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Gluten-free lemon poppy seed cake

Lemon poppy seed cake

Lemon and poppy seed cake must be on top of most people’s cake lists. Tangey, moist and soft. But this recipe is different it is not only gluten free but also grain free. Instead of flour, you use mashed potatoes and ground almonds.  I first made it about four years ago when my parents started following a gluten-free diet. The original recipe for the lemon drizzle cake is from BBC Good Food,  one of my favourite websites for recipes by the way.

I am a sucker for interesting recipes, if there is some kind of vegetable in I am willing to experiment.  It was a hit and I have made it a few times over the years people are always impressed and stunned that the main ingredient is potato.

I always thought it did not rise very well and decided to rather make it in a bread tin. I am also a firm believer that when using oil in baking a cake it will be moister than using butter so I decided to use olive oil instead of canola oil because seed oils are more inflammatory. I reduced the sugar significantly and also added poppy seeds.

To increase the prettiness I decided to make a frosting with cream cheese. I have to say this cake makes me so happy. It is a happy cake, sunshine on a plate.

Gluten free lemon and poppy seed cake

Essential oils as a flavouring

Essential oils has a lot of benefits and uses, if you want to add some extra lemon flavour you can use a few drops of Lemon essential oil in your baking.  Lemon oil is derived from the rind of lemons through a process called cold pressing. This oil is highly concentrated and possesses the distinct and refreshing aroma of fresh lemons.

Lemon oil pairs well with a variety of ingredients, including sugar, vanilla, and other citrus flavors like orange and lime. I still used fresh lemon zest and juice also in the recipe.

In addition to adding flavor to your baked goods, essential oils also offer a range of health benefits and lemon oil is rich in antioxidants and has antibacterial and antiviral properties. It is also believed to support digestion and boost immune function.

Gluten free lemon and poppy seed cake

Secret ingredient

For individuals with gluten intolerance or celiac disease, finding substitutes for wheat flour in baking can be challenging. One unexpected ingredient that can serve as a gluten-free replacement in baking is the humble potato.

My advice would just be to make sure the potato is cooked through before mashing or if you have one, use a potato ricer to mashn your potatoes; it will give a fantastically light and fine texture.  Otherwise, you might end up with little hard pieces of mashed potato in your cake.

Cream cheese frosting

Cream cheese frosting is a classic accompaniment to many baked goods, from carrot cake to red velvet cupcakes. However, adding honey, lemon zest, and vanilla to this frosting can elevate it to a whole new level of deliciousness.

I also prefer not to use icing sugar in my frostings, I really don’t like sickening sweet frostings. So a little bit of honey really does the trick.

To make frosting, start by mixing together cream cheese ( I like a medium fat like Simonsberg) honey, lemon zest, and vanilla extract. The result is a sweet and tangy frosting with a subtle hint of citrus. Finish off the cake with some extra poppy seeds.

Cake tins

I have made this cake in round tins 20cm in diameter and now also in a bread tin

Gluten free lemon and poppy seed cake

Overall, this gluten-free lemon poppy seed cake made with potatoes is a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth while also using up some pantry staples. The mashed potatoes add moisture and richness to the cake, while the lemon and poppy seeds add brightness and texture. Give it a try and see for yourself how delicious gluten-free baking can be!

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Gluten free lemon and poppy seed cake

Gluten-free lemon poppy seed cake

  • Author: Ankie Niesing
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 40
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x



125g sugar

125 ml olive oil

4 eggs

175g ground almonds

250g mashed potatoes

3 lemons zested

2tbsp poppy seeds

2tsp baking powder

pinch of salt


Heat oven to 180’C. Butter and line a deep, 20cm round cake tin or 24cm x 13cm.

Beat the sugar and olive oil together until light and fluffy, then gradually add the egg, beating after each addition. Fold in the almonds, cold mashed potato, lemon zest and baking powder.

Tip into the tin, level the top, then bake for 40-45 mins or until golden and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Turn out onto a wire rack after 10 mins cooling.

Make the frosting by mixing the cream cheese, honey, lemon zest and vanilla together. Frost the cake and decorate with poppy seeds and lemon zest.

Let the cake cool completely before icing the cake.

Ankie Niesing

Hi, I'm Ankie! Welcome to Wooden Spoon Kitchen, my pantry of life, love and health where we constantly stir laughter, learning, eating and cooking together!

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