Lemon & poppy seed gateaux

Lemon & poppy seed gateaux

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(5 ratings)

Prep: 50 mins Cook: 25 mins plus 2 hrs setting

More effort

Makes 24
Delicate squares of light sponge cake, filled with poppy seed buttercream - a perfect buffet dessert or afternoon tea treat

Nutrition and extra info

  • sponge only

Nutrition: per gateau

  • kcal351
  • fat16g
  • saturates9g
  • carbs48g
  • sugars41g
  • fibre0g
  • protein3g
  • salt0.4g
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    For the sponge

    • 200g slightly salted butter, melted and cooled
    • 4 large eggs



      The ultimate convenience food, eggs are powerhouses of nutrition packed with protein and a…

    • 225g golden caster sugar
    • 225g plain flour
    • 1 tsp baking powder
      Baking powder

      Baking powder

      bay-king pow-dah

      Baking powder is a raising agent that is commonly used in cake-making. It is made from an alkali…

    For the poppy seed buttercream

    • 50g poppy seeds
    • 200g butter, softened



      Butter is a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

    • 350g icing sugar
    • zest 1 lemon



      Oval in shape with a pronouced bulge on one end, lemons are one of the most versatile…

    • 2 tbsp lemon curd
    • 1 tbsp milk



      One of the most widely used ingredients, milk is often referred to as a 'complete' food…

    For the lemon syrup

    • juice and zest 2 lemons



      Oval in shape with a pronouced bulge on one end, lemons are one of the most versatile…

    • 50g golden caster sugar
    • 3 tbsp limoncello (or water)

    For the icing

    • 400g fondant icing sugar
    • juice 1 lemon



      Oval in shape with a pronouced bulge on one end, lemons are one of the most versatile…

    • yellow food colouring


    1. Lightly grease a 20 x 30cm loose-bottomed cake tin with a little of the melted butter, then line with baking parchment. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Put the eggs and sugar in a large bowl, and whisk with an electric hand whisk until the eggs are pale cream, doubled in volume and hold a ribbon pattern on top of the mixture for 3 secs. Drizzle the cooled butter around the edge of the bowl, and sift the flour and baking powder over the top with a pinch of salt. Use a large metal spoon to fold everything together until just combined, being careful not to knock out too much air. Carefully pour the mixture into the prepared tin, level the surface, and bake for 25 mins until golden and a skewer inserted to the centre of the cake comes out clean. Leave to cool for 10 mins in the tin, then carefully slide out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

    2. Meanwhile, make the buttercream and syrup. Put the poppy seeds in a pan and toast for a few mins until aromatic, then leave to cool completely. For the syrup, put the ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a simmer, bubble for a few mins until the sugar has dissolved, then leave to cool. For the buttercream, beat the butter and icing sugar together until smooth, add the lemon zest, lemon curd, milk and cooled poppy seeds.

    3. When the cake is totally cool, carefully slice into 3 thin layers. Reassemble the cake in the tin, flipping what was the top into the tin to make the bottom layer. Spoon over a third of the syrup, then spread over half the buttercream. Top with the middle layer of the cake, more syrup and the remaining buttercream. Top with the final sponge, flat-side up, and drizzle over the remaining syrup.

    4. Mix the icing sugar with enough lemon juice to make a thick but spreadable icing. Colour the icing with a little food colouring, then pour over the top of the cake, easing it to cover the entire surface. Leave in the tin to set for at least 2 hrs.

    5. When you’re ready to serve, carefully remove the cake from the tin. Cut off the edges with a long serrated knife, then cut into 24 little cakes. Will keep in a sealed container for up to 3 days.

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    Comments, questions and tips

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    26th Apr, 2020
    Really light sponge! But took 15-mins extra in my oven to bake (with foil covering after 25 to prevent burning)
    2nd Aug, 2015
    Made for my daughter as a special request for her birthday cake. Followed the recipe but omitted the lemon curd and added extra limoncello instead. Also didn't do the fondant topping because it was sweet and lemony enough already. Delicious treat.
    23rd May, 2015
    Lovely light sponge and zesty taste but a bit too much buttercream and icing in proportion to the sponge. The teenagers in my house didn't like the poppy seeds but I thought it worked. You could feed 20 people with that recipe. I'd give it 4 stars.
    12th May, 2015
    This cake was delicious! A real step up from lemon drizzle. I baked this for a weekly baking club and everyone loved it - so moist and zesty! Really clever putting the poppyseeds in the icing too - it gave it a nice texture. Will be making again for sure.
    18th Mar, 2015
    This is the first time I've ever made a BBC good food recipe and it has been anything but gorgeous. There is far far too much butter in this whole recipe - the sponge itself when made as directed took far longer than the time recommended to cook, and was quite heavy and felt too buttery instead of how light sponge should be. The buttercream also tasted of just pure butter (instead of the other ingredients) which seemed to overpower any other elements, I imagine the quantity of butter in it was too high?? I found the resulting cake all too heavy. Also I used a 20 x 30 cake tin and there is no way you'd be able to cut these into smaller cakes - they were far too high? Fine for a gateaux you cut into traditional slices but not the dainty squares in the picture by any measure. Will not be making again.
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