Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Sweet: Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake

Lemon is just the thing to punch up an otherwise ho hum dreary and cold winter day.  It's zing and dazzle cuts cleanly through a wealth of ingredients, complimenting and highlighting everything until it seems that Mr. Clean himself has baked with love.  And poppy seeds, well they are a lovely and wholly optional addition to this wonderful cake.  I love the way they crunch against the fine crumb of the cake, and must confess that I also get a kick out of pouring out what must be hundreds of thousands of them into my cake batter and watching them spread throughout the bowl like stars across the sky.

I have made this cake many times over the years; it is a go to favorite that looks more time consuming than it actually is, especially if you have one of those fun Nordicware fancy bundt pans on hand...people just love them.  My most recent turn with this recipe was on my husband's behalf.  He recently started a new job, and the office has an annual holiday bake off.  "It's on", I told him, as I began scouring for a good recipe to rightly impress his colleagues.  I mixed and baked and glazed and then popped it into a paper box, ready for the next day.  On his way out the door, I reminded him to grab some berries en route to work and to pour them in the center of the cake and let them spill over.  A quick kiss, and he was gone.

He came home later that day, smiled brightly, and told me how much everyone loved the cake.  To prove it, he showed me the remains in the box, in which about a third of the original was left behind.  And then he told me what happened:  the previous office champion, apparently a bit proprietary, took one look at the cake, stared at the box, and cried foul.  "That's a bakery box!" And many others, while they were fond of the fare, took one look at the well formed cake and nodded in agreement.  Which is sort of a compliment.

Happy New Year Readers.  I hope your 2013 is blessed with much love, joy, health, and happiness.  Enjoy every bite.

Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake
Adapted From Luscious Lemon Desserts by Lori Longbothom

3 1/2 cups of flour (cake is best, but all purpose is fine - do not use self rising)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 1/4 cups of sugar
6 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 tbsp + 2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon extract
2 tbsp poppy seeds
1/2 cup lemon juice


  1. Position rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 300 degrees. Butter and flour a 10 inch bundt pan.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together,  twice.
  3. Beat butter in mixer with paddle attachment until fluffy (medium speed).  Add 1 3/4 cups of sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time.  Reduce speed to low and add flour mix and milk, alternating until the last addition of flour.  Add the zest, vanilla, lemon extract, and poppy seeds.
  4. Transfer batter to pan and place in oven for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until a knife comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes.
  5. While baking, make the glaze:  Add 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tsp zest, and lemon juice to a small sauce pan and stir on medium-high, until sugar has dissolved.  
  6. Turn cake out onto a rack and brush syrup immediately onto cake.  Let cool and serve.