Saturday, April 05, 2008
Two Lemon Poppy Seed Cakes
Do you still remember those days back in primary school where we had to learn all about the 5 human senses in science class?
There's the sense of touch, smell, sight, hearing and of course taste.
I was one of those students who would stop to think of how miserable it'll be to be lacking from one or two of those senses. A discussion of whether it is worse to be blind or deaf would then ensue.
Funny how we didn't discuss the possibility of being deprived of the remaining 3 senses. But now when I think about it, I believe I would probably be crushed if I had lost my sense of taste.
You would know. You read my blog and you are well aware of how much I love food. I enjoy my sense of taste. I truly appreciate my ability to taste and differentiate between sweet, sour, salty, spicy and bitter. But it's weird though, when I think of it now. How often do we stop to think of this amazing organ of a tongue we have. Not only does it enable us to speak but also to taste.
Why am I suddenly ruminating about the sense of taste? It's probably also due to the fact that I'm currently reading this book by Dina Cheney, entitled Tasting. Okay it's one of those enlightening informative DK books but it's really good. My boss lent it to me a while ago and it sure is useful. The book basically explores the sense of taste and how we can enhance it, truly appreciate it and utilise it for what it's worth. To put it simply - savour, instead of gulping or swallowing ; take your time with small bites instead of rushing.
These days, I try to stop and taste more. To slow down instead of gobble. Trust me, it does work and you'll feel better about it. When you taste, you avoid senseless eating. You eat not because you are bored but because you want to savour that taste. And speaking of taste, perhaps I'll talk about one of my favourite taste - Tangy.
I love tangy foods. It verges on being sour and a tad sweet, it gives you the best of both worlds. It's the perfect balance! And one of my favourite tangy dessert is lemon poppy seed cake. The bonus is the crunch that comes with the seeds. You can't ask for anything better! With this cake there's no pretense, there's no cover-ups and there's no superficiality. What you see is what you get: a tangy light cake that goes well with tea. or coffee if you prefer :)
Recently, I put my poppy seed stash to good use and tried out two different recipes for good measure. The first involves heavy cream for that lovely rich crumb that's not too heavy. Then there's the other recipe that involves yoghurt - this cake was denser, but tasty nonetheless.
Here are the photos for the first cake:
I stumbled upon this recipe while reading Greedy Goose last month.
This cake is what I'll call a rustic cake. It's not fancy, there's no frills - what you have is texture, and a homemade flavour. I've tried other poppy seed cake recipes but none have given me results quite like this one. The base recipe's usually a butter cake but there's always something missing. And I think I found it in this recipe.
For this recipe, you don't put the lemon juice in the batter. It goes on after you bake it. Yes, you read that right. The cake becomes a sponge, absorbing the tangy goodness and drinks it up like a dry sponge would. I think this method works brilliantly.
Friends who've tried this cake seem to like it. Good, so that means it's not that I'm being biased because I made it! haha.
Now, for the yoghurt version. It all started because I had a huge tub of yoghurt at home and wanted to use it to make something. So I started googling 'yoghurt cake'.
I'll show it instead:
You can see the difference. It isn't as crumbly as the first one, but it's satisfying nonetheless and yes it's healthy! Perfect with vanilla ice cream.
Lemon poppy seed cake is one cake that deserves more recognition. With warm chocolate cakes and brownies stealing the limelight most of the time, it's hard for poppy to stand out. But hey, at least one thing's for sure, it sure is tasty, in a tangy crunchy sort of way.
This year, I will focus more on rustic and non-chocolate :) You could say I'm exploring taste and taking it to a new level. Don't get me wrong - I still love my dark chocolate. But sometimes, you got to go out there and taste the world, out of your comfort zone!
And that's just what I'm going to do.
Lemon & Poppy Seed Cake
(Adapted from The Cake Book by Tish Boyle)
from Greedy Goose.
200g sifted cake flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp poppy seeds
227g unsalted butter, softened
240g granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3cup heavy cream
For the syrup:
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees C. Grease the bottom and sides of a loaf tin and dust with flour.
2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Add the poppy seeds and whisk to combine.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter with a paddle attachment till it is very creamy, about 2 mins.
4. Add the sugar and beat at medium-high speed until very light, about 4 mins.
5. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
6. Beat in the lemon zest and vanilla extract.
7. Add the flour at low speed in three additions, alternating it with the cream in two additions. Mix only until the flour is incorporated.
8. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
9. Bake for about an hour or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
10. Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack for 10 mins.
11. While the cake is cooling, make the syrup.
12. Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat till the sugar dissolves.
13. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
14. Poke the cake all over at 1-inch intervals with a bamboo skewer and then brush it with half the lemon syrup.
15. Let the cake stand for 5 mins, then invert the cake onto the wire rack and poke the bottom all over with the skewer.
16. Brush the bottom and sides of the cake with the remaining syrup.
17. Turn the cake upright on the rack and let cool completely.
French Style Yogurt Cake (with Lemon & Poppy Seeds)
from Alpine Berry who adapted Orangette's recipe.
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp poppy seeds
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan. Line with a parchment circle and butter the paper.
In a large bowl, mix the yogurt, sugar, and lemon zest with a wooden spoon. Mix in eggs (all 3 at once is okay).
Add the flour, baking powder, and poppy seeds. Mix until flour is just incorporated.
Add the oil and mix well. The batter will look curdled at first but it will come together.
Pour the batter into your prepared pan.
Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes, until your cake tester is clean and the cake springs back when lightly touched.
Allow cake to cool in pan on a rack for about 15 minutes.
Gently remove cake from the pan and set on a rack to cool completely.
Combine the lemon juice and powdered sugar and spoon it gently over the cake. The glaze will be thin and will soak in like a syrup.