I’m so excited to be sharing this jasmine tea and honey tea cake recipe with you! This is inspired by Mellisa Clarke’s Milk and Honey Cake published by the New York Times. It’s super simple and has quickly become one of my favorite cakes of all time.
For this recipe I used our Sweet Organic Jasmine Green Tea, but the simple honey cake base is sure to pair well with other teas (more tea options at the end). I am partial to Jasmine Green Tea because I love the delicate floral flavors it adds to the cake, which does little to overtake the rich honey-y flavor but instead adds wonderful depth.
So here’s what’s going to go down:
- Can’t Make a Cake Without Ingredients
- How to Bake: Step by Step
- A Vegan Cake Adaptation?!?!? What to use to make this cake vegan
- Some More Great Ways to Shake Up Your Bake: Our Paleo Alternative and Tea Changes
I’m usually not the biggest fan of cake, though I do love a good chocolate in moderation, but I’ve found that this is one of the few cakes I can eat multiple slices of in one sitting. Though I don’t recommend gorging oneself on this delicious confection, I hope you too can add this to your top favorite cakes! And stick around to the end where I give some tips on how to make this into a delicious vegan or paleo-diet cake. Plus, what teas to drink it with (spoiler alert: Sowmee white tea is my go-to!)
So without further ado, let’s start baking!
The finished cake, complete with a dusting of powdered sugar
Tea and Honey Cake Ingredients
The New York Times recipe makes two cakes that are meant to be stacked with layers of cream. I have included a quick whipped cream recipe as well if that strikes your fancy but I’m a fan of making just one layer. I think that the jasmine tea cake speaks well enough for itself and doesn’t need any topping. So the ingredients list below is for two cakes but feel free to halve the recipe, that’s what I do!
- 4 tsp of Sweet Organic Jasmine Green Tea (from just $7 including US shipping), or tea of your choice (loose leaf works better, but bagged tea will do)
- 12 tbsp (170g) unsalted butter cut into ½-inch pieces, at room temperature
- 2 ¼ cups (290g) of all purpose flour*
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt or about a pinch to taste
- 3 large eggs; beaten and at room temperature**
- 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk***
- ¾ cup (180ml) honey, raw if you have it**
- ½ tsp vanilla extract; plus an optional additional tsp if you’re making cream
- ¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar; plus an optional extra 2 tbsp if you’re making cream
* See below for paleo-safe alternatives
** See below for vegan alternatives
***If you don’t have buttermilk you can use a mixture of 2% or whole milk and white vinegar or lemon juice: ratio is roughly 1 tbsp vinegar/lemon juice to 1 cup of milk. The mixture is best used within the day but should last three days or up to a week.
Now Let’s Bake: Step by Step Instructions
Before baking we need to cold-steep our tea. Cold steeping, while more tedious, is the best way to impart the tea flavor into the buttermilk. First rinse your tea leaves: this helps strengthen the tea flavor by helping to unfurl the leaves, waking them up.
Add your tea to the buttermilk or buttermilk substitute. Stir well and place in the fridge for 4 hours or up to a day for a stronger flavor.
Depending on how long you are steeping your tea mixture you may want to add an additional tablespoon or so of buttermilk to account for possible absorption by the tea leaves.
Before starting it’s important to prep! Start preheating your oven to 350°F (175°C)* and grease one/two 8-inch cake pans. It may be helpful to line the bottom of the pan with greased parchment paper as well.
*For our friends around the world who use fan ovens, the conversion key from American recipes to Celsius (fan) is about 10 degrees less than the temperature listed in the recipe. So for our cake, you should set your oven to 165°C. You should also reduce your baking time by about 10% to 30%, which would be about 25 to 30 minutes bake time for this cake.
Sift together your dry ingredients, flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda, into a large bowl.
In a separate bowl mix your wet ingredients. Strain the jasmine tea leaves from your buttermilk and add the honey and vanilla. Whisk together until homogeneous - a uniform carmel colored mixture.
In a stand mixer or with an electric mixer, beat the room temperature butter to break it apart. Gradually add in the sugar and beat until paler in color and fluffy.
For best results, I find it helps to scrape the sides and the mixer with a spatula every thirty seconds or so and beat it a little longer than what looks necessary. This makes the process a little more tedious than just turning on your mixer and walking away, but it will greatly improve the texture of your cake.
Once butter is pale and fluffy, begin to add in your beaten eggs a tablespoon at a time. The mixture may begin to look a little curdled but don’t panic! Finish adding your eggs and then add a tablespoon of flour while the mixer is still running, this should help fix the texture of your batter even if it still looks a little lumpy.
Now it’s time to add your wet and dry ingredients. Reduce the speed of your mixer and add one third of your dry ingredients. Once that is fully incorporated scrape down the sides and add half of the wet ingredients. Mix thoroughly then add another third of the dry. Continue altering between wet and dry until you have used both up and the batter is fully combined. Make sure to keep scraping the sides!
Bake well little cake!
Optional: to make your whipped cream combine your heavy cream, the additional tsp of vanilla extract, and 1 to 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar, depending on how sweet you like your whipped cream. Whip with a handmixer until you have stiff peaks.
Finally, top your frosted cake with a drizzle of honey and a dusting of powdered sugar to bring it together - enjoy!
But what if it were a vegan jasmine tea cake?
But that’s not all! Obviously honey is not vegan, but if you’re craving a honey-filled tea cake, this recipe can be made vegan using a syrup or bee-free honee, oat milk, vegan butter and egg replacer.
One thing to keep in mind: When I’ve made this vegan version it tends to take longer to bake through so I would recommend you turn the oven temp down to 325°F (162°C)* and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes.
