Guilt free lemon and poppy seed cake

I love baking with butter… and sugar… and white flour. Pretty controversial! I’m sure the gluten/dairy/egg/sugar free concoctions taste OK and I get that some people have genuine allergies which need to be seriously considered. However, for the same reason I don’t call spiralized zucchini “pasta” (it’s grated zucchini) or cauliflower rice “rice” (it’s blitzed cauliflower) I don’t do baking without the good “bad” stuff.

Food wasn’t always demonised and labelled and people weren’t always made to feel guilty for eating what they enjoy. When my parents were growing up you ate what you were given and what you were given was what you could afford. My paternal grandmother was an avid gardener so my Dad was lucky to have a substantial supply of home grown vegetables which were served with economical cuts of meat. These simple and healthy meals gave Dad the energy he needed for hockey and cricket and sending his brave little sister down the hill to test drive the go kart. Bread with butter and jam, dessert and cakes were treats to be enjoyed occasionally.

Today we are encouraged to drink supplements and swallow vitamins, we eat more processed foods than ever before and we are encouraged to avoid carbs/gluten/egg yolks etc etc in lieu of consuming real food. There is so much attention and focus on what not to eat it is so easy to fall into the trap of “healthy” eating. We are in an environment where eating clean and green and lean is a status symbol and a placard to be aggressively thrust in people’s faces which proudly states “I am better than you.” I think it’s actually unhealthy eating and I find stylised photos of skinny legs with fruit bowls or smug people drinking green juice insulting.

Eating well isn’t complicated and it shouldn’t be. Skip the processed stuff and eat a balanced diet of food which you make from scratch, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, exercise and enjoy a proper piece of cake when you want to.

I thoroughly enjoyed having a slice of this cake with a cup of tea this afternoon and I didn’t feel the least bit guilty either. Neither should you.

Cake recipe

  • Follow the instructions here, just add 1/3 cup poppy seeds to the dry ingredients.


  • 250g cream cheese, room temperature
  • 65g butter, room temperature
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 2 tbs grated lemon rind
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 3 cups icing mixture

Beat all the ingredients together until smooth.

Guilt free cake

PS The cake is actually for Stu’s birthday. Not only did he forget it was his birthday today, he also forgot his age. When I told him earlier this week I was going to make him waffles on Sunday and asked what he would like on top, his response was “Why are you being so nice to me?” I politely replied, “It’s your birthday, dickhead.”

Happy birthday Stu!

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