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Orange and Poppy Seed Cake


Gosh, it has taken me over three days to write this post!

Do you ever have tasks that you set about doing that seem to take an age to complete?

I have been a little distracted, to be honest. Now that it is February, I have set about visiting the gym so the ‘slimmer, fitter me’ can emerge from it’s rather long, slumber. I avoided the gym in January intentionally (cough, cough) as the tread mills are far too busy. Better to embark on a new regime when the fainthearted have already exhausted their resolutions in January, I say.

I really have to make a concerted effort on this fitness front in order for me to enjoy my bakes with a clear (or clearer) conscience…


So ‘HURRAH’ for February!

I, for one, am very pleased to see the back of January, the wettest on record here in the UK. We seem to be experiencing extreme weather all around the world of late. So what better way to lift ourselves out of the gloomy grey, wet skies and floods than to put the kettle on and enjoy a glorious syrupy, orange and poppy seed cake. An instant ‘sunshine’ fix, if ever there was one.

This cake is a ‘gem’ according to friends and family and trust me, they get to sample a fair few. Adapted from one of my most favourite books of late, ‘The Back In The Day Bakery Cookbook’ – each and every one of their recipes I have tried is superb – this cake is easy to make.

Fundamentally, it is an orange flavoured sponge cake with added poppy seed for ‘crunch’, which is steeped in a fragrant orange syrup, topped off with a simple orange glaze. Baked in a single round tin means you are able to maximise the syrup content so it is a beautifully moist cake. I have suggested you use an 8 inch / 20cm round tin (most people own one of those, correct?). This will give you a slightly deeper cake than mine shown. I used a 9 inch pan and would have preferred it to be a little deeper. Don’t be put off by the syrup. I know it seems like extra work but it really is simple and can be made whilst the cake is being baked.


This cake goes perfectly well with a fresh cup of tea or coffee, but equally works well as a dessert. If any cake can chase away the winter blues, this one can!



Orange and Poppy Seed Cake


  • 280g plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (I used ground, course sea salt)
  • 150g buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 150g unsalted butter, softened
  • 260g granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • Zest of 4 oranges
  • 150ml freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tbsp. poppy seeds
  • For the syrup
  • 150g granulated sugar
  • 120ml freshly squeezed orange juice
  • For the icing
  • 200g icing sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 an orange
  • For the decoration (optional)
  • Freshly grated orange zest or orange candied peel ( see separate post for recipe)


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, or Gas Mark 4. Prepare an 8 inch round tin by greasing and lining with baking parchment.
  2. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt together. Set aside. In a jug, beat together the buttermilk and vanilla extract. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a freestanding mixer, cream together the butter and sugar for approximately 5 minutes until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add one third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the buttermilk mixture, incorporating well each time. Repeat the process again and finish with the final third of flour. Add the orange zest and juice and mix well. Finally, add the poppy seeds and ensure they are thoroughly combined.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  5. Whilst the cake is baking, prepare the syrup. In a small saucepan, add the granulated sugar and orange juice. Over a medium heat, allow the sugar to dissolve. Once dissolved, cook for a further 5 minutes until it is slightly reduced and resembles a syrup. Set aside.
  6. Once baked, remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool a little in the pan. Turn onto a wire rack to allow to cool completely. Place a sheet of baking parchment under the wire rack to prevent syrup spills. With a skewer, pierce holes all over the top of the cooled cake, ensuring you do not punch all the way through - we want the syrup to settle in the cake, not seep out of the bottom. Spoon the syrup over the top of the cake ensuring it seeps down into the holes. Spread the syrup over the cake with the back of a spoon. Leave for a few minutes and then repeat until all the syrup is absorbed into the cake.
  7. Prepare the icing by mixing together the icing sugar and orange juice until completely smooth. Pour over the cake.
  8. To decorate, grate orange zest over the icing or add candied orange peel (optional).

Source: Adapted from Cheryl Day & Griffith Day’s ‘The Back In The Day Bakery Cookbook’


Lemon, Poppy Seed and Blackcurrant Ripple Ice Cream


As we are coming to the end of August, the evenings are drawing in and the shadows are a little longer in the morning, can I still get away with an ice cream ‘post’?

Why not? The children are still on their ‘summer holidays’, the forecast for the next week is warm and sunny and the Bank Holiday weekend is approaching. Yes, it is still ice-cream-eating weather!

So my inspiration for this ice cream came purely by chance when I stumbled on a fabulous article in The Guardian, ‘The 10 Best Iced Recipes’. Originally a semifreddo dessert, I have adapted the main constituents of the recipe – the lemon, poppy seeds and blackcurrants – to a soft rippled ice cream. A soft scoop ice cream, in a waffle cone, being the iced dessert of choice in our house.

All the ingredients for this recipe are easy to come by. Admittedly, the blackcurrants are seasonal but they are still bountiful in the supermarkets and the ‘Pick Your Own’ farms. The blackcurrant ripple compliments the sweet, lemon ice cream beautifully. For my ripple I have just squashed the currants during the heating proctess. If you prefer a smoother ripple, you can always puree the ripple in the blender and put it though a sieve, whilst still warm.

This ice cream is very easy to make yet has a sophisticated taste and texure. It would be great addition if you are entertaining this weekend. The taste is just sublime.

Lemon, Poppy Seed and Blackcurrant Ripple Ice Cream


  • 150g fresh blackcurrants
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 397g tin of sweetened condensed milk
  • 150ml whole milk
  • 4 lemons, juiced
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 tbsp. poppy seeds
  • 300ml whipping cream
  • 300ml double cream


  1. To prepare the blackcurrant ripple, rinse the blackcurrants and place in a saucepan with the sugar and the lemon juice. Over a medium heat, allow the sugar to dissolve. Allow to simmer and stir occasionally. The fruit should be softened, a little squashed and the juices becoming a little syrupy. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  2. For the ice cream, in the bowl of a freestanding mixer, place the condensed milk, the whole milk, the juice of the lemons and the lemon zest and combine with the mixer. Then add the poppy seeds and combine further.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk, ideally with an electric whisk, the whipping and double cream together until very light and fluffy and peaks form. Gently fold the creams into the lemon condensed milk mixture, ensuring that the mixtures are well combined.
  4. Pour the ice cream batter into a large plastic container, seal with a lid and place in the freezer.
  5. Remove from the freezer after about 1.5 hours. With an electric whisk, mix the ice cream mixture again until light and creamy. Next add the blackcurrant ripple. Divide the blackcurrant mixture into say, 6 spoonful's and space equally on the ice cream. With a fork, ripple the blackcurrant mixture through the cream ensuring that it covers most of the container but avoid too much mixing so as to achieve thick ripples.
  6. Re-seal the plastic lid on the container and return to the freezer for approximately 6-8 hours, or overnight.
  7. Before serving, allow the ice cream to ripen in the fridge for approximately 30 minutes so that it is the correct softness for serving.

Source: Inspired by and slightly adapted from ‘The Great British Farmhouse Cookbook’ (Yeo Valley) by Sarah Mayor, as seen in The Guardian’s ‘The 10 Best Iced Recipes’