tangerine-vanilla tea cakes

Citrus sweets are among my favorites when I need a lift – the bright zest and juice awakens the palate and invigorates the senses. These tangerine-vanilla tea cakes almost sing out “Spring!” to me, light from whipped egg whites and dipped in a tangerine-flecked glaze.

I envision serving a tray of these tea cakes at Easter, or including them in a dessert buffet at a baby or bridal shower. Best of all, the recipe is completely flexible – use Meyer lemons or limes to add your own unique twist. Another favorite for Spring are my vanilla buttermilk pound cakes.

Tangerine-Vanilla Tea Cakes
Adapted from Cooking Light
Tea Cakes
2 cups cake flour*
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp tangerine zest
1/4 cup fresh tangerine juice
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp tangerine zest
2 Tbsp fresh tangerine juice
Tangerine slices, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F and spray two 12-cup standard muffin pans with nonstick spray. Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Beat butter and sugar in a large mixer bowl at medium speed until fluffy. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, and beat until combined; beat in vanilla and tangerine zest. Combine tangerine juice and buttermilk in a small bowl. Reduce speed to low and add half of flour mixture to sugar mixture; beat just until combined. Add buttermilk mixture, then finish with remaining flour mixture.

Using an electric hand mixer with clean and dry beaters, beat egg whites and cream of tartar in a clean bowl at high speed until stiff peaks form. Using a spatula, carefully fold egg whites into the cake batter in 2 additions. Spoon batter evenly into cups and bake 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Cool the tea cakes for 2 minutes in the pans on a wire rack, then carefully remove from pans and place them on the wire rack to cool completely.

To prepare glaze, whisk together powdered sugar, tangerine zest, and juice in a small bowl. Set rack with tea cakes over a piece of wax paper and dip tops of each cake into glaze; let glaze set before serving. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 days.

*Make your own cake flour: place 2 tablespoons cornstarch in an empty 1-cup measure, then top up with flour. Sift the mixture several times to evenly distribute the cornstarch.

Yield – 24 tea cakes (serving size: 1 tea cake)
Calories – 135
Carbs – 22

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  1. says

    Would you believe I didn’t like vanilla when I was a child? A lot has changed since, though, and now it’s one of my favorite flavors. Paired with citrus, I can’t imagine lovelier sounding tea cakes. These are gorgeous!

  2. says

    We always have tangerine in the house. I need to make this before tangerine disappears from the store! I think my kids will love it. I love citrus taste in the sweets, so I am 100% positive this will be a huge hit for my family!

  3. Athena says

    I am so excited to make these for Easter. I had a question though. Did you use a normal cupcake tin or mini cupcake tin?

    • Tutti Dolci says

      I used 2 normal cupcake tins but I wanted the tea cakes to have smooth sides, so I sprayed the pans with nonstick spray instead of using paper liners. Hope you enjoy!

  4. Tracy F says

    We have a corn allergy in our family (i.e. – cornstarch) So would regular flour work, rather than cake flour? These look yummy! :)

    • Tutti Dolci says

      You can either use cake flour, such as Softasilk (no cornstarch in it), or you can try using regular flour, though the cakes will probably not be quite as tender. If you use regular flour, use 1 3/4 cups flour instead of the 2 cups cake flour.

    • Tutti Dolci says

      Yes, you can bake the tea cakes ahead and store them (unglazed) overnight. I’d glaze them on the day you plan to serve them. Hope that helps!

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