Glazed Mini Lemon Poppyseed Tea Cakes

These simple and elegant tea cakes are bursting with citrus flavour; serve them at your next spring gathering.

We Canadians have to wait for spring just a little longer than seems fair.

Each April we wait impatiently for the first rhubarb of the season and then we bake it into everything from hearty muffins to delicate galettes. We still have weeks – maybe months – to go until strawberries arrive at the markets, and until then, we’re juicing lemons and squeezing clementines for our kitchen baking projects.

Citrus is definitely the inspiration for these cakes. I wanted to create a delicate tea-time treat that evoked the feeling of spring while still using the winter ingredients we have on hand.

Just for fun, I created individual cakes studded with poppy seeds, a riff off my Meyer Lemon Bundt Cake. (Yes, just one of many lemon cakes I’ve presented over the years. I’m definitely more of a citrus girl than chocolate.)

These elegant citrus tea cakes are puckery through and through with a fine, delicate crimb. Lemon zest, lemon juice and minced preserved lemon all contribute to a truly tangy bite while a clementine and blood orange glaze tops it all off.

You can leave out the poppy seeds or toss them in; you can top the cakes with slivers of kumquat or a tiny spring blossom, it’s up to you.

These Glazed Mini Lemon Poppyseed Tea Cakes would be suitable for nearly every sort of spring gathering, from an elegant Mother’s Day tea to a simple Sunday lunch. Springtime makes me think of weddings or baby showers, and these cakes would be a beautiful addition to any sweet table.

Perhaps you’re throwing a tea part to celebrate the upcoming Royal Baby Sussex and wish to serve a little something sweet and delicate. In that case, break out the best china, arange a bouquet of flowers – and bake a plate of lemon cakes.

This April we’re celebrating our first Easter in our new house, in a new province. We’re expecting a few friends for Sunday lunch and I think cake is the perfect way to celebrate, don’t you?

We’ll have loads of kids around the table, they’ll bring their toys and crayons, and we’ll pass the afternoon sharing our hopes and dreams for the warm seasons ahead. Winter be gone!

These mini cakes also travel quite well, so pack them up for a spring picnic and don’t forget to bring a thermos of scalding hot tea. You could also box them up prettily and gift them to a friend or co-worker.

As you can see, there is no shortage of reasons to bake up a tray of mini tea cakes. All you need is a muffin pan, a few ingredients and someone to share them with. Happy Baking.

Glazed Mini Lemon Poppyseed Tea Cakes

A simple and elegant tea cake with a fine, moist crumb and an intense lemon flavour. 
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Desserts
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Vegetarian
Essential Ingredient: Lemon
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 12 cakes
Calories: 227kcal


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for the pan
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 Tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1 cup raw cane sugar
  • 1 zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice about 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon minced preserved lemon optional
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk


  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh clementine juice or orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons Blood orange juice


  • Have all ingredients at room temperature if possible. Preheat an oven to 350F. Generously butter a muffin tin and lightly dust it with flour. Tap out the excess flour over your kitchen sink.
  • Sift together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in the poppy seeds.
  • Zest the lemon over a small bowl with the sugar. Rub the zest into sugar with your fingertips.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and the lemon sugar until smooth. Beat for 4 minutes on medium high until fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl and the paddle.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for about 30 seconds after each one. Scrape down sides of the bowl and the paddle. Add lemon juice, vanilla and preserved lemon (if using) and mix well. Don't worry if it looks curdled.
  • Remove the paddle and fold in the dry ingredients with a spatula, one cup at a time, alternating with the buttermilk like this: 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup buttermilk, 1/2 cup flour, the remainder of the buttermilk, the remainder of the flour. Use a very light hand, and fold only until the streaks of flour have disappeared. 
  • Use an ice cream scoop to divide the cake batter into the prepared muffin tins. Place in the oven on the center rack.
  • Bake lemon tea cakes until the tops spring back lightly when pressed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Remember that ovens will vary so keep an eye on them. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. 
  • Loosen around the edges of the cakes with a butter knife. Invert the pan onto a cooling rack and tap gently so the cakes fall out. Cool mini cakes completely.
  • Whisk together the powdered sugar and citrus juice. Glaze should be quite thick, like creamy honey. Place the rack of cooled cakes onto a sheet pan and drizzle the glaze over the top. Serve within an hour or two or transfer to an airtight container to hold. Before serving, garnish as desired with fresh flowers, sliced citrus or a mint leaf.


I've tried these cakes with sour cream instead of buttermilk and with a combination of plain yogurt and buttermilk. Use what you have on hand. Tea cakes are best enjoyed on the same day they are baked, but they will keep, stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.


Calories: 227kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 48mg | Sodium: 107mg | Potassium: 92mg | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 295IU | Vitamin C: 2.4mg | Calcium: 45mg | Iron: 1mg

All images created in partnership with my fellow foodie friend, Kelly of Kelly Neil Photography. Recipe & Food Styling by myself; Photography by Kelly. Thanks, Kelly!

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. I’m such a sucker for lemon everything. (No pun intended!) One question. I notice in most of your recipes you call for raw.cane sugar. Why not granulated white? Is there a.big difference? Thanks in advance!

  2. love lemon flavored cakes, and also the mini cakes here, nice serving for guests and also helps to make sure I don’t have too much of it tempting me at one time, thank you for this recipe

  3. 5 stars
    Tried this recipe for a my brunch today! The flavour was amazing and I will try adding more extra stuffs and trying new something but this was awesome. Thanks for Sharing.

  4. Jessica Sollenberger says

    5 stars
    So amazing! Made for my family’s Easter dinner! This will be on regular rotation in my house!! Loved them so much.

  5. 5 stars
    So delicate and tasteful …. love it !

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