Almond Poppy Seed Tea Cakes

These almond poppy seed tea cakes are buttery and light with a crunchy crackly exterior. Baked in a muffin pan, the delicate tea cakes are simple, but they taste fancy and are perfect for a tea party. For a little something extra, drizzle each cake with lemon almond icing.

almond poppy seed tea cakes with icing and almond garnish on a white serving tray

Almond tea cakes are often lumped into the muffins or cupcakes category, but they’re entirely unique with their own identity. Muffins and cupcakes typically have a soft texture throughout, but tea cakes boast a lovely crisp exterior with tender centers. In fact, one might argue that muffins and cupcakes pale in comparison. 

Let me introduce you to almond poppy seed tea cakes. I had the pleasure of working with America’s Test Kitchen when I promoted their cookbook The Perfect Cake and shared their delicious recipe for Boston cream pie. This cookbook continues to be a reliable source of inspiration, and their intriguing lavender tea cakes became the starting point for this recipe. There’s a few modifications: I reduced the sugar and salt, used sour cream, added poppy seeds, and chose almond and vanilla as the primary flavors.

overhead image of almond poppy seed tea cakes on a white cake stand

Almond Poppy Seed Tea Cakes Details

  • Texture: These almond poppy seed tea cakes are more than meets the eye. Their crunchy crackly coating belies the light, fluffy cake inside. It’s an unexpected yet pleasant texture surprise!
  • Flavor: You’ll enjoy sweet almond flavor and the topping is a light lemon almond glaze. What a combo! If you enjoy almond extract in desserts, you might like these cherry almond shortbread cookies too.
  • Ease: Nothing too tricky here. Bake the cakes, let them cool, then add a drizzle of icing. You can also freeze the baked tea cakes. See recipe below for more details.
  • Time: You’ll be enjoying these homemade tea cakes in under an hour. Set aside about 15 minutes for prep and another 15 for baking. Cool for a bit, then drizzle with the lemon icing.

Brushing the muffin pan with melted butter and sugar

Recipe Testing: What Works & What Doesn’t

Here’s what my team and I learned as we tested and baked this recipe.

  • Filling the pan: Too much batter causes the tea cakes to overflow and spread all over the pan. Divide the batter between all 12 cups, so each is only about halfway full. Though the tea cakes will slightly rise in the very center of the surface, there isn’t enough flour in the recipe to create substantial muffin-like domes.
  • The crunchy exterior: Use 1/2 cup of butter in the recipe: 6 Tablespoons for the tea cake batter and 2 Tablespoons for the exteriors. Using a pastry brush, brush a mixture of melted butter and sugar into each cup before adding the batter. Don’t be shy with the butter mixture– use every last drop because you want a noticeable buttery crunchy coating on each cake.
  • Cupcake liners: You *could* use cupcake liners, but they defeat the purpose of greasing and sugaring the pan. And then you *could* grease and sugar the cupcake liners, but the crunchy sugar coating will peel off as you unwrap the tea cake. Trust us: brushing the pan with a butter + sugar mixture is key to the unique taste and texture!
  • Finishing touch: Finish the almond poppy seed tea cakes with a light glaze. You need nothing more than a squeeze of lemon juice, some almond extract, and confectioners’ sugar. Feel free to swap lemon juice for milk or use vanilla icing instead.

Interested in mini bite-sized almond tea cakes? Use a mini muffin pan and see the recipe note below for details.

almond poppy seed tea cake batter in a glass bowl

almond poppy seed tea cake batter in a muffin pan

almond poppy seed tea cakes inverted from muffin pan onto parchment paper after baking

almond poppy seed tea cake on a green plate

What to Serve at a Tea Party

Print
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overhead image of almond poppy seed tea cakes on a cake stand

Almond Poppy Seed Tea Cakes

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 12 tea cakes
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

These almond poppy seed tea cakes are buttery and light with a crunchy crackly exterior. Baked in a muffin pan, the delicate tea cakes are simple, but they taste fancy and are perfect for a tea party.


Ingredients

Prepare Pan

  • 2 Tablespoons (30gunsalted butter, melted
  • 1 Tablespoon (12g) granulated sugar

Cakes

  • 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 Tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 Tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (60gsour cream or plain yogurt, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon almond extract

Almond Icing

  • 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 12 Tablespoons lemon juice or milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • optional: sliced almonds for garnish

