Black tea velvet cake by Emine Hassan

Black tea velvet cake

Regardless of the childish excitement a brilliant red cake instils in me to this day, I can no longer handle the tang of a red velvet – the entire bottle of food colouring,, which is needed for a “proper” red velv, gives the cake a really noticeable sour tang.

In with the tealeaves! The tea flavour is faint in this ‘tea velvet’, perhaps slightly masked by the cocoa powder, but we much prefer it to food colouring flavour.

There are a few lengthy steps in this recipe, like steeping milk and letting the cakes rest in the fridge before slicing. Set aside a couple of days to make this cake.

Inspired by the Pastry Affair’s Black Tea Cake with Honey Buttercream


180g unsalted butter
420g caster sugar
3 eggs, large
485g plain flour
45g cocoa powder
250ml milk
150g high-grade tealeaves (or 10 tea bags with the bags removed)
1 tbsp lemon juice/white wine vinegar
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp white wine vinegar

100g sugar
150ml water
Handful of high-grade tealeaves

100g unsalted butter, room temp
600g icing sugar
250g full fat cream cheese

Handful of blueberries, toasted coconut shavings to decorate – optional

Note: I know you’re looking at that icing recipe dubiously. The sad fact is that frostings with cream cheese aren’t sturdy enough to ice the walls of cakes/create rosettes without that much icing sugar – which is a shame because it’s heaps more palatable than traditional frosting.


  1. Place milk in heavy bottomed saucepan with tea leaves, let simmer on a low heat for five minutes. Remove from heat and leave to cool. Cover and refrigerate overnight to further steep the milk.
  2. Line two 6 inch cake tins with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Add lemon juice to tea milk and stir, set aside to do its thang.
  3. Using either a freestanding mixer or electric whisk, on high speed, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, around 4 minutes. Continue mixing butter on medium, adding the eggs one by one.
  4. In a bowl, sieve together cocoa and flour. On medium speed, add a third of the flour, then a third of the curdled tea milk, alternating between both until everything is smoothly incorporated.
  5. In a small bowl, add the baking soda, then the white wine vinegar. It will immediately froth up, add it straight into the cake batter and gently fold in using a spatula. Divide among pans and bake for 35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean and the cake is coming away from the sides of the pan.
  6. Let the cakes cool to room temp, cover in cling film and refrigerate for a few hours/overnight. Slice both cakes horizontally with a serrated knife so that you have four equal layers.
  7. Meanwhile, make the syrup. Add all of the ingredients into a saucepan and let simmer on medium heat for 15 minutes. Take off the heat, pour into a jug and set aside. Poke several holes into the cakes and gently pour the slightly cooled syrup into the cakes – be scant with the syrup – over soaking will cause the cakes to tear.
  8. Beat the icing sugar, butter and just a tablespoon of the cream cheese together on high speed until light, fluffy and pale – around 2/3 minutes. Add the rest of the cream cheese and beat on medium speed, immediately stop mixing once fully incorporated.
  9. Fill a piping bag fitted with a closed star tip with the icing and build the cake layers by piping rosettes around the edge of each layer. Squeeze a dollop of icing in the middle of each layer and smooth off with a spatula before adding the next layer. Finish the top layer with the same effect and sprinkle with coconut/blueberries/sprinkles/bananas/beef sirloin.

Cake will keep for three days if covered and refrigerated.