Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake


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I made this a few weeks when some family friends came to visit us from London. I wanted to bake something which wouldn’t be too heavy or sickly as we were going out for a meal shortly afterwards; I’m happy to say that this fit the bill perfectly. This cake is made with egg whites and less butter than you would usually use in a cake, which makes it wonderfully light and airy. You don’t have to put the glaze on if you’d prefer it too be less sweet, but it does make the cake look more appetising.

This is another Hummingbird recipe and serves about 12-16 people.


85g unsalted butter

245g caster sugar

grated zest of 1 1/2 lemons

15g poppy seeds (plus extra to decorate)

165ml whole milk

235g plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 a teaspoon of salt

3 egg whites

For the lemon syrup:

juice and zest of 1 lemon

50g caster sugar

For the glaze:

Juice of 1 lemon

250g icing sugar


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Preheat the oven to 170°C and grease and dust your ring mould with flour.

Cream together the butter, caster sugar, poppy seeds and lemon zest in a large bowl. Slowly add the milk and beat well – it’s perfectly normal for it to look slightly split at this stage.

In a separate bowl, sieve the flour, salt and baking powder, then add to the butter mixture in three stages, beating well after each addition.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and fold gently into the mixture.

Pour the mixture into the mould and bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden on top. The sponge will bounce back when pressed once it is done.

Whilst the cake is cooking, heat the sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest in a saucepan until boiling and reduce to a thin syrup.

When the cake is cooked, prick the top with a fork all over and pour the syrup over it – this what makes the cake so moist. Leave the cake to cool for a while before turning out onto a wire rack.

Make the icing whilst the cake is cooling by mixing the icing sugar and lemon juice together until smooth and glossy. Once it has cooled, spoon over the glaze over the cake and let it run down the sides. Sprinkle with a few poppy seeds.


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