Tea bread -- or tea loaf -- has been a staple at tea services in England for hundreds of years. It is usually made with some type of fruit and/or spice and served sliced with butter. This particular recipe is more of a modern invention that utilizes the vibrant flavor of lemons as its main star with the addition of poppy seeds. It’s a perfect tribute to winter citrus as we begin to feel the thawing of spring in the air.
The bread is light, airy and just ever so slightly dry, which makes it a great companion for a cup of steaming tea on a chilly morning. It makes a delicious breakfast but could also easily double as a desert after dinner or lunch with the right cup of tea. I have found that the sweet, tart flavor goes wonderfully with my personal favorite, Mindful Morning, but I think it lends itself to a wide variety of flavors and maybe even coffee.
The key to getting the texture just right here is really taking the time to mix the wet and dry ingredients separately and adding them together slowly. It helps add just the right balance of air to the batter.
I also love the way this bread looks. The bright yellow color with a simple garnish of lemons or a purple flower really makes the tea table look elegant. It also makes you look super fancy when you pull out a slice in the break room at work for a mid-morning snack and everyone starts ogling your bread -- and they will.
Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Tea Bread
- 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sugar
- Zest from 3 lemons (about 2 tablespoons)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 by 4-inch baking dish; set aside.
In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest. Use a wooden spoon to blend the zest into the sugar until a yellow paste forms. Cream together the butter and the sugar mixture until light and fluffy. Blend in the eggs one at a time until well incorporated, adding the vanilla in with the last egg.
In a microwave-safe bowl, whisk together the milk with the sour cream. Heat mixture in microwave just until no longer cold, roughly 20 to 30 seconds.
Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and 1/2 of the milk mixture to the egg and sugar mixture. Mix well. Repeat one more time. Add the final 1/3 of the flour mixture with the lemon juice and mix well to combine.
Gently fold mixture into the prepared baking pan and bake in preheated oven 50 - 55 minutes. When done, a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool 5 minutes in loaf pan.
While the bread bakes, prepare the lemon glaze by whisking the lemon juice and sugar until well blended.
Remove bread from the loaf pan onto a large plate or tray and brush with the lemon glaze. Serve immediately.