Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Lemon poppy seed cake

Lemon poppy seed cake
Lemon cake, when it has an acid bite, is a thing of great joy, all zingy pleasure as it hits your tongue, with a follow through of soft sweet cakiness. Adding beautiful grey blue poppy seeds lends an additional crunch and a light shade of nuttiness. It’s true that poppy seeds are tiny, hellish if spilled and they get stuck in your teeth. They aren’t something that most of us buy as a routine, but they are a small pleasure that is worth indulging from time to time.

On top of having more juice in than any other recipe I’ve found, this cake gets additional tang from a syrup that you pour over the cake when it is fresh out of the oven. I pour the syrup on to the bottom of the cake while it’s still in the tin, let it cool for a while and pour the syrup on to the top.  I find there is enough syrup left over to mix into crème fraiche, if you fancy it, which I do.

So when you read the recipe you may think it’s a bit fiddly, and it is, but only a little bit. This cake is a treat and the lemon cakiness peppered with the poppy seeds is lovely to look at as well as eat. So a little extra work pays off.

I’m going to try this with orange juice soon.

Photos follow.


  • ·         50g (1/3 cup) poppy seeds
  • ·         60ml (¼ cup) milk
  • ·         185g butter
  • ·         1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
  • ·         220g (1 cup) caster sugar
  • ·         3 eggs
  • ·         225g (1 ½ cups self-raising flour
  • ·         60g (½ cup) plain flour
  • ·         60g (½ cup) ground almonds
  • ·         125ml (½ cup) lemon juice

o   For the syrup
o   220g (1 cup) caster sugar
o   160ml (2/3 cup) lemon juice
o   80ml (1/3 cup) water
  • ·         Set the oven to Gas Mark 4/ 350F/ 180C/160C fan-assisted
  • ·         Grease 23cm cake tin thoroughly
  • ·         Mix poppy seeds and milk and set aside
  • ·         Beat the butter, rind and sugar together until light and fluffy
  • ·         Beat in the eggs, one at a time, making sure they are combined
  • ·         Add the dry ingredients and mix together
  • ·         Add the juice and the poppy seed mixture
  • ·         Spread into the greased tin
  • ·         Bake for about 55m or until a skewer inserted comes out clean

o   For the syrup
o   Put the sugar, juice and water into a small pan on a low heat without boiling, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved
o   Once the sugar has dissolved,  bring to the boil and simmer, uncovered without stirring for two minutes

Let the cake stand for about five minutes,  then stab gently here and there with a skewer, and spoon the syrup about a third of the syrup over while the cake is in the tin. Let the cake stand another five minutes and then turn it out carefully onto a rack set over a large plate or tray, then spoon over the rest of the syrup. Scoop up the syrup that isn’t absorbed and set it aside if you want to use it later. Let the cake cool completely before putting it onto a serving plate.

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