I love lemon flavour with poppy seeds (I do love a good lemon poppy seed muffin!), but I always feel disappointed when trying lemon poppy seed cakes… They tend to be covered in thick icing, which I find too sickly, with all the lemon flavour in the icing and the cake itself being quite bland.
Whilst on maternity I was trying to develop recipes with as little sugar as possible to be able to share with my little one when he was less than one year old. So I was determined to come up with a recipe that would result in a light moist cake, full of lemony flavour, without any icing. I came up with this recipe by experimenting with other lemon poppy seed recipes until I was happy with the result. It applies the “whack everything in a bowl” type of method, which I’m a big fan of.
My little one loves this cake when I make it for his birthday! It has also been a great success for bake sales and family gatherings.
There is still sugar in the recipe, as it needs some to balance out the acidity of the lemon. I use caster sugar which gives it a nice light sweetness, but If you want to use white sugar that will also work, although I would suggest adding slightly less than the stated amount (so like 80gr instead of 100gr). So get stuck in and see what you think!
Ingredients – Serves 8-10 people
- 60 ml Semi skimmed Milk
- 40 gr Poppy Seeds
- 1 ½ tsp Vanilla Essence
- 270 gr Plain Flour
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- 1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
- Grated zest of 1 large Lemon
- Juice of 1 large Lemon
- 225 gr Unsalted Butter, softened at room temperature
- 100 gr Golden Caster Sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 40 gr Golden Caster Sugar
- Juice of 1 large Lemon
The hardest part for this recipe is creaming the butter and sugar together. I tend to feel like I’ve done a full set of weights on my arms after the creaming process! But after that it’s easy peasy as you just whack it all in a bowl and mix it.
1. Stir the milk and vanilla essence in a bowl then add the poppy seeds. Make sure all the poppy seeds are evenly coated then leave to soak for 1 hour.
2. Cut the butter in to small chunks in a large mixing bowl and leave to soften at room temperature.
3. Use a cake tin (20-21 cm wide and 4-5 cm deep), with a removable bottom if you have one. Grease the tin thoroughly with unsalted butter, side and bottom.
4. Preheat the oven to 170 C to190 C (Fan Oven) / Gas Mark 3 – 4, depending on how hot your oven gets. Mine gets quite hot so I put it on 170 C.
5. Once the butter is nice and soft, add the sugar and cream together with a wooden spoon. You will need some elbow grease for this one! Then add all the other ingredients and combine with a hand held electric whisk.
6. Once everything is evenly combined, put the mixture in to the cake tin and level the batter with the back of a wooden spoon.
7. Bake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes cover loosely with tin foil and bake for another 20 minutes. Check to see if the cake is cooked by inserting a wooden skewer or toothpick, which should come out clean. The top of the cake should be dark golden brown. If it’s not fully cooked yet, return it to the oven for another 5-10 minutes with the tin foil on.
8. Towards the end of the cake’s cooking time, start making the glaze, which will only take 5 minutes once you’ve squeezed the lemon. Put the sugar and lemon juice in a small pan and heat over a low heath gently stirring it with a spoon. The glaze is ready when the sugar has fully dissolved.
9. Take the cake out of the oven leave it in the tin, then transfer to a cooling rack. Make holes in the cake with a long skewer, evenly spaced all around the cake. Make sure not to pierce the bottom of the cake, making each hole only ¾ of the way through the cake.
10. Use a table spoon to scoop the glaze out of the pan and pour all over the cake, trying to get an even layer and spreading the glaze over the top of the cake with the back on the spoon for each spoonful of glaze, to make sure it gets in all the holes. The idea is that you get a lovely sticky glaze on the top, which will also drizzle all through the cake giving it a lovely lemony flavour.
11. Allow the cake to cool. Once cooled remove from the tin and serve.
You can make this cake the day before or on the day. If making the day before, make sure the cake has completely cooled down before covering with tin foil or it will sink. Leave it at room temperature and it will still be nice and moist the next day. If you have any leftovers put them in an air tight container and it will keep for one more day.
I’ve never freezed this cake, so I’m not sure how well it will freeze and defrost.