Warning: the cake tastes better than it looks….

…but I’m sure the title “Lemon Poppy Seed Cake” is enough to entice you to read on. Hey, it worked for me.

I got these poppy seeds in January when in Australia. The supermarkets in Australia never fail to amaze with its range of spices, condiments, and sauces. It is never ending, plus it’s so much cheaper than in Singapore. That said, we do have our Shaoxing wine, Dark Soy Sauce and whatnots which I’m sure tourists would be more than happy to peruse through the aisles.

So, sadly, this post wouldn’t work for most Singaporeans, reason being – poppy seeds are not available here. I’ve not seen these in the baking shops and supermarkets. Reason being, and also according to Wikipedia:

“Poppy seed is an oilseed obtained from the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum). The seeds are used, whole or ground, as an ingredient in many foods, and they are pressed to yield poppyseed oil.”

This recipe would work best on a summer’s day – with a slice of this and a cup of English breakfast for tea. Because of the fairly strong flavours of the lemon, the cake isn’t too sweet, and coupled with the nutty taste from the poppy seeds, it’s quite a good mix of everything in one. I was quite pleased with the flavour of the cake, but I think the texture needs to be improved on. I also skipped the icing, I think it’s a little difficult to keep in the extreme heat that we live in nowadays, and I don’t like my cakes cold and hard.

Prep time
20 minutes
Cook time 40 minutes (depending on your oven) 

50g poppy seeds
185ml warm milk
220g (1 cup) caster sugar
3 eggs
300g self-raising flour
200g unsalted butter, softened
1 lemon, rind grated, juiced
300g (2 cups) icing sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a 20 x 10cm (base measurement) loaf pan.
2. Combine the poppy seeds and milk in a bowl and set aside for 15 minutes.
3. Place the caster sugar, eggs, flour, 185g of the butter, lemon rind and poppy seed and milk mixture in an electric mixer. Beat on high for 5 minutes until the mixture is pale and thick, then pour into the pan and bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.
4. Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter and place in a bowl with the icing sugar and lemon juice. Beat with an electric beater until smooth, then drizzle over the cake. Garnish with the candied zest.
5. To make candied zest: Place the zest of 2 lemons in a pan with 220g caster sugar and 250ml water. Cook over medium heat stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Strain, discarding the syrup. Cool zest before using to garnish cake.

– I cut down the amount of sugar to 200g and it was still sweet enough. Do take into account the added sweetness due to the icing should you want to drizzle it over later.
– The cake was slightly too dense and heavy for my liking, and a little too flour-y. I would reduce the amount of flour on my next attempt.


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