Limoncello and poppy seed cake

Limoncello and poppy seed cake
  • Serves icon Serves 20
  • Time icon Hands-on time 25 min, oven time 35-40 min, plus cooling

This layer cake combines the zingy flavour and crunchy texture of a classic lemon and poppy seed cake with the added punch of limoncello. It’s an elegant yet decadent cake that’s perfect for afternoon tea.

This toasted coconut cake is another sophisticated option for afternoon entertaining. Or, go back to basics with this classic lemon drizzle cake.


  • 175g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 300g golden caster sugar
  • 275g plain flour
  • 2½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 large free-range eggs, at room temperature, beaten
  • 75ml vegetable oil
  • Grated zest 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 215ml buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 70ml limoncello
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds

You’ll also need…

  • 2 x 15cm loose-bottomed cake tins, greased and bases lined with non-stick baking paper
  • A cake-cutting wire is handy (from Kitchencraft)
  • Stand mixer


  1. Heat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan/gas 3½.  Cream together the butter and sugar.  Then mix in the eggs, oil, lemon zest and vanilla. Sift together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
  2. Add one third of the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, then the buttermilk, then another third of the dry ingredients. Add the limoncello and poppy seeds, then the final third of dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Don’t over-mix.
  3. Pour the cake batter evenly between the 2 tins (weigh as before), smooth the batter and bake for 35-40 minutes or until risen and a skewer pushed into the middle of the cake comes out clean. If the cake browns too quickly, lower the oven temperature by 5-10°C.
  4. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes, then carefully remove from the tins and put on a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. To assemble the cake, halve the cakes horizontally using a cake wire if you have one, or check out our guide on how to slice a sponge cake horizontally. Then, fill and cover with your choice of icing – we love this swiss meringue buttercream.


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