lemon-poppy seed cake with raspberry-cherry glaze

lemon-poppy seed cake with raspberry-cherry glaze

I know, seriously, it’s been way too long. I would like to be able to say that I’ve had some pressing thing that forced me to leave this blog by the wayside for so long, like a forgotten favorite toy, but I don’t. I mean, I’ve been busy, sorta, but not busy enough to warrant such an extended absence. I am sorry, blog. You will not be forgotten again.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming: delicious treats.

When I was about 12 years old, I had what might have been deemed an unhealthy obsession with the mini lemon-poppy seed bundt cakes at one of our local bakeries. I would eat them whenever I could, relishing especially the crispy, buttery bottom sides of the little things. They were moist and delicate and wonderful, but I think the thing I was most enamored with was the shape: the treats had the form of full-sized bundt cakes, molding and all, but were about the size of a standard muffin. I forgot about my erstwhile gustatory preoccupation at some point while I was growing up and getting old and boring and less willing to eat cake for breakfast. But thankfully, a little while ago I happened upon a recipe for lemon cake in Maida Heatter‘s Book of Great Desserts. For some reason, although the recipe made no mention of poppy seeds, I was reminded of my childhood obsession, and thought it would be fun to tweak Maida’s probably already stellar recipe and perhaps approximate the glory of the mini bundt cakes of my youth. The 12-year-old in me squealed with joy and anticipation.

lemon poppy strategizing

bundt pan

I ended up making this cake several times, for several different reasons. The first time I tried it out, I wasn’t even planning to put it in this here ‘blog; my brother, a devoted and opinionated foodie, was coming over for an impromptu dinner party and I wanted to have something sweet to impress him. So, using the recipe as a base, I got started. I added an extra egg yolk to the recipe, for more richness and creaminess. I also used a bit of brown sugar, to increase the sassiness (yes) of the sugar and add a bit of caramely goodness.

And then, of course, there were the poppy seeds. Because this dessert adventure had been a last-minute decision, I had to work with what I had in my kitchen. I pulled a little bag of poppy seeds out of my cupboard, eyed them hopefully, and poured them into a measuring cup. They came out to somewhat less than a half a cup. I had no idea what would be the ideal amount of poppy seeds, so I shrugged and threw them into the batter. Another change came with the lemon content: the recipe calls for lemon zest, which is all well and good, but I only had lemon juice, so I just squeezed a tablespoon into the batter and called it a day.

Once I had mixed everything together, I poured it into my bundt pan and plopped it in the oven. It came out wonderfully: a really crispy, dark-brown crust with a nice springy lightness to the crumb. I was quite excited.

But I still felt that the cake needed something: Maida’s book suggests a nice light lemon glaze, but I had a whole bunch of jam in the fridge, so I opted to make a bright, fruity, tangy jam glaze instead. I threw some preserves in a saucepan with a tiny bit of extra sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice, heated everything up and cooked it down until it was nice and syrupy, and poured the glaze over the cake slices just before serving. Délicieux!

lemon poppy adventuretime


The cake turned out so well, in fact, that I decided to make it again, to perfect the proportions in the recipe and also so Kenan could get some pictures in. And it turned out even better. I make the cake with a small amount of wheat flour, changed the ratio of brown to white sugar, and added some more poppy seeds. I also used different jams for the glaze, throwing together a combination of whatever jam remains we had in the fridge. It turned out even better this time, a nicely-coordinated series of tastes and textures. I was happy enough with the results that I was able to muster up the courage to bring it to Champion to give our favorite baristas a taste. And they liked it! Like, enough to ask me if I wanted to sell the cake the following weekend.

I was overjoyed at the prospect of selling my baked treats at one of my favorite eateries in all of Brooklyn, and nervous that I was going to mess something up and disappoint everyone. I also kinda felt like I was deceiving someone, somehow. I mean, how else to explain that I could just give a piece of cake to a lady in a coffee shop and have her suddenly want to buy a whole cake from me and sell it in her store? But I pulled it together, in the end: on a Friday night, I made the cake again, keeping the same proportions as before. I made the glaze and stuck it in a travel container, and the folks at Champion put the glaze in individual serving cups so customers could slather it in themselves. And people seemed to like it, I think.

And that’s my whole story. Neat, huh?

lemon-poppy seed cake with raspberry-cherry glaze.

counter top champion

lemon-poppy seed cake with raspberry-cherry glaze.
(adapted, loosely, from Maida Heatter)

all purpose flour 2 cups
whole-wheat pastry flour 1 cup
baking powder 2 teaspoons
salt 1/2 teaspoon
unsalted butter, pliable but still cool 1 cup (2 sticks), plus more for greasing
plain bread crumbs, for dusting
granulated sugar 1/2 cup
light brown sugar 1 1/2 cup
eggs, at room temperature 4
egg yolk, at room temperature 1
vanilla extract 1 teaspoon
whole milk, at room temperature 1 cup
lemon juice 2 tablespoons, plus more to taste
poppy seeds 1/2 cup
jam glaze
jam or preserves (i used raspberry and sour cherry) 1 1/3 cup
granulated sugar 1 tablespoon
salt pinch

for the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place a rack in the bottom third. Grease an 11- to 12-cup capacity bundt pan and dust lightly with bread crumbs, tapping out the excess.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer or in a large mixing bowl, beat the butter on medium-high speed to soften slightly. Add the sugars and beat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula when necessary to keep the mixture smooth. Add the vanilla and mix to combine. Reduce the speed to low and alternately add the dry ingredients in three additions and the milk in two, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition and beating only until just incorporated after each addition. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the lemon juice and poppy seeds, mixing just until combined. Turn the batter into the prepared pan and level the top by smoothing with a spatula and rotating the pan quickly back and forth.

Bake for 1 hour and 10-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs clinging to it.

Let the cake stand in the pan for about 5 minutes and then cover with a wire cooling rack and invert. Remove the pan, leaving the cake upside down. Flip the cake back to right-side up and place over a large piece of wax paper to glaze.

for the glaze: In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the preserves, sugar, lemon juice and salt on medium-high heat until the mixture reaches a slow boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until the jam has cooked down a bit. Remove from heat. Spoon the glaze over individual slices of cake.


photos by the charmingly sepia-sighted kenan. fancy camera provided by smash!

lemon-poppy seed cake with raspberry-cherry glazelemon-poppy seed cake with raspberry-cherry glazelemon-poppy seed cake with raspberry-cherry glazelemon-poppy seed cake with raspberry-cherry glazelemon-poppy seed cake with raspberry-cherry glazelemon-poppy seed cake with raspberry-cherry glazelemon-poppy seed cake with raspberry-cherry glazelemon-poppy seed cake with raspberry-cherry glazelemon-poppy seed cake with raspberry-cherry glazelemon-poppy seed cake with raspberry-cherry glazelemon-poppy seed cake with raspberry-cherry glazelemon-poppy seed cake with raspberry-cherry glazelemon-poppy seed cake with raspberry-cherry glaze

one note

  1. Yvonne says:

    I really, really want to eat this cake. YUM….

leave a note