Start to finish: 1 hour 20 minutes
(40 minutes active), plus cooling. Servings: 12
For the cake:
2 cups sugar
1 cup honey
Zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups (3 sticks) butter, melted and cooled
3¾ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
3½ teaspoons baking powder
1½ cups ginger ale
For the filling:
1 cup water
1 bag Earl Grey tea
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup honey
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 eggs yolks (reserve the whites for the frosting)
2 tablespoons butter
For the honey meringue frosting:
½ cup honey
4 egg whites
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
For the sugared flowers:
1 egg white
Pinch of salt
Edible flowers or petals
Heat the oven to 325 F. Coat three 9-inch cake pans with baking spray, then line the bottom of each with a round of parchment paper.
To make the cakes, in a large bowl use an electric mixer to combine the sugar, honey, eggs, lemon zest, vanilla and salt. Beat until well combined, about 1 minute. Add the butter and beat again.
In another bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder.
With the mixer on, beat the ginger ale and flour into the honey-sugar mixture in 2 additions, alternating. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
To make the filling, in a small saucepan over medium-high, combine the water, tea bag, lemon juice and honey. Bing to a simmer then remove from the heat and steep for 3 minutes. Discard the tea bag.
In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and the 3 egg yolks. While whisking, add a small amount of the hot lemon water to the egg yolks. Continue to whisk while adding small amounts of the liquid until half the lemon water is incorporated. Pour the yolk mixture into the pan and whisk to combine. Continue to cook until the mixture returns to a simmer and thickens. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and press plastic wrap directly onto the surface. Refrigerate until cold.
Once the cakes and filling have cooled, assemble the layers.
Use a large, serrated knife to carefully slice the top dome off each layer horizontally to create 3 level layers of cake. Be sure to remove the parchment paper from the bottom of the cakes. Place one layer of cake on a serving platter, then spread half of the filling over the cake. Add a second layer and repeat with the filling. Top with the third layer of cake, overturning the final layer so the bottom is up. Set aside.
To make the meringue, in a small saucepan over medium, heat the honey until simmering.
In a large bowl use an electric mixer to beat the 4 egg whites and the cream of tartar until very foamy. Slowly add the hot honey while continuing to beat. Continue to beat the whites until they form stiff, glossy peaks. Frost the cake with the meringue, swirling it with the back of a spoon.
To sugar the flowers, in a small bowl beat the egg white and salt until frothy. Using a small, clean paintbrush, paint the flowers with the egg white. Sprinkle with sugar. Decorate the cake with the flowers.