Easy lemon tea cake can be made low fat or whole grain. Tart and sweet, it’s the perfect snack with a cup of afternoon tea.
Springtime and lemon just seem to go together. It’s the season for lemon bars, lemon vinaigrette, and this easy-to-make lemon tea cake. The cake is a great addition to a Sunday morning brunch, served as a lunchbox treat, or eaten as a light snack. I like to serve it with a cup of afternoon tea.
Lemon Tea Cake Variations
Aside from being easy-to-make, this recipe is also open to many variations. You can use vegetable oil, or plain yogurt, or applesauce, or some combination of these for a moist texture.
You can also use unbleached all-purpose flour, or white whole-wheat flour, or Kamut (Khorasan wheat) flour, or some combination for a heartier cake.
Use freshly grated lemon peel or dried lemon peel; and freshly squeezed lemon juice or bottled lemon juice.
The cake can be topped with colored sugar, or lemon glaze, or lemon icing, or left completely unfrosted, making this recipe a great option when you want something sweet but the pantry is low on supplies.
In the photo above, I used half all-purpose flour and half Khorasan flour, half plain yogurt and half safflower oil, bottled lemon juice and freshly grated lemon peel. I topped the batter with colored sugar before baking.
I promised that this mix was easy! No mixer needed here. A mixing spoon, a couple of mixing bowls, and an 8 x 8-inch baking pan will work just fine. A cheese grater or zest grater comes in handy too.
The process is simple; add stir together dry ingredients in one bowl. Stir together wet ingredients in another bowl. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stir to combine, and spoon batter into a greased baking pan. Sprinkle with colored sugar if desired, and bake.
Is This a Real Tea Cake?
Technically, an English tea cake is a yeast roll with added dried fruit, similar to a hot-cross bun. But I have always called simple, un-frosted cakes tea cakes, and stick to that term here. Tea cake, simple cake, cake bars – call it whatever you like. It remains easy-to-make and delicious to eat!
Easy Lemon Tea Cake
- 1/2 cup bleached, all-purpose flour* or 3/4 cups all-purpose flour and 3/4 cup whole wheat or Khorasan flour
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 Tablespoon grated lemon peel fresh or dried
- 1 large egg beaten with a fork
- 1/2 cup applesauce, plain yogurt, or vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- colored sugar optional
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 8 x 8-inch baking pan and set aside.
- In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and lemon peel.
- In a small bowl, stir together the egg and applesauce (or yogurt or oil). Add the lemon juice and stir to combine.
- *If using whole grain flour increase fat (applesauce, plain yogurt, or oil) to 2/3 cup.
- Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until just well combined. Spoon into greased pan. Sprinkle with colored sugar if desired.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 20 minutes before cutting.