A simple and elegant tea cake with a fine, moist crumb and an intense lemon flavour.
Essential Ingredient Lemon
Prep Time 30minutes
Cook Time 20minutes
Total Time 55minutes
1 1/2cupsall-purpose flourplus more for the pan
1/2teaspoonfine sea salt
1cupraw cane sugar
1zest of 1 lemon
1/2cupunsalted butterroom temperature
2large eggsroom temperature
2Tablespoonslemon juiceabout 1 lemon
1/2teaspoonpure vanilla extract
1teaspoonminced preserved lemonoptional
FOR THE GLAZE
1 cuppowdered sugar
2teaspoonsfresh clementine juiceor orange juice
2teaspoonsBlood 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.