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Lemon poppy seed cakes in lemon syrup

Lemon poppy seed cakes in lemon syrup

Poppies have a colourful history and are somewhat better known for their narcotic properties than their usefulness in cooking. In past ages, they were thought to be a cure for malaria, dysentery and cholera, though probably their hallucinogenic properties were more likely to put unwell people at ease for a time than actually cure them! Today we most often see pppy seeds topping off breads in shops. Lightly toasted and ground poppy seeds have a wonderfully sweet, nutty taste that adds a new dimension to baking. Try these sweet little numbers decorated with lemon icing and served with fresh summer fruits and cream or yoghurt. They are a great bake-ahead idea for a summer picnic.


  • 150 grams unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup caster sugar
  • grated rind of 2 lemons
  • 3 eggs
  • 1¼ cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons poppyseeds, lightly toasted
  • ¼ cup milk


  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ¼ cup sugar


  1. Beat the butter, sugar and lemon rind to a cream in a warm bowl. (Unsalted butter will allow the sweet, delicate flavours of the lemon and poppy seeds to become more pronounced). Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  2. Sift the flour and baking powder together and stir through the poppy seeds. Fold the dry ingredients into the cream mixture alternately with the milk.
  3. Divide the mixture evenly between 6x ¾ cup well-greased and floured individual cake tins (I use small brioche moulds). Place the dishes on a baking tray. This ensures easy handling in and out of the stove and less likelihood of getting your hands burnt.
  4. Bake at 180ºC for 30 minutes or until the cakes are cooked when tested with a skewer. Check that they are cooked by inserting a skewer into the centre of one cake - if it comes out clean, with no raw mixture sticking to it, then the cakes are cooked.
  5. Stand the cakes for 5 minutes on a cake rack, before turning them out. Brush with the syrup, including the sides, top and bottom. Cool well before storing in an airtight container. If you wish, drizzle a little lemon icing over the top or dust with icing sugar.


  1. Cook the lemon juice and sugar in a saucepan or in the microwave until the sugar has dissolved. Stir regularly. Strain to remove any pith.

Cooks Tips

- To lightly toast the poppy seeds, pop them in a frying pan and cook them over a low heat, tossing gently for about 5 minutes until they smell warm and toasty. - Make a quick lemon icing by grating the rind and squeezing the juice from two lemons into a bowl. Stir in sufficent sifted icing sugar to make a thin icing. - If you do not have individual cake tins, you could make 10 small cakes in muffin tins.

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