This lovely modest dessert reminds me of England. It’s somehow everything that British culture is to me personally, I have a distinct Jane Austen feeling when I bake them and eat them.

I usually bake this tea cake in a form of a bread loaf, so it’s hard for me to say whether it’s a sophisticated bread or an everyday cake variety. It’s full of lemon flavor, soft and moist. I usually bake quite a few and freeze the leftovers or give them away.

A it’s a simple English tea cake recipe, I always focus on the texture and the taste of the cake base, because there’s no heavy frosting or filling to draw attention away from it. That’s why I prefer making it from scratch rather than using a box cake mix. After I bake this mandarin tea cake, I soak it in lemon syrup for extra moisture and citrus bursting flavor and let it rest to soak up all that goodness.

Zest is optional, I use it in this tea cake recipe because it gives a bit of a bitter note and tartness which I love in my cake, but if it’s not something you like, you don’t have to use it, it won’t take away from the intensity of the flavor. Try it as a breakfast option or a tea dessert and you’ll find it’s instant love!