For my friend's birthday this year, I asked her what kind of cake she wanted, and she asked for lemon poppy seed with a simple, barely-there glaze. My first thought was, really?! I had never even seen poppy seeds let alone tasted anything with them and... well, seeds in a cake...? Although I love a lemon cake, I didn't really understand why poppy seeds had to be included, especially such controversial ones! But I had to deliver on my friends' request and boy, am I glad I did...
My friend is the type who doesn't really celebrate birthdays or makes a big deal out of them so I purposely made this cake very simple and unassuming. Something for her to enjoy while she reads her kindle curled up in her armchair, or to nosh on in between medical rotation breaks.
This reminds me of when I made the white chocolate raspberry cupcakes for another friend a couple years back... I was still a wee little baker at the time and the thought of fruit and chocolate repulsed me. Until I made them and they were a total hit and now they're possibly my favorite cupcakes of all time...
Although I hate being proven wrong, I love it in the context of a great dessert. I am totally in love with this lemon poppy seed cake. I may like it more than the birthday girl herself... I guess I went into it with such low expectations that I was pleasantly surprised with how it turned out. The cake was so soft and fluffy, and the poppy seeds definitely add a great semi-crunchy texture. Now that I've used them, I can't imagine this cake without poppy seeds. It would be like mint ice cream without any chocolate chips (blasphemy!).
The cake itself doesn't have very much lemon in it, and most of the lemon flavor comes from the syrup added at the end. It smells heavenly and adds a wonderful citrus-y kick to it. It's plate-licking good. I only added half the syrup/glaze to the cake since my friend is not a fan of the sour lemon taste. I kept the other half in a bowl on the side for people to add to their own slices.
I added a lot to my own.
This cake may also work well as a layered cake with a lemon filling/frosting. But for now, I think it's best as a simple stand-alone everyday kinda cake.
So what I have learned from this? Poppy seeds are actually a very pretty blue and not black like I always assumed they were!
And also, check your smile after eating this because they are tiny and love to sit in between your teeth, which can get awkward.
Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
Adapted from here
Makes 1 10-in cake
For the cake:
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cups + 1 tbs sour cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups cake flour (250g)
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp b powder
1/2 tsp b soda
1/2 tsp salt
5 grams finely grated lemon zest
1/3 cup poppy seeds
14 tbs butter at room temp
For the lemon glaze:
5 tbs lemon juice
1/3 cup powdered sugar (to taste)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, zest, and poppy seeds in a bowl and set aside.
Beat the butter and the sugar together with an electric beater.
Add in the eggs and yolk, sour cream, and vanilla, beating well after each addition.
Add in the flour mixture and mix until just combined.
Transfer the batter to a pan and level the surface.
Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean or with a few crumbs attached.
The cake should spring back when pressed lightly.
Combine the sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl and heat in the microwave for about 30 seconds until the sugar is dissolved. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Once the cake is done, poke the cake with a thin skewer and pour the glaze over it. You can preserve half for people to add to their own preference or add the entire amount to the cake.
Let cool before serving.