Lemon and Poppy Seed Loaf Cake Recipe

(210 ratings)

Preparation Time20 mins
Cooking Time1 hours
Total Time1 hours 20 mins

This lemon and poppy seed loaf cake is the perfect tea time treat. Sweet and zesty with a subtle crunch from the poppy seeds, this simple cake always hits the spot. The lemon and poppy seed loaf needs to be soaked overnight to fully absorb the syrup, but the results are definitely worth the wait!


  • 3tbsp milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 2tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 2 lemons, juice and zest
  • 3tbsp poppy seeds
  • 185g unsalted butter, softened

For the lemon syrup:

  • 75g caster sugar
  • 65ml of the lemon juice
  • good handful of lemon thyme sprigs

To decorate:

  • Lemon glace icing*
  • Strips of lemon zest
  • Edible flowers and fresh lemon thyme leaves

You will need:

  • a 20cm loaf tin, buttered


  1. Heat the oven to 180C. Mix together the milk, eggs and vanilla. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, lemon zest and poppy seeds into a large bowl. Mix together well then add the butter and half the egg mixture and mix well, beating all the time. Now add the rest of the egg slowly, beating well.
  2. Put into the tin. Bake for 55-65 mins but cover with buttered foil after 30mins. Dissolve the sugar in the lemon juice over a gentle heat, add the thyme sprigs and leave to infuse. Make small holes in the cake with a skewer and brush over half the syrup. Leave the cake in the tin for 10 mins then remove and then brush the loaf cake all over with the syrup, including the base and sides. Allow to cool then wrap in foil and leave for 24 hours to allow the syrup to infuse.
  3. To decorate, make the *lemon glace icing by mixing 250g icing sugar with the juice of a lemon. Put into a piping bag and with a zig-zag motion, pipe lines across the cake, then scatter over the lemon strips, flowers and thyme leaves.
Jane Curran

Jane Curran is a freelance food editor, stylist, writer and consultant based in Cape Town. Former food director of TI Media & woman&home. All about food, wine (dipWSET), gardening and the Arsenal.