I am baking this for tomorrow’s bread making evening class. I have been meaning to make a poppy-seed cake for ages and just not got round to it. I love the way the tiny black dots glisten amongst the soft cake. Poppy seeds always make me smile to myself. The first time I put a bread roll adorned with poppy seeds in front of my eldest, she just stared at it for a long time. I wondered what she was thinking so I asked her if she was ok. “What are these mummy?” she asked pointing to the top of the roll. “Poppy seeds, darling”, “Oh, I thought they were beetles”. I promise that no beetles were harmed in the making of this cake.
If you don’t want to use ground almonds then just use 175g of flour instead. You need four lemons for this cake. Don’t be fooled by it saying three lemons in the first section. But if you only have three lemons in the house then no harm will come to the cake if you just use the zest of 2 lemons in the cake itself.
For the cake
175g softened butter
175g caster sugar
Zest of 3 lemons
Juice of 1 lemon
125g self-raising flour
50g ground almonds
2 tbsp poppy seeds
For the syrup
Juice of 2 lemons
Zest of 1 lemon
50g granulated sugar
50g icing sugar
1 generous teaspoon poppy seeds
Grease or line a 2lb loaf tin. Preheat the oven to 180°c, gas mark 4 or bake in the middle of the baking oven of the Aga.
Beat together the butter and the caster sugar until fluffy and lighter in colour. I find that if I use an electric whisk to get things started and then go in with my hand like a claw I get a much fluffier mixture. The heat of your hands makes the difference. Add the eggs one at a time and beat thoroughly between additions. Add the lemon zest, juice, flour, ground almonds and poppy seeds and fold in with a large spoon until evenly combined. Spoon the mixture evenly into the tin and bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until the cake is golden and a skewer comes out clean.
Whilst the cake is baking, mix together the ingredients for the syrup.
As soon as the cake comes out of the oven use a skewer to pierce all over and deeply into the cake. Spoon the syrup evenly over the cake. Leave to cool completely in the tin.