This gluten-free bundt cake recipe is infused with earl grey tea and topped with bright pink blood orange icing. The perfect floral citrus cake for a Spring brunch or garden party! The cake gets malty black tea notes with floral bergamot and a bright pop of blood orange.
The real truth behind this earl grey gluten-free bundt cake is that I made two batches of earl grey baked cake donuts before deciding I'd rather just have cake. So that's what this earl grey bundt cake is: a giant baked cake donut. Except little sweeter with more of the soft fluffy inside crumb. In other words, more of the good stuff. Unlike donuts, bundt cakes serve a crowd too, making it the perfect floral tea cake for Spring brunch or garden party.
And if you forget the cake knife, you should just invite my mom. I found a knife in her purse the other day. A cheap butter knife that didn't match her kitchen collection.
When I pulled it out, she told me it wasn't hers (sure, mom). BUT THEN she told me how my 3-year-old found the knife the day before in my mom's car cup holder while she was installing Zoella's car seat. (Um, that's not a better explanation, mom.)
It gets better. While out to lunch a few weeks ago, she grabbed a napkin and silverware from the front counter. When she got to the table, she couldn't find her knife. So she got another. The first knife had apparently slipped out of her hand and landed in her purse, where she discovered it while paying at the grocery store a few days later. (So you're saying you have a stolen knife in your purse that you wield at grocery store clerks, mom?).
So the knife has just been going back and forth between her car and her purse until she can return it to the restaurant. (Update from my mom: it's still in her purse even though she's been back to the restaurant several times...don't bring her anywhere).
In the meantime, someone invite her to a party with cake so she can pull out her knife like a true hero.
How to infuse an earl grey cake with tea
There are two ways to infuse a cake with tea: steep earl grey tea in the dairy or fat, or mix ground up tea leaves into the batter. The grinding approach is much like baking with matcha, but with black tea leaves.
I'm using the ground up tea method for this earl grey cake. When I tried steeping the tea in milk, the flavor just didn't carry through when baked. It was too subtle, and when topped with icing, hidden. A nod to earl grey, at best.
Earl grey is a tea blend infused with the oil of the rind of a bergamot orange. In an earl grey cake recipe, I want to taste malty black tea. I want the bright floral bergamot notes to come through. So wipe out your coffee grinder and grind some earl grey tea leaves with me.
Tips for making a gluten-free bundt cake
Even though Alanna and I have baked and styled plenty of bundt cakes for The New York Times, I've always been terrified of baking a gluten-free bundt cake. What if it stuck in the pan and all that work was for not? Sure, I could eat the ruined bundt straight out of the pan with a fork or turn it into a trifle. Still, the thought of that happening gave me anxiety. Nope. No thanks.
When I finally decided it was time to dust off my bundt pans and try a gluten-free bundt cake, I turned to Alanna. She has the most beautiful blueberry lemon verbena bundt in her cookbook Alternative Baker. And she recently adapted the ratios from my chocolate cake recipe into a captivating ganache-topped gluten-free chocolate bundt cake. I wanted that kind of success and needed advice on making sure my cake didn't stick in the pan. Here's what she suggested:
Butter the crap out of your bundt pan.
You heard her. Do it. You want the soft butter that is still thick and creamy like the consistency of mayonnaise. Use a pastry brush to get into all the corners of your bundt pan. Don't skimp on the butter - you want to see it on the bundt pan. Then dust the whole pan in a layer of oat flour, tapping the pan around to coat.
Buttering the pan does two things. It ensures your cake will easily release from the pan. It also creates a golden brown shell on the outside of the cake that holds in the moisture so your bundt won't dry out.
Gluten-Free Cake Recipe
Since a bundt pan is so deep, your gluten-free cake recipe needs to account for a longer baking time. Without the proper flour ratios and fat, the outside of the cake can over bake before the center is done. Here's what you need:
This gluten-free cake batter has a higher ratio of oat flour and sweet rice flour than my basic gluten-free vanilla cake recipe. These two flours work together to keep the crumb moist and tender without getting gummy. I've added a bit of xanthan gum to the cake, which helps with texture, but if you need to leave it out, the cake will still be delicious, just moderately more dense!
I've swapped in Vermont Creamery's creme fraiche in place of milk. The higher fat content adds moisture and loads of flavor to the cake. I always use creme fraiche because I love the rich tangy depth it adds to the cake, but you can use sour cream in a pinch.
As a butter-based cake, the other key to baking a perfectly moist gluten-free bundt is perfecting the bake time. Left in too long, butter cakes tend to dry out quicker. Your cake is done when it springs back when pressed in the middle. A toothpick should come out dry or with a few moist crumbs. Trust when it's done.
