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How sweet it is: Lemon and poppy seed cake 

This light lemon cake is the one co-author Helen says she’d take with her to a desert island. It’s much simpler than many of her favourites, but it’s the cake she returns to again and again. There’s something reassuring about it – as traditional and comforting as the cake you might have in a National Trust café.


75g unsalted butter, cubed, plus extra for greasing

3 large eggs

225g caster sugar

120ml double cream

10g poppy seeds

finely grated zest of 3 lemons (1 tbsp)

170g plain flour

1¼ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt


100g icing

sugar, sifted

2 tbsp lemon juice

● You can make this in a regular 900g loaf tin, as we do here, or, if you have them, nine mini-loaf tins (9cm x 6cm x 4cm) also work well. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease the loaf tin and line with baking parchment, then set aside.

● Place the eggs and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk on a medium-high speed for about 2 minutes, until pale and frothy. Add the cream and continue to whisk for about 2 minutes, until the mixture has combined, thickened a little and turned pale.

● In the meantime, melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat, add the poppy seeds and lemon zest and set aside.

● Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl, then use a rubber spatula to fold this into the egg mixture before folding through the butter, poppy seeds and zest.

● Spoon the mixture into the cake tin so that it rises three-quarters of the way up the sides. Place the tin on a baking tray and cook for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. If you are making mini loaves, reduce the time to 25 minutes.

● Make the glaze by whisking the icing sugar with the lemon juice in a bowl. Pour this over the top of the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven, spreading it over the top so that it sinks in and creates a nice glaze. Set aside to cool for 30 minutes before removing from the tin. Leave to come to room temperature before serving. This will keep for 3 days in an airtight container.



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