Easy Lemon Tea Cake Recipe

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.

Recipe Process

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

Easy lemon tea cake can be made low fat or whole grain. Tartand sweet, it’s the perfect snack with a cup of afternoon tea.
Servings 16


  • 1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly grated lemon peel or 1 teaspoon dried lemon peel
  • 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 flours, 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.
  • 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.

by Renee Pottle

Renee Pottle, a freelance writer and Home Economist, is fanatic about all things food. She blogs about canning and food preservation at SeedToPantry.com. Find her professional food writing info at PenandProvisions.com.

March 21, 2022

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