Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake (National Trust Version)

The “national trust version” of this lemon and poppy seed cake recipe comes with a warranty, metaphorically speaking. The cake is as trustworthy and  predictable as any recipe goes. “It is one of life great certainties,” is how the cake is described in Sweet. Whether you are stuck on a desert island, or facing stormy weather outside or just exhausted after a long day, you’ll likely find comfort that everything will turn out fine. The proof is in making this lemon cake. It will deliver.

I’ve made this cake several times, for a birthday, a dinner party or for no reasons at all. I like to bake it in a cast-iron loaf pan that I use mostly for bread-making. The crust gets extra crispy due to the tremendous heat retention quality of the pan. If you want to take the extra time and dress up the lemon cake, a medium bundt cake pan would also work well.

This cake might not have the “wow” look, However, you’ll get superlative comments from most eaters. The citrus flavor of the cake and the lemon glaze will wow you. Well, there is not much else to say. I’ll be making this lemon and poppy seed cake again, and again!

On the other hand, I do want to get past this cake in Yotam Ottolenghi’s new book Sweet since there are so many exciting dessert recipes there to try my hands on. For the time being, all the cookies, tarts and pies have to wait their turns.



Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake (National Trust Version)

Print Recipe


  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (225 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) heavy cream
  • 5 tablespoons (70 grams) unsalted butter, cubed, plus extra for greasing
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • Finely grated zest of 3 lemons (1 tablespoon)
  • 1 1/3 cups (170 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (90 grams) confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice



Heat the oven to 350° (180° C). Grease the loaf pan(s) and line with parchment paper, then set aside.


Place the eggs and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes, until pale and frothy. Add the cream and continue to beat for about 2 minutes, until the mixture has combined, thickened a little, and turned pale.


In the meantime, melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat, stir in the poppy seeds and lemon zest, and set aside.


Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together into a bowl, then use a rubber spatula to fold this into the egg mixture before folding in the butter, poppy seeds, and zest.


Spoon the mixture into the loaf pan(s) so that it rises three-quarters of the way up the sides. Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.


To make the glaze, whisk the confectioners' sugar with the lemon juice in a bowl.


Pour the glaze over the top of the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven, spreading it over the top so that it sinks in and creates a nice coating. Set aside to cool for 30 minutes before removing from the pan. Leave to come to room temperature before serving.


Adpated from Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh

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  • Reply
    Kim Tracy
    January 28, 2018 at 3:03 pm

    Wow! That last picture is really drawing me in. Lemon desserts are probably hands down my favorite (right up there with peanut butter and chocolate). This one looks to be, dare I say it, moist! I would love a slice. This would be the perfect thing to wake up to!

    • Reply
      January 29, 2018 at 12:22 am

      The cake is certainly moist. Keeping it in the cast-iron pan seems to retain the moisture as well.

  • Reply
    Diane Zwang
    January 28, 2018 at 11:08 pm

    This looks delicious. I may need to get his latest cookbook.

  • Reply
    February 1, 2018 at 5:52 am

    I love a lemon pound cake and this one sounds marvelous! Glad to see more people cooking from Sweet. I’m looking forward to more.

  • Reply
    February 3, 2018 at 10:29 am

    Lovely cake! Looks delicious! This has been on my list to try soon!

  • Reply
    Diane Zwang
    February 11, 2018 at 5:46 pm

    I made this recipe this weekend and we loved it. Delicious. Thanks for posting the recipe.

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