Phil's Poppy Seed & Lime Drizzle Cake

Serves: 12 Cooking time: 35 minutes

This simply delicious cake takes two family favourites, moulds them together and removes the added sugar to create a healthier version that’s sure to be a hit.


For the cake:

  • 125g plain flour
  • 1 level tsp baking powder
  • 175g butter, soft
  • 3 medium free-range eggs
  • zest of 3 large limes, (or 3 lemons if you prefer) finely grated
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 25g poppy seeds
  • Approx. 50ml skimmed milk

For the drizzle:

  • 100ml juice from 3 large limes or 3 lemons
  • half the zest from above


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, fan 160°C/gas mark 4.  Line the sides and base of a 20cm square cake tin, with baking parchment.
  2. Sieve the flour and baking powder, mixing them together evenly.
  3. Using an electric mixer and a separate bowl, beat the butter and the Xylitol together until light and fluffy (around 3 minutes).
  4. Whisk in the eggs gradually, adding a little flour with each one, and half the zest of the limes or lemons. Keep the juice for later.
  5. Fold the remaining flour into the cake mixture and stir in the almonds and poppy seeds, adding enough milk to make a soft consistency, so that the mixture is just dropping off the spoon.
  6. Spread the cake mixture into the prepared tin, smooth the top and bake for about 35 minutes, until firm and springy in the centre. Test with a skewer, if it comes out clean or a few crumbs clinging, it’s done.     
  7. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly.
  8. While the cake is still warm, make the syrup for the drizzle: mix the juice of the limes, or lemons, the remaining zest and the Xylitol.
  9. Poke a few little holes all over the top and spoon the syrup over slowly, to leave a satisfying, moist and crunchy topping.
  10. The almonds in the mixture lend a soft and fluffy texture to this sponge that is just right for soaking with the lemon drizzle. You can of course leave the nuts out:  in which case substitute 50g extra flour instead. For me though, without ground almonds, the texture is a little light and airy to hold a decent amount of lemon syrup. Although this recipe makes a traybake to cut into bars or squares, you can also make it as a loaf cake to slice.
  11. Oil and line a small loaf tin and increase the baking time to up to 50 minutes.

Copyright Phil Vickery