Lemon and poppy seed cupcakes


First published in 2015
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This lemon and poppy seed cake will fill your belly with enough sunshine to help ward off any invading rain this spring. With nephews and nieces due for a visit over the weekend, I opted to bake cupcakes – small enough for little mouths, but big enough to satisfy the greediest of grown ups too. These cupcakes don’t really need the swirl of buttercream on top, if you don’t want it, but I can assure you, it goes down a treat with the under 10s – especially if you give them back to their parents soon enough after eating that any sugar-induced bouncing off the walls is left for when they get home.




Cupcake batter

  • 150g of unsalted butter
  • 150g of caster sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 150g of self-raising flour, (or rice flour plus 1 tsp. baking powder for gluten-free)
  • 2 lemons, zest only
  • 1 tbsp of poppy seeds
  • 1 dash of milk, if needed


  • 50g of caster sugar
  • 1 lemon, juice only


To decorate

  • sprinkles, optional
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Line a 12-hole muffin tray with cupcake cases
Begin by making the cupcake batter. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Gradually add the egg, whisking between each addition
Sift over the flour and whisk it until combined. If the cake batter is too stiff you can add a splash of milk to slightly slacken it
Fold in the lemon zest and poppy seeds. Divide the mixture between the cupcake cases. The mixture should not fill the cases more than three-quarters. Bake for 20 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean
Meanwhile, make the syrup. In a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice and sugar until fully combined. When the cupcakes are ready stab them all over with a skewer and pour a little syrup over each of the hot cakes. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely
To make the buttercream, whisk the butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Sift over half of the icing sugar and whisk to incorporate. Sift over the remaining icing sugar and continue to whisk until light and fluffy. Add the lemon juice and whisk again to combine
Spoon the lemon buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a star shaped nozzle and pipe in a circular motion over the top of the cupcakes. Add sprinkles, if you wish, and serve
First published in 2015
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