Lemon Cake recipe from The Tea Rooms in London

Lemon Cake using recipe from from Secrets of the Tea Rooms Those of us who love frequenting tea rooms (you know who you are), just can’t help ourselves from obsessing over their decor, teapots, cups and saucers, and food. And although we wouldn’t dream of ever giving up the pursuit of the perfect tea room, we do enjoy re-creating one or more aspects of our favourite tea room once we’re back home.  Whether it’s sourcing their beautiful china for our own tea table, buying a tin of their popular house blend, or having a go at trying to bake their cakes or scones, we want the tea room experience to go on within our own familiar habitat long after it has ended at the one away from home.

The Tea Rooms, 153-155 Stoke Newington Church Street, London N16 0UH

The Tea Rooms, London

But when it comes down to baking that cake or those scones, the problem is that some tea rooms want to keep their recipes a secret. Drat. Luckily, some tea rooms don’t mind sharing their recipes and even go so far as to publish them. The Tea Rooms, Stoke Newington Church Street, London is one of those, and I recently had a chance to review their cookbook, Secrets of the Tea Rooms – Recipes for Traditional British Cakes and Savouries.

The Tea Rooms, 153-155 Stoke Newington Church Street, London N16 0UH

The Tea Rooms, London

The Tea Rooms opened in 2007 and are owned and operated by mother and daughter team Anne Wilkinson and Isabelle Allfrey; Isabelle is a professional chef. The tea setting is traditional (LOVE those bentwood chairs), with an emphasis on quality homemade cakes and confectionery. Who wouldn’t like a cookbook filled with quality recipes from a tea room with a professional chef, huh?


Secrets of the Tea Room contains a variety of great sounding recipes – scones; cakes and pastries; soups; savoury pastries; biscuits and batch bakes; and Christmas cooking –  originating from family members and cookery books and adapted for the tea room. Measurements are given in imperial and metric, so the book is suitable for cooks on both sides of the pond.

Handy tips are sprinkled throughout as are colour photographs, making it an immediate winner as far as I’m concerned. There is also a brief history of tea in Britain – always a good sign.

I am certain that I will eventually try each of the recipes in this book: they are solid, traditional British tea fare. But I did have to narrow it down to just one for the blog post, so I decided on the Lemon Cake. With the days drawing in, I have been in a mood lately to drink more Earl Grey, and Lemon Cake and Earl Grey tea are an excellent pairing.


Lemon Cake

For one small loaf cake, made in a tin about 9 in (23cm) long. This loaf cake is made extra tangy with lemon syrup poured over the cake, straight from the oven.


Collected ingredients for the Lemon Cake recipe from Secrets of the Tea Rooms


1 lemon
5 oz (140 g) plain flour
2 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 tblsp dark rum (I did not have any rum or rum extract, so I used vanilla extract)
6 oz (175 g) caster sugar
2 oz (50 g) melted butter
3 oz (75 g) double cream
2 oz (50 g) icing sugar



Set the oven to 180°C (350°F) or Gas Mark 4, and prepare a small loaf tin by greasing lightly and lining with baking paper.

Grate the zest of the lemon (the skin without the pith) or use a zester. Add the zest to the eggs, salt and sugar, and whisk together, without overworking. Stir in the cream. sieve the flour and baking powder together and fold into the mixture. Then add the melted butter and rum. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 7 minutes at 200°C (400°F), Gas Mark 6. Then lower the oven to 180°C (350°F), Gas Mark 4, and bake for a further 33 minutes.

 Warm Lemon Cake just out of the oven, dotted with holes, ready for lemon syrup to be poured over

While the cake is baking, heat the juice of the lemon and the icing sugar together, until dissolved.

Tip: Do not let the lemon syrup boil, otherwise it could taste bitter.

The cake is ready when it is springy to touch and a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven, but leave in the tin. Prick all over with a skewer (I didn’t have a skewer, so improvised using a matchstick) and then pour over the lemon syrup while the cake is still warm. Turn out when cold.


Lemon Cake using recipe from Secrets of the Tea Rooms

The Lemon Cake looked and tasted fantastic. The recipe was easy to follow, and I already had everything on hand. Baked in small, individual loaf tins, the Lemon Cake recipe from Secrets of the Tea Rooms would be perfect for holiday gift-giving to friends, neighbours or work colleagues, together with a festively wrapped copy of the book itself.

