Lemon poppy seed cake (picture by Tasha Seccombe)

A lovely long Easter weekend has just gone by. To most of us, that meant eating lots of easter eggs, hot cross buns, proper Sunday roasts and other special treats.

When I was still at school, one of my best friends’ Mom would stock up their pantry with the most amazing array of sweets and chocolates for Easter. My friend would call it a “gold mine”, when the pantry was stocked like that. But sometimes, the pantry was really impressively stocked. I mean really stocked. Filled to the brim with all the chocolate you could imagine, all kinds of easter eggs and bunnies, loads of different chocolates, sweets and candies, savoury snacks, chips – you name it. She would then call it an “oil mine”. We would sleep over at her house and raid the pantry to our heart’s content. Those were the days!

I rarely buy easter eggs anymore, I prefer home-baked grown-up treats like this lemon and poppy seed cake. It is soaked in a lemon & sugar syrup, then covered with rich cream cheese frosting – a truly decadent and deliciously moist cake. The recipe comes from my trusted “Huisgenoot Top 500 Wenresepte” – an absolute classic. I use my own version of cream cheese frosting, the same that I use for icing carrot cakes.

Ingredients for cake:

  • 250 g butter
  • 350 ml caster sugar
  • 3 extra-large eggs
  • zest of 2 lemons, finely grated
  • 450 ml cake flour
  • 10 ml (2 t ) baking powder
  • 2 ml (1/2 t) salt
  • 60 ml (4 T) water
  • 45 ml (3 T) lemon juice
  • 80 ml (1/2 cup) poppy seeds


  1. Pre-heat oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Grease a 24 cm ring pan very well (line sides with baking paper if you can).
  2. Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well. Then add lemon rind and beat.
  3. Sift flour and baking powder, then mix water and lemon juice. Now fold in half the dry ingredients, then half the wet ingredients. Repeat with other half of dry and wet until all ingredients are well incorporated. Add poppy seeds and mix well.
  4. Pour in the prepared cake pan and bake 40-45 min or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Ingredients for syrup:

  • 250 ml (1 cup) sugar
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) water
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) lemon juice


Heat sugar, water and lemon juice until sugar has dissolved, then bring to a boil. Pour over hot cake as soon as it comes from the oven, then let it cool completely in the pan (I leave it overnight).

Ingredients for cream cheese frosting:

  • 175 g plain cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 100 g butter, at room temperature
  • 250 g icing sugar, sifted
  • 5 ml (1 t) vanilla essence


With electric beaters, beat cream cheese and butter well untill light and fluffy. Now add icing sugar and vanilla and beat untill smooth and creamy. Carefully turn out cooled cake on a platter, cover with icing and sprinkle with poppy seeds.


This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Pictures: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Nicola Pretorius, Tasha Seccombe & Ilse van der Merwe.

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  1. how great are poppyseed cakes? Lovely pix.

    1. Yes, they are great! Thanks for the compliment – I’ll tell Tasha!

  2. […] and dates. I top it with a rich cream cheese icing – almost the same that I use for my lemon and poppy seed cake – so versatile and utterly […]

  3. […] and dates. I top it with a rich cream cheese icing – almost the same that I use for my lemon and poppy seed cake – so versatile and utterly […]

  4. When do you pour the syrup on the cake

    1. You pour the sauce over the cake just as it comes out of the oven, then leave it to cool in the tin, the sauce will be absorbed on standing. When it is completely cool, you can turn it out and ice it. Enjoy!

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