Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes with Lemon Icing

Cupcakes on a plate with a daffodil background.

These are everything you want from a cupcake: moist, soft and fluffy, decorated with creamy lemon icing. The poppy seeds add a nutty flavour and a bit of a texture that I think works well with lemons.
Perfect accompaniment to after dinner, afternoon tea or even a special occasion. 

Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes with Lemon Icing


Cupcake batter:

  • 35 g butter
  • 85 g caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 170 g flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 25 g vegetable oil
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 92 g milk
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp poppy seeds

Lemon Icing:

  • 56 g butter
  • 225 g cream cheese
  • 454 g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • juice of half a lemon


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners. 
  2. To make the cupcake batter cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the oil and vanilla extract.
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt then add the lemon zest. Interchangeably fold in the flour mixture and milk to the batter. Divide the batter between the cupcake liners and bake for 10-15 minutes. Place on a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
  4. To make the icing, cream the butter then add the cream cheese and beat until well combined. Add icing sugar, vanilla extract and lemon juice and again mix well. Add more lemon juice or icing sugar to reach your desired consistency. Ice the cupcakes and try not to eat them all yourself!

Rustic Wooden Boards from an Old Maple Log Part 1

Woodworking bench with tools and shavings.

Today I'm coming to you with a project I started a couple weeks ago. The first spring sunshine had made an appearance and drove me from the house to the garden. On my venture I found a slice from a maple stump and whimsically decided to turn it into a serving/chopping board.

I launched into it and started to plane the slice to create a leveled, smooth surface. Some time after I realised the woodworm has eaten right through the slice in a few places. I decided to cut it in half to avoid most of the woodworm damage.

Using a saw to halve a slice of a maple stump.

The photos below show the piece I chose to work with (from the front and the back). You can see how rough the surface is from the chainsaw.

Front and back with rough chainsaw surface.

It's still fuzzy, but look how much smoother the surface is after planing. I removed some woodworm damage at the top and shaped the edges. Apologies for the lighting change, the sun comes and goes.

Front and back of a wooden board, after planing lying on a wooden bench.

Close up of wood shavings, wood plane and a wooden board on a bench.

Here is Nala Green Paws. She has created a new game for herself, it's called "Catch all the grass as it comes flying out of the mower". This cute, fluffy maniac makes up new games every day and it's very entertaining to watch.

German Shepherd puppy with green paws.

The next part of this woodworking project will be about sanding and oiling the boards.

Poached Pear and Frangipane Tarts

Tartlettle dusted with icing sugar and some cream with a dessert fork on a white plate.

A couple weeks ago I made these for the Musical Phantom's birthday. We devoured them in no time. The pastry is light, crunchy underneath the sweet almond filling topped with delicious poached pears. They can make anyone happy on their birthday or Tuesday or any day really. The tartlettes are incredible on their own, almost like eating an almond and pear cookie. But if you are celebrating, it won't hurt to serve it with a dollop of whipped cream...

Closer look at a pear frangipane tart with cream and a dessert fork on a white plate.

Poached Pear Frangipane Tarts Recipe


Pâte Sucrée

  • 30 ml cream
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 172 g flour
  • 25 g caster sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 113 g butter, cut into cubes


  • 110 g ground almonds
  • 8 g (1 Tbsp) flour
  • 75 g caster sugar
  • 85 g butter, soft
  • 1 large egg

Poached Pears:

  • 1 l water
  • 250 g sugar
  • juice from half a lemon
  • 4 medium pears, peeled


For poached pears:

  1. Place water and sugar in a large pot and bring the water to the boil. Stir until sugar dissolves.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium and place the pears along with lemon juice in the pot. Cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Cool the pears in syrup.
Two images of poached pears before and after in a saucepan.

For pâte sucrée:

  1. Whisk cream with egg yolk in a small bowl and set aside. In a large bowl place the rest of the ingredients for pâte sucrée.
  2. Using your fingers or a pastry blender work the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Gradually add the cream mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Try not to overwork the pastry.
  3. Bring the dough together with your hands and shape it into a ball. Flatten, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 1 hour. (I did a double of the recipe provided, hence two shaped pastry balls.)
Four images of making of pate sucree.

For frangipane:

  1. Combine almonds, flour, sugar in a bowl and mix together. Add butter an beat it into the almond mixture until smooth. Add the egg and mix until just incorporated.
  2. Cover the bowl with cling film and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Four images showing how to make frangipane.

To assemble:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Take the pastry out of the fridge and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes prior to rolling out. Lightly dust the area with flour. Roll the pastry 1/4" thick, dusting with flour as needed.
  2. Transfer the pastry to a 9" tart pan (I also made 4 small tartlettes with the scrap pastry). Gently press the dough into bottom and sides of the pan.
  3. Do not stretch the dough, use a rolling pin to transfer the pastry to the pans. Pinch off excess dough. Prick the base with a fork. Refrigerate for 1 hour before baking, or place in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  4. Bake blind for 10 minutes. Remove the parchment paper and pie weights and bake until lightly golden, another 5 - 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  5. Remove the pears from the syrup. Cut in half, remove the cores and slice.
  6. Once the pastry is cool, spread the almond filling just to the top of the shell. Arrange pears on top. Bake until golden and tender about 25-35 minutes. Remove from the tart pan after cooling.

Dust with icing sugar, top off with cream and enjoy.

Close up of the pear and frangipane tartlette on a plate.

Pâte Sucrée recipe adapted from Bon Appétit and Frangipane recipe adapted from Food52.

Yeast Dough Crescents stuffed with Nutella

Nutella crescent on a teacup with text.

