Citrus Poppy Seed Cake (from Lovely Buns, 2013)

Although my pastry and biscuit-based tarts have been close to triumphant, my track record with cake, properly crumby spongey delicious cake, has been inauspicious.  Heavy cakes, soggy cakes, monstrous cakes (such as my Gâteau Basque); I’ve seen them all come out of my oven, usually largely undercooked.  So it was a risk to make poppy seed cake for guests, but I thought maybe there might be enough narcotic effect from the opium (derived from poppies) to provide a sufficient smokescreen if I served up a crappy cake.  (Not only that, but American playwright Tony Kushner once said, “Opium is the perfect drug for people who want to remain articulate while being completely trivial“.  That sounds like me to a ‘T’.)

So more big thanks to Candy at Lovely Buns for this amazing recipe, because I didn’t have to rely on drugs to make it a good cake, despite my sub-standard cake-baking abilities.  It must be idiotproof, because I am an idiot and I didn’t bugger it up.  Perfectly crumbly, perfectly light and moist.  I must admit to being a little concerned when the cake mixture at one point looked like a mixture of dirt and dust, the poppy seeds spreading their colour to the mix, but I needn’t have worried.

Instead of a chocolate topping (since I was separately offering another equally idiotproof Lovely Buns recipe, no-cook chocolate tart), I created my own lemon drizzle topping, which seeped into the baked cake, infusing it with a softened sharpness of lemon, and crusting the top with lemon-y sugar.  Heaven.

Poppy Seed cake 3

Don’t try carrying any through an airport, in case the sniffer dogs catch onto you.

This is, quite simply, the best yet easiest cake I have ever made, and the best yet easiest cake I think you could make too.  Don’t be an idiot; do it!

Need this

Cake: 175g butter / 50g poppy seeds / 175g sugar / 3 eggs / 250g plain flour / 1 tsp baking powder / 125g lemon yoghurt / 1 tsp lemon juice / zest 1 lemon

Topping: 6 tbsp icing sugar / 2 tbsp lemon juice

Do this

oven 170C / combine all cake ingredients / pour into greased tin / bake 50 mins / skewer or fork numerous times / combine topping ingredients / pour topping over cake / wait until sugar has crusted to eat

Poppy Seed cake 2

The lemon sugar crust forms.

Poppy Seed cake 1

A perfect bake; top, bottom and all the way in between.