January 06, 2013

lemon & poppy seed loaf

a very popular request from my favourite Belgian, I decided to add poppy seeds to this loaf to change things up a bit! Easy to bake, I used a loaf tin rather than a bundt tin (which is what the recipe calls for). Choose whichever method you desire below.

Lemon & Poppy Seed Cake

24cm ring mould (or one loaf tin) - greased & dusted lightly with flour

85g unsalted butter
245g caster sugar
grated zest of 1 1/2 lemons
15g poppy seeds (plus extra to decorate)
165ml whole milk
235g plain flour
2tsp baking powder
1/2tsp of salt
3 egg whites

Lemon Syrup
juice and zest of 1 lemon
50g caster sugar

Lemon Glaze
Juice of 1 lemon
250g icing sugar

1. Preheat your oven to 170C, gas mark 3.
2. Cream the butter, caster sugar, poppy seeds and lemon zest in a large bowl (I use an electric hand whisk to do this). 
3. Slowly add the milk in stages and beat well (don’t worry if it looks slightly split at this stage).
4. In a separate bowl, sieve the flour, baking powder and salt.
5. Add this to the butter mixture in 3 stages, beating well after each addition.
6. In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.
7. Fold this gently into the cake mixture.  Don’t beat it or you will lose all of the air that makes the cake light.
8. Pour into the mould or loaf tin and bake for 30-35mins until golden and the sponge bounces back when gently pressed. 
N.B. You can check the cake is also ready by inserting a metal or wooden skewer into the centre. If it comes out clean, it is cooked. If mixture ends up on the skewer, bake for longer, but keep an eye on it. 
9. Whilst the cake is cooking make the lemon syrup by mixing the sugar, lemon zest and juice in a saucepan and gently boiling it until it has reduced by half and a thin syrup has formed.
10. When the cake is cooked remove from the oven and spoon over the lemon syrup whilst it is still in the tin and still warm.  This makes the cake wonderfully moist and forms a sugar crust on the bottom.  Leave to cool in tin for 10 minutes.
11. Turn out onto a wire rack.
12. Make the icing whilst the cake is cooling by mixing the icing sugar and lemon juice together until smooth and glossy.
13. Once the cake has cooled, spoon over the glaze and let it run down the sides of the cake.  Sprinkle with a few poppy seeds.
14. Enjoy!

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