lemon teacake from emma block’s tea and cake


I’ve long been a big fan of illustrated cookbooks, often adding them to my collection without ever intending to make any of the recipes. I’m content to ooh and ahh over the beautiful art, happily satisfying my visual cravings.

But since we’re all about tea and England this winter, I thought it would be nice to try something from Tea and Cake: Recipes for the Perfect Afternoon Tea (Hardie Grant, 2011), which features the lovely watercolor and paper collage work of London-based illustrator Emma Block.

Emma was actually commissioned by the publisher to do the illustrations while in her last year at university; the recipes themselves were created by a team of recipe writers whose names, oddly enough, do not appear on the cover of the book. But Emma’s name is there, front and center, and she definitely deserves the spotlight, because it is her work that really makes this book shine.

An avid baker and tea lover herself, she’s graced the pages with her gentle and genteel depictions of classic teatime treats like cucumber sandwiches, tartlets, sponge cakes, cookies and scones, as well as trending temptations like cake pops, whoopie pies, and cupcakes. The muted palette, pretty florals and sweet touches of lace give the book a feminine, relaxed feel, and you can easily imagine yourself dreamily sipping PG Tips and reaching for another Viennese biscuit.

After carefully reading through all the recipes — there are chapters devoted to Sandwiches and Savouries, Cakes to Share, Baby Cakes, Cupcakes and Scones; Biscuits, Buns and Slices; Petite Pastries, Cake Pops, Whoopie Pies and Macaroons; and Grown-up Drinks (yes, boozy tea!) — I decided to go with the classic Lemon Teacake.

I basically love lemon anything; its fresh citrus-y scent is bright and uplifting, and its tangy flavor wakes up the taste buds in the best possible way.

This recipe reminded me of the Lemon Bread I used to make years ago, except it calls for both self-rising and all purpose flour. It was nice to see both Imperial and Standard U.S. measurements for all the ingredients, and oven settings for both electric and gas ovens.

I did stumble over “7-3/4 oz. butter,” but with a devil-may-care attitude, rounded it up to 8 oz. (2 sticks). Once my mustached leprechaun sous chef grated the rinds of two lemons and squeezed out 1/4 cup of lemon juice, I was good to go.

It may have been rainy and dreary outside, but inside my mixing bowl, the sunny yellows of butter, lemon rind and egg yolks cheered me up. Do I have to tell you how good this baby smelled while baking? Butter and lemon, lemon and butter, marry me, please.

Mr. Cornelius gobbled up his share of teacake with a warm cuppa (he went for Fortnum and Mason’s English Breakfast). We paged through Emma’s lovely pictures again, mentioning how excited we were that she’s agreed to stop by Alphabet Soup for a chat sometime soon.🙂

Do try this recipe — the teacake is light with a moist tender crumb, and I don’t think that extra 1/4 oz. of butter hurt one teensy bit. Mmmmm, lemons!

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(makes one 9″x 5″ loaf, serves 6-8)

2 sticks softened butter
3/4 cup sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
grated zest of 2 lemons
3 eggs
1-1/3 cups self-rising flour
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add lemon zest. Add eggs one at a time, allowing each to be incorporated before adding the next. Stir in flour and lemon juice and keep stirring until well blended.

3. Spoon batter into greased and lined loaf tin (9-1/4″ x 5″ x 2-3/4″). Sprinkle with a little sugar and bake for 1 hour, or until skewer inserted in center comes out clean.

4. Allow to cool before removing and cutting.

TIPS: lemons left at room temperature yield more juice; do not overbeat the batter after adding flour and lemon juice.

~ Adapted from Tea and Cake (Hardie Grant, 2011)

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TEA AND CAKE: Recipes for the Perfect Afternoon Tea
recipes by Allan Campion, Michele Curtis and Deborah Kaloper
illustrated by Emma Block
published by Hardie Grant Books, 2011
Cookbook with 50+ recipes, 128 pp.
*Includes planning and brewing tips

**Other tempting recipes I’d like to try:

  • Ricotta Tart
  • Baby Orange and Almond Cakes
  • Chelsea Buns
  • Chocolate Tarts with Raspberries
  • The Naughty Earl (well, why not? :))


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wkendcookingiconThis post is being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts. Put on your best bibs and aprons and join the fun!


