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Earl Grey Fruit Cake with Orange Icing + Lavender & Lovage Review

Earl Grey Fruit Cake with Orange Icing

Bundt, Christmas | 28th November 2018 | By

I’ve been following Karen Burns-Booth fabulous food blog, Lavender & Lovage, pretty much since its inception. Now, we have the cookbook, newly published this month, Lavender & Lovage: a culinary notebook of memories & recipes from home & abroad. Read on for my review and a recipe for Earl Grey fruit cake with orange icing. 

Lavender and Lovage

The book Lavender and Lovage is an outward manifestation of the author’s personality and her blog. It’s exuberant, evocative and informative in equal measures. The pages are not only full of reliable family recipes, but they’re also stuffed with fascinating tips, historical facts and anecdotes from Karen’s life. Recipe inspiration comes mostly from family members and her travels. She has lived in more places than anyone else I know. There were even a couple of years in Cornwall when she was a teenager. Ironically, she was only a few miles away from me, on the other side of Bodmin Moor.

Lavender & Lovage Recipe Book

I tend to think of Lavender and Lovage as a baking blog; I got to know Karen initially through my link-up, We Should Cocoa and later through her own Tea Time Treats. Her bakes are mostly good old-fashioned pies, cakes and biscuit recipes that have withstood the test of time. Jumbles, stotty cake and fat rascals are some of the regional recipes from around the UK that Karen specialises in and documents so well. You’ll find these three recipes, as well as many others, in the book.


There’s a lot more to Lavender and Lovage than bakes, however. You’ll find plenty of soups, salads, main meals, puddings, preserves and more. The book starts with breakfast and brunch recipes. Woohoo, I do love a good breakfast. I think I’ll have ‘teacup’ porridge followed by bubble and squeak cakes, or maybe a Sri Lankan egg hopper? Hang-on, I’ve just spotted the traditional Cypriot breakfast – too much choice.

The book goes on to cover soups, starters & snacks under the rather appealing title of Beginnings & In-Betweens. Here you’ll find such delights as Turkish lentil soup with lemon, First Nations ‘Indian tacos” and Welsh rarebit. Here we learn that celery was originally regarded as a medicinal plant as it was extremely bitter. It didn’t become a ‘vegetable’ until the 15th Century when a sweeter and more tender variety was developed.

Lavender & Lovage Cookbook Recipe Image

Middlings, otherwise known as main courses comes next. These are mostly meaty, but there is a vegetarian section offering up seven appealing recipes. Mushroom, chestnut and thyme pithivier pie was the first to catch my attention; I take after my mother in this regard and am unable to resist a good pastry. A Bit on the Side covers salads & accompaniments. Mum’s crispy squashed chips and Boston baked beans would do me, but maybe I ought to go with something a bit healthier – frazzled kale and frisée salad with pomegranate & persimmons perhaps?

Pastry is the Best

Now to my favourite chapter, pies, pasties & tarts, otherwise known as Under Cover & Exposé. But where to start? Cheese, potato and celery pasties perhaps? Or maybe wild garlic & English blue cheese tart. And do I finish with Cumberland rum nicky or English walnut tart with orange pastry or bilberry plate pie? Decisions, decisions. It doesn’t get any easier in the next chapter, Endings aka hot & cold puddings. I think I might have to go for the easy option of Irish cream chocolate mousse.

Clandestine Cake Club

I’ve sort of covered Home on the Range which includes bread, scones, cakes & biscuits. It was from this chapter that I chose this recipe for Earl Grey fruit cake with orange icing. In the book it’s called teacup farmhouse fruit cake. I’ve taken the liberty of renaming the bake to reflect my slightly jazzed up version. I took it along to my first Clandestine Cake Club event here in the New Forest. The theme was Christmas and when I read that Karen’s mum had been known to bake this as a last minute Christmas cake, my choice was made.

Earl Grey Fruit Cake with Orange Icing

Moving on from the delights of baking, we have On the Shelf which covers jams, chutneys, pickles & marmalades. As a keen pickler and maker of jams, I was happy to see classic recipes such as blackberry jam alongside less familiar ones such as pickled green walnuts. The final chapter, Méli-mélo is French for a “mess of things”. It’s an assortment of recipes of particular significance to Karen that she felt she just couldn’t leave out. Fiona’s frying pan pizza and Amah’s cold sweet rice are two of the recipes in this chapter and they both come from Karen’s childhood days.