This is important: the cake should still seem moist in the center, but is done when your finger print no long leaves an indent when pressed. The bundt will continue to cook a bit once it comes out of the oven.
How to make blood orange icing for a bundt cake?
Adding a shell of icing will also work to trap in moisture to make sure your cake doesn't dry out. A properly cooked and iced bundt can sit out on the counter with a thin piece of plastic wrap for a day or two without drying out, save for the very very thin layer of any exposed cut slices.
The hot pink blood orange icing transforms the cake into a piece of art. If your icing is too thin, it won't stick on the cake and gravity will prevail with pools of icing inside and all over the plate. You want the icing just thin enough that it will slowly pour in thick streams. Thicker than you'd expect.
When you pick up your whisk you want a drizzle of icing to stay on the surface of the bowl for about 10 seconds before it starts to melt back into the icing. You can also test by pouring a small spoonful right on top of the bundt and let it sit for a minute to see how it drizzles. If your icing is too thin, add more powdered sugar. If it's too thick, add just a drop more blood orange juice until you get the ideal consistency.
The color of the blood orange glaze depends on the color of your blood oranges. If yours are a little more orange and light pink than burgundy, your glaze will turn out more pale pink, but equally as delicious! We're at the tail end of blood orange season right now, so when you can't find them at the market, fresh orange juice will work too!
Can I make this gluten-free cake recipe as a vanilla bundt cake?
Absolutely! Just leave out the earl grey and add an extra teaspoon of vanilla extract. You can even sub in milk and ¼ teaspoon vanilla paste for a vanilla icing.
Earl Grey Gluten-Free Bundt Cake
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, plus 2 tablespoons more tablespoons for the pan
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (190g) sweet rice flour or glutinous rice flour
- 1 cup + 1 tablespoon (142g) gluten-free oat flour, plus 2 tablespoons more for the pan
- ¾ cup (108g) millet flour
- 2 teaspoons ground earl grey tea (*see note)
- ½ teaspoon xanthan gum (**see note)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup + 1 tablespoon (221g) granulated sugar
- ¼ cup (58g) light brown sugar
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup crème fraiche or sour cream
Blood Orange Icing
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2-3 tablespoons freshly squeezed blood orange juice (***see note)
- ½ teaspoon honey (optional but will help the icing glisten when it dries)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Soften 2 tablespoons of butter so it is the consistency of thick mayonnaise then use a pastry brush to brush a thick layer of butter on the inside of a 10-cup bundt pan with butter, taking care to get butter in all the nooks and crannies. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of oat flour into the pan and rotate and tap the pan to dust the entire inside with flour. Tap the pan upside down to remove excess flour.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the sweet rice flour, oat flour, millet flour, ground, earl grey, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a bowl with a hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar over medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
- With the mixer on low-speed, add the vanilla extract then the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each one until just combined.
- Keeping the speed on low, slowly add the dry ingredients in two batches, adding the creme fraiche in between, mixing until just combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking 10 cup bundt pan and use a rubber spatula to spread it into an even layer. The batter will be very thick so you will need to spread it out to smooth the top. Give the pan a few taps on the counter to loosen any air bubbles.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes until the cake springs back when pressed in the middle and a toothpick comes out dry or with a few moist crumbs. The cake should still seem moist in the center, but is done when your finger print no long stays when pressed.
- Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Cover the top of the pan with a cake plate and, holding onto both, invert it to remove it from the pan. If needed, tap the plate on the counter a few times to release the bundt from the pan. Let cool while you prepare the glaze.
- Sift the powdered sugar into a medium bowl. Add 2 tablespoons blood orange juice and ½ teaspoon honey. Whisk to combine. Add ¼ teaspoon blood orange juice at a time as needed until your glaze is smooth, but still very thick. When you pick up your whisk you want a drizzle of icing to stay on the surface of the bowl for about 10 seconds before it starts to melt back into the icing. If your icing is too thin, add more powdered sugar. If it's too thick, add more blood orange juice until you get the ideal consistency.
- Once the cake has cooled to the touch, Pour the glaze over the bundt cake. Serve warm or room temperature. The cake can sit out unsliced for a day, but once sliced, keep any leftovers in an airtight container on the counter for up to three days.
*To grind earl grey tea, start with loose leaf or tea bags and grind it in a clean coffee grinder. For 2 teaspoons, you'll need about 3 tea bags worth of tea or 1-2 tablespoons loose leaf. Since you're consuming the actual tea leaves, I recommend using an organic earl grey tea.
**You can leave out the xanthan gum if needed, but the result is a slightly more dense cake.
***If you can't find blood oranges, fresh orange juice will work too! Or sub in milk with a ¼ teaspoon vanilla bean paste.