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Lemon and poppy seed cake by Phil Vickery

Recipe donated by Phil Vickery for the RSPCA Celebrity Recipe Collection 2009.

Zesty lemon cake is a favourite that is sure to be a hit at any fundraising bake sale - and this one can be made using supplies you probably already have in your cupboards (and we all know they're better when they come together as cake!).

Recipe info

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Serves: 6


  • The zest of 2 lemons (finely grated)
  • 175g unsalted butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 2 RSPCA Assured labelled eggs, lightly beaten
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil (shredded)
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 25g poppy seeds
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp water & 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 3 tbsp icing sugar


Step 1:

Remove the zest from the lemon using a zester and blanch in a small pan of boiling water for one minute. Drain then repeat the blanching process twice more, using fresh water each time. Drain and dry the zest.

Step 2:

Next, preheat the oven to 180°C/350° F/gas mark 4. Grease and line a 900g/2lb loaf tin with baking parchment.

Step 3:

Cream the butter and caster sugar together until pale, light and fluffy, and gradually beat in the RSPCA Assured eggs, a little at a time. Fold the flour into the mixture, then stir in the basil, half of the lemon zest, water and poppy seeds. Finally, pour the mixture into the loaf tin and bake for about 30-40 minutes.

Step 4:

Meanwhile, make the sticky topping by heating caster sugar and 3 tbsp of water in a pan until the sugar dissolves.  Add the remaining lemon zest, increase the heat and bring to a simmer and cook for about 3-5 minutes (or until zest is tender).  Drain off the sugar water and reserve the lemon zest.

Step 5:

Place lime juice and icing sugar in another small pan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Add the lemon zest to the lime syrup then bring to a simmer and remove from the heat.

Step 6:

Prick the hot, cooked cake using a skewer (it will have sunk, but don't worry!) then pour over the hot lime syrup and lemon zest. Leave the cake in the tin until cool, then carefully lift out using the lining paper. Now you're ready for the good bit - cut the cake into slices and serve!

Get organised for your bake sale

You probably won't need to even visit the shops to make this recipe, but not all things in life are so simple. If you want to raise money for your cake bake then you may need to do a little planning. Don't worry, our fabulous fundraising pack will give a head start with posters, bunting and more to help you make your fundraising event a success.

Get organised with a fundraising pack

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