There is never a bad time nor season to eat cake, but as spring explodes all around us with the force of the warming earth cheered by the zest of birdsong I love baking things that reflect the season and speak of chirpiness. This lemon and poppy seed cake is a good example. I prefer using square cake tins and cutting little squares of cake, but you could use a 20 cm round cake tin if you prefer triangular slices.
I love using edible flowers. For this cake I used cornflower and marigold petals I grew in my allotment, which I dried in my Rayburn last summer and stored for a special occasion. I also used pretty violas I keep in pots in the garden.
175g self-raising flour (Preferable wholemeal)
1 teaspoon baking power
175 g good quality butter, softened.
175 g caster sugar
3 large free-range eggs
40 g poppy seeds
125 g cream cheese
30 g butter, softened
250 g icing sugar
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
Pre-heat the oven to 180c gas mark 3
18 cm round square tin, greased and paper lined.
Begin by sifting the flour and baking powder into a bowl with room to manoeuvre, giving it a good airing. Add the softened butter, sugar, lemon zest, eggs and the lemon juice. I like to use a wooden spoon to mix my cakes but an electric whisk can work very well. Mix to a creamy consistency, which is free of lumps, and gradually add the poppy seeds.
Spoon the mixture into the tin, using a spatula, and even it out before putting in the oven for about 40 minutes or until the centre is firm and bouncy. Remove from the cake tin and allow to cool.
Beat the cream cheese with the butter in a bowl until combined. Add the sugar and a bit of the lemon juice. Gradually add the rest and check for consistency of a spread. put back in the fridge.
When the cake has reached room temperature, spread the frosting and decorate with your edible flowers.