Come to think of it, I always have lemons in the house. I want a full bowl all year round, as they are an ingredient I use almost every day, for savory as well as sweet recipes. And at this time of year, I will often squeeze a bit of lemon juice into my cup of fine hot black tea, especially on those chilly early spring days.
Lemons are available year round and when they are prolific, there are many ways to take advantage of the glut, make some lemon curd, preserved lemons, marmalade, drinks such as lemonade, or use them in your vinaigrette. But I love to have a cake for the weekend, so I decided to bake a lemon cake, different from the Lemon Buttermilk Bundt that I usually bake with that incredibly thick and rich buttermilk from my favorite farm.
After a bit of reseach, I settled on this Lemon Cake with Almonds & Poppy Seeds. The recipe is a good way to use some of my lemons – the recipe uses the zest and juice of three ripe, juicy, medium-sized lemons. I love the clean flavor of the lemons, together with the sweet, rich taste from the almonds and the nutty crunch from the lovely poppy seeds. Fabulous taste and beautiful texture, you will love this cake!
Cannot stress enough that in early spring, when there are some nice days but still a lot of cold and rainy days, I do not always want a hot and heavy dessert. I want something that will brighten my mood as well as the dark day. So a lemony cake will do just fine.
Choose lemons with a reasonably unblemished skin for this recipe. Organic and/or untreated lemons are ideal. You will be more likely to find these at a farmers market or at a specialty seller as they are not always widely available. As you will be adding quite a bit of zest here, try to avoid the regular lemons from the supermarket.
Lemon Cake with Almonds & Poppy Seeds
(inspired by a recipe from the very talented Mr. Jamie Oliver)
- 180 grams unsalted butter, softened, plus a little extra for greasing the baking pan
- 180 grams plus 1 ½ tbsp superfine (caster) sugar
- 6 eggs,(L), free-range or organic, separated
- fine outer zest and juice of 3 organic (untreated) medium-sized lemons
- 90 grams white spelt flour, sifted (feel free to use wheat flour)
- a good pinch of fine sea salt
- 180 grams ground natural almonds
- 3 tbsp milk, room temperature
- 115 grams poppy seeds
To finish the Cake
- 50 grams icing sugar, sifted
- 1 tsp mixed spice* (available at your local British shop or online)
- crème fraîche, to serve
- some more lemon zest
- Preheat your oven to 180ºCelsius (350ºFahrenheit).
- Grease a 26-28 cm springform baking pan with butter, line the bottom with parchment paper and butter again.
- In the bowl of your mixer, beat together the butter and 180 grams sugar until light and fluffy (this will take about five minutes).
- Add the egg yolks, one at a time, while the motor is running, then beat in the lemon zest and juice.
- When the mixture is nice and smooth, add in the flour, salt and almonds and finally the milk. Be careful not to overmix the batter - just enough to combine. Stir in the poppy seeds and put aside.
- In a very clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Beat in the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoon of sugar until smooth.
- Fold a third of the beaten egg whites into the batter. This is best done using a wide rubber spatula. Than add the rest of the egg whites and fold together carefully – you do not want to beat the air out of the egg whites.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth the mix out evenly with the back of a spoon or an offset spatula.
- Place on the middle shelf of your preheated oven and bake for about 45 to 50 minutes until cooked through, risen and golden brown. Place on a wire rack to cool completely.
- When cool, release the cake from the baking pan and sift the icing sugar and mixed spice over the top of the cake and serve with dollops of crème fraîche and a bit more finely grated lemon zest. NOTE: This moist cake will keep well for a day or two, make sure to wrap the cake well and keep it in a dry, cool place. Then dust liberally with icing sugar and mixed spice (if using) just before serving.
*Mixed Spice Blend
(if you cannot find Mixed Spice online or at your favorite British shop, you can put together a homemade combination of spices following this easy recipe
- 1 tbs ground allspice
- 1 tbs ground cinnamon
- 1 tbs ground nutmeg
- 2 tsp ground mace
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground ginger
Blend all spices together, and store in a sealed jar away from light.
This is a simple, moist, lemony cake with the wonderful added taste and crunch from the poppy seeds. It tastes wonderful served with thick, creamy crème fraîche or even Greek yoghurt. Add a bit of finely grated lemon zest for an extra boost of lemon flavor. This Lemon Cake with Almonds & Poppy Seeds is a fabulous recipe to get your springtime baking off to a great start. And it is truly a great family treat for any weekend!
While I used a Jamie Oliver recipe as the inspiration for this cake, I decided to make a few changes, one of them being that I increased the batter by a third, to make a somewhat larger cake – the amounts in the recipe above are for a 26-28 cm springform pan. I also did not use the self-rising flour as in the original recipe, but used white spelt flour and added 2 teaspoons of baking powder to the batter instead. I have been baking with different kinds of flour lately and I am loving the results. An ancient relative of modern wheat, the spelt grain (triticum speltum) was already widely grown by the Romans. If you decide to use white spelt flour in your baking instead of the regular all-purpose wheat flour, you will notice that from a quantity-wise point of view, the flours can be used interchangeably.
If you enjoy this recipe, I would love to hear from you - I always apprecaite a bit of positive feedback from my lovely readers! More Springtime Baking to appear on this blog very soon, so make sure to drop by again!