Yorkshire Tea Cakes are a relative of the Sally Lunn. Their shiny golden-brown top has a soft, brioche-like interior, often studded with currants. They’re more a fruit bun than a cake. British tea shops describe them as a “toasted tea cake” as that’s how they’re served, slathered with butter.

A Scottish tea cake bears no discernible relation, as it has a biscuit base and a marshmallow filling and is enrobed in chocolate, like a Mallomar. Scottish Independence in action.

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Yorkshire Tea Cake

Yorkshire Tea Cakes

  • Yield: Makes 12 tea cakes. 1x



For the dough

  • 500 g or c unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 15 g or ½ oz active dried yeast (preferably SAF Gold)
  • 50 g or ¼ c granulated sugar
  • 300 g or 10½ fl oz lukewarm milk
  • 27 g or 1 oz unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 6 g or 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 90 g or ¾ c currants

For the egg wash

  • 1 egg yolk (tip: you can freeze the egg white for later use)
  • 15 ml or 1 tbsp milk


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, yeast, and sugar. Switch to the dough hook and add the milk, butter and egg. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic (5–6 minutes). Add the currants and knead until combined (1 minute).
  2. Cover the dough and set aside until it has doubled in size (1 hour).
  3. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Gently deflate the dough and tip it onto a lightly floured work surface. Briefly knead it and divide it into 12 pieces, each weighing roughly 90 g.
  5. Working one at a time, lightly flatten a piece of dough on the work surface. Pull the outer corners together and gently squeeze them together (like a dumpling). Turn the dough over so the squeezed ends are on the bottom. Lightly encircle the rounded ball of dough between the inside of your thumb and middle finger and gently rotate the bun on an un-floured section of the work surface; the tension from the rotation will smooth the top of the bun evenly. Place the bun on the baking sheet and continue shaping the other buns. Arrange six buns on each baking sheet.
  6. Tent the buns with plastic wrap (or wrap them in a large plastic bag) and allow them to double in size (1 hour).
  7. Arrange two racks in the upper and lower third of the oven; preheat to 400°F.
  8. Brush the buns with egg wash and bake until golden brown (12–15 minutes).


Traditionally, tea cakes are served toasted, but only the cut portion–go figure! You can achieve this result with a panini pan or broiling the buns cut side up for a few seconds. A quick method is to position the cut side of the buns over the slots of a toaster, moving them around a bit until the entire surface is toasted. Serve with butter.

Recipe adapted from The British Baking Book by Regula Ysewijn.

  • Author: Helen Kain

Keywords: Yorkshire Tea Cake, buns, currants, baking, afternoon tea, breakfast, pastry, baked goods.