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Lemon and poppy seed biscuits

Sat, 6 April, 2024

Easy biscuits with poppy seed crunch and lemon tang are perfectly dunkable – just the thing to have with your cuppa.

lemon and poppy seeds biscuits

Traders biscuits

It’s a time-honoured tradition in the UK that whenever you have any tradesmen doing improvements or repairs at your house, you absolutely must offer them cups of tea throughout the day.

Some of them, youngsters especially, break the mould asking for coffee. But both beverages will usually need to be milky, its sugar content varying: old school builders take two sugars, the younger lot one or none.

But be it tea or coffee however taken, a plate of biscuits accompanying it is a must. Dare to fail at your peril: you’re risking a sabotage to your drains and a sneaky dug out in the garden.

crunchy biscuits with poppy seeds

My builder, mon bâtisseur

I would passionately love to know what the customs are overseas. In Poland I would normally offer the builders a beer at the end of the shift but my knowledge is historical and even if it still holds true in some places, I bet it needs to be craft beer these days.

Do they offer wine, cheese and baguette in France? I spent quite a while there over the years but never witnessed tradesmen in action.

I have a good idea of what they might be offered in Russia, if anything at all. And in Spain perhaps it’s jars of Sangria and bowls of olives? In US they expect a tip at the end of the job, and in Finland – an invite to join the host in their sauna.

lemon flavoured simple biscuits

Builders’ biscuits must be dunkable

Back to the UK, and the familiar cuppa and biccie. What type of biscuits are popular with traders?

First of all, no fancy ones and no Jaffa cakes, which are not biscuits anyway. Anything messy is a no-no, cookies are definitely out, though I did once score approval with my condensed milk and cranberry cookies.

But generally, the drier a biscuit the better because the foremost requirement is the dunkability. Plain digestives, Hobnobs, ginger snaps and shortbreads are all sure winners.

And so are my lemon and poppy seed ones. Dry but tender, not overly sweet so their dunkability in sweet tea is acceptable, simple but not boring thanks to the poppy crunch, and ridiculously easy to make.

poppy and lemon cookies

How to make the biscuits dough?

I was inspired by Nigella’s rosewater hearts but adjusted their daintiness – they were to be manly builders’ treats after all.

You can use a food processor or a standing mixer to make the dough but it’s really easy to rub the butter into the dry mix by hand until the resemblance of wet sand is achieved.

Then add the egg and mix it in with a wooden spoon, or the paddle of your appliance.

making biscuits dough

Either way it’s good to give it a final knead on the worktop by hand, and shape it into a log. It will be quite soft but don’t worry about the shape – you can smooth it out once it’s wrapped in cling film and chilled a little. It needs to set and firm up, which will take minimum half an hour.

shaping biscuits dough

Shaping and baking

These are my favourite biscuits: no rolling, rerolling, offcuts or mess: once the dough sausage is firm, you can slice it into discs with a sharp knife. Make them quite thin, about 4mm or ¼ inch.

slicing biscuits

They can be arranged on the baking tray reasonably close together as they won’t spread much whilst baking.

baked biscuits

Ten minutes in the oven will be enough, they should not colour at all on top, and only slightly underneath. They might not look ready to you as you take them out of the oven, but they will set as they stand, for ten minutes on the tray, then completely on wire racks.

Store them in an airtight container, for as long as your improvements or building works last.

lemon zest and poppy seed classic English biscuits

More biscuit recipes

Homemade egg white sponge fingers, aka ladyfingers or savoiardi, for your next trifle, tiramisu or chocolate mousse. Or they might just disappear on their own.

Poilâne corn sablé biscuits, made to the recipe from Poilâne bakery with very fine corn flour, look like little suns. Sablés are French shortbreads: sandy coloured and deliciously crunchy.

Milk chocolate digestive biscuits, just like McVities, only better. Can you make the ultimate dunking biscuits at home? Here’s how, and it’s easy.

More poppy seed recipes

Blood orange and poppy seed muffin recipe, easy and quick, makes a lovely dessert or post-brunch/lunch sweet. You can add chocolate chips to the blood orange muffin mix.

Traditional poppy seed cake in a bundt tin, made the old fashioned way by soaking poppy seeds in milk. It's buttery and tender, dense with blue poppy seeds.

Lemon and poppy seed cake with lemon drizzle. This is the best recipe for a lemon drizzle cake, and it can also be baked in a loaf tin. With a slightly chewy texture from the oatmeal it contains, it is completely delicious.

lemon biscuits ready to dunk

Lemon and poppy seed biscuits

Servings: makes 2 dozen biscuitsTime: 30 minutes plus chilling


  • 175g (1¼ cups) plain flour
  • 100g (1 cup) rice flour
  • 100g (1 cup) icing sugar
  • zest grated from 2 lemons
  • 15g (1 tbsp) poppy seeds plus more for rolling, if desired
  • 175g (12 tbsp) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 large egg


1. Place the flours, icing sugar, zest and poppy seeds in a large bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer with a paddle attachment. You can also use a food processor. Stir to combine.

2. Dice in the butter and blitz until it’s absorbed and the mix looks crumbly.

3. Add the egg and process briefly until the dough comes together. Scoop it out of the bowl and shape into a long log on a sheet of cling film. Wrap well and chill in the fridge for 20-40 minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4.

5. Take the dough log out of the fridge and roll it on a flat surface to give it a more rounded shape. Unwrap the cling film and sprinkle the log with extra poppy seeds, if desired.

6. Slice thin, 4mm/¼ inch biscuits and arrange them on a parchment lined baking trays, spaced about 2cm/1 inch apart.

7. Bake for 10 minutes until the bottoms are lightly golden but tops still look uncooked; they will set as they stand.

8. Cool on the tray for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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