Orange and Yuzu Teacakes

Three years ago, I was at the Christmas market on Place Sainte-Catherine in Brussels. It was the sort of place where you easily go overboard on all that mulled wine and the naughty festive sweets and fried food. On top of all that, and giddy from the thrills of ice-skating under a giant disco ball, I was checking out the gift stands, and found one that was selling silicone baking moulds. Obviously it just seemed like the best thing in the world ever to buy a few, and I walked away with couple of them, including a mini-kugelhopf tray. I got it home, and pretty much forgot about making kugelhopfs. I’ve had vague plans to use this tray from time to time, but never quite got round to it. So today I decide to finally get my act together and do it!

I’ve long had a fantasy of making zesty little cakes flavoured with Japanese yuzu fruit. It is hard to find here, but has a lovely sharp flavour, somewhere between lemon and mandarin, which holds up well during cooking and baking. However, I had also resigned myself to not being able to actually make them as I’ve never found the fruit in London (apparently they don’t travel very well). Well, I was over the moon to find the juice on sale near my work, so I bought a little bottle and started to make plans for making these little cakes. Below is the result of my baking, but do not allow yourself to be misled – it was not as easy as I thought!


Well, in spite of my best laid plans, it took more than one attempt to get everything to work. I’ll regale you with the tales of woe in order to save other poor souls from my trauma!

First off, I tried to make them using a financier recipe. In theory, this should have been fine – they are rich with browned butter, and this should have allowed them to slip right out of the moulds. So I prepared ground pistachios, stirred in orange zest and yuzu juice and lovingly folded egg whites into the batter to ensure light little cakes. I popped the lot into the oven, they rose, and then the moment came to remove them from the tray. Every. Single. One. Of. Them. Stuck! I was reduced to shaking the tray like an idiot only for each one to partially fall out, leaving a particularly ugly set of cakes with the tops ripped off. I diligently drizzled some icing on them, and they looked a bit sad – something made by a child who cared nothing for appearances and was focussed only on eating as many as they could as quickly as they could. They did taste fine, but this was not the wow-moment I was hoping for. Hey ho…


The next day, I junked the financiers idea and tried to make little bundt cakes. This seemed like a good idea, as bundt cakes are supposed to be made in these sort of tube tins (albeit on a larger scale), and they are rather forgiving of quite a lot of liquid in the batter. So I followed a recipe to the letter, made the things, and…oh, they were horrid. The crumb was tough and they did not really rise. I’m at a bit of a loss to work out what the problem was, as I was using a recipe that called for lemon juice, so I don’t think the acidity of the yuzu juice was the problem. By this point, frustration was starting to build. I threw the offending “cakes” in the bin and started over.

This time, nothing was going to go wrong. I reached for that workhorse of the cake world, the Victoria sponge, and made it the traditional way that always works. Cream the butter, work in the sugar, add the eggs, a little at a time, then fold in orange zest. Finally, add the self-raising  flour with a dash of baking powder, then fold in a spoonful of yuzu juice. The batter was perfect – creamy and light. I piped it into the moulds (sounds fancy, but actually it is easier than trying to do that with teaspoons) and baked them. They looked great when I took the tray from the oven, allowed them to cool, the turned it over…and…out they popped! Perfect little cakes with neat little ridges. I spooned over some icing while they were still warm, and it drizzled down the ridges and set easily. Honestly, they could not have looked any more perfect!

I’ve done some thinking about why one recipe worked when others did not. Financiers are not usually made in these ring tins, so I’m assuming the batter was too fragile and should have been baked in round or rectangular trays. I also thought about the sticking. With the first attempt, the moulds were well-buttered, but the second and third attempt involved butter plus a dusting of flour. I had assumed this would mean that they would slip out, and while I am sure that did help with the successful final batch, it didn’t seem to help with the second attempt. Perhaps there was just too much liquid in there? They just seemed too fragile when they came out of the oven, and remained soft and stodgy as they cooled.

Anyway, whatever the reason, the Victoria sponge method is clearly the way to go. These little orange and yuzu teacakes are buttery, light and fresh, with little flecks of orange zest and a welcome tang from the yuzu glaze. While fairly simple, they look very attractive and would be a great addition to an afternoon tea. If you need something fancier, they could be topped with a little chopped candied orange peel, or even served with some whipped cream with a dash of orange liqueur.


