Lemon Tea Cake

In the first class of pastry school last week, we were given a bunch of recipes appropriate to the lesson, although there was no way we had time to make them all. One thing we seriously didn’t have time to make was the Lemon Tea Cake, which requires about 4 hours start to finish. The batter has to sit in the pan for 2 hours before you bake it, which is kind of strange for something leavened with baking powder. I’ll have to find out why. Anyway, I’m such a sucker for lemon that I can’t resist taking a stab at it at home. This is a big recipe, so I’m halving it. I made two mini loaves and six mini cakes in English muffin rings on a Silpat-covered baking sheet.

Lemon tea cake with crunchy lemon glaze and lemon shavings

Lemon tea cake with crunchy lemon glaze and lemon shavings

Lemon Tea Cake
adapted from the recipe by Delphin Gomes
10½ oz flour
2¼ tsp baking powder
13 oz sugar
5 eggs
a pinch of salt
6½ oz sour cream
zest of 2½ lemons (microplaned)
½ T dark rum
4½ oz butter, melted and cooled
lemon glaze (recipe follows)
zest of remaining half of lemon (zester) for decoration

Microplaned zest (left) and shavings from the zester

Microplaned zest (left) and shavings from the zester

Mise en place

Mise en place

Have all ingredients at room temperature. Whisk together the baking powder and flour and set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the sugar, eggs, and salt until the mixture forms the ribbon, about 5 minutes on medium speed.

The batter is light and lemon colored

The batter is light and appropriately lemon colored

Add sour cream, lemon zest, and rum and continue mixing for another 2 minutes. With the mixer running at low speed, gently add the flour mixture, then scrape down the bowl and beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. With the mixer running at low speed, gently add the butter and mix for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is homogeneous.

Batter nearly finished

Batter nearly finished

Turn the batter into prepared pans. I spray them with Pam for Baking. I used two 3″ x 5″ x 2″ loaf pans (that’s 2 inches high) and six 3½” English muffin rings, but four mini loaf pans would work perfectly. Fill them about three-fourths full.

Batter in mini loaf pans

Batter in mini loaf pans

Batter (mostly) in the muffin rings

Batter (mostly) in the muffin rings

Now you let the batter rest for 2 hours. I covered the two loaf pans with a large colander and the sheet pan with another sheet pan. After about an hour and a half, preheat the oven to 350℉ so it’ll be ready when the batter has finished resting.

Bake the mini round cakes for 25 to 30 minutes and the mini loaf cakes for 40 to 45 minutes.

Round cakes done

Round cakes done

While the cakes are baking, make the lemon glaze.

Lemon Glaze
¼ cup lemon juice
¾ cup powdered sugar
¾ cup granulated white sugar

Sift the powdered sugar into a bowl, add the granulated sugar, and whisk until the mixture is homogeneous. Add the lemon juice and whisk until the mixture is homogeneous. It’ll be granular.

Allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes, then move them onto cooling racks.

Round cakes cooling on a rack

Round cakes cooling on a rack

Let them cool for another 15 minutes or so, then brush on two coats of the glaze.

Two coats of glaze on the left; one coat of glaze on the right

Two coats of glaze on the left; one coat of glaze on the right

Immediately sprinkle on the lemon zest so the zest sticks to the glaze.

Loaf cake glazed and decorated with zest shavings

Loaf cake glazed and decorated with zest shavings

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