As the name Lavender and Lovage suggests, herbs are never far away in Karen’s recipes. She used to host a Herbs on Saturday link-up on her blog. It’s sorely missed. Wild garlic, lemon & lovage soup, heirloom tomato & chive flowers salad, and cheese, spinach and dill filo pie are just a few of the herby recipes to be found in the book. Gosh, but I nearly missed French set apricot & lavender confiture – now that would have been truly remiss of me.


As for the photographs that illustrate the recipes, well! They are gorgeous and Karen has taken every single one of them herself. My snaps of the photos in the book really don’t do them justice, so head over to her blog and you’ll see what I mean. The front cover itself is evocative and is taken from a linocut that was designed by artist Callie Jones. It represents the old Welsh schoolhouse where Karen now lives along with the flora and fauna that surround the house. Karen is there too with her basket of foraged herbs alongside her husband Malcolm and their two cats.

I’ve made several of Karen’s recipes from her blog and they’ve always turned out well. These little Dundee cakes are firm favourites and they make lovely festive gifts at this time of year. I was really pleased with how my orangey Earl Grey fruit cake turned out too. It’s a recipe I shall be repeating. Apart from preferring to have more vegetarian recipes in the book and less meaty ones, I’m absolutely delighted with my copy of Lavender and Lovage. It’s going to keep me happy for many nights of bedtime reading and days of cooking in the kitchen.

Earl Grey Fruit Cake with Orange

This renamed Earl Grey fruit cake with orange icing is a slight adaptation of Karen’s teacup farmhouse fruit cake recipe. I used wholemeal flour instead of plain and drizzled the top with some orange icing to give it a festive air. Other than that, I followed the recipe to a ‘tea’. What an easy cake it is to make. No creaming hard winter butter, or whipping up egg whites here, it’s pretty much just a case of stirring. Ideal when you’re in a hurry.

Earl Grey Fruit Cake Slices

The only thing you have to remember is to soak the fruit in the tea for a few hours before you want to bake the cake, preferably overnight. This bit is important as you want the fruit to be nice and juicy in the finished cake. Once this is done, it’s a simple process of adding the other ingredients and popping it into the oven. The original recipe is for a loaf. I used my silicone bundt mould, so it didn’t need quite as long in the oven as the recipe below states.

The cake was absolutely delicious with a pronounced orange flavour and a fabulous texture. I can’t honestly claim that I could taste the Earl Grey, but knowing it’s there gives the cake a certain level of sophistication. Karen reckons it has a certain toffeeish quality and I’m inclined to agree with her. It went down very well at Cake Club. I can now confirm that it really would make a great last minute Christmas cake. It’s not nearly as rich and dense as a traditional Christmas cake, but I reckon it would be more popular.

Earl Grey Fruit Cake with Orange Icing – The Recipe

Earl Grey Fruit Cake with Orange Icing
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5 from 5 votes

Earl Grey Fruit Cake with Orange Icing

An old family recipe from Karen Burn-Booth, jazzed up a little to make it suitable for a last minute Christmas cake. It's a low fat, easy to prepare bake, made with tea and flavoured with orange. It's really quite delicious.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr 30 mins
Soaking Time7 hrs 40 mins
Total Time1 hr 45 mins
Course: Afternoon Tea
Cuisine: British
Keyword: cake, Christmas, dried fruit, Earl Grey, orange, tea
Servings: 10 slices


  • 450 g mixed dried fruit with peel (I used 100g sultanas, 100g currants, 200g raisins, 50g mixed peel)
  • 175 g demerara sugar
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 orange - zested & juiced
  • 150 g or 1 teacup of hot tea (I used Earl Grey)
  • 25 g butter (I used unsalted)
  • 1 large free-range egg
  • 225 g self-raising flour (I used wholemeal)
  • 100 g icing sugar (optional)


  • Place the mixed fruit, sugar, spice and orange zest into a mixing bowl. Pour over the hot tea, stir and cover with a plate. Leave to soak overnight or for up to 8 hours.
  • When you're ready to bake the cake, grease and line a 900g (2lb) loaf tin - I used a silicone bundt mould instead. Pre-heat the oven to 150℃/300℉/Gas mark 2.
  • Melt the butter and add to the soaked fruit. Mix well, then beat in the egg. Sieve the flour and fold in a bit at a time to avoid lumps.
  • Mix well, then spoon into the tin. Bake for 1 ½ hours until firm, risen and golden brown.
  • Leave to cool in the tin for ten minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • If making the orange icing, sieve the icing sugar into a clean mixing bowl, then add just enough orange juice to make a very slightly runny icing. You can always add more icing sugar if it ends up too runny. Drizzle or spread the icing over the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides.


