I am SO excited to share this recipe with my readers (all two of you ;-p)
When it comes to this blog, I really only want to post recipes that are unique and special. Recipes that have something new or different to offer. I see no point in posting a regular chocolate cake or a lemon loaf recipe and I’m not going to pretend I invented the perfect way for how to make banana bread or croissants - imo, these have been perfected by others and I don’t want to fall in the trap of - does the internet really need another “best” _____ recipe?
Obviously, a lemon poppy seed cake is not a unique idea in itself. The ‘lempo’ internet abounds, pinterest is exploding with varieties - mostly in muffin form. But for this recipe, a few simple tricks make this cake very different than what you’ll find elsewhere. Firstly, an insane amount of poppyseeds…
In most recipes, the seeds come in as an afterthought - a mostly lemon cake, with about a tablespoon or two of poppyseeds. I guess the poppies are added in an effort to speckle a plain yellow batter. But, what I have for you today is very different as it calls for a whopping 1 cup of seeds so that you will not mistake this for anything but a poppy cake. Who would have known poppy seeds have such a lovely taste when given center stage? Here, it is the lemon which takes a backseat, allowing the seeds to shine. And to push the poppy factor further, the seeds are warmed in buttermilk which allows them to absorb some of the liquid which results in a delightful and varied texture, a crunch to every bite of cake. This made me insanely happy as I love me some crunch!
Okay, okay. I need to stop gushing. I CAN’T THO. One more thing! The BUTTERCREAM. It’s cheesecakey and tangy and so yummy we were literally eating it off the spoon. A mix of vanillas, lots of juice and zest from lemon make this buttercream tooo good to be true. Spread over that crunchy cake the combination is a dream cake. This is what I’ll be eating for the next four meals, thank you.
The Poppiest of Cakes
my recipe is adapted from this one over at nytcooking where I learned the method of preparing the poppyseeds in liquid. It’s a genius way to make it and several cakes later, I’m still not over it. I adapted the original recipe because the batter wasn’t what I was looking for. I wanted a more tender cake so I brought in the powers of buttermilk (which also gives it some tang) and cake flour. With the addition of buttermilk I reduced some of the fat. I also added lemon zest because although I tried it without it, I found the zest made all the difference between a good cake and a fantastic cake. Trust me on this.
I adore this buttercream so much, but I gotta tell ya - I actually don’t believe in buttercream recipes. What I’m sharing here is a blueprint - adapt it as you go along. You might want to use just one type of vanilla, or find that you want more or less lemon juice depending on how much tart you like it. You might need more powdered sugar to thicken your buttercream if your brand of cream cheese is particularly soft. I wrote down here what I used but when I’m making buttercream I taste and test as I add more.
I specify organic powdered sugar in the buttercream; it needs to be sifted because it’s clumpy and it is more expensive. However, it tastes so much better than to conventional which is rather powdery and saccharine and, especially for a cream cheese buttercream, the organic variety is better because it thickens better than conventional so you’ll need to add less.
One more thing about the buttercream, yes I include zest! It does break apart the creamy and smooth texture of the buttercream so if you really hate that, don’t include it. If you don’t mind it, I will tell you the taste it imparts is incomparable. It’s like the dreamiest of cheesecakes insert heart emoji
the poppiest of lemon poppy cakes
for the cake:
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup poppyseeds
14 tb butter, unsalted
2 cups sugar
180g all purpose flour
60g cake flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
Zest of 1 whole lemon
3 eggs separated
for the buttercream:
6 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2-3 cups organic powdered sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1.5 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla (or half imitation and half pure)
Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
In a saucepan combine the buttermilk and poppyseeds. Turn heat on the lowest setting - you don’t want it to boil or simmer, just warm the buttermilk enough so that the poppies can absorb it. Let it sit for about 10 minutes and then you can turn off the heat and leave it another ten minutes to cool and absorb more. It will start to resemble wet sand.
Preheat your oven to 325. Butter and flour two 6 inch cake pans (they should be 3 inches high, if they are shorter than this you’ll need to split the batter into 3 pans).
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar and salt until light and fluffy - about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla and egg yolks and beat for a couple more minutes until it is pale in color and very fluffy. Add the cooled poppy/buttermilk mixture and combine. Onto a sheet of parchment paper, sift the flours, and baking powder. With the mixer on low speed, add the sifted flour gently and stop as soon as it is combined.
Beat the egg whites on high until tripled in volume, foamy and no liquid remains at the bottom. In three parts, add the whites to your batter by folding them in very gently.
Divide your batter between prepared pans and bake for 30-40 minutes, until tester comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack. Once cakes are completely cool you can assemble the layer cake.
In the bowl of a stand mixer beat the cream cheese and butter until no lumps remain and totally smooth - about 5 minutes. Sift over the mixture the powdered sugar and beat on medium. Add salt, vanillas, zest and juice and lemon and beat to combine.