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 taste extra fancy– perfect for a tea party! For a little something extra, drizzle each cake with lemon almond icing.
Let me introduce you to almond poppy seed tea cakes. Filled with sweet almond flavor and drizzled with a light lemon glaze, these tea cakes are extra special. Usually categorized as a muffin or cupcake, tea cakes are so different from both! While a muffin or a cupcake typically has a soft texture throughout, tea cakes boast a lovely and unique crisp exterior. Inside their crunchy crackly coating is a light fluffy cake. This texture contrast puts tea cakes in a whole other category– one where muffins and cupcakes pale in comparison.
Flipping through The Perfect Cake by America’s Test Kitchen inspired these tea cakes. I had the pleasure of working with America’s Test Kitchen to promote this cookbook when I shared Boston cream pie. Another recipe inside– lavender tea cakes– sounded intriguing. I reduced the sugar and salt, used sour cream, added poppy seeds, and chose almond and vanilla as the primary flavors.
How to Make Almond Poppy Seed Tea Cakes
Today’s tea cake recipe begins like a typical butter cake or muffin. Dry ingredients in one bowl, wet ingredients in another. We’ll cream butter and sugar together before adding the eggs, sour cream, and extracts. These tea cakes are baked in a muffin pan, then inverted so they’re upside down. Why, you ask? Well that only adds to their intrigue.
Unlike muffins, don’t fill the pan all the way to the top with batter. Rather, divide the batter between all 12 cups so each is only about halfway full. If there’s too much batter, the tea cakes will overflow and spread all over the pan. Though the tea cakes will slightly rise in the very center of the surface, there isn’t enough flour in the recipe to maintain a substantial muffin-dome-like structure.
The Best Part of this Tea Cakes Recipe
You’ll use an entire stick (1/2 cup; 8 Tablespoons) of butter in the recipe. 6 Tablespoons go into the tea cakes themselves and the remaining 2 Tablespoons are used for the best part: the crunchy exterior.
- Using a pastry brush, brush a mixture of 2 Tablespoons melted butter and 1 Tablespoon sugar into each cup. Don’t be shy in this step; use every last drop because you want that buttery crunchy coating!
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. So trust me when I say this: brush the pan with the butter + sugar mixture. This is key to their unique taste and texture!!
Lemon Almond Icing
I love lemon and almond together, so I garnished these tea cakes with a lemon almond glaze. Nothing more than a squeeze of lemon, some almond extract, and confectioners’ sugar. This definitely added a pop of lemon flavor! Feel free to swap lemon juice for milk, or even use my classic vanilla icing instead.
What to Serve at a Tea Party
- Mini Cheesecakes or Mini No-Bake Cheesecakes
- French Macarons
- Dark Chocolate Almond Biscotti
- Lemon Ricotta Cookies
- Cream Puffs
- Mini Fruit Galettes
These almond poppy seed tea cakes are what you bake for a tea party! They’re buttery and light with a crunchy crackly exterior. Baked in a muffin pan, the delicate tea cakes are simple but taste extra fancy.
- 2 Tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 Tablespoon (12g) granulated sugar
- 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 (60g) sour cream or plain yogurt, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar
- 1–2 Tablespoons lemon juice or milk
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- optional: sliced almonds for garnish
- 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.
- Make the cakes: Whisk the flour, poppy seeds, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together. Set aside.
- 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.
- Spoon the batter evenly into each prepared cup (about halfway full).
- 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.
- 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.
- Cover and store leftover tea cakes at room temperature for 1-2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- 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.
- Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer, KitchenAid Glass Bowl, Glass Mixing Bowls, Muffin Pan, Pastry Brush, and Whisk
- 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.
- 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.
- Adapted from The Perfect Cake by America’s Test Kitchen.
Keywords: almond poppy seed tea cakes, tea cakes