Karen suggests spreading slices with butter, honey, jam or marmalade - that would be for the un-iced version. She says it's also delicious when eaten warm.
Always use hot tea, as this makes the fruit plump up more.

Other Tin and Thyme Christmas cakes you might like


I’m sharing my version of Karen’s ‘teacup’ farmhouse fruit cake with Easy Peasy Foodie for #CookBlogShare. It also goes to Mummy Mishaps for #BakeoftheWeek and Searching for Spice for #CookOnceEatTwice.

Keep in Touch

Thanks for visiting Tin and Thyme. If you make this Earl Grey fruit cake with orange icing, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below or via social media. Do share photos on social media too and use the hashtag #tinandthyme, so I can spot them. For more delicious and nutritious recipes, follow me on TwitterFacebook, Instagram or Pinterest.

Earl Grey Fruit Cake with Orange Icing. PIN IT.

Earl Grey Fruit Cake with Orange Icing. A delicious, flavoursome fruit cake which is easy to make and isn't too rich or heavy. The fruit is soaked in Earl Grey tea prior to baking. It makes an ideal last minute Christmas or celebration cake. #TinandThyme #christmascake #easy #recipe #earlgrey #tea #christmas #cake #celebrationcake #orange


  1. Corina Blum

    28th November 2018 at 12:36 pm

    This cake sounds so good and would be perfect as a Christmas cake! I really need to catch up with Karen’s blog again as I used to read it regularly and I know Karen’s recipes and the stories behind them are always so well researched.

    • Choclette

      28th November 2018 at 7:45 pm

      It’s hard, in this blogging world of SEO and ever-changing parameters, to find the time to read blogs just for the fun of it. But Karen’s blog is always worth a read.

  2. Iris Tilley

    28th November 2018 at 12:40 pm

    Earl Grey Fruit Cake with Orange Icing sounds lovely and different with Lavender

    • Choclette

      28th November 2018 at 7:48 pm

      The cake is lovely, but now you’ve mentioned it, maybe a little lavender in the icing might be a nice addition.

  3. Mandy

    28th November 2018 at 1:05 pm

    I love the look and sound of that book – the cover is just gorgeous! Also love the look of this cake. Earl grey is so good in a tea cake.

    • Choclette

      28th November 2018 at 7:50 pm

      The cover is brilliant and so different from the average cookbook too.

  4. nessjibberjabberuk

    28th November 2018 at 1:10 pm

    Earl Grey is my favourite tea and I love it when it is combined with dried fruit. I think I will have to quickly put Karen’s book on my Christmas list. I can never have enough cookery books with regional recipes.

    • Choclette

      28th November 2018 at 7:52 pm

      I don’t drink Earl Grey very often, but always feel an air of sophistication when I do. Karen’s book is great for regional recipes. Just realised I should add this to your Love Cake linkie Ness – oops!

  5. angiesrecipes

    28th November 2018 at 1:47 pm

    The cake looks beautiful and very tempting with that gorgeous icing!

    • Choclette

      28th November 2018 at 7:55 pm

      Thanks Angie. It’s a good one if you’re trying to reduce your fat intake and it tastes delicious.

  6. Jane Saunders

    28th November 2018 at 2:22 pm

    The books sounds as if it’s stuffed full of goodies. I’m Christmas shopping at the weekend so will be on the look out for it for a proper nose through.

    • Choclette

      28th November 2018 at 7:56 pm

      It’s definitely worth having a nose through Jane. Hope you manage to find a copy.

  7. Anna | Once Upon A Food Blog

    28th November 2018 at 4:30 pm

    Your cake looks absolutely beautiful. I love the way you have decorated it. And Karen’s blog sounds fascinating. I’m heading straight over!

    • Choclette

      28th November 2018 at 7:59 pm

      Thanks Anna. Decoration is not my forte, but bundt cakes make it easy for me. Glad to have introduced you to Lavender and Lovage.

  8. Karen Burns-Booth

    28th November 2018 at 5:07 pm

    Thank you SO much for this lovely review Choclette! I’m thrilled that you’ve enjoyed reading it and making the recipes too. Thank you for sharing this cake recipe via your gorgeous photos too. Karen

    • Choclette

      28th November 2018 at 8:01 pm

      It’s a wonderful book Karen and it was a pleasure to review. I’m already looking forward to the next one 😀

  9. Ceri Jones

    28th November 2018 at 5:47 pm

    How wonderful Karen has now written a book, the cake sounds great, would love to see what else is in it, so will seek it out!

    • Choclette

      28th November 2018 at 8:02 pm

      Yes, it’s about time there was a book. It was worth the wait though.

