Serves a Crowd

Lemon Poppyseed Cake

October 13, 2013
5 Ratings
  • Serves Approx. 12 (if each person agrees to eat one slice of cake)
Author Notes

I got this recipe from my flatmate (in Cape Town), who got it from her mom (in New Zealand), who got it from her mom (all the way in the Eastern Cape, South Africa).
If recipes were aerodynamic, this one would be the boomerang.

This recipe is not your typical lemon-poppyseed cake, because the sponge actually contains no lemon. Instead, this cake emerges a moist, not-too-sweet, poppyseed-littered sponge with a slightly crispier, lemony crust.

My variations:
I substituted sour-cream in the recipe for 1/4 cup buttermilk and 1/4 cup double-cream greek yoghurt for a mildly tart flavour dimension; although all buttermilk/ all yoghurt / all sour-cream could easily be used.
I also do not like too sweet a sponge, so I use only a 3/4 cup of sugar.
I do, however, love poppy seeds, so I am a little liberal around the 1/2 cup measurement.
I prefer a denser cake, so I beat my stuff by hand. —Dinika Govender

What You'll Need
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup poppy seeds
  • 2 cups all-purpose lour
  • 1 cup Greek yoghurt / sour-cream / buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 2 cups icing sugar (confectioner's sugar)
  • 2 lemons (with all the juice squeezed outta them, and the rind grated off of 'em)
  • 4 eggs (separated)
  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F) and grease an angel / loaf / bunt pan. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. The mixture should turn from yellow to cream in colour.
  2. Add the egg yolks and poppy seeds to the creamed butter and sugar. Beat well.
  3. The dry ingredients go in next, but with a little rhythm: Alternate sifting in the flour + bi-carb and the yoghurt/ sour-cream / buttermilk to the poppy-seed mixture above. (That means half the flour + bi-carb, half the yoghurt, other half of flour + bi-carb, and other half of yoghurt.)
  4. In a separate bowl, beat the egg- whites until stiff peaks form, and fold this into the mixture. Once folded in, do not over-mix.
  5. Pour mixture into a greased baking dish and bake on middle shelf for 45min to 1 hour. The cake is ready when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean, and the sponge springs back when prodded lightly. Tip: I cover my baking pan with tin-foil to prevent the top of the cake from burning.
  6. For the Topping: Mix 1 cup of icing sugar with the juice of 2 lemons and pour this over the cake as soon as you take it out the oven. Allow this lemony sauce to soak into the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely before icing with a lemon-icing sugar glaze (icing sugar + tablespoons of lemon juice + water to get the desired consistency and taste). Garnish with some grated lemon rind and a drizzle of poppy seeds. Slice it up and serrrve!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Christy Cofer Mullis
    Christy Cofer Mullis
  • Dinika Govender
    Dinika Govender
  • Joanne Bayly
    Joanne Bayly

6 Reviews

Christy C. July 27, 2017
The icing that you put on after the cake has cooled is so dry. It's one cup of confectioners sugar and one Tablespoon of lemon juice? Is there suppose to be crumbled on top or is more water to be added?
Dinika G. July 28, 2017
Hi Christy,
It's best to make a glaze for this one - adding more lemon juice/water/icing sugar until you get the consistency you want. I'd say add more quantities of lemon juice or water if you don't want it crumbly.
Joanne B. February 19, 2017
How many eggs? They're not in the list of ingredients.
Dinika G. February 20, 2017
Hi Joanne! Thanks for flagging. It needs 4 eggs separated. (Updating recipe now.)
Christy C. July 27, 2017
Does the vanilla go in the wet ingredients?
Dinika G. July 28, 2017