Lemon and Poppyseed Crunchy Drizzle Cake

May Day blossom

May Day blossom

I used to say that Delia Smith taught me to cook. That’s rubbish, of course – that honour should be split (not quite equally) between my parents. Mum taught me the essentials: how to make cakes, how to make the best Yorkshire pudding batter, how to cook perfect roast potatoes* and how to cater for a BBQ party of twenty even though you’ve only got three guests coming round. Dad taught me how to boil eggs in a microwave, how to make pancakes and challenged me to make the hottest pizza the world has ever seen. (And, to his credit, he even ate the resultant chilli-flecked Tabasco-drenched horror.)

I said that Delia taught me to cook because I read her books obsessively back in the early 90s when I was a teenager and decided to become vegetarian. I don’t think my parents expected this ‘phase’ to last until that Christmas let alone another twenty-odd years but it has. At the time, I was told quite rightly, if I wanted to eat something different, I had to cook it for myself. This was back in the dark ages before Quorn had been discovered** so I had to make friends with tofu and then teach myself what could be done to make English winter vegetables taste of something. Delia was there to help. I remember the two seasonal classics best: Delia’s summer collection was very trendy that year and I loved her Christmas book so much that I stole Mum’s copy when I went away to university. (Sorry Mum. But those vegetarian sausage rolls are amazing.)

Why am I talking about Delia Smith in 2013? For all that she’s fallen from grace somewhat in the last few years, I still have a soft spot for her fail-safe recipes. I’ve mentioned to a couple of people at work that I’m doing this baking and blogging ‘thing’ so when a lovely colleague shared this recipe with me, I had to try it out. I also promised that my next post would be a sunnier one after the prune-soaked gloom of my PhD suspension story. And what would be sunnier than a lemon cake?

photo 2

Lovely lemons

Double Lemon Drizzle Cake with Poppy Seeds

  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 175g spreadable butter
  • 175g golden caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • grated zest of 3 large lemons
  • juice of large lemon
  • 40g poppy seeds
  • For the syrup
  • juice of 3 large lemons
  • grated zest of 1 large lemon
  • 50g golden icing sugar, sifted
  • 100g golden granulated sugar
  • To finish:
  • 1 rounded teaspoon golden granulated sugar mixed with 1 rounded teaspoon poppy seeds
  • 1 rounded teaspoon poppy seeds

Pre-heat the oven to 170°C, gas mark 3
A 20cm loose-based round cake tin, greased and base lined


  1. Start off by sifting the flour and baking powder into a roomy mixing bowl, holding the sieve quite high to give the flour a good airing as it goes down. Then add the butter, sugar, eggs, lemon zest and juice and finally the poppy seeds.
  2. Now, using an electric hand whisk, mix to a smooth creamy consistency for about one minute.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the tin, levelling it with the back of the spoon, and bake near the centre of the oven for 40 minutes or until the centre feels springy.
  4. When the cake is ready, remove the tin from the oven to a board, then straight away
  5. mix together the syrup ingredients.
  6. Next stab the cake all over with a skewer and spoon the syrup evenly over the hot cake, then finally sprinkle with the sugar and poppy seed mixture.
  7. After that the cake needs to cool in its tin before it can be removed and stored in an airtight container.
photo 3

Happy Thursday

This beautiful cake is going to be coming into the office today – no particular occasion, just a lemony cake for a sunny day.


My desk.


* I aspire to Mum’s level of greatness, but her roasts are still way, way better than mine.

** I guess it was probably more of an invention than a discovery, wasn’t it? I can’t imagine someone randomly tasting things from bubbling jars in a fungus laboratory and going ‘mm, tastes like… chicken!’

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