A few months ago I decided to make these for the first time. From that day on I baked them every single day for almost a month... Now that is dedication... or more like obsession. The dough is fluffy, soft, filled with delicious Nutella and dusted with icing sugar. How could you say no to them?

Close up of Nutella crescents dusted with icing sugar on a tray.

Yeast Dough Crescents stuffed with Nutella Recipe

Adapted from Domowe Wypieki

Mise en place egg, butter, flour, yeast, milk for yeast dough crescents.

Yeast Dough:

  • 400 g flour
  • 7 g fast active dry yeast
  • 40 g sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 220 ml milk, lukewarm
  • 1 egg
  • 50 g butter, melted and cooled
Makes 16 crescents.


  • 1 egg, whisked for egg wash
  • 200 g Nutella
  • icing sugar for dusting

Yeast dough before and after rising in a metal bowl wrapped in a white tea towel.


Kneading, rising, shaping the dough:

  1. Place flour, yeast and sugar in a large bowl. Add milk, egg and knead the dough.
  2. Add melted butter towards the end of the kneading time. The dough should be soft and elastic. Cover with a clean tea towel and set aside in a warm place until doubled in size.
  3. After that time deflate the dough and divide it in two. Cover one half with a tea towel to prevent the dough from drying out.
  4. Shape the dough into a ball and roll out into 16" (40 cm) circle. Cut it into 8 equal pieces like a pizza. Place a teaspoon of Nutella on each slice of dough (at the base of the triangle). Brush the tip of each piece with some water to help the dough stick. 
  5. Roll each triangle from the base to the tip. Pull the ends towards the centre to shape into a crescent. Transfer the crescents to a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Cover with tea towel again and let puff up for 30 mins in a warm place. Repeat with the other piece of dough.
Series of four images showing the process of making crescents.

Baking the crescents:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Brush the crescents with the egg wash before placing in the oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
  2. Transfer to a cooling rack and once cooled dust with icing sugar. Crescents taste best when eaten on the day they are baked.
Nutella crescents before and after baking on an aluminum tray.

Nutella crescent dusted with icing sugar placed on a china tea cup.

Shepherds and Snowballs Soaring the Skies

Close up of winter snowy flora with text.

Baking summer desserts did not encourage the spring like I had hoped, but affirmation and surplus cake are never a bad thing. Mother Nature was having none of it, instead she gave us one last winter thrashing. The aftermath can be beautiful this time of year, the warm spring sun winning the battle against the recently revered snow.

German Shepherd in the air after a flying snowball and another shepherd leaning on his hind legs.

The shaded areas still had snow deep enough to build a snowman. These two are rubbish at building snowmen but they love to fly. Cabin fever set in over the last few days and they can't contain themselves. It's at moments like this while throwing snowballs with frozen hands, that you could accidentally loose the car keys or mobile phone into the waiting jaws of a stir crazy dog.

German Shepherd catches a snowball in her paws. German Shepherds playing in the snow, one is in the air.

Not today thankfully. It's easy to tell from the photos that Nala is bananas. It's her first year of snow so it's to be expected and it's adorable to witness. Steve appears more graceful, measured and accurate but don't let that fool you, too much surplus cake perhaps. Nala's style is more exuberant to say the least, despite her gentle, good nature and blissful behavior, just beneath the surface lies a stone cold nutcase.

German Shepherds in the air with jaws open trying to catch a snowball.

Lemon Swiss Roll with Lemon Curd filling

Lemon swiss roll on a tea towel dusted with icing sugar.

For me citrus desserts scream summer sunshine. It's not even spring yet but I reckon if I make lots of summer cakes the winter might go a little quicker. If making them doesn't work I'll have to step up and eat them too, that's commitment. I can simply work off the calories by making more. It's a delicious vicious circle.

Three cracked egg shells with egg yolks inside them on gray slate. Mise en place for lemon sponge swiss roll on grey slate.

Look at those beautiful yolks, little sunshines.

Lemon Swiss Roll with a Lemon Curd filling Recipe

Adapted from Moje Wypieki 


Mixing in egg yolks for a sponge batter.
Adding flour, baking powder and zest to sponge mixture.


  • 3 eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • 27 g all-purpose flour
  • 49 g caster sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • zest of 1 lemon

Lemon syrup:

  • 15 ml water
  • 14 g sugar
  • 15 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • zest of half a lemon

Mix all the ingredients together and chill in the fridge.

Creamy filling:

  • 190 g mascarpone cheese
  • 90 g lemon curd

Mix together until incorporated and store in the fridge until needed.

Mascarpone, lemon curd and a glass bowl.Measuring lemon curd for lemon swiss roll filling in a glass bowl.


  1. Line a 13" x 9" (33 cm x 23 cm) swiss / jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) or 340°F FAN (170°C FAN).
  2. Sift flour and baking powder and combine with lemon zest.
  3. Whip the whites until soft peaks form. Towards the end of the mixing time add caster sugar a spoonful at a time. Add yolks one by one and mix well after each addition.
  4. Add the flour mixture and gently fold it in with a spatula. Pour the sponge batter into the prepared pan and bake for around 10 minutes or until lightly browned. 
  5. While the sponge is baking, prepare a clean tea towel and dust it with icing sugar or sprinkle on some caster sugar.
  6. Place the sponge baked side down on the towel. Gently peel off the parchment paper and roll up the sponge with the towel (roll from the short side). Allow to cool down completely.
  7. Unroll the cooled sponge and soak it with the lemon punch. Spread the creamy filling on the sponge, roll it up again and chill in the fridge for a few hours. (If you can wait...) Dust with icing sugar before serving.
Spreading creamy lemon filling on songe to make lemon swiss roll.Lemon swiss roll with creamy lemon filling on a tea towel.

Lemon Swiss Roll slices on a blue plate placed on grey slate.