Summer is almost here, and what's better for a relaxing day than a bright, citrusy lemon poppy seed cake, kept moist by lemon drizzle? This cake was Jane's first bake in the tent during last season of The Great British Baking Show, and Mary and Paul's enjoyment of its "beautiful" lemon flavor proved an early indicator of her impressive success throughout the season. Try the recipe yourself – you could even serve it as you watch the premiere of the final season on June 22.
Jane's Lemon Poppy Seed Drizzle Cake
If you care more about the cake and less about the decoration, save yourself some time and skip steps 4-6 as well as step 8 – if you still want some lemony decoration but don't want the extra work, simply top the cake with purchased candied lemon slices.
For the cake
Vegetable oil or cake release spray, for greasing the tin
250 g (9 oz) self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
250 g (9 oz) butter, softened
250 g (9 oz) caster sugar
50 g (1 3/4 oz) 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
8 tbsp lemon juice (from above)
8 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp limoncello (alternatively use lemon juice)
1 unwaxed lemon, thinly sliced and pips removed
4-5 tbsp caster sugar
4 tbsp flaked almonds
1 tbsp poppy seeds
For the icing
125 g (4 1/2 oz) icing sugar
1 tbsp limoncello (alternatively use lemon juice)
1 unwaxed lemon, juice only
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 10-inch non-stick, fluted ring cake tin with cake release spray or vegetable oil.
2. 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 100 ml (3 1/2 fl 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 if the cake is ready insert a skewer; if it comes out clean, the cake is cooked.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. When cool enough to handle, make a cut from the center 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.
6. When the cake is cooked, reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees F.
7. Leave the cake in the tin while you apply the drizzle. Make holes using a skewer then 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.
8. Meanwhile, put the lemon twists in the oven to dry out for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until they are chewy (rather than crisp).
9. Toast the flaked almonds in a dry frying pan until golden-brown, then set aside to cool.
10. 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.