Weekend baking: Sticky lemon drizzle and poppy seed cake

lemon poppy seed cake

*Image from The Live In Kitchen

With the apartment to myself for the next couple of weekends, there is a fair chance my kitchen will be a bit of a mess and my oven kept occupied. Baking is for me both therapeutic and rewarding (though the after-effects of consuming the results less-so).

I returned to an old favourite today. Feeling slightly under-the-weather, I couldn’t face the risk of an experimental session on something new going spectacularly wrong (see: Macaron Diaries, vol 1). So it was to the lemon drizzle cake that I turned.

The recipe I use is one from an old Sainsbury’s Magazine, credited to Michelin-starred Angela Hartnett. Although it says it serves 10, I manage to eek it out for a good couple of weeks, taking a slice to work each day. It keeps its lemon zing and doesn’t seem to dry at all – no doubt due to the sugar syrup drizzled throughout the lightweight sponge right after it leaves the oven.

In short, it’s delicious. And best of all, easy peasy to throw together.


  • 175g soft unsalted butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 175g self-raising flour, sifted
  • finely-grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 25g poppy seeds

For the sticky lemon topping:

  • 4 tbsp caster sugar
  • 6 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • extra poppy seeds to sprinkle

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C, fan 160°C, gas 4. Grease a 900g loaf tin and line it with non-stick baking paper (keeping enough edge to the paper to lift the cake free of the tin after baking).

2. Cream the butter and caster sugar until pale, light and fluffy (I use a hand-whisk, and it is worth ensuring the butter is at least at room temperature before starting).

3. Beat in the eggs, a little at a time.

4. Fold the flour into the mixture, then stir in the lemon zest, poppy seeds and 4 tablespoons of water.

5. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 30-40 minutes.

6. When the cake is ready to remove from oven, start on the topping. Put the caster sugar in a pan with 3 tablespoons of water and heat until the sugar dissolves. Boil for 2 minutes.

7. Remove the cake from the oven and prick the top of the cake with a skewer several times and pour over the syrup. Leave the cake to cool in the tin, then lift it out, using the lining paper.

8. Mix the icing sugar with the lemon juice and spoon over the cake. Sprinkle with extra poppy seeds to finish off the look.

And voila. De-lish.

lemon drizzle vintage


3 thoughts on “Weekend baking: Sticky lemon drizzle and poppy seed cake

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