I am yet to meet anybody who doesn’t enjoy lemon loaf (and I’m not sure I’d like them very much if I did). There is just something so irresistibly reassuring about this cake – it is simple, yes, but could never be called boring. I can’t think of anything I’d rather have more with a cup of tea on a Sunday afternoon.
This particular loaf comes from Ottolenghi’s Sweet, and it’s the sense of safety and reliability from this recipe that provoked Ottolenghi and Helen Goh to affectionately name it their ‘National Trust’ cake. It works very well gluten free, using Doves Farm plain GF flour along with 1/2tsp xantham gum. I find that this loaf disappears incredibly quickly, and so it might be worth doubling the recipe here to stash one loaf in the freezer, un-iced, for a moment of need.
Makes 1 2lb/900g loaf
3 large eggs
225g caster sugar
120 ml double cream
75g unsalted butter, cubed, plus extra for greasing
10g poppy seeds
finely grated zest of 3 lemons (preferably unwaxed)
170g plain flour
1 ¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
For the glaze
100g icing sugar, sifted
2 tbsp lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan. Grease the loaf tin and line with baking parchment, then set aside.
- Place the eggs and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk on a medium-high speed for about 2 minutes, until pale and frothy. Add the cream and continue to whisk for about 2 minutes, until the mixture has combined, thickened a little and turned pale.
- In the meantime, melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat, add the poppy seeds and lemon zest and set aside.
- Sift the flour, baking powder and salt (plus the xantham gum, if you’re making it gluten free) together into a bowl, then use a rubber spatula to fold this into the egg mixture before folding through the butter, poppy seeds and zest.
- Spoon the mixture into the loaf tin. Place the tin on a baking tray and cook for about 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
- Whilst the cake is baking, make the glaze by whisking the icing sugar with the lemon juice in a bowl. Pour this over the top of the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven, spreading it over the top so that it sinks in and creates a nice glaze. Set aside to cool for 30 minutes before removing from the tin. Leave to come to room temperature before serving. The cake will keep for 3 days in an airtight container.