Thursday, 16 September 2010

Lemon and poppy seed cake

This cake is from The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook.  I haven't tried any of their recipes before, but this was definitely a success.  It contains copious amounts of sugar .... in the sponge, lemon syrup ... and lemon icing, so if your diabetic .... or perhaps dating a dentist, this one is not for you!!

makes 12/16 slices

85g unsalted butter, at room temperature
245g caster sugar
grated zest of 1 1/2 unwaxed lemons
15g poppy seeds, plus extra to decorate
165ml whole milk
235g plain flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
3 egg whites

lemon syrup
freshly squeezed juice and zest of 1 lemon
50g caster sugar

lemon glaze
freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
250g icing sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 170C  (325F) Gas 3.

Put the butter, sugar, lemon zest and poppy seeds in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a hand held electric whisk) and beat until the ingredients are well incorporated (don't worry if the mixture looks slightly split).
Slowly add the mil and continue to beat until incorporated (don't worry if the mixture looks slightly split).

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 3 additions, scrapping any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with with a rubber spatula after each addition.  Beat thoroughly until all the ingredients are well incorporated and the mixture is light and fluffy.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with a handheld electric whisk until stiff peaks form.  Using a metal spoon, fold the whisked egg whites into the cake mixture until well mixed but do not overmix.  Pour into the prepared ring mould and smooth over with a palette knife.  Bake in a preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until the sponge bounces back when touched.

For the lemon syrup: While the cake is baking, put the lemon juice and zest, sugar and 100ml of water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil over a low heat,  Raise the heat and boil until it has reduced by half, or until it has a thin syrup consistency.  When the hot cake comes out of the oven, pour the syrup all over the top (which will be the bottom of the cake, once turned out of the pan).  Leave to cool slightly before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

For the lemon glaze: Mix the lemon juice and icing sugar in a bowl until smooth.  It should be thick but pourable - add a little more water or sugar to thin or thicken as necessary.

When the cake is cold, put on a cake stand, pour the glaze over it and decorate with poppy seeds.

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