Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Flavors and Textures

This cake is all about contrasting and complimentary flavors and textures. When I was baking professionally, I was always looking for recipes that would allow me to provide low-cost, high quality cakes to my commercial customers. Most of the recipes that came my way required reworking, and this recipe was no exception. The goal was to enhance the flavor and texture and bring the cake from okay to exceptional. This cake was a prime seller, so I think it is safe to say the goal was achieved.

The lemon flavor, moist dense texture, the delightful crunch and musky flavor of the toasted poppy seeds all help to put this cake above most other lemon poppy seed cake recipes. The glaze intensifies the lemon flavor and enhances and then seals in moisture. This cake holds well and is a good traveler. It is well suited for an elegant dinner party or a backyard barbecue. Make it a day or two ahead of time to allow the flavors to develop. Store in an air tight cake keeper.
Deluxe Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
¼ c. poppy seeds
Zest of 1 lemon
3 c. flour
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. soda
½ tsp. salt
1 c. milk
½ tsp. vanilla
1 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
¼ c. lemon juice
½ c. sugar
Preheat oven to 325. Grease and flour a 12 inch Bundt pan or a tube pan.
Place the poppy seeds into a small sheet pan with sides. Place in the preheated oven and toast until lightly browned and fragrant, about 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Zest the lemon and set aside.
Measure the dry ingredients into a bowl. Stir to combine and set aside. In a 2 cup measure combine the milk and vanilla and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour and milk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour. Add the poppy seeds and lemon zest and combine well. Scrape batter into the prepared pan.
Bake 55 to 60 minutes or until pick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Make the glaze during the 10 minute cooling time. Combine the lemon juice and sugar in a non-reactive pan. Set on burner and turn heat to medium-low. Gently heat glaze stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved. This will take approximately 10 minutes.
Turn cake onto the wire rack. Brush immediately with the lemon glaze. Use all the glaze. Cool cake completely.

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