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Lemon & Poppy Seed Cake

Two fabulous flavours come together for this lush cake adapted from the Richard Burr DIY book (highly recommended book by the way).

FOR THE SPONGE 225g unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the tins 225g caster sugar 4 large eggs 225g plain flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 3 unwaxed lemons, zest finely grated, reserving a few slivers for decoration 1 unwaxed lemon, juiced 50g poppy seeds

FOR THE ICING 50g unsalted butter, softened 100g cream cheese or I used marscapone 400g icing sugar 2 tablespoons lemon juice

4 tablespoons lemon curd METHOD Preheat the oven to 180°C. Butter 2 x 20 cm round sandwich tins and line the bases with baking parchment. In a large bowl, beat together the sugar and butter with an electric whisk until light-coloured and creamy.  Beat in the eggs one by one, beating thoroughly between each addition. If the mixture starts to split, just add 1 tablespoon of the flour and continue beating; this will bring the mixture back. Sift together the flour and baking powder and fold into the mixture with the finely grated lemon zest and poppy seeds, making sure to mix in any flour at the bottom of the bowl. Be gentle when you’re folding; you don’t want to knock out the air you’ve incorporated through all that whisking.  Fold in the lemon juice and divide the batter evenly between the prepared tins, smoothing the surfaces.  Bake for 18–20 minutes, or until a cocktail stick comes out clean when poked into the centre of each cake.  When the tins have cooled enough to handle, turn out the sponges and cool on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, prepare the icing. Beat together the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl with the electric whisk until creamy and fully combined. Beat in half the icing sugar (start your whisk on slow, or you’ll get icing sugar all over the kitchen).  Beat in the lemon juice, then gradually beat in the rest of the icing sugar, a couple of spoonfuls at a time, until it’s a thick-but-spreadable consistency. Spread the lemon curd on the bottom sponge, then spread about half the icing on the bottom layer of sponge. Try to spread it evenly and right up to the edges, so you can see a neat line of icing once the top goes on. Turn the top layer of sponge upside down and lay on top of the icing, pressing down gently and scraping off any excess icing that squidges out. Neatly spread or pipe the remaining icing on top and decorate with the remaining slivers of zest or a sprinkle of poppy seeds.


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