Lemon poppy seed has found its way into our collective bosom here at First We Eat. Sugary enough for my insatiable sweet tooth, restrained enough for my FWE partner’s own taste, lemon poppy seed cake is a perfect compromise. It’s delicate and fruity, fluffy but with a richness that we both find irresistible. As we all know the richness is the product of a lot of butter, but you only get set much time on this earth and you should make the most of it (this sentence is the adult equivalent of shouting “YOLO”).
It also comes together very quickly and, like a lot of simple baked goods, is fun to make with the family. As long as you’re careful with the exacting mid-bake slicing job and you don’t fatally lower the temperature of the oven by opening the door “just to take a peek”, you will find yourself with a delightful pound cake – decadent, not greasy, with a moist interior and a subtle crunch. We recommend baking it with a friend, if only so you have someone to check your teeth after polishing off your lemon glaze-soaked slice.
Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake
Adapted from The Cake Bible
For the Cake (note: all ingredients should be room temperature)
- 3 Tbsp Milk
- 3 Large Eggs
- 1 1/2 Tsp Vanilla
- 1 1/2 Cup All-Purpose Flour
- 3/4 Cup Sugar
- 3/4 Tsp Baking Powder
- 1/4 Tsp Salt
- 2 Tbsp Grated Lemon Zest
- 3 Tbsp Poppy Seeds
- 13 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
For the Lemon Syrup
- 1/4 Cup + 2 Tbsp Sugar
- 1/4 Cup Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
Preheat Oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. For baking, we used a 6 cup loaf pan brushed with butter and sprinkled with flour to keep the cake from sticking.
In a large mixing bowl or KitchenAid, combine all your dry ingredients, including the lemon zest and poppy seeds and mix on low until all ingredients are blended. In a small bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and vanilla. Add the butter and half the egg mixture and continue mixing until all ingredients are moistened. Increase the speed to medium and beat for about a minute. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl and gradually add the remaining egg mixture in two batched, beating for about 20 seconds after each addition.
Pour batter into your prepared pan and smooth the surface with a spatula. Bake for 45 minutes of until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
To achieve a split down the middle of the cake, wait until a natural split begins to form (about 20-25 minutes into the baking process) and then quickly run a sharp knife about 6″ down the length of the cake. Quickly close the oven door to make sure the cake does not collapse which can happen if too much cool air gets in. In addition, if it looks like your cake is getting too brown on top, butter a piece of tinfoil and cover the cake for the remaining baking time.
Shortly before the cake is finished, prepare the lemon syrup by heating the sugar and lemon juice together over medium heat in a small sauce pan. Once the cake comes out and has cooled enough to come out of the pan, poke holes around the cake with a toothpick and then brush the syrup onto the cake. Do this on all sides of the cake. Slice, serve, and enjoy!