Making complex recipes surprisingly simple

Making complex recipes surprisingly simple

Lemon Poppy Seed Tea Cake

Lemon Poppy Seed Tea Cake

This lemon poppy seed tea cake is perfectly tart and sweet. This dense cake is lightened by its zesty lemon glaze and candied lemons.

Tea cakes have been around for quite some time. In the United States, there are many types of tea cakes, and we depict tea cake as any dessert you could think of serving with a cozy glass of tea. In the U.K. a tea cake is usually depicted as a sweet bun, although loaf pan tea cakes like this one can also be found. This tea cake is packed with that beautiful lemon zest flavor.

The key to a perfect tea cake is using room temperature ingredients. Room temperature ingredients make the cake easier to mix and help it bake properly. If your eggs, butter, milk, and applesauce are too cold, the batter will have a hard time mixing together.

I love lemons. I don’t know about you but they are always a breath of fresh air and make it feel like spring in a never-ending winter. Seriously though, we have had so much snow this year. (At least we have in Minnesota.) Spring please come!

Right now I can eat tea cakes and reminisce about spring. Winter isn’t that bad if you have dessert right? (And a healthy diet too. Don’t forget about your vegetables. ) 😉

Why use room temperature ingredients?

When you make this tea cake it is important that you cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, if you don’t the cake will have chunks of butter in the batter. We want a smooth, silky batter so that we get a beautiful cake.

Lemon poppy seed tea cakes are perfect for breakfast and anytime you sit down for a classic cup of tea, (or coffee if that’s your jam.) Tea cakes are a perfect way to relax, give yourself a little love, or be super classy.

Lemon Poppy Seed Tea Cakes

This lemon poppy seed tea cake is perfectly tart and sweet. This dense cake is lightened by its zesty lemon glaze and candied lemons. 
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword Lemon, Poppy seed, Tea Cake
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes


  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Zest (about one large lemon)
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar (153g)
  • 1/2 Cup Butter (room temperature)
  • 1/2 Tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Egg (room temperature)
  • 1/2 Cup Milk (room temperature
  • 1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Applesauce (room temperature)
  • 1 3/4 Cup All Purpose Flour (226g)
  • 1 Tsp Baking Soda
  • 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1` Tbsp Poppy Seeds

Lemon Glaze

  • 3 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Zest
  • 1 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar
  • Candied Lemons (optional)


  • Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9×5 pan with parchment paper and spray it with cooking spray. 
  • Cream the butter, sugar, and lemon zest together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and the vanilla and mix until completely combined. 
  • In a separate bowl, combine the milk, vegetable oil, and the applesauce. stir to combine. 
  • Slowly pour the milk mixture into the butter mixture. Mix until fully combined. 
  • In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the flour and baking soda. Slowly add the flour into the wet ingredients, mixing at low speed. 
  • Stir in the lemon juice and the poppy seeds. 
  • Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake the cake at 350F for 45-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. 
  • While the cake is cooling, mix together the lemon juice, lemon zest, and powdered sugar. Drizzle the glaze over the warm cake. Allow the glaze to set for at least 10 minutes before serving. 


The room temperature ingredients work best because they allow the cake to mix more coheriently. It is not neccesary that all of the ingredients be at room temperature but it results in a cake with a better crumb structure if the ingredients are at room temperature.  

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