Testing this recipe has been like the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears in trying to determine the perfect amount of lemon to use. The household tasters just could not come to agreement. The first few times I made this with the juice and zest of just one lemon and it was really tasty with a very nice mellow lemon flavor. BUT, I decided we just had to try upping the ante of lemon just to see…So the next time I decided to really go for it “go BIG or go home” and added in 2 whole lemons worth of juice and zest. I didn’t change anything else in the recipe, even though the extra lemon added in another ¼ cup of liquid. The result was intensely lemony, but not excessive and the extra juice made for a really moist cake, whereas one lemon made for a drier crumb but easier to get a nice clean slice out of, which is a plus for presentation. Now at this point we came to some disagreement, my husband loved the extra zing of lemon, but my daughter (who still happily ate several slices) said it was just too much. In fact Skyler described the taste as “violently lemony”, which sounded pretty bad to me, but to her teen age self that wasn’t a bad description at all. To me the taste of the extra lemony tea cake was more like a big smacking kiss of lemon, the way may 5 year old plants a BIG kiss on my face.
So on to round 3, which was really more like round 5 or 6, but who’s counting, we’re just eating…Now it was time to split the difference and try it with the juice and zest of 1 ½ lemons, which required another trip to the grocery and me being late to pick up Skyler from swim team practice which ended 30 minutes early that day without my knowing, but hey she got some cake out of it even if she had to sit out in the rain a little extra time. I wonder does making lots of yummy food cancel out numerous late pick ups in mommy universe? So Saturday morning, one more tea cake was made and this time I used 1 ½ lemons. One taste and finally we felt this version was just right, nice and moist with a pronounced but not over powering flavor of lemon. But, I will leave it up to you to decide what is the ideal amount of tart for You.
With all that said, I really do love lemon in SO many ways, however I’m not usually a fan of lemon in sweets preferring more of a savory twist on my lemon, but Skyler has been begging for months for me to make lemon poppy seed muffins and then I came across the Clever Carrot’s recipe for Lemon Poppy seed Cornmeal Muffins and since I love corn muffins and lemon I was sold! As usual, I added a bit of my own twist to it with a little whole wheat flour, some extra cornmeal for added crunch and some coconut oil. But then when it came time to add the poppy seeds, which I had every intention of using, I found that my ancient jar of poppy seeds had gone rancid, so rather than run out to the store in the middle of baking I tried to figure out a substitute and lo and behold, chia seeds came to the rescue! Just make sure you add in the seeds at the very last minute, otherwise they may start absorbing liquid and gel up, which is not what you want.
The first time around I did make these as muffins but then I decided to try it in a loaf pan and liked it even better (that much the whole family could agree on). However you slice it, this is a very tasty treat, perfect for an afternoon with tea, served at brunch, as a late night snack or even for breakfast with a side of yogurt and berries.
Lemon Chia Tea Cake
Author: Sweet Green Kitchen’s Jen Jones
Adapted from The Clever Carrot’s Lemon Poppy seed Cornmeal Muffins
1 cup all purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour (I use whole wheat pastry flour)
½ cup corn flour
2 Tablespoons corn meal (adds a nice little crunch)
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 extra large eggs
2/3 cup natural cane sugar
¼ cup coconut oil – either softened or liquid
1 cup buttermilk
Juice & zest of 1 1/2 lemons (or just 1 or up 2, whatever you prefer)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon chia seeds, plus a little extra for sprinkling on top
Preheat oven to 350 F. Oil a loaf pan.
In a medium bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients (flour through salt), plus the lemon zest.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and oil. Next add in the buttermilk, lemon juice and vanilla. Whisk it all together.
Add the liquids to the dry ingredients and mix until fully combined. Lastly add in 1 Tablespoon of chia seeds. Pour it all into your oiled loaf pan and sprinkle the top with a few more chia seeds.
Bake at 350 F for about 40-45 minutes. When a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, remove from the oven and let cool in the pan, slice it up and Enjoy!
If you prefer muffins – bake regular size muffins for about 17 minutes and mini muffins for 10. Makes about 15 regular or 26-30 minis. Just make sure to oil your muffin tin well and skip the paper liners as I find the muffin sticks a lot more to the paper than they do to the pan.