Admittedly, I’m not usually game for a recipe hybrid…they scream everything that usually represents ‘faddy’, ‘hyped’ – and ‘short-lived’, which is usually the proof of the pudding! i.e avoid at all costs. However, this deliciously sticky, sweet and sour citrus poppy seed drizzle cake is the one, and very honourable, exception. Both flavour and texture is elevated by their partnership…a simple, dense, moist cake (sorry, I dropped the ‘M’ word!) with bright lemon and lime flavour balanced with the rich smoothness of coconut oil and light-as-air crumb given by the coconut soya yoghurt. I can therefore declare, I now officially belong to the elite club of people who could live off drizzle and poppy seed cake FOREVER.
Something about this cake is inherently soul-healing. And in the grey-meh-bleh days of December where you find yourself leaving for work in the dark and returning home – once again – in the dark, and where everyone and everything is recovering from being winter-sick, and where you find your heating bill has already brought a tear to your eye, healing is good. Healing is very totally necessary.
Making this requires just enough work to remind you that good food can sometimes mean only taking a little time out from everyday distractions (aka; electrical devices, household tasks and the general ‘life list’!) We’re juicing and zesting citrus fruits like a boss, but slowing down to smell the little whispers of zest along the way because…well, delicious. We’re pressing our own coconuts – no, we’re not actually. Thank you, store-bought coconut oil.
As much as I appreciate affordable short cuts, we need to be honest with ourselves – this recipe is not the cheapest compared to your average Victoria sponge. It is however enriched with vegan-friendly nutritious goodness – and you wouldn’t even know it. This is more of a love song to high quality, delicious ingredients than anything else. And remember, this serves twelve generously – or alternatively one or two over the duration of at least a few days, or thereabouts?
Poppy seeds in particular are a pleasure to cook with; their intense nutty, earthy flavour defies their minuscule size. They have a satisfying crunch – a speckling of crisp blue-black seeds in contrast with a mellow yellow crumb. At its most physical, this cake is straight up aromatherapy. On an emotional level, it is lemon and lime-loaded love. And when we just take it back to basics: it is my winter bake of choice.
Lemon, Lime & Coconut poppy seed drizzle cake
175g plain flour
75g coconut flour (I use Sukrin)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
125g golden caster sugar
zest and juice of 2 large lemons
zest and juice of 3 limes (about 125ml total of juice from both lemon & lime)
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
100ml coconut oil, melted
250g coconut soya yoghurt (I use Alpro soya – alternatively you can use plain yoghurt)
50g vegan butter, softened or margarine (widely available in larger supermarkets)
For the syrup drizzle
zest and juice from 1 lemon and 1 lime
75g granulated sugar
1/2 tbsp poppy seeds
1. Preheat the oven at 180C, fan 160C. Grease and line a 23cm non-stick loose-bottomed cake tin.
2. Place the flours, baking powder, bicarb, salt, sugar, zest and juice from the lemons and limes into a large bowl. Add the coconut oil, yoghurt and butter, then mix until just combined (be careful not to over-mix as you want to keep the mixture light and airy).
3. Pour the mixture into your prepared tin, then smooth the surface so it is even with a spatular or the back of a large spoon.
4. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake.
5. Meanwhile, make the drizzle syrup by stirring together the lemon and lime juice with the sugar & poppy seeds.
6. Remove the cake from the oven and place onto a wire rack. Poke several holes all over the cake with a skewer, then pour the drizzle evenly all over the cake. Either serve still a little warm with a dollop of creme fraiche or serve cold with a steamy cup of coffee.
Recipe, styling & photography: Natalie Seldon