I’m becoming a bit obsessed with making my own mini versions of favorite cakes to serve with afternoon tea. A simple, but surprisingly delicious cake well-loved in the UK – the Lemon Drizzle – is my latest focus of this obsession.

For this recipe I went to one of my favorite afternoon tea recipe books, from Will Torrent, called Afternoon Tea at Home. I went with his “Lemon and polenta drizzle cake” that he bakes as madeleines. Instead of regular cake or madeleine format, I used this Norpro mini cheesecake tin to make my mini cakes. One thing in particular I like about this recipe is his use of polenta in the cake, just for that extra bit of texture.

I accompanied this with a limoncello lemon drizzle for just a bit more kick to the drizzle, and topped it off with a vanilla icing, adding lemon zest and poppy seeds, and a light sprinkling of golden sugar at the end for a bit of extra texture and finish.

My version of the icing is a take-off on a recipe for vanilla icing in the Bake from Scratch magazine from March/April 2020.

The dry ingredients are folded into this one to keep some volume in the batter.

A note about preparing the tin – the tin I’ve linked to is nonstick so you are probably fine not greasing or using parchment paper. Plus, the bottoms of the individual molds come out which makes it easy to get the cakes out. It’s habit for me, I still tend to use parchment paper in most of my molds.

Preparing the drizzle is easy, simply heat up the ingredients in a saucepan on the stove.

The lemon poppy seed frosting comes together quickly, with a hand mixer. I used a piping bag and a close French star tip to pipe the frosting on each cake after the drizzle.

Lemon Drizzle Mini Cakes

  • Servings: About 24 small mini cakes or 12 madeleines
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 c. (125 g.) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/3 c. (50 g.) cornmeal/polenta
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Scant 2/3 c. (125 g.) caster or superfine sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon and juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 8 Tbsp (1 stick) butter, melted

Directions

    To make the mini cakes – sift together the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Add the cornmeal and salt, mix together and set aside.

    In a separate bowl, whisk the beaten eggs with the caster/superfine sugar for about 5 minutes until the mixture has thickened and doubled in volume, using a handheld or stand mixer. Add the lemon zest and juice of half a lemon to the mixture.

    Fold the sifted dry ingredients into the wet mixture. Carefully pour the melted butter around the edge of the mixture and fold it in. It will seem like a lot of butter, but be patient and fold it in – it will be a loose batter, but bakes up just fine!

    Cover the bowl and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

    You may wish to prepare your mini-cake molds with butter and flour and/or parchment; or if you have a nonstick tin, such preparation may not be necessary. Once the batter has chilled, use a heaping tablespoon to fill each mold so that they are filled about halfway.

    Bake in the preheated oven for about 12-14 minutes, until they are well risen and golden. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for a couple of minutes, then turn out on a cooling rack to finish cooling.

    To make the drizzle – put the following ingredients in a saucepan and heat gently to dissolve the sugar.

  • Juice of 1 1/2 lemons
  • 50 g. granulated sugar
  • 60 ml. limoncello liqueur (or you can substitute with some water, if the liqueur is too strong)
  • Gently spoon the hot syrup over the tops of the warm mini cakes and let it soak in. Poke holes in the top with a toothpick if needed (mine soaked in when still a little warm without needing to poke in extra holes).

    To make the frosting – mix together the following ingredients using a hand or stand mixer. Start by mixing the butter and salt until creamy (about 1 min.), then alternately add the powder sugar and cream, beating until just combined. Add the vanilla bean paste, lemon zest and poppy seeds at the end and beat until fluffy (about 2 mins.). Use a piping bag and tip to apply the frosting to each mini cake.

    The ingredients below should make more than you’ll need for these mini cakes.

  • 1 c. unsalted butter, softened
  • pinch of salt
  • 16 oz. powder sugar
  • 1/4 c. heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp. poppy seeds
  • You may finish off the mini-cakes by sprinkling a little golden sugar over the icing, if desired.

These mini cakes make a beautiful plate of cakes to serve for afternoon tea.

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