To make orange and yuzu teacakes (makes 6):

For the cake:

• 100g butter
• 100g caster sugar
• 2 eggs
• 100g self-raising flour
• 1/2 orange, zest only
• 1 tablespoon yuzu juice (optional)

For the glaze:

• 100g icing sugar
• 4 teaspoons yuzu juice

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Prepare the tins by rubbing with butter then dusting with flour.

2. Cream the butter until soft, then add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Fold in the orange zest. Add the eggs, a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour, and mix until just combined. Add the yuzu juice and mix well.

3. Transfer the batter to a piping bag, then use to fill the six moulds. Bake for around 10-15 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean. If the top is darkening too quickly, cover loosely with tin foil.

4. In the meantime, make the glaze – mix the icing sugar with enough juice (or water) to make a smooth icing – it should not be thing, but should flow slowly.

5. Remove the teacakes from the oven, and leave to stand for 5 minutes, before turning out onto a cooling rack. Drizzle the icing on the top, and let it trickle down the sides.

Worth making? These are delightful little bakes. They’re incredibly easy to make and the fancy tray does all the hard work for you. The flavour is also lovely, but quite delicate. These are the sort of thing to nibble on with a cup of green tea or Earl Grey, so that the citrus flavours really come out.


Filed under Afternoon Tea, Recipe, Sweet Things

26 responses to “Orange and Yuzu Teacakes

  1. Looks so spring time amazing!! Unfortunately, I don’t have yuzu, wondering which would be better sub: lemon vs. orange ?!

    • Hi – keep an eye out for yuzu juice, as it is starting to appear more in stores, but if you need a substitue, I would mix some fresh orange and fresh lemon juice.

      • thx for the suggestion! After a bit of checking,I have found yujacha (the yuzu jam looking thing that I normally use to make Korean orange tea) I always thought that’s orange =P Will give that a try. =)

  2. Reblogged this on popcorn and tea and commented:
    This looks awesome. I’m going to try this recipe out for myself!!

  3. Love Yuzu. Love Cake. I want to eat this now. 🙂

  4. jambird

    I’m pretty sure they sell little bottles of yuzu at Waitrose these days

  5. Wow sounds amazing! I’ve never tried Yuzu but I’m desperate to after reading this!

    • If you want to re-create the effect, try some mandarin juice and zest, and add a little lemon juice. That’s best best way I can describe the flavour. I don’t think it’s as aromatic or robust as yuzu, but if you’re using it in icing, you’ll get the effect. Mixing orange and lemons in a cake will also make it into another English classic, the St Clement’s Cake!

  6. These are absolutely gorgeous!

  7. Yummy! I will keep my eyes open for yuzu, never heard of that one before. On a different note, I bought a miniature loaf silicon tin from the famous plastic brand beginning with T last year. Brilliant size, for a little sneaky midweek treat, or when an unplanned after school guest arrives. Works a treat with a normal sponge, chocolate and vanilla, marble, you name it. But the moment the batter is anywhere more moist than usual it always ends in a disaster. All my fruit cakes (fresh fruit that is) split in half trying to get them out… Well, more icing for the kids, they love it 🙂 I suppose those silicons are not made for the more sophisticated kind of cakes.

    • Ah, that’s interesting about the moistness of the batter, never occurred to me before, but now you say it, it seems to make sense. I have a silicone tray for madeleines and they always come out perfectly, and again the batter is not that “wet”. I’ve also used a cannelé mould for mini-panettone, and they slip right out. I guess whatever you bake needs to be on the more “robust” side.

  8. Persistence!! Good job on the final outcome! I have also never heard of yuzu juice, but have a feeling I might find it at one of the asian markets here in LA. Your cakes look lovely!

    • Hi Christina – I’ve kept an eye open for yuzu in London, even in Asian supermarkets, but I think you would need to go to a Japanese store. I think the issue to due to the fact they do not travel well, hence their scarcity. But in these days when you can get pretty much whatever you want, irrespective of the season, it’s quite nice to think that there are things that you can still really only get locally.

  9. Love yuzu and rarely see recipes for it – luckily we do have a local yuzu tree here in LA, though I never really knew how best to employ them. This recipe looks like the business. Lovely! Sophie

  10. as soon i translated it…. i am going to copy you 🙂

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