Chocolate, Almond and Poppy Seed Cake

Poppy seeds have a wonderful nutty flavour and are a perfect addition to this simple-to-make chocolate cake.
Serves 8
Ready in 1 hour 30 minutes, plus cooling

2 tbsp poppy seeds
2 tbsp hot milk
175g unsalted butter, softened
175g caster sugar
3 medium eggs, beaten
175g self raising flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
75g ground almonds
Icing sugar, to dust
Sliced plums, to serve (optional)

1 Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/ gas mark 4. Grease a 23cm round shallow cake tin and line the base with baking paper. Mix the poppy seeds and hot milk in a small heatproof bowl and set aside.
2 Place the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat with a hand-held electric whisk until pale and creamy. Gradually beat in the eggs then sift over the flour and cocoa powder and fold in with a metal spoon. Fold in the poppy seed and milk mixture and the ground almonds.
3 Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and level the surface. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until risen, firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
4 Dust the top of the cake with icing sugar. serve sliced with fresh plum slices, if liked.

This cake makes a delicious hot pudding too. Just cool for 5-10 minutes then cut into slices and drizzle with warmed chocolate or salted caramel sauce and serve with a dollop of whipped cream.


A quick and easy tray-bake style cake that can be served warm or cold. Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Makes 10-12 slices

Ready in 1hour 10 minutes, plus cooling

350g cooking apples, peeled, cored and diced

1 tbsp lemon juice

50g granulated sugar

225g butter, softened

225g caster sugar

250g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

2 tsp ground cinnamon

4 medium eggs

Icing sugar, to dust

1 Place the cooking apples, lemon juice and granulated sugar in a heavy-based pan. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved then simmer for 3-4 minutes until the apple has just softened. Leave to cool.

2 Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas mark 4. Grease a 23cm square shallow cake tin and line the base with baking paper.

3 Place the butter, caster sugar, flour, baking powder, cinnamon and eggs in a large bowl and, using a handheld electric mixer, beat together for 2-3 minutes until pale and creamy.

4 Spread half the cake mixture in the base of the lined cake tin. Drain off any excess liquid from the cooked apples then spoon them over the cake mixture in an even layer. Gently spread the rest of the cake mixture over the apple filling.

5 Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the cake has shrunk from the sides of the tin and springs back when pressed in the centre with your fingertips. Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes. Serve warm or cold, cut into slices and dusted with icing sugar.


If you prefer replace the cooked apples with two peeled, cored and diced eating apples – no need to cook them, just toss them in the lemon juice and use only 25g granulated sugar, then spoon onto the cake mixture.



Smothered with warm berry compote, these delicious lemony sponge puddings will go down a treat after a Sunday roast. Serve with a dollop of crème fraiche or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

summer fruit sponge dessert

Makes 4

Ready in 1 hour 10 minutes

115g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

225g caster sugar

Zest of 1 lemon

2 medium eggs, beaten

125g self-raising flour, sifted

1 tbsp milk

300g mixed summer berries such as redcurrants, blackberries, raspberries and blackcurrants

2 tsp arrowroot blended with 1 tbsp cold water

1 Thoroughly grease four 175ml pudding basins with butter. Preheat the oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas mark 5.

2 Place the butter and 115g of the sugar in a bowl and beat together until pale and creamy. Beat in the lemon zest then gradually beat in the eggs, adding 1 tbsp of the flour if the mixture starts to curdle. Fold in the rest of the flour with the milk to give a soft dropping consistency.

3 Divide the mixture between the pudding basins and cover each with a square of pleated buttered foil, scrunching it tightly around the sides of each basin. Transfer to a large roasting tin and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the basins. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until risen and firm to the touch.

4 Meanwhile, place the berries in a pan with the remaining sugar and 2tbsp water. Heat gently, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5-6 minutes until the fruit has softened. Stir in the blended arrowroot and simmer, stirring all the time, for another 4-5 minutes until thickened.

5 Turn the hot puddings out onto serving plates and spoon over the warm fruit compote. Serve immediately.


You can replace the fresh berries with the same amount of frozen mixed berries, if liked.