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Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake by Phil Vickery

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A teatime treat everyone will love.

For the cake

  • Zest of 2 lemons, finely grated
  • 175g unsalted butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 2 RSPCA Assured labelled eggs, lightly beaten
  • 175g self raising flour
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil, shredded
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 25g poppy seeds

For the sticky lemon topping

  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp water and 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 3 tbsp icing sugar

For the cake

  • Remove the zest from the lemon using a zester and blanch in a small pan of boiling water for 1 minute. Drain then repeat the blanching process twice more, using fresh water each time.
  • Drain and dry the zest.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C/350° F/gas 4. Grease and line a 900g/2lb loaf tin with baking parchment.
  • Cream the butter and caster sugar together until pale, light and fluffy, then gradually beat in the eggs, a little at a time.  Fold the flour into the mixture, then stir in the basil, half of the lemon zest, water and poppy seeds.  Pour mixture into the loaf tin and bake for about 30–40 minutes.

For the sticky lemon topping

  • Meanwhile, make the sticky topping by heating caster sugar and 3 tbsp water in a pan until the sugar dissolves.  Add the remaining lemon zest, increase the heat and bring to a simmer and cook for about 3–5 minutes, or until zest is tender.  Drain off the sugar water and reserve the lemon zest.
  • Place lime juice and icing sugar in another small pan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves.  Add the lemon zest to the lime syrup then bring to a simmer and remove from the heat.
  • Prick the hot, cooked cake using a skewer (it will have sunk, but don’t worry!), then pour over the hot lime syrup and lemon zest.  Leave the cake in the tin until cool, then carefully lift out using the lining paper.
  • Cut cake into slices to serve.
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