taste.
- Add the lemon juice into the frosting gradually. This is only a small quantity of frosting so add any liquid (here it will be the lemon juice), a bit at a time so that you don't add too much and create a soupy mess!
Frequently asked questions
Thought to originate from Vancouver, Canada, the London Fogg Latte was created by adding milk to steeped earl grey tea alongside a dash of sweet vanilla. When the milk hits the dark earl grey tea, the murky, foggy colour was referred to as the London fog that so often descends on the city. And so adding earl grey tea and milk to a bake is my ode to the London Fog latte!
Some people aren't big fans of having ground tea actually in the baked goods. I get it. To get around this, just add both tea bags into the milk at the same time to steep. That will infuse more flavour. (Or check out my tip above to steep the milk overnight).
No problem. When it comes to steeping the tea in the milk, add the tea leaves directly to the milk and continue with the process. Once the tea has been infused into the milk, you will have to pass the milk through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the tea leaves.
To add tea leaves directly into the batter, I would grind them with a mortar and pestle first.
Yes absolutely- you can double, triple or even quadruple the recipe very easily. Simply use the quantity slider found in the recipe card. Your metric or US customary measurements will be increased accordingly.
How to store and freeze
To store: Store in an air-tight container for up to 2 days. Cupcakes can be refrigerated for up to 4 days but they will dry out.
To freeze: Unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen in an airtight freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature and decorate according to your recipe.
Equipment you’ll need
- Large Mixing Bowl: For mixing up your batch of cupcakes in.
- Hand-Held Electric Beaters: To make the cupcake batter with but also the frosting.
- Cupcake pan: Get your party started by placing paper cases in your trusty cupcake pan.
More recipes using Earl Grey recipes that you may like
- Earl Grey Crème Brûlée Tart
- Earl Grey French Toast with Blackberry Jam
- Earl Grey Yogurt Cake (one bowl)
If you tried these London Fog Cupcakes or any other recipe on my website, please let me know how you go in the comments below. I love hearing from you. Also, please leave a star rating whilst you're there!
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London Fog Cupcakes Recipe (Small Batch)
Earl grey cupcakes
- 4 g ground earl grey tea leaves, (about 2 tea bags)
- 120 ml whole milk
- 60 g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 100 g granulated sugar
- 1 medium egg, room temperature
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 120 g plain flour (all-purpose)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon fine salt
Lemon cream cheese frosting
- 30 g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 60 g Philadelphia cream cheese , room temperature
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 180 g powdered icing sugar (confectioners’ sugar), sifted
Earl grey cupcakes
- Place the contents of one teabag and milk in a small saucepan over medium heat and gently bring to a simmer. Place lid on the saucepan, remove the pan from heat and set aside for the tea to ‘brew’.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Prepare the cupcake pan by placing the cupcake paper cases into the pan moulds.
- In the bowl on a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy; this takes about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat for a further two minutes. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a separate bowl. Fold in these dry ingredients along with the remaining earl grey tea leaves. Pour milk into the mixture and stir until combined.
- Pour mixture into cupcake cases until ⅔ full. Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack.
Lemon cream cheese frosting
- Make the frosting. In a medium bowl, add the butter, cream cheese, lemon zest and powdered icing sugar. Using a hand-held electric beater, cream the frosting for 3 minutes until light and airy. Add in one tablespoon of lemon juice at a time, making sure to beat well after each addition, until the desired consistency is reached. If the icing is too thick, then add more lemon juice and mix thoroughly. If the icing is too runny, then thicken it up with ¼ cup of powdered icing sugar at a time.
- Decorate. Once the cupcakes are at room temperature, spoon or pipe the cream cheese frosting over each cupcake and sprinkle with more lemon zest and decorate with a dried lemon slice.
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.