Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love tea and a good afternoon tea party. When my sisters come to visit, having tea together is one of our most loved activities. We have our favorite sandwiches and treats but I think I might have found a worthy addition with this lemon tea cake.
It is perfect with a cup of hot tea since it’s not overly sweet or heavy. Its bright flavor, enhanced by a light lemon drizzle, is more bold than a traditional vanilla pound cake but isn’t overwhelming.
Of course, there’s no need to host a whole tea party to have a reason to make this cake. It’s a great afternoon snack when you want something a little sweet without going into a sugar-induced coma.
What special equipment do I need?
You will need a loaf pan to bake this lemon tea cake. It doesn’t have to be a fancy one. I did use a decorative loaf pan for this shoot because I got it for Christmas and it’s so darn pretty that I’m looking for all kinds of reasons to use it. The pan is made by Nordic Ware and it’s available at Amazon and Williams-Sonoma. However, a simple loaf pan will work just fine. It should be about 8-1/2 by 4-1/2 inches.
Regardless of which pan you use, you will want to make sure the pan is well buttered and floured to ensure the cake will come out cleanly. I like to use a non-stick baking spray like Baker’s Joy or PAM Baking Spray for even and complete coverage. Because it’s easy to overspray, I sweep a pastry brush around the inside of the pan after I’ve sprayed it to remove any excess and to make sure that every crevice is covered (especially important if you’re using a fancy pan).
Tips for removing the cake from the pan
First, allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes after spooning on the lemon drizzle. Trying to remove the cake while it is hot will cause the cake to break.
The next step is to loosen the cake from the pan. If you used a straight-sided loaf pan, you can gently run the tip of a paring knife around the top edges of the cake to loosen it from the sides. If you used a fancy loaf pan like I did here, gently push down on the cake around the top edges with your fingers and pull the cake away from the pan.
Then place a small cooling rack on the pan. Holding both the pan and the cooling rack together, invert everything at once. You might also need to give the pan a little shake or tap on the counter to release the cake. If you used a standard loaf pan, you can gently roll the cake so that the top (or pretty side) is facing up.
I also like to wear oven mitts while holding on to the pan and rack since the pan will still be very warm.
To get the cleanest slices, let the cake cool before cutting. However, this cake is pretty darn good when it’s warm too. So, if you cool it just long enough to brew a proper pot of tea, that’s OK too.
For the cake
- 1 2/3 cups cake flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Powdered sugar, for serving (optional)
For the lemon drizzle
- 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons water
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray with non-stick baking spray an 8-1/2 x 4-1/2-inch loaf pan.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
- Using an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together at medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down the side of the bowl as necessary. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce the speed to low then add the dry ingredients alternating with the buttermilk, in 3 additions, until well-blended, scraping down the side of the bowl as necessary. Stir in the lemon zest and juice.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.
- Bake cake for about 40 to 50 minutes or just until the cake springs back when lightly touched in the center and a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of cake comes out clean.
- While the cake is baking, make the lemon drizzle. Stir the sugar, lemon juice, and water together in a small saucepan over low heat until mixture comes to a low simmer and the sugar is dissolved.
- Remove the cake from oven and set on a cooling rack. Poke holes in the hot cake with a wooden skewer, then evenly spoon the lemon syrup over the top of the cake.
- Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes then invert onto a wire rack. Let cake cool completely then dust with powdered sugar (if desired), slice, and serve.
Keywords: lemon tea cake, what to serve at a tea party, snack cake, lemon dessert