Cozy up with a cup of freshly brewed tea and some homemade Irish tea cake. The delicate texture and subtly sweet flavor pairs well with your favorite flavor of tea! The recipe is incredibly simple and versatile too.

plate with slice of irish apple cake with berries on top.

You have to love a dessert that doesn’t try too hard. It fits a casual gathering and gets along well with other dishes. Irish tea cake is just that. All it needs is a dusting of powdered sugar and it’s ready to be served. It’s perfect for afternoon tea with a friend or an informal get-together on St. Patrick’s Day!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Deliciously simple. This is a very straightforward recipe. The buttery vanilla flavor and subtle sweetness makes this cake perfect for serving alongside tea.
  • Basic ingredients. You probably have all the in your kitchen already!
  • Delicate texture. Each bite is light and fluffy, which pairs well with whipped cream and berries.
  • Perfect for any time of day. Serve this cake in the morning with fresh fruit, in the afternoon with your tea or for dessert!
  • Versatile. Since the cake is modest, it lends itself well to different mix-ins, flavors and toppings. Personalize this dessert however you please!

Ingredient Notes

bowls of ingredients to make irish tea cake.
  • Butter: Use unsalted butter that is room temperature. Different brands of salted butter have various amounts of salt added to its best to add it separately so you have control over the measurement.
  • Baking powder: This leavening agent helps the cake rise. Check that it is not expired for best results.
  • Vanilla: Vanilla is the dominant flavor in this dessert so it’s important to use good-quality pure vanilla extract (not imitation).
  • Milk: Whole milk is best for a rich flavor and tender texture. In a pinch, low-fat or skim may be used.
  • Granulated Sugar: A cup of sugar is used to sweeten the cake. You can adjust to 3/4 cup for less sweetness if preferred.
  • Confectioners’ sugar: For a finishing touch, add a dusting of confectioners’ sugar, also known as powdered sugar.

Refer to the recipe card for ingredient details and measurements.

Recipe Variations

Add some mix-ins. About 1/2 cup chopped nuts, such as walnuts or almonds, are a nice addition. You can also add dried fruit, like raisins, currants or apricot pieces.

Get creative with toppings. A dollop of whipped cream or lemon curd is a tasty choice. You could also serve it with apple compote!

Make a mini cake. Cut the recipe in half and bake it in a 6-inch round cake pan. Baking time will be 22 to 26 minutes.

How to Make Irish Tea Cake

photo collage demonstrating how to make irish tea cake in a mixing bowl and 9-inch cake pan.
  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla.
  3. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the milk. Begin and end with dry ingredients.
  4. Transfer batter to a 9-inch round cake pan. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Expert Tips

Choose good quality ingredients. Because this recipe uses rather simple ingredients, it’s important that they are of good quality to make the most of their flavors. I suggest using Irish butter, full-fat milk and pure vanilla extract (homemade is even better!)

Use room temperature ingredients. For the best cake texture, it’s important that the ingredients are room temperature. It makes them easier to mix and results in a smoother, more consistent batter.

Use a kitchen scale to weigh your ingredients for the most accurate measurements. If you don’t have a scale, spoon the flour into a measuring cup and level with a knife (don’t pack it down).

irish tea cake dusted with confectioners' sugar, topped with berries and one slice cut.

Storage Tips

Store covered in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Make sure the cake is completely cooled before storing. It’s best when eaten the same day it is baked.

Freeze for up to 3 months. After the cake has cooled, wrap it in plastic wrap and aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn. Store in the freezer, and when ready to eat, defrost in the refrigerator before serving.

Recipe FAQ

What’s the difference between tea cake and regular cake?

Tea cake has a simple flavor profile so it doesn’t overpower the flavor of tea it’s served alongside. It’s also a casual dessert meant to be served in the afternoon. Regular cake comes in various flavors and with frosting, and is often served for special occasions.

How to prevent dry cake

Weigh your flour with a scale for accurate measuring. Too much flour can cause a dense, dry texture. It’s also important not to over-bake the cake and to remove it from the pan after 10 minutes of cooling.

Can this be turned into cupcakes?

I have not tested this recipe in a cupcake tin, but it should work! I suggest baking for 16 to 18 minutes.

Why is it called tea cake?

Similar to how coffee cake doesn’t have coffee in it, tea cake doesn’t have tea in it. Instead, it’s meant to be served with tea! It complements the cozy beverage very well.

What makes this cake Irish?

Ireland is one of the top countries in the world for tea consumption per capita. Afternoon tea is a daily ritual and it’s often served with small sandwiches, pastries and sweets. Tea cake happens to be one of the most popular options!

slice of irish tea cake with berries and a bite taken off of the end of the cake.

Did you love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 rating in the recipe card below and if you REALLY loved it, consider leaving a comment further down the page.

plate with slice of irish apple cake with berries on top.

Get the Recipe: Irish Tea Cake

Homemade Irish tea cake has a delicate texture and subtly sweet vanilla flavor. It pairs well with a cup of freshly brewed tea!
5 (12 ratings)


  • 1 ¾ cups (218 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (113 g or 1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (120 ml) whole milk, room temperature
  • ¼ cup (30 ml) confectioners' sugar for dusting


  • Preheat oven to 350℉. Grease and flour a 9-inch cake pan and set aside.
  • In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer), beat sugar and butter until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract.
  • Alternate adding the flour mixture and milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
  • Transfer batter to prepared cake pan and spread into an even layer. Bake at 350 ℉ for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with little to no crumbs. Cool in the pan to 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Dust cake with confectioners’ sugar and serve with berries.


Vanilla: This is the dominant flavor in the cake. I highly suggest using a good quality 100% pure vanilla extract (not imitation). I prefer Nielsen Massey.
Butter: This cake has a buttery flavor so it’s important to use a high quality brand. I prefer Irish butter, such as Kerrygold.
Store covered at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Freeze for up to 3 months. After the cake has cooled, wrap it in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container in the freezer. Defrost in the refrigerator before bringing to room temperature and serving.
Serving: 1slice, Calories: 341kcal, Carbohydrates: 51g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Trans Fat: 0.5g, Cholesterol: 73mg, Sodium: 170mg, Potassium: 174mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 30g, Vitamin A: 439IU, Calcium: 76mg, Iron: 2mg

Share This: