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I love lemon anything and I adore poppy seeds, so when I saw Dorrie Greenspan’s recipe for Poppy Seed Tea Cake it wasn’t a question of IF I would make it – but WHEN. She is three years older than me (!) and an excellent cake lady. A huge draw for me was that this cake is made by hand with a whisk. For some reason, I shy away from the food processor or even my mixer and love making things the old fashioned way.
My first go around was good – everyone at the table loved the cake, but I knew I could tweak the formula to have more of a lemon flavor without adding more sweetness. And I decided to buy fresh bulk poppy seeds since poppy seeds can change flavor over time. I keep the leftover poppyseeds in my freezer, always.
Basically I ended up decreasing the amount of sugar in the cake, added more lemon zest and lemon juice, took away the vanilla since I wanted a strong lemon flavor, then added a bit of lemon simple syrup to brush on the warm cake and decreased the amount of glaze by quite a bit.
The second rendition was for Jakey Boy’s birthday in February. Even though this is a loaf cake I gussied it up with slices of lemon and some raspberries and colorful birthday candles. To say that everyone seemed pleased with the result is an understatement!
Lemon Poppyseed Loaf
- 78 grams, (5 ½ tablespoons) salted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 ½ cups all purpose flour (192 grams)
- 1 tsp non aluminum baking powder
- 1 cup granulated sugar (210 grams)
- Two lemons (Finely grated zest of both lemons plus 3 Tbsp of lemon juice)
- 4 large eggs (room temperature)
- ½ cup (120 ml) heavy cream, room temperature
- ⅓ cup (47 grams) poppy seeds
Lemon Glaze Ingredients
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
White Glaze Ingredients
⅓ cup confectioners (powdered) sugar
1-2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Lemon peel (for skinny lemon curls)
Center a rack in the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Rub the inside of an 8 ½ inch loaf pan with my homemade Pam (pay attention to cover the corners of the pan, the sides and the bottom too). This cake tends to stick to the pan so it pays to be careful to use my pam substitute I posted or butter and flour the pan.
Whisk the flour and baking powder in a small bowl. Put the sugar in a large bowl, add the lemon zest and rub together with your fingers to infuse the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time and whisk each one as you add it. Whisk in the lemon juice and then the heavy cream until smooth.
Add the flour mixture in three additions, whisking to gently stir the dry ingredients into the batter. After the flour is mixed in, pour the cooled butter and stir gently with the whisk. The batter should be smooth and shiny. With a flexible spatula, fold in the poppy seeds, and then scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
Bake until the cake has risen and is cracked, 55-65 minutes. A tester inserted in the middle should come out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for eight minutes, then rock gently and go around the perimeter with a butter knife to loosen. Unmold the cake, turn it right side up and cool for 10 minutes before brushing with the lemon juice/water syrup. Cool all the way.
Using about a half a lemon, I make the lemon peel curls with a special tool called a zester with a channel knife. I use this tool for any citrus curls I want for garnish.
For the white glaze, whisk the powdered sugar with enough lemon juice so it is the consistency of maple syrup. Drizzle from a spoon onto the cake and sprinkle with lemon curls. This cake keeps at room temperature for four days or can be frozen, unglazed, for a month.