Lemon and Poppyseed Cake

I’ve never actually been that good at baking cakes; throughout the years I’ve had sunken middles, stodgy fillings and other things that just make for a bad cake. About three years ago I attempted to do a butter sponge topped with regal icing for my then-boyfriend-now-husband’s birthday. This was the result:

My friends were all very polite. One even attempted to eat the all-icing orange box.

It was actually quite ambitious, deciding to do a two-tier without actually knowing how two-tiers work, but it’s nice to look back on progress and see where I’ve come from I suppose. The year after, the cake looked very different.


Top right, look at that expert writing.

I started to learn the science and mechanics of cake-baking over the years, so whenever people told me that pursuing dessert-making as a career was easy because I like to eat sweets anyway, I could at least tell them that it’s a scientific industry. One cool trick I learned was to wrap sandwich tins in warm damp towel strips whilst baking cakes–it stops the middle from rising.

This lemon and poppyseed cake is pretty easy to make, I topped it off with a light drizzle of lemon juice and white caster sugar, but it works without the drizzle too.

Lemon and Poppyseed Cake (Serves 10)

Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 30 minutes



3 1/2 cups self-raising flour
2 cups soft golden caster sugar
1/4 cup poppyseeds
1 teaspoon salt

300g vegan butter, slightly melted. I use Vitalite sunflower spread
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
2 whole lemons, juiced
lemon zest


  • Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celcius
  • Beat the butter and sugar until fluffy and combined
  • Fold in the vanilla, vegetable oil and lemon juice
  • In another bowl, whisk the flour, salt and poppyseeds
  • Pour dry ingredients into butter mixture and fold until combined
  • Grate the skins of the lemons until you have a healthy amount of zest (I like a lot of zest in my things)
  • Line a 20cm baking tin with a little butter or greaseproof paper, pour in mixture
  • The cake should be done in 30 mins, or when an inserted toothpick comes out dry

This is a pretty easy recipe, perfect if you’re a novice baker or if you’ve had similar mishaps and issues to mine. I guess the key to baking cakes is practice and perseverance–unlike my current occupation as a cheesecake maker, trial-and-error for baked cakes is so much easier and cost effective to do: you’re likely to have all the ingredients lying around in the back of the cupboard too. And the best things is, once you get the knack of basic sponge cakes, you can be much more adventurous. After my first mishap all those years ago, the second time I made a cake I went for salted caramel filling and all sorts. And yes, it tasted pretty great!

Happy baking!


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