Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

I’ve been thinking a lot lately of lemon desserts and felt that every blog should have a poppy seed cake recipe.  Today was a rather indulgent day in the kitchen, taking this very classic recipe and giving it quite a facelift!  I will confess that this one I’ve made is incredibly decadent and personally I prefer a simpler option with just lemon icing drizzled gently over the top.  The quantity is enough for two loaf tins I think, although I used two 18cm round spring-form tins. (I filled one, and then grabbed a second one when I realised I had too much cake batter, so two thirds of my cake came from one tin, and one third from the other).  This cake is lovely and light though, perfect for cupcakes (I made one), and perfect for afternoon tea with a cup of tea!


Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

  • 80g poppy seeds
  • 250ml milk
  • 110g butter
  • 180ml sunflower oil
  • 300g sugar
  • 4 eggs separated
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tblsp lemon zest
  • 100ml lemon juice
  • 250ml sour cream (1 cup)
  • 300g self raising flour (or plain flour plus 1 teaspoon baking powder)
  1. Combine the poppy seeds and milk in a saucepan and bring to the boil. lower heat, allow to simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat and allow to cool until lukewarm.
  2. Preheat oven to 180°C and prepare cake tin (or tins). Grease well and line with baking paper.
  3. Add butter, oil and sugar to mixing bowl and beat well to combine.  Add poppy seed and milk mixture and continue beating on high. Add salt.
  4. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Add lemon juice, lemon zest and sour cream.
  6. Sift flour and add to mixture, continue beating until well combined.
  7. In a clean bowl, add egg whites and beat until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold into the poppy seed cake batter. Pour into prepared cake tin.  This may take up until an hour to bake, but if you are dividing the cake batter, check cakes after 40 minutes, and then at ten minute intervals after that.  Remove from oven when cake is golden brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Lemon Icing: You can mix icing sugar with lemon juice until you get the consistency you desire to ice this cake. If you prefer a thicker icing, use more icing sugar.  If you prefer more of a glaze to drizzle over the cake, add more lemon juice.

I used an American frosting recipe, (because it looks great in photos LOL) but I am warning you that it may be too sickly sweet for your taste.  I found it too sweet, but worse still is the greasy feeling in your mouth from the vegetable shortening. I’m publishing the recipe though because that is what I used.  Maybe an Italian Meringue Buttercream would be a better option.

Lemon Buttercream Frosting cupcake2

  • 125g vegetable shortening (I used CRISCO)
  • 125g butter
  • 60ml lemon juice (+ extra to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 500g icing sugar
  1. With an electric cake mixer, beat butter and shortening together until light and fluffy.
  2. Add lemon juice and zest, and continue to beat well, adding icing sugar a little at a time.
  3. Adjust to taste, and add more lemon juice if icing seems dry, or more sugar if icing doesn’t remain in stiff peaks.

Lemon Curd

  • 1 1/4 Cups sugar
  • 1/3 Cup cornflour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 Cups cold water
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  1. In a saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornflour, and salt.  Gradually whisk in cold water.  Cook over medium heat, stirring continuously, until the mixture comes to a simmer.
  2. Whisk in egg yolks, lemon juice, lemon zest, and butter. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
  3. Simmer 1 minute, stirring.  Remove from heat and place plastic wrap directly on surface.

Assembling the cake layers:  Spread lemon curd on top of cake layers, but not the top layer. Using a piping bag, pipe the lemon buttercream frosting on top of the lemon curd. Assemble the cake, placing one layer on top of the other, and finish with cake layer without lemon curd and frosting.  Use the piping bag again, and pipe frosting on top of the cake in a decorative fashion.