Super-soaked lemon, almond and poppy cake

Super-soaked lemon, almond and poppy cake

The Sugar Hit!
Chris Middleton

This might seem like a plain cake, but it packs a huge favour punch. There is some crazy, alchemical process that occurs when you bake a buttery cake with almonds, then douse it in lemon syrup. The whole thing comes to life in your mouth – the butter tastes more buttery, the lemon more lemony and the almonds more intense. And I’m just crazy about poppy seeds. This cake is pretty ordinary-looking, but with a dollop of crème fraîche (heck, you’ve got some anyway) and a pile of berries on the side, this is a perfect dessert for a long lunch or a casual dinner. Or just do as I do, and eat it with your hands, slice by tiny slice, hunched over the sink – no time for a plate! – until there's none left.


Quantity Ingredient
225g butter, at room temperature
230g caster sugar
2 lemons, grated zest
4 eggs
90g creme fraiche or sour cream
100g almond meal
150g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
40g poppy seeds
80g almonds, chopped


Quantity Ingredient
4 lemons, juiced
250g icing sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease and line a 20–23 cm springform cake tin.
  2. Beat the butter, sugar and lemon zest together until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the crème fraîche and beat again until incorporated. Add the almond meal, flour, baking powder and poppy seeds, and fold until everything is combined.
  3. Pour the mixture into the lined tin and smooth the top. Scatter the chopped almonds over the top of the cake and press them in gently. Bake for 35–40 minutes or until the cake springs back when touched lightly and a skewer comes out clean.
  4. While the cake is baking, stir together the ingredients for the syrup until the icing sugar dissolves.
  5. When the cake is ready, poke a bunch of holes in the top with a skewer (trying to avoid the almonds) and then pour the syrup over the cake. It will seem like too much syrup, but that’s the point, so go slowly and keep pouring until all the syrup is absorbed. Let the cake cool completely and then carefully remove from the tin, slice and eat.


  • Check your teeth for poppy seeds after you eat this. That’s not a cooking tip, just some helpful advice.
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