There’s something special about lemon citrus food when spring is upon us. Even more so when Easter is coming! However you celebrate Easter and no matter for what reason (maybe it’s just a nice break from work for you!) it is vital you indulge in some lovely food. This Vegan Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake is moist and bursting with cirtusy lemony flavour. The poppy seeds give it that extra little crunch, and the cake looks lovely and bright; perfect for welcoming in the spring. If you want some extra moisture with the cake, we’ve even got an optional lemon syrup topping. Perfect to share with family and friends on a lazy Sunday!
I am a cake fiend - I don’t think you need telling though; since Louise and I joined forces to create The Vegan Larder blog, more cake and sweet treats have popped up! I don’t hear anyone complaining of course, so expect more from where this came from. As it has been getting warmer I have been thinking about cakes which don't involve chocolate (I know, it’s shocking!) and I’m loving the lighter and fruiter flavours, which naturally meant my thoughts turned to one of my favourite other flavours, lemon!
Lemon and poppy seeds are a match made in heaven, it’s a classic cake pairing for good reason. When I first made this cake I definitely made it too moist (whoops!!). While it was absolutely delicious, it fell apart. But don’t worry, none was wasted, it was a yummy accident! (Louise can attest to this!).
When I originally tried this cake recipe, I used some almond flour in place of the regular self- raising flour. While it tasted great, this was part of the reason it fell apart. I also made a version of the cake with half self-raising flour and half gluten free flour from Doves (partly because we ran out of regular flour!). This also worked really well. If you really want to make it gluten free, you can use all free-from flour for the cake (but just not totally almond flour, or it will fall apart).
Having some lemon juice in the cake is delicious, but what gives a really intense lemony flavour is the lemon zest or lemon extract. We were gifted a Steenbergs Organic Lemon Extract which has one of most lemony smells and tastes we’ve ever experienced in a lemon essence bottle. Any brand will work in the cake, or you can use the zest of two lemons (more if you want).
We don’t get enough excuses to use poppy seeds in our cooking, so I love adding these in. They give a great contrasting crunch to the moist sponge, and look so beautiful as the cake is speckled with them. Two tablespoons should be enough, but if you’re feeling particular keen, add more.
To serve the cake, it’s up to you whether you just eat it as is, or add some lemony syrup and pour it over. This syrup is optional - it really depends how moist your cake comes out, and if you want the extra sweetness. Either way, enjoy this cake on a Sunday afternoon and welcome in the Spring!
Vegan Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake
For accuracy, I measure all ingredients in metric as standard, then convert and test the recipe for American cup measurements etc.
(Heads up Aussie and UK readers- your measurements in cups are sometimes different, so please use metric or check you have the correct cup and spoon type!!)
Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake
- 380 g self-raising flour
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 250 g caster sugar (or any sugar, however the cake will be a darker colour with another type of sugar)
- 250 ml water
- 200 ml sunflower oil
- 4 teaspoon white wine / apple cider vinegar
- Zest of 2 lemons or 3 teaspoon lemon extract / essence
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 2 tablespoon poppy seeds
Lemon syrup topping (optional for extra moisture)
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup lemon juice / juice of 2 lemons
- Pre-heat oven to 190 C. Grease and line a loaf cake tin (or tin of choice).
- Sift the flour, baking powder and cream of tartar in to a large mixing bowl. Then add the salt and sugar and mix in well.
- Add the water and sunflower oil, mix well. Then add the vinegar.
- Add the lemon zest or essence, the lemon juice and the poppy seeds, and stir in to the cake mix.
- Pour the cake mix into the prepared tin. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer emerges clean from the cake. The top should be just a little browned.
- Once cooked, allow cake to cool in the tin for 20 minutes or so, then put on a cooling rack.
- Serve the cake as it is, or for extra moisture, make the syrup topping to pour over it. To make this, simply place the sugar and lemon juice in a pan on a medium heat until the sugar and lemon is combined.