comfort food ~ lemon & poppy seed cake

My styling assistant while in lockdown has of course been Maude. Hopeless at actually helping, but especially when things are not going quite to plan, she looks intelligent, and at least pretends to listen and understand. And of course, she is a loyal companion, never far from my side.

In need of a cake for my Mother’s Day photoshoot, I made this favourite Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake from Ottolenghi’s ‘Sweet’ cookbook. The photos that you see on the website belie how keen my styling assistant suddenly was to eat cake.

Here’s what you see on the website…

And here is the reality of what I was dealing with. That little nose is fixated on the prize.

I didn’t think dogs were that keen on lemon and poppy seeds, but it is a great cake.  Not quite a one-pot wonder, but even so, you just whizz it together, and then impatiently wait for it to bake, so that you can enjoy a slice asap, still warm from the oven.

Ottolenghi affectionately call it their ‘National Trust cake’ – one of life’s predictably reassuring, reliable certainties. Great qualities in a cake. Hopefully this will reassure you too! It’s my most used recipe in this particular book. I usually make it in a regular loaf tin, but lately, have been using my mini loaf tins. Super cute as an individual serving.

3 large eggs

225g caster sugar

120ml cream

75g butter

10g poppy seeds

1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest

170g flour

1+1/4 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven 180 degrees C. Grease & line loaf tin or mini loaf tins with baking paper.

Place the eggs & sugar in a large bowl and beat together until pale and frothy, about 2 minutes. Add the cream, and continue to beat until the mixture has combined, thickened a little and turned pale.

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

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together, and, using a rubber spatula, fold into the egg mixture, before then folding through butter, poppy seeds & zest.

Spoon into loaf tin, and bake for about 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. If you are using mini loaf tins, reduce the baking time to about 25 minutes.

While the cake is cooking, make the lemon glaze by whisking together

100g icing sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Pour this over the top of the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven. Set aside to cool before removing from the tin.

I usually make a little extra glaze which I thicken with a little more icing sugar, so that I have extra to spread over the top of the cake once it has cooled. Dust it with icing sugar to serve, and fabulous with a spoonful of Greek yoghurt on the side.

Amanda xx

(photography and styling Amanda Holland for perfectly imperfect living)

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