*This would be ~150°C for fan ovens with a bake time of about 35 to 40 minutes
Vegan Honey Alternatives
Maple syrup and agave nectar are two easy and great vegan honey alternatives, but they will change the flavor of your cake. If you're really hoping for the distinct honey flavor there are many options for bee-free honee. This stuff is usually apple based and is pretty easy to make yourself by just cooking down some apple cider with white sugar and a quick squeeze of lemon. If you don’t have the time or ingredients that’s ok! There are purchasable options for vegan honey like Blenditup’s Organic Vegan Honey.
Vegan Egg Alternatives
When testing this I used Bob’s Red Mill Vegan Egg Replacer. If you don’t have access to egg replacers there are natural replacement options like vinegar and baking soda. The box will tell you how much to use per egg.
Vegan Butter Alternatives
In terms of butter substitute, this is probably the easiest and most accessible. Many margarine and vegan butter brands make unsalted stocks for baking, I use Earth Balance baking sticks, but if you have to go with the typical tub of salted vegan butter, just skip adding the pinch of salt in Step 3.
Vegan Milk Alternatives
For the buttermilk, you can follow the same ratio of buttermilk replacement as when using whole or 2% milk (1 tbsp lemon/vinegar to 1 cup of milk/milk substitute). For baking, I love using Chobani’s Extra Creamy Plain Oat Milk. It has a great consistency and has worked wonders in every baking project I’ve used it in.
For more information on the many kinds of milk substitutes, check out our blog on dairy, Is Milk in Tea Bad for You?
Paleo Tea Cake Recipe
Honey may not be vegan, but it is completely paleo-safe. Baking nice, light and delicious treats that are also paleo diet safe can be very difficult, but there are a few simple steps you can do to take this cake there!
First, your sugar alternative: In addition to the sugar this recipe calls for ¾ cup of granulated sugar that is creamed with the butter. This can be difficult to replace because creaming together butter and sugar is a vital step to cake baking. I’ve found that adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of agave nectar (to your taste) is a decent way to substitute. The texture of your cake may change slightly but it will still be delicious!
Next, your flour alternative: Coconut or grain flours tend to be much heavier and may give your cake a bit of a crumbly or chewy texture, which is not what we want. I prefer to use roughly 2 cups of almond flour with an additional ¼ cup of arrowroot flour.
Now, almond flour is still fairly dense and can lead to a crumbly cake so the best way to bring the fluffiness back into your cake is whipped egg whites. To incorporate this into your recipe, separate your egg yolks and whites while prepping (when you would have otherwise beat your eggs). With this there are a few changes that need to be made to our instructions, so here is How to Bake a Tea and Honey Cake, Paleo Edition:
- Steps 1 - 2: Complete as described above.
- Step 3: This is not a change but an important note: it is tedious but you will get best results if you sift your almond flour.
- Step 4: Complete as described above.
- Step 5: Beat your butter as normal but where you would add sugar, add your agave nectar.
- Step 6: Instead of adding the full eggs, beat in only the yolks.
- Step 7: Add wet and dry ingredients as described above, alternate between the two beginning and ending with dry.
- Step 8: Before pouring the batter into your pan, add your egg whites to a separate bowl and whisk to soft peaks. Then slowly and gently fold your egg whites into the batter.
- Step 9: Complete Step 8 of the original recipe
If you’re looking for some yummy tea pairings for this yummy tea cake, check out our blog, Best Teas for the Keto and Paleo Diets.
The finished cake, with powdered sugar and a nice cup of our Buttery Delight Sowmee White Tea
Other Teas to Bake With
Not a fan of jasmine green tea? Here are some great other options from our shop that I think will go marvelously with this rich honey cake.
Now if you’ve ever had a cup of tea in your life, you know that along with honey, lemon is one of the best compliments for a nice cuppa. Lemon and honey? Don’t get me started! For some great lemony notes in your cake check out our Citrus Beauty Lemongrass Chamomile, which will be a great way to combine the lovely floral notes you get with the jasmine green with some lovely citrus zings.
If you want to stick with the floral vibes, lavender is a wonderfully delicate flavor that melds perfectly with this honey cake. Check out our Relaxing Pure French Lavender - so good.
Whatever you choose, make sure to check out our Brewing Guide to see how the tea of your choice might brew a little different. Some teas might need to be cold steeped for longer, others may need much less time.
A Note from Anna
I hope that you enjoy this cake as much as I have! I mean it when I say this has become one of my favorite sweet treats of all time, I’ve made a new batch almost every week this past month, which has totally been for recipe testing purposes and not because I can eat a whole cake by myself…
But when I do sit down and enjoy a slice… or two… or three, what was I talking about? Oh right!
My tea recommendations to cozy up with cake:
- A nice cup of “The Purist” Yerba Mate: With such a floral and sweet cake I’m a fan of a nice light tea that's just not as sweet. The Yerba Mate especially is one of my favorites to drink, it's more herbaceous without too much added sweetness and I think that the woody flavors of the tea are great with a slice of this cake.
- A warm mug of Buttery Delight Sowmee White Tea: This tea acts as a wonderful compliment. It is light and a little flowery just like our scrumptious cake, so it's a perfect match. It is also quite clean on the palate, which helps avoid richness or sugar overload!
Now cut yourself a slice and enjoy!!!
A beautiful organic Chinese green tea perfect with a meal or on its own, perfect for all-day sipping. Uncle Iroh would be proud ;-)
Daydream with honey, lemon, a hint of orange and Chamomile flowers in this most sleep-inducing of combinations
Aromatic, soothing, and delicious, it helps ease headaches and calm stress. Great to Blend@Home!
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References & Further Reading
- Fan Oven Conversions, https://www.thecalculatorsite.com/cooking/oven-temperatures.php
- How to Make Bee-Free Honee, https://berrybaker.com/apple-vegan-honey/