Vanessa Kimbell’s Poppy Seed and Lemon Cake

Editor’s Note: This recipe comes to us from the book The Sourdough School Sweet Baking by Vanessa Kimbell, which she graciously gave to us for our Virtual Baking Summit. Her recipes spotlight the importance of ingredients on gut health, something that more recently came to the forefront of nutrition education. Here she explains poppy seeds in more detail for this lovely snack cake recipe, soaked in a lemon honey syrup.

Poppy seeds are a source of tocopherolsand linoleic acid. These ancient seeds have been used by many civilizations, including the Egyptians, Minoans and Sumerians. Still popular in Eastern bakeries, the poppy seed is a beautiful addition to many bakes. They are a rich source of tocopherols, which the body can turn into vitamins E, B1, B3 and B5, as well as calcium and potassium. They are also a source of linoleic acid, an essential polyunsaturated fatty acid. Research indicates that poppyseeds may even help prevent some types of cancer. A high intake of poppy seeds can put you at risk of testing positive on a drug test for opiates, so consume with moderation! Remember that sufferers of IBS should avoid seeds.

Makes one 9-inch cake, serves 12



  • 3 cups plus 1 tablespoon (400 grams) stoneground wholegrain flour, sifted plus 1 additional tablespoon for pan
  • 1 cup (200 grams) bubbly, lively starter
  • 2/3 cup (125 grams) coconut sugar
  • Scant ½ cup (100 grams) sunflower oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten (100 grams)
  • 4 egg yolks (74 grams)
  • zest of 2 large lemons
  • 1 teaspoon (9 grams) salt
  • 12 saffron strands, soaked in scant ½ cup (100 grams) water for 6–8 hours before use
  • 3 tablespoons (30 grams) poppy seeds
  • Scant 1 tablespoon (12 grams) unsalted butter


  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons raw, unpasteurized runny honey


Make the Cake:

  1. Put all the dough ingredients in a large bowl, including the water in which you soaked the saffron. Mix well to combine.
  1. Grease and line a 9-inch square cake pan with greased parchment. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan, then cover and leave on the kitchen worksurface overnight, or until doubled in size.
  1. In the morning, preheat your oven to 340°F. Mix together the lemon juice, butter and honey to make a syrup.
  1. Bake the cake for 25 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 300°F, cover the top of the cake with foil and bake for a further 15–20 minutes until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and use a skewer to poke holes in the top of the cake. Drizzle immediately with the syrup while still in the pan. After 5 minutes, remove from the pan and transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool completely. The honey syrup keeps the cake from going stale, so it will keep in an airtight container for 2 to 3 days.


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Pastry at Home is a hub for elevated dessert recipes for home bakers. Our editors Tish Boyle and AnnMarie Mattila strive to bring you the best curated content to help make you a smarter baker and dessert maker. If you want to be a part of our community, please contribute on the Submit a Recipe page. Or if you have another contribution idea or product you think we would like, shoot us an email at [email protected]. We would love to hear from you!

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