A wettish sort of day much improved with lemon and poppy-seed cake

It’s so strange the way some things, minor, trivial, unimportant things stick in your mind. For example, the first time I ever tasted lemon and poppy seed cake was at Secret World in Somerset, maybe fifteen years ago. Secret World is a wild animal rescue centre – providing ‘a rescue service caring for sick, injured and orphaned wildlife’ with the aim of rehabilitating ‘the animals in our care and return them to the wild wherever possible’. I have only been there once, and it was a gloomy, grey, wettish sort of day, and the animals were no more keen on it than we were, so I don’t remember seeing many. However, it was a very impressive place and it’s marvellous all the work they do, and I do remember the splendid cake I had when we retired to the café for warmth and refreshments.

I have often made a lemon cake, my mum’s recipe, where while the cake is still warm it’s doused in lemon juice which gives a beautiful moist texture, and a really sharp lemon flavour. Mum’s sister also had a similar lemon cake recipe, but with hers she made a sugary crust for the topping. The other day, with our new found freedom, I met up with a couple of friends and I brought a lemon and poppy seed cake, the first time I had ever made it. I found a recipe which seemed to give a similar product to what I remembered and I copied it… crucially I only copied part of it for some reason, and for some other now forgotten reason, I made it in a tray-bake tin not a loaf tin. However it was a great success, and my friends enjoyed it, and I enjoyed it, and I left the rest one of their family’s to enjoy. This means I must make it again.

Here is the recipe:

Lemon and poppy seed cake

  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 9 oz butter
  • 9 oz castor sugar
  • 11 oz self-raising flour
  • baking powder – the recipe I found said 2 tsp but I am very sensitive to the taste of it so I only used 1
  • 4 eggs
  •  a little milk
  • as many poppy seeds as you like in your cake
  1. beat the butter and sugar together until pale, light and creamy
  2. add flour, zest and eggs alternately, beating in between (I know it usually says fold in, but Mary Berry just puts everything in and she is Queen of Cakes)
  3. add a little milk to make a soft mixture (I also added just a little of the lemon juice) and the poppy seeds
  4. spoon or pour into a greased, lined loaf tin of square tray-bake tin
  5. cook for 30-40 mins until it feels firm but springy when you gently press it – mine took 35 mins
  6. while it is still warm, prick it all over and gently pour/spoon on the lemon juice
  7. I vaguely remembered the recipe said sprinkle with sugar so as I don’t like crunchy sugar, I dusted it with icing sugar

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