Monday, July 06, 2009

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

I learned two things today.
First, making lemon curd is easy.
Second, I HATE lemon curd (yes, the capitalization was necessary). And I don't mean that I ate some and realized I don't really care for it. No, I dipped my pinky in the curd, licked it off - and gagged.
I've mentioned before that I never eat eggs on their own and only use them in dishes if I'm sure I won't taste them (exception: Grie├čnockerl). I can't stand the taste of eggs. Well, since lemon curd is basicalls just yolks, sugar and lemon, I don't know what I was thinking. It was gross.
And every time I opened the fridge, the little bowl of yellow stuff was there, mocking me. But just toss 3 yolks, the better part of 4 cute, tiny lemons and a whole lot of sugar? Not me.
So I did the next best thing. I made cake.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake (adapted from "Foods From Eastern Europe Add Variety to Purim Menus" by Judy Zeidler):

  • 1 full recipe lemon curd (recipe below)
  • 85 g (6 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 105 g (1 cup minus 2 Tablespoons) all-purpose flour, sifted (sift before measuring)
  • 20 g (3 level Tablespoons) corn starch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 160 ml (2/3 cup) milk
  • 40 g (1/4 cup) poppy seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F

- Butter and flour a 10x20-cm (4x8-inch) loaf pan. I use Kaiser's mini loaf pan from this set.

- In a big bowl, cream butter.

- Add lemon curd, egg and vanilla extract and whisk until well combined.

- Combine flour, starch, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl.

- Sift flour mixture on top of the wet ingredients (no need to do it in increments, just dump it all in there at once).

- Add the poppy seeds.

- Add the milk. Whisk until everything is well combined.

- Pour batter into the prepared pan, smooth top and bake for 35 minutes or until the loaf starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean (start testing at 25 minutes).

- Serve the cake with whipped cream or dusted with powdered sugar. It's probably very good with cream cheese frosting, too, but I didn't have any cream cheese on hand.

Lemon Curd (adapted from ABC Brisbane):

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 110 g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
  • 75 ml (1/3 cup minus 2 Tablespoons) lemon juice
  • 3 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

- In a medium heat-proof bowl, whisk yolks and sugar until white and fluffy.

- Place the bowl over a pot of lightly simmering water.

- Whisking constantly, add zest and lemon juice.

- Keep whisking until the mixture thickens considerably (10-15 minutes). The curd should coat the back of a spoon.

- Take bowl off the heat and put in a cold water bath, stirring frequently, until the mixture has reached room temperature. Then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator until you're ready to use it.

- Alternatively, cover the curd with plastic wrap so that it directly touches the surface of the hot curd to prevent a skin from forming. Put the curd in the fridge right away.

This lemon curd is really tart. And as I said, it tasted eggy to me and kind of rotten. The boyfriend said he couldn't taste any eggs or pungency, but he still didn't really like the stuff.
The cake, however? Was perfect. It looks quite dense, but it's actually very soft, moist and light. I frequently find citrus cakes too sweet and not citrusy enough. Not this one. It has the right amount of sweetness followed by a very distinctive tang. Some might find it too tart, but I thought it was perfect. The little poppy seeds add a really nice crunch, too.
Most importantly, though, it doesn't taste like eggs. And when I say that, you can believe it.
I don't know if I'll make this again. I already have a lemon poppy seed cake recipe that I like. It uses whole eggs, which I prefer as I hate to be left with parts of eggs in the fridge. Besides, I'm loath to spend time preparing something that makes me gag before I can bake this cake. On the other hand, I really liked the lemony taste...Mhhh.
The boyfriend took a few slices to a friend's house tonight, so I'll wait for their verdict and then decide whether the recipe makes it into my little blue binder or not.
Update: The guys ate it (of course) and they said they liked it, but it wasn't my best cake. They couldn't tell me what exactly was wrong with the cake or whether they just don't particularly like the flavor combination. Guys... It will definitely remain an option for leftover egg yolks, though.

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