Instructions

  1. To prepare the pan: Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Whisk melted butter and 1 Tablespoon of granulated sugar together. Using a pastry brush, brush it into each cup of a 12-count muffin pan. This creates the wonderfully crisp exterior that makes these tea cakes so special.
  2. Make the cakes: Whisk the flour, poppy seeds, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl using a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter and granulated sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the eggs, sour cream, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Beat on medium-high speed until combined. The mixture may look curdled; that’s ok. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients until combined. Do not overmix. The batter will be thick.
  4. Spoon the batter evenly into each prepared cup (about halfway full).
  5. Bake for 14-15 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The tea cakes may have tall bumps in the very center. Remove cakes from the oven and immediately invert the pan to release the cakes. They won’t sit flat because of the bumps, but that’s what makes them so charming! Let the cakes cool, bottom side up, for at least 10 minutes before drizzling with icing.
  6. Make the icing: Whisk the confectioners’ sugar, 1 Tablespoon lemon juice or milk, and almond extract together until smooth. Add another Tablespoon of lemon juice or milk to thin out if needed. Drizzle over cakes before serving. If desired, garnish with sliced almonds.
  7. Cover and store leftover tea cakes at room temperature for 1-2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: Bake the tea cakes 1-2 days ahead of time. Cover tightly and store at room temperature before drizzling with icing and serving. Baked and cooled tea cakes can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight on the counter before drizzling with icing and serving.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer, KitchenAid Glass Bowl, Glass Mixing Bowls, Muffin Pan, Pastry Brush, and Whisk
  3. Why is Everything at Room Temperature? All refrigerated items should be at room temperature so the batter mixes together easily and evenly. Here’s more information about the importance of room temperature ingredients.
  4. Mini Tea Cakes baked in a 24-count mini muffin pan, follow the recipe as instructed, brush the pan with the melted butter + sugar mixture, fill each halfway with batter, and bake for around 10 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and invert the pan as instructed in step 5. Recipe yields around 30-32 miniature tea cakes.
  5. Adapted from The Perfect Cake by America’s Test Kitchen.

Keywords: almond poppy seed tea cakes, tea cakes

22 Comments

  1. Do you think I could bake these in a mini bundt pan?

    1. Absolutely! The bake time will be different, but use a toothpick to test for doneness.

  2. I made these this morning but before serving them up to company coming, I taste tested of course! They are delicious and look lovely too! Thank you for sharing this wonderful treat. Happy Mother’s Day Sally, wishing you all of the best.

  3. Hi Sally, this looks great and I’m looking forward to making this soon! I do want to try this with lavender at some point–how should I adjust the recipe accordingly? Thanks!

    1. Hi Erica! The cookbook calls for 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of dried lavender that is coarsely ground. You can fold this into the cake batter after it’s all mixed up.

  4. Hi Sally! These look amazing and I can’t wait to try them! I’m probably stressing for nothing but do these cakes turn out dry at all?

    1. Hi Alice! I find them very moist inside. The edges have a lovely buttery crisp to them.

  5. I skipped the almond extract and added orange extract and zest and they were delicious. Didn’t have poppy seeds so used chia instead. Love these!!! My favorite recipe on your website!

  6. These were delicious! I made them today for Mother’s Day (to celebrate myself, I guess). The kids loved them, too. Thank you!

  7. Anna Cisneros says:

    So glad I tried this recipe!!
    Easy to make, quick and makes a delicious taste treat!
    Love learning the tip to prepare the pan with the butter and sugar mixture. Makes a yummy crust on tea cakes!

  8. Made this for the baking challenge. I love how easy this recipe is. So light and tasty!

  9. Made these for a tea party, they are perfect! I used the glaze w/lemon 🙂

    1. These tea cakes are not only easy to make and delicious-but cutesy as well. I’m becoming “addicted” to Sally’s recipes!

  10. Hi! Is it possible to convert this recipe to bake as a full-size cake (9-inch round tin)?

    1. Hi Sequoia, I’m sure you could make this into a single layer 9 inch cake but I’m unsure of the best bake time.

  11. Can I replace almond flour instead of all purpose flour? What changes will I need to make in the recipe?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Pooja, we haven’t tested this recipe with almond flour — it has very different baking properties than all-purpose flour and wouldn’t be a 1:1 substitute without making other changes. If you decide to do some experimenting, we’d love to know how it goes for you!

  12. Hi Sally!

    I will be baking these for someone as a Mother’s Day treat and was wondering if drizzling all 12 tea cakes with icing will be a problem if they will not all be eaten right away. I’d also hate to hand them 12 tea cakes with drizzle and sliced almonds on the side, so I’m not sure what the best option here is! Any suggestions you have would be great!

    Thanks Sally!
    Sarah

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sarah! How far in advance will the tea cakes be made? They will stay at room temperature for 1-2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, but you’re correct, the icing does look best right before serving. Perhaps you could drizzle the icing right before gifting the tea cakes?

      1. Thanks for your response, Lexi! I will be making the tea cakes immediately before I gift them, so perhaps I will take your suggestion and drizzle them right before that! Perhaps I could even include a small container of drizzle on the side in case the tea cakes absorb too much drizzle before they have a chance to eat them?

        Thank you for this, Lexi!
        Sarah

  13. If i bake the tea cakes the night before. Will they still have the crispy crunch the next morning?

    1. Hi Leoni, like a lot of baking recipes, the tea cakes won’t be as fresh and delicious on the next day. They’ll lose some of that crisp texture.

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