Irish tea cakes ready to eat

Irish Tea Cakes – Tasty Tuesday

March 5, 2013 by Michelle

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Growing up, we enjoyed Irish soda bread all the time. These Irish tea cakes are a perfect changeup! Some links in this post are affiliate links that earn me a commission if you purchase through them.

St. Patick’s Day is coming up, so I wanted to try out a new special treat. I was trying to think of something that would be a dessert type item without being so sweet that I could only eat it after dinner but still creating an indulgence.  

A lot of Irish desserts tend to be not in the typical American mold of dessert – which I actually like – so I was wracking my brains for something that was still appealing to those with less adventurous palates. I decided to make Irish Tea Cakes, which makes a perfect snack.

I’m glad I did. The lemon glaze takes it beyond delicious, and while I dyed it green for the sake of St. Patrick’s Day, enjoy this any time of year.  

I used currants for this, although you could substitute raisins. Because it’s a fairly delicate cake, raisins will make it more likely to break apart than the smaller currants – but it’s totally doable with raisins and will still taste good even if it doesn’t slice perfectly, right?  

Another pro tip? Make sure you slice this cake about a half inch or more thick. It isn’t designed to be a tiny little slice (yay, right?) and will not hold up to thin slices well.

Looks good, doesn’t it?

Irish tea cakes ready to eat

What treats do you make for St. Patrick’s Day?  I’m always looking for more inspiration. 

Pro Tips for Better Irish Tea Cakes

Use European butter

These Irish tea cakes are light and delicate. European butter is richer and adds a depth of flavor that make these even better. If you don’t have it, go ahead and use regular unsalted butter.

Make sure your ingredients are at room temperature

Butter doesn’t cream well when it’s cold. Set it and the cream cheese out an hour before you plan to bake. If your cream cheese is cold, it won’t absorb into the batter and will leave little pockets of cream cheese. This is a critical step to not skip.

If you need to soften your butter and cream cheese, place boiling water in a tall glass. Let it sit for a couple minutes, then empty the glass. Set it upside down over the butter stick for a minute and it softens.

Soften butter with a warm jar trick

Coat currants with flour

To keep the currants from sticking together and from sinking to the bottom of the tea cakes, you want to coat them in flour. It’s a great trick for any recipe where you have an addition you want to keep suspended.

Use a cake tester

A cake tester helps determine when your baked goods are done. You don’t want them overbaked or underbaked. While most people assume you want the cake tester to come out clean, you actually want a few crumbs to stick to the cake tester. A completely clean cake tester means you overbaked your dessert.

How to Make Lemon Glazed Irish Tea Cakes

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare a 9 inch loaf pan by greasing and flouring it.

I’ll admit that I have a Wilton cake release bottle that I use that is amazingly effective where I simply place a little in the pan and use my pastry brush to spread it around. It’s never failed me.

Pastry brush to spread grease in a pan

In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla until it’s light and fluffy and has come back together. Add your eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Then add cream cheese and mix until it’s fully incorporated. Add the baking powder and salt to the batter and mix until combined.

Place the currants in a small bowl and add 1/4 cup of the flour to the currants. Stir currants by hand until well-coated and none of them are stuck together.

Coat currants in flour to keep from sticking

Add 1 cup of the remaining flour to butter mixture. Slowly stir until it’s mostly incorporated.

Add the buttermilk and mix until it’s an even consistency. Add the last of the flour and stir until most of the white streaks but not all disappear. Use a spatula to carefully stir in currants until it’s just about all combined.

Spatula stirs batter

Pour your batter into your prepared pan, and bake it at 325 degrees for an hour and a half.  You want the cake to crack on top and have the crack dry out just a little.

Let cake start to cool in pan for 10 minutes. While it’s cooling, prepare the glaze by mixing the lemon juice with the powdered sugar, using a fork.

Once the cake cools, carefully remove cake from pan to cooling rack.  Use a toothpick to poke holes all over the top of the cake. This helps the glaze soak into the cake.

Use a toothpick to poke holes in the top of the cakes

Slowly drizzle the glaze all over the cake. Make sure you take enough time so that it soaks in and doesn’t simply drip off the side of the cake.

Let the cake cool completely before you cut it. This helps it stay together – and remember those slices need to be at least a half inch thick.  

Store the Irish tea cake for 3 days (if it lasts that long) on the counter wrapped in tin foil.

Green glaze for Irish Tea Cakes for St. Patrick's Day

Irish Tea Cakes

Irish Tea Cakes

Yield: 10-12 slices
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes

This quick bread makes a fantastic snack or dessert. It's light and delicate and the lemon flavor provides the perfect contrast to the currents and sweet bread.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 c unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 c sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 t vanilla bean paste
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 c cake flour
  • 1 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 c dried currants
  • 2/3 c buttermilk
  • 2 t fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 c powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare a 9 inch loaf pan by greasing and flouring it.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Add cream cheese and mix until fully incorporated. Add the baking powder and salt and mix until combined.
  4. Place the currants in small bowl and add 1/4 cup flour to currants. Stir currants by hand until well-coated and none stick together.
  5. Add 1 cup of remaining flour to butter mixture. Slowly stir until mostly incorporated. Add buttermilk and mix until an even consistency. Add remaining flour and stir until most of the white streaks are gone. Use a spatula to carefully stir in currants.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake at 325 degrees for an hour and a half. You want the cake to crack on top and your cake tester to come out with crumbs.
  7. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Prepare the glaze by mixing the lemon juice with the powdered sugar, using a fork. Once the tea cake cools, carefully remove from pan to cooling rack. Use a toothpick, poke holes all over the top of the cake.
  8. Slowly drizzle glaze all over the cake. Let tea cake cool completely before you cut it. You can keep this cake for 3 days (if it lasts that long) on the counter wrapped in tin foil.

Notes

As delicious as this cake it, use European butter to give it an extra oomph. This really adds to the flavor for this particular recipe. If you cannot find currants, you can substitute raisins. They are larger and the cake it more likely to split as you cut it, but you retain the same flavor style.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 338 Total Fat: 15g Saturated Fat: 9g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 5g Cholesterol: 69mg Sodium: 221mg Carbohydrates: 48g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 31g Protein: 4g
This site uses an outside source to calculate nutrition information. If you need exact details, please calculate yourself.
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    Comments

  • Pat


    My mouth is watering after reading this. I’ve printed it out and I will be making it for my 100% Dutch husband on St. Patrick’s Day. I’m only 1/4 Irish, but my dad (1/2 Irish) always made a big deal out of it so I do, too.

    In 1977, in Ireland, we met an Irishman with his family on vacation. When he heard that we had been in the Netherlands visiting Jerry’s distant relatives, he said (imagine a thick Dublin accent), “You know, they say if the Dutch lived in Ireland they could feed all of Europe, but if the Irish lived in the Netherlands they’d all drown.” Love that self-deprecating Irish humor.

    • Michelle


      This was *so* good. I haven’t gotten many comments on here, but I’m amazed at how many times it’s been repinned and liked – and how often this post has been visited (yay!) It’s definitely a keeper and oh so yummy. I hope you enjoy it!

      And yeah, the Irish humor is awesome. I’ve definitely inherited that version of it from my ancestors.

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