Lemon Poppy Seed - Sour Cream Cake

Sometimes I wonder whether Rose will list *all* the ingredients when she names one of her cakes in her next book... This is no Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with a mystery ingredient.  Nope.  Rose tells everyone what makes this cake so great.   Lemons.  Poppy Seeds.  Sour Cream.  Amazing. 

Smart comments aside, this cake is freaking amazing.  I did wonder for a split second last week, whether two lemon cakes back to back was a good idea.  It didn't take long for me to realise that two weeks of lemon cake would be no hardship, given my deep love of a lemony tang.  And as it turns out, I was right.  Two weeks of lemon cake, is like two weeks staying in an incredible hotel, overlooking a balmy azure blue sea and eating amazing food. Sure, not everyone's dream come true, but it is definitely mine, and since making Lemon cake is a bit easier and cheaper than two weeks on Lord Howe Island, I'll be happy enough with cake.

Right, to the details.  It is another two step cake and almost a pound cake.  You know the ones - equal measures of flour, egg, butter and sugar.  It took me ages to work out why it was called a pound cake, because everything in my Mum's Edmonds Cookbook was in a strange mixture of weights and cup measures.  I thought it was so named because it had such a heavy texture!  Ahem.  That may have been my technique rather than anything to do with the cake.


As you can see, there is a lot of lemon zest in this cake.  Anywhere from 238,000 to 365,000 poppy seeds.  You don't need to count every single poppy seed - 50 grams will get you to the same result way quicker.  Though, if you need to keep the kids occupied for a little while... I also subbed in a quarter teaspoon of last week's lemon oil in place of some of the vanilla essence.  I told you I liked lemon.

I have a small crush on this little whisk thingy.  Those Salter scales have got to go.  Or else they need a new battery.  Hmmm, £35 for new scales or £2 for a new battery.  I better think that decision through very carefully.  And yes, that is a white thermapen in the top left hand side of the photo.  I think that has been a great learning with Rose's new guidelines with measuring the temperature of the butter/whatever.  I always did wonder what room temperature meant, especially when I moved from sub tropical Brisbane to less tropical London.  The Gulf Stream isn't quite that good when it comes to bringing my kitchen to room temperature.

I baked this cake in the stand by bundt tin.  I wished I had a fancy pants pan.  But I don't, well, not yet, anyway.  As per last week, I had to do some minor cosmetic surgery.  No where near as dramatic as last week, but enough for me to wish I was living in the land of Pam.


Once baked, this cake gets a liberal application of lemon syrup.  I think this weeks lemon cake was a bit more robust than the Golden Lemon cake, or maybe my technique was better.  It also probably helped that most of my cake made it out of the pan in one piece, unlike last weeks attempt.
Now, Rose in her handy Plan Ahead section, instructs that this cake is best composed a day ahead of serving it.  Here is where she and I disagree.  Eat this as soon as it is cool enough.  Sure, the syrup hasn't evenly dissipated through the cake.  But really, this is no dry genoise that needs loads of syrup to help you swallow it down.  We ate our first, second and third slices (don't judge me until you have this cake smelling all lemony and sitting all glistening on your bench) about three hours after it came out of the oven.  It was incredible.  Tender, little crunchy pops from the seeds, lemon zings from the zest and the syrup, the subtle tartness of the sour cream, and a fantastic crumb.  Um, yes, I do *kind of* like this cake. 

We have eaten more of it this morning, today and this evening (all in the name of research and evaluation of course), and it has lost some tenderness of its crumb, and the syrup has spread more evenly.  It is still a great cake, but I think I prefer it at its earlier stage.   When you can taste the zing of the syrup in contrast to the delicate cake.  The syrup was almost a sauce rather than an integral part of the cake in those first few hours after its birth.  Strange, because last week's Golden Lemon Almond Cake (lemons, almond but no gold!), I preferred after it had mellowed a few days.

Until next week.  I can't say I am overly looking forward to the Chocolate Apricot Roll with Lacquer Glaze.  That sounds like a very unforgiving cake... thankfully, it isn't in a bundt pan, so I have some hope of starting without the cosmetic surgery.


  1. Your cake turned out great. It's definitely one of those cakes that just looks okay but doesn't stand out (visually), until you take a bite. I totally loved it! Our one-slice rule? Yeah right! Not with this cake! :o)

  2. You've made me wish I had cut into my cake when it was just out of the oven and smelling heavenly (ha!). But no, I had to follow the printed directions and wait....and now I regret it.

  3. What is the "little whisk thingy"? A whisk?
    We at the first little cake warm and liked it as well. It seemed much lighter than the second little cake on day two. Great idea on the lemon oil. Never too lemony!

  4. I loved the cake too..it's totally delicious isn't it? Your cake looks great! :)

  5. ב''ה

    LOL! 365,000 seeds. I think i'll pull that one on my kids some time. It's like when my grandfather had me sit there and patiently counted the seeds in the pomegranate to see if it really had 613 seeds (as many as the commandments in the Torah (Bible.) :)

  6. Nicola! I have the same whisk.. I see you like Nigella's products (mine is blue - I.love her stuff)

    I agree with you, I like it better the same day I baked it, the texture is softer and more buttery. Today Tom declare the cake better than yesterday, the lemon taste is more intense... but the cake texture is different.

    And I'm still having issues with the poppy seeds...maybe they are not giving me the opium HIGH that want. lol

  7. Okay, I just spent a good few moments looking at Lord Howe Island and thinking, "I HAVE TO GO THERE. RIGHT NOW." Wow. Gorgeous. All my favorite colors.

    Oh yes, and the cake--I agree. I ate it while it was warm, I ate it this morning for breakfast and I liked it both ways. I also agree; it was so good warm and the texture a bit more to my liking, that I may not ever wait until the next day again!

    So which do you prefer--the lemon-almond or the lemon-poppy seed?

  8. "lemons, almond, but no gold" -- Hahahahah!

    Great post. So glad you liked this cake.


    PS - I have been using the same Salter scale for more than 4 years and I have never had to change the battery.

  9. We also ate some of our cake warm, and loved it! Love the lemon oil idea -- must get some of that.


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