Lemony Zucchini Cake with Earl Grey Buttercream

Lemony Zucchini Cake-13

This cake is pretty much two of my favourite things combined. Lemon & Earl Grey tea – pure heaven. It kinda sucks that I’m in the midst of revision and summer deadlines and I don’t have any more cake to pull me through.

The recipes involved here come from Tessa’s beautiful new book, Layered*, all about layer cakes! Now I’m usually the type of person to just say ‘eff it I’ll just make a loaf cake instead’ but THIS TIME, with Tessa’s helpful guidance in the book, I figured I’d do the whole shebang.

Lemony Zucchini Cake-10

I combined two of the recipes from Layered, using the Earl grey frosting from the London fog cake and the cake layers from the lemony zucchini cake. Ya know what? I freaking love how easy it is to make this zucchini cake. It’s a dump-and-stir situation and eeeeeven though I MAY have accidentally burnt the cake a TINY bit (shhhhhhh) it was still incredibly moist.

and I used a microplane to file off the burnt edges…

SO in the end everything was fab. I even managed to make the buttercream without it splitting so I felt pretty damn proud of myself.

Lemony Zucchini Cake-4

I got a bit fancy and made candied lemon slices for decoration which resulted in me also having a bunch of lemon syrup left over. Instead of chucking the syrup out I brushed it onto the cake layers which was a real good shout cos it made it even more lemony! However I’m obviously a bit crap at slicing lemons thinly enough to be palatable so the candied lemons were uhhh…purely for decoration…

Lemony Zucchini Cake with Earl Grey Buttercream

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  • 1 x recipe for Earl Grey Buttercream , (recipe follows)
  • 1 x recipe for Candied Lemons & Lemon Syrup , (recipe follows)


  • 2 1/2 cups (315g) all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp , (150 ml) grapeseed oil
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups (225g) grated zucchini, drained
  • 3 tbsp buttermilk
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Lemon Glaze:

  • 1 cup (125 g) powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh lemon juice


  • Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C). Grease + flour four 6-inch (or two 8-inch) cake pans and set aside.
  • Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl mix the oil, sugar and lemon zest until well combined. Beat the eggs in one at a time.
  • Add 1/2 the flour mixture and stir to combine. Add the rest of the flour and stir until just combined.
  • Add the zucchini, buttermilk and lemon juice. Mix gently until the zucchini is just mixed in.
  • Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Bake for 24-26 minutes for 6-inch cakes (or 25-30 minutes for 8-inch cakes).
  • Let them cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.

To Assemble:

  • Use a serrated knife to level each cake layer, removing the domed top so you get nicely even, level layers.
  • If you baked 8-inch cakes like me, you'll need to use a serrated knife to split each layer in two (so you end up with 4 thin layers).
  • Take one layer of cake and place it onto a serving plate. Brush the layer with some of the lemon syrup (leftover from making the candied lemons) and then top with 1/4 of the buttercream, spreading it out into an even layer. Repeat the layering of cake, lemon syrup, buttercream until you've stacked up all the cake layers and frosted the top.
  • Stir together the glaze ingredients until a thick, pourable glaze is achieved. Pour it all over the top of the cake, coaxing it to the edges so that it drips down the sides.
  • While the glaze is still wet decorate the cake with the candied lemon slices and pearl sugar.


recipe adapted slightly from Layered by Tessa Huff*
Tried this recipe?Let me know how it went! Mention @izyhossack or tag #topwithcinnamon!