  10. Janice

    28th November 2018 at 8:51 pm

    You have it spot on when you say this is the embodiment of the author, I felt like Karen was right there cooking beside me as I read her book. So many wonderful stories and delicious recipes.

    • Choclette

      29th November 2018 at 7:19 pm

      Yes, you’re right Janice, it absolutely feels like Karen’s there with us in the kitchen. I really liked the book for being a bit different too.

  11. Chloe

    28th November 2018 at 11:14 pm

    Looks ace. And I don’t even really like fruit cakes but I’d consider making this as a great present. I’d certainly like to hear more about how you found CCC tho!

    • Choclette

      29th November 2018 at 7:22 pm

      I’m a bit iffy about really rich fruit cakes, but I’m really enjoying this one. As for CCC, it’s not really there any more. Some clubs have opted to keep going and the one I went to is one such. My old one back in Cornwall gave up the ghost a few years ago, but I used to really look forward to attending those. Basically, you eat cake and talk cake and get to meet a few different people.

  12. Anca

    29th November 2018 at 8:31 am

    The fruit cake looks wonderful. It’s also nice reading about the author. The books sounds amazing, I’ll keep it in mind.

    • Choclette

      29th November 2018 at 7:23 pm

      Thanks Anca. It’s a really good cake. I took a piece with me to work today as part of my lunch and I shall be taking another slice tomorrow.

  13. johanna @ green gourmet giraffe

    29th November 2018 at 10:22 am

    Wow this sounds wonderful – glad to get a review from a vegetarian – I hope to get my hands on a copy of the book – Karen’s blog posts and recipes are so beautiful and evocative and I took have a few favourites. I also miss her blog events. I am interested given your chocolate love that I don’t think you mentioned one chocolate recipe – is this because the sort of old school home baking that Karen does did not have a lot of chocolate in it?

    • Choclette

      29th November 2018 at 7:03 pm

      Ooh now you’ve got me Johanna. You know it never occurred to me to look for a chocolate recipe. I’m obviously losing my touch. I’ve just checked the book and there’s only one in it – an Irish cream chocolate mousse. You can tell I didn’t write it 😀

      It’s sad that all the old link-ups have gone. I miss We Should Cocoa too. I used to love seeing all your chocolate recipes.

  14. kellie@foodtoglow

    29th November 2018 at 10:42 am

    What a thorough and well-written review of Karen’s debut cookbook. She will be pleased that you love it so much. This recipe is similar to one I make (vegan version through), and it is an old favourite. It never has looked this pretty though! Gorgeous festive decoration to match the fabulous taste

    • Choclette

      29th November 2018 at 6:56 pm

      I really like the book Kellie, it’s so Karen! I’m guessing a vegan version of the cake would be quite simple as there’s only one egg and a small amount of butter in the recipe. Do you have your recipe on the blog?

  15. Cat | Curly's Cooking

    29th November 2018 at 10:55 am

    The favours of this cake sound delicious, perfect for this time of year. The cookbook sounds great too, the cover looks so lovely.

    • Choclette

      29th November 2018 at 6:54 pm

      It’s a really good cake Cat and the book and cover are fab too.

  16. Jenny Paulin

    29th November 2018 at 10:55 am

    This sounds delicious, I love the combination of flavours in a fruit cake. it also looks so pretty and delicious. How amazing that Karen has a book out too – well done to her. Thank you for featuring your cake in #Bakeoftheweek xx

    • Choclette

      29th November 2018 at 7:25 pm

      Thanks Jenny. It’s a really nice cake and jazzing it up a bit was quite simple. Well done Karen, I expect it was a lot of work, but it’s a lovely book.

  17. Kat (The Baking Explorer)

    30th November 2018 at 11:36 am

    What a fabulous festive cake, and the book sounds amazing!

    • Choclette

      2nd December 2018 at 2:31 pm

      Thanks Kat, it’s a lovely cake and a really good book.

  18. Eb Gargano | Easy Peasy Foodie

    3rd December 2018 at 8:25 pm

    Karen’s book sounds wonderful (I love the chapter headings – what fun!) and this cake very delicious. I am rather partial to tea cake and I love how you’ve jazzed it up with some orange icing – yum! Thanks for sharing it with #CookBlogShare. Eb x

    • Choclette

      4th December 2018 at 11:51 am

      It’s a really good book. You’re so right about the chapter headings, they really made me smile. As for the cake, despite getting a good innings at Cake Club, it still lasted a week and was just as good on day 7 as it was on day 1.


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