Copyright © 2014 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

51 thoughts on “lemon teacake from emma block’s tea and cake

  1. This looks like a beautiful book. I’m with you on lemon anything, although I am partial to what I might call GOOEY-lemon anything! Another thing I have to say about lemon teacake however is that now that places like Starbucks are posting calories it has kind of ruined my tendency to get it EVERY SINGLE TIME. I guess it takes a lot of padding to get that lemon flavor to be substantial! :–)


    1. I like gooey lemon stuff too. The lemon bread I used to make called for drizzling confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice over the baked bread, and of course there’s lemon meringue pie and lemon pudding and lemon curd!


      1. Don’t forget the lemon bars! Sorry. I couldn’t help it. I love my Mom’s lemon bars.🙂 Great post! What happened to the yellowy bear in the second picture – did Mr. C squirt lemon juice in his eye?🙂


      2. Yes of course I love lemon bars too!

        The little yellow bear had to lie down because he ate too much lemon teacake. He also wanted to just roll around and play with Mr. C.🙂


  2. Teacakes in the South are soft (think of Harper Lee’s description of ladie’s skin on a hot afternoon) and cookie-like. But I love this teacake which is a real cake. I’m crazy about any kind of quick bread (loaf bread). Lemon and butter, marry me, too!


    1. Yes, I’ve been learning more about Southern teacakes — they taste like soft sugar cookies. Kelly Starling Lyons featured them in her PB Teacakes for Tosh.


  3. Another lemon anything lover here! The cake looks delicious and I bet it would also be great with that lemon juice and confectioner’s sugar glaze you make. I love Emma’s illustrations and look forward to her visit!


    1. Hello fellow lemon lover! I need to dig out my old lemon bread recipe just to compare ingredients again. I remember having fun drizzling on that lemon glaze at the end.🙂


  4. Mmmm…. I love a cuppa in the afternoon and this lemon cake looks like the perfect accompaniment. I think I shall also treat myself to a copy of this delectable looking book. My birthday is just around the corner, not that I need an excuse. Thanks for posting such consistently delightful and delectable posts.


    1. What a perfect birthday treat, though I agree you don’t need an excuse🙂. I shall think of you sipping your tea and nibbling on this teacake and enjoying Emma’s pictures on chilly winter afternoons. Thanks for visiting!


  5. I make lemon bars but have never made lemon teacake, looks and sounds wonderful, Jama. But what I’d really love is some of those gorgeous collages to frame for the kitchen! They are amazing to see here, even small. Thanks for sharing the book!


    1. Yes, I LOVE lemon bars too! I agree those collages would be perfect to hang in the kitchen. I know Emma sells prints in her Etsy Shop (now closed for the holidays), but can’t recall whether any of these book illustrations were for sale (don’t think so).


  6. Jama, I’m going to try this recipe. It looks delicious. Your post reminded me that I have a cookbook inspired by British literature on my shelf — I’m going to look up the title for you.


    1. It really is a lovely book — and I can vouch for the yummy lemon teacake. I’ll have another bite right now and send it telepathically to you.🙂.


  7. I like lemon cake/bread, too. When I used to make it, after it came out of the oven and was still hot, I would poke a few holes in the top (and usually there are some nice baking cracks, too). I would dissolve a little sugar in a little bit of lemon juice and pour it over the top so that it would sink into the cracks and holes. After the cake had cooled and been sliced, and was being eaten, you’d get a nice unexpected sweet-tart burst! (Probably similar to your confectioner’s sugar/lemon juice drizzle.)


  8. I think I see that recipe in my future.😀 Btw, those oatmeal pancakes you posted from some local inn are still favorites with me and MiniPlu. (Two and my husband aren’t big pancake fans, in general.)


  9. The illustrations are just lovely and I’m looking forward to Emma’s visit. I too love lemon anything. Oh I think I need to make this bread to brighten up the winter. Yum. Orange and almond cakes sound pretty darn good too. I might have to own this book — not just for the recipes but for the beautiful artwork


  10. Anything lemon-y is a YES for me… so I’ll be making this one day very soon. Maybe on a particularly dreary day – to lighten my mood and make my house smell fantastic! Thank you for sharing. Also, your photos are adorable!


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