Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
The Hummingbird Bakery is a famous bakery in London that brings American-style treats to the Brits. They have produced a cookbook, named simply The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, which is endorsed by none other than Gwyneth Paltrow. Unfortunately, celebrity endorsements of bakeries do not convince me to buy their products, and I have never been to the Hummingbird Bakery. However, this book was on sale at an online bookstore and looked attractive with recipes that I might actually make, so I bought it.
The book does contain some very pretty and dainty baked goods, which is the kind of thing that appeals to my quintessentially girly soul. Accordingly, when looking for inspiration on what to bake recently, I picked up this book and flicked through for something that caught my eye and for which I had the ingredients on hand, it being 7pm on a school night.
I settled on the Hummingbird Bakery's Lemon Poppy Seed Cake. I have never made this type of cake before, but a former flatmate of mine used to adore it, so that seemed recommendation enough for me.
It is a rather sturdy cake, containing lots of flour which makes for a very thick batter. The resulting cake was, for my tastes, a little on the dry side, but it was simply delightful where the lemon syrup that you pour on top of the freshly baked cake had soaked in. Ruth, my colleague, was also partial to the parts covered by lemon glaze, as she is rather partial to icing. If I made this cake again, I think that I would pour half of the syrup on the base, as directed, and when unmoulding the cake, I'd pour the rest of the syrup on top of the cake, so that the lovely moistness permeates more of the dense cake, transforming it into a citrusy, spongy delight.
To make this cake, you will need:
125g softened butter
grated zest of 2 lemons
25g poppy seeds
560g plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 egg whites
Juice of 2 lemons
Juice of 1 lemon
250g sifted icing sugar
Extra poppy seeds for decoration
Preheat your oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Butter a 25cm bundt pan and dust with flour.
Beat the butter, sugar, lemon zest and poppy seeds in a stand mixer until well combined. Reduce the speed and gradually pour in the milk, and beat until combined. (The authors stress that it doesn't matter if the batter looks curdled, and I have to say that mine did.)
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt togethe rin a separate bowl. With your mixer on low speed, incorporate the flour mixture into the batter in 3 equal portions.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites to the stiff peak stage, then fold them into the cake batter. Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan, and bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes or until cooke dthrough.
While the cake is in the oven, make the lemon syrup by placing the lemon juice, water and sugar together in a saucepan and bringing it to the boil. Reduce the heat and continue to boil until it has reduced by half.
Immediately after removing the baked cake from the oven, pour the syrup all over it, then leave the cake to cool in the tin for around 10 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the glaze, mix the icing sugar and lemon jucie together until smooth, then pour the glaze over the top of the cooled cake and sprinkle it with poppy seeds.