Lemon and poppy seed cake with mascarpone frosting


ell. This isn’t very festive, is it? There’s no way to make a lemon cake seem of the season, but it’s too good to hide away until the sun comes back.

There’s something inherently terrifying about making a layer cake – for me, knowing that a bake has a purpose and so has to be really good almost always means I mess it up.

There was the salted caramel crumble bars for dessert after a roast at a friend’s which turned out to be appley shortbready mush. The cookies that I tweaked, which resulted in a too-gooey dough. Before that, the chocolate birthday cake that was so loaded down with ganache that it could have been used as a weapon.

So when making this for my best friend’s birthday, working roughly off a loaf recipe and making the rest up as I went along, there were a lot of nervous frowns and shaky hands. I knew what I wanted it to be: a strong lemon flavour but not overridden by too-sweet curd; a creamy frosting that would be rich enough to be satisfying but still light.Lemon and poppy seed cake with mascarpone frosting // The Dinner Bell

And by some miracle, I made it.

Lemon and poppy seed cake with mascarpone frosting

Adapted from Good Food. Could easily feed 16.

Notes: For this cake I used Lurpak baking spread, which I was sent to experiment with, and it worked beautifully in this cake. You could also use normal butter.The cake happily lasted five days in an airtight container.


50g poppy seeds
240ml milk
300g sugar
250g Lurpak baking spread
4 eggs
400g plain flour
5 tsp baking powder
Zest of 2 lemons

350g mascarpone
Juice of half a lemon
4 tbsp lemon curd* + extra to brush onto the cakes


  1. Warm up the milk, pour it over the poppy seeds, and leave it for about 15 minutes while you get on with the rest. Preheat oven to 180C, and lightly grease your sandwich tins.**
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then mix in the eggs. Mix the flour and baking powder, then fold it into the butter mixture gradually, alternating between it and the milk and poppy seeds, followed by the lemon rind.
  3. Split the mixture between the tins and bake on the middle shelf for about 20-25 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  4. While the cakes bake, mix the mascarpone, lemon juice, and lemon curd until smooth, and set aside.
  5. When the cakes are cool brush the tops with a little lemon curd, before spreading with mascarpone and layering up. Sprinkle some extra poppy seeds on the top if you fancy it.
* It’s worth using a good quality lemon curd here, as it significantly contributes to flavour and cheaper lemon curds tend to be cloyingly sweet.** I used two 8 inch sandwich tins, and, obviously, baked the cake in two batches. Leaving cake mixture to sit is somewhat controversial but it worked absolutely fine. Turning them out should be easy, if you turn them upside down and give them a tap on the bottom.

4 thoughts on “Lemon and poppy seed cake with mascarpone frosting

  1. Louise says:

    I made this for the first time today for our work’s Macmillan Coffee Morning Bake Off competiton and came 2nd! Will definitely be making this again!

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