I had never heard of cinnamon teacake before I stumbled on this recipe, but something about the idea of it sounded utterly adorable (the notion of tea is so cute, isn’t it?), and the combination of the cuteness and the idea of cinnamon and sugar and cake and tea all in the same sentence convinced me that on a Sunday afternoon, this needed to happen. And after it happened, I realized I need to have afternoon tea a lot more often.
This teacake really exceeded my expectations. I was concerned that it would be too much like a yellow cake, too sweet and desserty and not tea-ish enough, but in fact it was light and moist and not-too-sweet, giving the cinnamon sugar a subtle starring role.
The other appealing thing about this recipe, besides the cuteness and the cinnamon, is that it has a very short ingredient list and only takes like 15 minutes to put together (plus baking time). If company comes over unexpectedly, or if you’re sort of in the mood for a light sweet snack with your morning or afternoon tea or coffee, you can make this without forethought in as long as it would take you to go to the store to buy something. You can probably make it with whatever you have in the fridge and pantry right now, even if you’re practically out of everything.
The only catch is that the original recipe comes from a British cookbook, so it calls for things they use more often than American bakers like self-rising flour and caster sugar (fine granulated sugar). Luckily, those ingredients are easy to come by around here even if you’re not in the habit (no specialty stores required, just look in the baking aisle of your regular store or better yet, get a small, non-pantry clogging quantity of each in the bulk section to keep on hand for these kind of recipes), or in case you are making this on the fly and are trying to avoid that trip to the store, I’ve given some equivalents as well and you will hardly notice the difference.
Let there be tea and cinnamon teacake!
Adapted from The Essential Baking Cookbook
Makes one 8-inch round cake
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar (if you must, use regular granulated sugar)
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 self-rising flour plus 1/4 cup regular flour, or 1 cup regular flour plus 1.5 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
Topping: 1 T butter, melted and 1 T caster sugar + 1 t cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch round springform cake pan. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the base, and press it on. To make it easier to cut a circle to fit, cut a square of paper roughly the size of the pan, then fold of paper in half, in quarters, and then triangularly in eighths. You can then hold the little triangle up to your pan with the point in the middle and round the edge of the paper to follow the curve of the pan. Then unfold and you have a correctly sized circle!
In a medium-small bowl, cream softened butter and sugar together using a wooden spoon or your hands (don’t try using an electric mixer if you are using caster sugar, it is so fine it will spray all over the place). Crack egg into bowl, add vanilla, and beat with an electric mixer until smooth (here, you pretty much need the electric mixer or it will be hard to get it all smooth).
Add flour(s) and milk, and mix with the wooden spoon until it’s smooth and incorporated. Pour into your cake pan.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove pan to a wire rack and allow to cool for about five minutes before spring-releasing the cake. Brush top of cake with the tablespoon of melted butter, then sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar mixture. Best eaten the day it’s made or the day after.