Visit The Tea Rooms website for opening hours and more information about their tea room, teas, bespoke cakes, venue hire, and home tea party service. You can also find them on Twitter and Facebook.


The Tea Rooms logo





155 Stoke Newington Church Street
London N16 0UH



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Fancy a Cuppa? book review

Tea Room Sign

Do you love tearooms? I love tearooms. I used to have a dream of opening a tearoom, but my research revealed that tearoom owners don’t just sit around all day with their customers drinking tea, but that they actually work very, very, very hard. (It was a nice thought, anyway.)

The first tearoom in England opened in 1706. Though no longer a tearoom, tea is still sold there: Twinings, 216 Strand, London. Twinings Tea remains a family-run business, and they hold a Royal Warrant, meaning they supply goods to HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh or HRH The Prince of Wales. RoyalTEA, I suppose.

I have no idea how many tearooms there are in England (the term “a lot” springs to mind), but for tea enthusiasts like me, the dilemma is usually: How do you know where to find a good tearoom when you fancy a cuppa?

Fortunately, Simon Duffin and Anita Volkert have already done the leg work and provided some answers. Their book, Fancy a Cuppa, lists 50 great places across the UK for tea* and cake – each with a story to tell.


Fancy a Cuppa book cover


Fancy a Cuppa is not a “Top 50” collection of one individual’s favourite places for tea; I mean, face it – we could all write a book like that. Instead, Fancy a Cuppa shares with its readers 50 places for tea in the UK that meet the following criteria:

1. Serves really good food and drink.

2. Located in a beautiful and/or historic location.

3. Has a story to tell, either about the history of the building itself or the philosophy and approach of the owners.

Now that is a tearoom guide worth reading!


First things first

At the front of the book, the Nifty Fifty are listed geographically, each with a brief 3-4 sentence “teaser” of its unique quality. These descriptions are just enough to whet your appetite, leading you to delve further into the book. Here’s an example:


Fancy a cuppa in this 16th century barn where tea has been served since the 1920s  –  a stone’s-throw from the picture-book medieval castle? The scones here are something special, and they let you choose whether it’s whipped or clotted cream…


He said. She said.

The tearooms are then listed by theme – Best overall experience? Best story? Best cakes? Best view? Best building? etc etc etc – with Simon sharing his choice, followed by Anita sharing hers. (Guess what? They don’t usually agree.) This is my favourite part of the book! It’s like being in a tearoom, eavesdropping on the conversation of the couple sat next to you. (Not that I ever do things like that.) *cough*


The rest of the story

The remaining hundred or so pages cover each tearoom entry in detail from the particulars (address, open hours, directions – even parking tips) to the fascinating tales behind the owners, the building, and the setting. Colour photographs add to the enjoyment.

Apart from the engaging stories about owners and buildings, I was impressed with the number of tearoom owners who strive to locally source as much of their food as possible, and who offer home-baked cakes and bread. These are places worth supporting.

If you don’t have a particular need for the name of a good tearoom, or even if you don’t live in the UK, Fancy a Cuppa is still a worthwhile read. Like history? Learn about tearooms located in a former 15th c Tudor house, 16th c barn, and 18th c pub.  Foodie? Delight in distinctive menu offerings some tearooms provide: Lardy Cake, Pilchards on Toast, Maids of Honour, Molly Cake, and Yorkshire Parkin.



I have read dozens of tearoom guides over the years, but Fancy a Cuppa takes the cake. (Get it? “Takes the cake.” Cake. Tea. You know, tea and cake. Right, forget it.) Seriously, I highly recommend Fancy a Cuppa by Simon Duffin and Anita Volkert. It’s an excellent resource for tea lovers, day trippers, tourists – or anyone searching for a decent cup of tea with a twist.

Be sure to visit the Fancy a Cuppa website where you can read more about the tearooms featured in this book.  Additionally, a new book covering tearooms in 80 UK Cathedral towns and cities is in the works. (There is also a Fancy a Cuppa US book.) Find Fancy a Cuppa tearoom tweets here: @FancyaCuppaNow



*Fancy a Cuppa books also include recommendations for a good Cup of Joe (coffee).