Earl Grey Buttercream

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  • 1 1/2 cups (335 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 tbsp (8g) loose Earl Grey tea
  • 1/2 cup minus 1 tbsp , (7 tbsp / 100ml) egg whites
  • 1 cup minus 1 tbsp , (187g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • pinch of salt


  • Place 3/4 cup of the butter into a saucepan with the loose tea. Heat over medium heat until the butter melts, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the tea steep for 5 minutes more. Strain the butter through a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl and refrigerate it until it reaches the same consistency as softened butter (20-30 minutes). Small bits of tea may remain in the butter.
  • Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk them together by hand to combine. Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water and place it over medium-high heat. Place the mixer bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double boiler. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water. Whisking intermittently, heat the egg mixture until it registers 160 F (70 C) on a candy thermometer or is hot to the touch. Carefully fit the mixer bowl onto the stand mixer.
  • With the whisk attachment, beat the egg white mixture on high speed for 8-10 minutes, until it holds medium-stiff peaks. When done, the outside of the mixer bowl should return to room temperature and no residual heat should be escaping from the meringue out of the top of the bowl. Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk attachment for the paddle.
  • With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla and salt. Next add the tea-infused butter and remaining 3/4 cup of butter a couple tablespoons at a time. Once incorporated, turn the mixer onto medium-high and beat until the buttercream is silky smooth (3-5 minutes).


- recipe from Layered by Tessa Huff*
Tried this recipe?Let me know how it went! Mention @izyhossack or tag #topwithcinnamon!

Candied Lemons & Lemon Syrup

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  • 2 small lemons
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (185 ml) water


  • Slice the lemons as thinly as possible.
  • Place the sugar and water into a pot over a medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves.
  • Add the lemon slices to the pot and bring to the boil. Turn down to simmer and leave for 15 minutes.
  • Lift the lemon slices out of the syrup with a fork and leave on a wire rack set over a piece of baking paper to dry and cool.
  • Keep the resulting lemon syrup in the pot for brushing onto the cakes.
Tried this recipe?Let me know how it went! Mention @izyhossack or tag #topwithcinnamon!

22 thoughts on “Lemony Zucchini Cake with Earl Grey Buttercream”

  1. Glad I’m not the only one who goes ‘urghhh F&*k it I’ll just make a loaf instead…’ πŸ˜‰

  2. Hands up, it was indeed a delicious cake! You may make it again anytime! (as long as you’re at home?).

  3. Hi Izy, I absolutely love the sound of this cake but I’m slightly put off by the swiss meringue buttercream… Yours looks thick and luscious in the pictures but on the two occasions I have tried to make this particular frosting in the past I have been left with an (unusable) runny, lumpy, mess. Do you have any tips for getting the perfect SMBC?
    Thanks a bunch! – Rosie.

  4. This is so pretty and spring! I love the lemon on top even if it is just decorative πŸ˜‰

  5. I’ve never thought of putting zucchini in cake form but this cake looks absolutely delicious and beautiful!!

  6. Izy!!! This cake is gorgeous!!! Thank you so much. I am LOVING the flavor combo! Seriously – it makes me want to go try this version asap. Lemon + Earl Grey! Yesssss! Thank you for volunteering you time and creativity with this xoxo

  7. Interesting idea, I’ve always love making cakes with lemons, my favourite is cheesecake with lemon peelings.

  8. I’ve had zucchini bread, but never zucchini cake. This looks divine! Saving for my next little get-together πŸ™‚

  9. I was going to suggest using the mandoline for the lemon slices, BUT I am an expert at slicing my fingers with the mandoline, so I just can’t go there… honestly, the thought of using it to slice a lemon gives me heart palpiations, haha! I’m all for purely decorative, statement lemon slices πŸ˜‰
    P.S. I can’t wait for to get my hands on that book! My fave thing to bake is layer cakes!
    P.P.S. I love making layer cakes but I am also incredibly lazy and often say “screw it! I’m just going to make a loaf cake” too…

  10. I’ll have earl grey on anything…but never occurred to pair it with lemon. Sounds delish!! And the brush of lemon syrup in between the layers are brilliant. Love love love πŸ™‚

  11. Good for you! It’s always a bit fun to challenge oneself. I’m intrigued by the flavor combos here, and it looks so pretty! (p.s. I’m all about loaf cakes, too)!

  12. Zucchini, lemon and Earl Grey tea? This is a unique combination. Ingenious of you to have come up with this. This combo is on of the farthest from my mind.

    But, I love lemon in cakes. So, I should try this.

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