Almond Poppy Seed Tea Cakes

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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.

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! Recipe on

I tried my hand at something new in the kitchen last week. My mom visited for a few days and whenever we have family stay over, I make an effort to prepare breakfast before they arrive. Mornings are hectic, so it’s helpful to have a batch of muffins, a simple quick bread, or a crumb cake on hand.

I usually default to lemon poppy seed muffins, but decided it was time for a fresh new recipe. 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. In my head, I categorize them as a muffin or cupcake—but they’re 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 actually have the pleasure of working with America’s Test Kitchen to promote this cookbook and will be sharing a recipe from the book next week! A recipe inside– lavender tea cakes– sounded intriguing. I reduced the sugar, reduced the salt, used sour cream, added poppy seeds, and since I’ve never been a fan of lavender baked goods, chose almond and vanilla as the primary flavors.

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! Recipe on

How to Make Tea Cakes

The tea cake recipe begins like a typical butter cake or muffin. Dry ingredients in one bowl, wet in another. Cream butter and sugar together before adding eggs, sour cream, and extracts. The 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.

I love lemon and almond together, so I finished them with a lemon almond glaze. Nothing more than a squeeze of lemon, some almond extract, and confectioners’ sugar. The lemon slightly overpowered the almond, but we still loved it. Feel free to swap lemon juice for milk!

The BEST Part of the Tea Cakes Recipe

You’ll use an entire stick (1/2 cup; 8 Tablespoons) of butter in the recipe, but only 6 Tablespoons go into the tea cakes themselves. The other 2 Tablespoons? That’s 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 the unique taste and texture!!

Brushing the pan with melted butter and sugar for almond poppy seed tea cakes on

How to make almond poppy seed tea cakes on

How to make almond poppy seed tea cakes on

How to make almond poppy seed tea cakes on

Anyway. My mom loved these almond tea cakes, which was most important. We all finished them over the course of a few days and I quickly made another batch to freeze. Not sure if they’re technically a breakfast food, but they hit the spot first thing in the morning with fruit and coffee/tea on the side. I can also see myself serving these at an afternoon tea party—because I throw so many of those—while wearing my fanciest hat and even though my dress is probably wrinkled and Noelle pulled out a chunk of my hair, I’m classy and sophisticated because I’m serving tea cakes.

Oh and the best part of all? They’re ready in under 45 minutes. Cheers! (I just accidentally typed Cheese!)


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! Recipe on

What to Serve at a Tea Party

Almond Poppy Seed Tea Cakes


Prepare Pan

  • 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

Almond Icing

  • 1 cup (120g) confectioners' sugar
  • 1-2 Tablespoons lemon juice or milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • optional: sliced almonds for garnish


  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.

Make ahead tip: 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.

Recipe Notes:

  1. Why is everything at room temperature? All refrigerated items should be at room temperature so the batter mixes together easily and evenly. Read here for more information.
  2. For miniature 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

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Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.

KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Tilt-Head Glass Measuring Bowl | Glass Mixing Bowls | Muffin Pan | Pastry Brush | WhiskWhite Ruffle Cake Stand


  1. Hi Sally! This looks delicious! I have a question, though…… If I want to make these tea cakes mini, how long do you think I would need to bake these for? And do you think I’ll need more butter and sugar for coating the muffin tins? Thanks!

    1. Hi Lizzie! This is a great question and I will add it to my recipe notes just in case others are wondering too!

  2. Sally these are so pretty! And you can finally spend mother’s day being a mom yourself!! I hope all is well with you guys.

  3. Wait a minute, Sally! I can accept the concept of an American coffee cake without any coffee in (mostly because I don’t actually like coffee myself) but for Brits, a tea cake has two possibilities: a yeasted bun containing fruit that has been soaked in tea, which is usually split, toasted and buttered, OR a Tunnock’s tea cake, which is a thin plain biscuit with a marshmallow dome, the whole thing covered in chocolate – the contestants on Great British Bake Off had to make them a few years ago. To me, these are just delicious little cakes. You guys… 😀

  4. These look amazing! How do you think they would turn out without the poppy seeds? I love poppy seeds but never have them on hand when I need them ( ridiculous, I know!)
    Also, would it be possible to cut the recipe in half? And would buttermilk be a possible substitute for the sour cream/yogurt, or would that make it too thin? Thanks!

    1. Hi Erika! Actually, the cookbook from where I adapted this recipe uses buttermilk. I wanted a slightly denser crumb, so I reached for sour cream instead. But, yes, you can use buttermilk. Same amount. And halving the recipe is no problem. Just halve each ingredient.

    1. I was going to test it, but figured using all all-purpose flour might be easiest and more convenient for most. However, I would love to try it sometime. Let me know if you do!

  5. Funny about brushing the tin with butter and coating with sugar. I do that with quick breads! I can’t remember where I read about it but I started coating the bread pan with coconut oil and then sugaring it heavily. SO GOOD. 🙂

  6. I’m not seeing the Pinterest pin for this wonderful recipe. Am I missing it??? (: /
    These look seriously good! Looking forward to tryingt them! 🙂

  7. Hi Sally!
    For the poppyseeds, is it the bakers ones that are sticky or did you use 1 T of dry poppyseed? These look amazing, I’ll be making these for my engagement party in June!


  8. Hello Sally! I was wondering if I could substitute almond flour for the regular flour in this recipe.

    My parents do not eat any type of wheat, and I wanted to make this for them…

    Looks wonderful in any case!

    1. Hi Vivian! I was going to test these tea cakes with almond flour, but figured using all all-purpose flour might be easiest and more convenient for most. However, I would love to try it sometime. Let me know if you do!

  9. Oh my goodness, these look so good! My friend is throwing a Royal Wedding viewing sleepover next weekend and I think these would be perfect for it. 😀

      1. So I ended up mixing poppy seeds AND chocolate chips with almond glaze and IM IN HEAVEN! You’re the BEST SALLY!

  10. These are Yum! and turned out Gorgeous even right side up! I served mine with maple sweetened blueberry compote drizzled on top. I tucked this recipe into my favourites stack. They’re perfect. Thank you so much!

    1. Blueberry compote sounds AMAZING on top of these! So glad to hear they made it into the favorite pile! 🙂

  11. can’t wait to make these but mostly have to comment that i’m LOVING your new website upgrades!! the jump to recipe and search features are fab!

  12. 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.

  13. Getting ready to whip up a couple batches of these to give to my close mom friends (of course I’ll sneak a couple too!) Happy Mother’s Day Sally!

  14. 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.

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