Lemon poppy seed cake
For the cake
- vegetable oil or cake release spray, for greasing the tin
- 250g/9oz self-raising flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 250g/9oz butter, softened
- 250g/9oz caster sugar
- 50g/1¾oz ground almonds
- 4 large free-range eggs
- 4 unwaxed lemons, zest only (juice reserved for the drizzle)
- 3 tbsp poppy seeds
- a little boiling water, to slacken the mixture if necessary
For the drizzle
- 1 unwaxed lemon, thinly sliced and pips removed
- 4-5 tbsp caster sugar
- 4 tbsp flaked almonds
- 1 tbsp poppy seeds
For the icing
Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. Grease a 25cm/10in non-stick, fluted ring cake tin with cake release spray or vegetable oil.
Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the water) and whisk until smooth using an electric hand mixer. Add about 100ml/3½fl oz hot water from the kettle to slacken the mixture to a soft dropping consistency, if necessary. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for about 35 minutes, or until the cake starts to come away from the sides. To check the cake is ready insert a skewer, if it comes out clean the cake is cooked.
Meanwhile, make the drizzle. Put the lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan and heat gently until the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat a little and let it boil for about a minute, or until thickened and syrupy. Add the limoncello, boil for another minute and set aside.
For the decoration, add the lemon slices to the drizzle syrup. Reheat the syrup and simmer for 1-2 minutes or until the lemon slices have softened. Turn off the heat and, using tongs, carefully transfer the lemon slices to a plate lined with greaseproof paper. Leave to cool and reserve any leftover syrup.
When cool enough to handle, make a cut from the centre of the lemon slices to the skin and twist the ends in the opposite direction (so they resemble a bow). Repeat with all the slices, sprinkle with caster sugar and place on a baking tray lined with non-stick paper.
When the cake is cooked, reduce the oven temperature to 100C/80C Fan/Gas ¼.
Leave the cake in the tin while you apply the drizzle. Make holes using a skewer and brush or spoon about a third of the drizzle over the cake. Allow to cool for 5 minutes then turn the cake out onto a wire rack. Make some more holes in the top of the cake (these will be covered with icing later) and brush or spoon the rest of the syrup over the whole cake. Allow to cool completely. When the cake is cool, transfer it to a serving plate or cake board.
Meanwhile, put the lemon twists in the oven to dry out for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until they are chewy (rather than crisp).
Toast the flaked almonds in a dry frying pan until golden-brown, then set aside to cool.
For the icing, mix the icing sugar, limoncello and a little lemon juice until you have a thick icing. Drizzle it over the top of the cake, encouraging it to run down the sides a little. Decorate with the lemon twists, flaked almonds and poppy seeds.