Lemon & Poppy Seed Sponge Squares

This weekend nothing seemed to quite go to plan. Unfortunate events, lots of snow and the failed attempt to correctly set my alarm meant that things didn’t go quite as I’d imagined. But that was okay. You know, sometimes it’s the unplanned moments that make life so special. I’m slowly learning to ‘go with the flow’. Yes, it feels uncomfortable and yes, it can make me anxious at times, but it’s actually so refreshing.

So, on Saturday, after lunch in town with my bestie, I decided I couldn’t face studying. Instead, I cleaned my room, tidied the kitchen (*procrasti-cleaning any one?), answered my emails, cleared out my cupboards, and then decided it was time to bake.

I’ve loved cooking ever since I was little - it’s always been one of my favourite hobbies. I find it relaxing as it absorbs me in the present moment. Plus, the end result is (usually) worth it!

Given the weather, a warming sponge was on my mind. I fancied something zingy though, so I decided to go for a lemon cake. I haven’t had a lemon sponge in such a long time, but this one definitely hit the spot. My housemate lent me some poppy seeds (one of the perks of living with seven is that there’s usually someone who can help you out), and so the flavour combination was complete.

I recommend using both the lemon juice and zest, as the zest provides most of the flavour, but the juice helps keep the sponge light and airy. As Mary Berry would say, no one likes a soggy bottom. Luckily this week’s bake was light, fluffy and simply delicious!

I’ve given a few options in the ingredients list, depending on what you’ve got in the cupboard and your dietary requirements, so I hope you’ll find a variation that works for you!

 Without further ado, here’s the recipe.

Lemon & Poppy Seed Sponge Squares

Time: 40 minutes

Serves: 9-16 squares

Vegan (option), Dairy Free (option), Gluten Free (option)

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs (*or flax eggs – see below)
  • 125g yoghurt (*your choice - I used a pot of Nush Foods natural almond milk yoghurt as that’s what I had in the fridge, but dairy, coconut or soya should all work!)  
  • 120g melted butter/ coconut oil (cooled)
  • 2 large lemons (juice and zest)
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar (optional - but I find it helps make it fluffy) 
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 250g demerara sugar (*or coconut sugar)
  • 250g flour (*again your choice)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • A pinch of salt  
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds  

*Vegan option - mix 3 tablespoons flaxseed with 180ml water and leave for 10 minutes, until thickened. This will likely result in a slightly denser sponge, but it will still taste delicious!

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4 and line a (SIZE) square tin with baking paper or lightly grease with butter/oil.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, then add the yoghurt, butter/oil, lemon juice, zest and apple cider vinegar. Beat until smooth.  
  • Add the sugar and ground almonds and mix again until smooth.
  • Next sieve the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl and mix again until well combined. If the mixture appears too dry, add a couple of tablespoons of milk. You want it just about pourable from a spoon.
  • Finally add the poppy seeds and give it one last mix.
  • Pour the mixture into your tin and use a spatula to smooth over the top.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden and well risen. A knife should come out clean when inserted into the centre.
  • Allow to cool briefly in the tin before slicing into squares (either 9 or 16 squares depending on how big you’d like them).
  • Enjoy straight away whilst still warm, or store in a tupperwear to keep them fresh.
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Here at Number 9 we’ve been enjoying these lemon & poppy seed sponge squares warm with yoghurt, chopped fruit, nut butter and a drizzle of honey, but of course, enjoy them as you please! They’re equally delicious on their own with a mid-afternoon cuppa (tried and tested, I promise). Anyway, I hope you like this rather spontaneous weekend bake. It’s been a while since I’ve made a proper sponge, but I now realise how much I’ve missed out. As usual, make sure to tag me @mylifeisforliving on Instagram, comment below, or drop me a message to let me know how you get on!

Until next time,

Hannah x

#mylifeisforliving