By Erin Walgamuth
Four O’clock in the afternoon is official tea time at my house. Typically I’ve run all the errands for the day, everyone is settled and I don’t have to think about starting dinner for an hour or so.
I am from an Irish-Welsh family and have very fond memories of having afternoon tea with my Welsh Grandmother and Great Grandmother. We would sit in my Grandmother’s sunny yellow kitchen and drink our tea any afternoon that I was there. My tea was mostly milk and sugar, but I felt so grown up sharing this very coveted ritual with two women I adored. My Grandmother would always serve tea in her Franciscan Apple pattern tea cups. I was given a demitasse cup for my tea which I delighted in as I thought it was made especially for my small hands.
She would put an assortment of cookies and tea breads on an Apple pattern platter and I was allowed to select two treats. I don’t know if my Grandmother knew that my Great Grandmother would put an extra cookie in my hand under the table, but I loved the fact that it was our secret.
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My husband’s family is German and they had tea every day as well. So, we have passed this tradition on to our children. I will occasionally make tea bread for just such occasions and Meyer Lemon Tea Bread is my family’s favorite. This recipe makes a tender tea bread, not too sweet, with a lovely lemony taste. I am going to include a lemon syrup recipe as an option for those of you who would like to add a bit more sweetness.
This time of year you can find Meyer Lemons at most supermarkets and at Trader Joe’s. This citrus fruit is thought to be a cross between a Mandarin Orange and a common lemon. Typically the skin has a slightly orange tinge and is thin and smooth. The flesh is slightly sweeter than a common lemon as well. We have a Meyer lemon tree in our backyard and baby it all through the winter as we covet the wonderful fruit it provides. If you can not find Meyer lemons, then common lemons will do just fine. I do however; add an extra tablespoon of sugar to the recipe if not using Meyer Lemons.
I hope you and your family enjoy this tea bread.
Myer Lemon Tea Bread
You will need
9” glass loaf pan
Prep-time about 15 minutes
Cook time 45 minutes
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees
6 tablespoons butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons Meyer lemon zest
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup buttermilk
2 tablespoon Meyer lemon juice
Butter or spray release for greasing tube pan
Note-If you use a dark metal tube pan the cooking time will be shorter.
Grease the inside of the tube pan with butter or spray release and set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Whisk in eggs one at a time until well incorporated. Whisk in vanilla and lemon zest, set aside.
In a medium bowl mix together the flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.
In a 1 cup measuring cup whisk together the buttermilk and lemon juice. Batter will be slightly thick.
Add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture in three parts and add some of the buttermilk-lemon mixture after each addition of flour. Combine well after each addition ending with the buttermilk-lemon mixture. Stir well to incorporate all ingredients.
Pour batter into prepared tube pan and bake in pre-heated oven for 45 minutes. The tea bread is done when golden brown and cake tester comes out clean.
Let tea bread cool for ten minutes then run a sharp knife around the edges. Let loaf sit for another 20 minutes then turn out onto a plate and let stand until cool. Use a sharp knife to cut slices.
If you would like to use the syrup recipe, turn the bread out onto a cooling rack with a platter underneath. Pour the syrup over the loaf and let set for 15 minutes before transferring to a serving plate. Slice and serve.
Meyer lemon Syrup
½ cup powdered sugar
3-4 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Put the powdered sugar in a small bowl and stir in the lemon juice 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring well after each addition. If the syrup has small lumps in it, pour the mixture through a small sieve before adding the lemon zest.
Erin Walgamuth has been an assistant Food Stylist for television and print for the past 26 years and writes this column using her own recipes. Check out her other creations in our Hometown Recipe section.
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