Yesterday, I met my dear friend Carrie and her family in Pittsburgh’s Strip District. One of my favorite ways to spend a Saturday is browsing in the Strip, and I was so glad to get to share this experience with Carrie, her husband, and their two children. Carrie’s family lives in State College and we don’t get to visit as often as I’d like, but we had a nice time among the fascinating foods, spices, and treats on Penn Avenue.
At lunch at a seafood restaurant, Carrie and I marveled at the things that people imagined they could eat—mussels, lobsters, crabs. Poppy seeds are among such ingredients for me, as I have no idea why someone once looked at a poppy and thought, hmm, I bet I could cook with those seeds in there.
Interestingly enough, Carrie and I also just had a discussion about the difference between cupcakes (small cakes) and muffins (small quick breads), because though this recipe was billed as a bread I believe it to be much more of a pound cake, given its inclusion of butter and its method of preparation. Once it is completely cooled, I might whip up some lemon powdered sugar drizzle icing for the top, but I believe it’s going to be quite tasty either way.
For the cake
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/2 vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 1/2 cups flour, sifted
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- zest of 1 medium lemon
- 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
- 13 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
For the lemon syrup
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/3 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray an 8 x 4 loaf pan with baking spray, line the bottom with parchment, and spray the parchment.
In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, vanilla, and milk; set aside.
In a mixing bowl, beat flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, lemon zest, and poppy seeds until combined.
Add butter and half of the egg mixture, beating on low speed until moistened. Increase speed to medium and beat for about 1-2 minutes, until ingredients are very well-incorporated.
Scrape down the bowl and add remaining egg mixture in two batches, beating for about 30 seconds after each. You may need to scrape the bowl a few more times to fully incorporate all of the ingredients and to make sure there are no lumps in the batter.
Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 30 minutes, then cover with foil and bake another 25-30 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. The edges of the cake will be very dark, but that is okay.
In the last 10 minutes of baking, prepare lemon syrup; combine lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan, stirring and boiling until the sugar dissolves.
As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, prick it with a cake tester or thin wooden skewer and brush half of the lemon syrup over the top. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pan, invert on a cooling rack sprayed with baking spray, and prick the bottom and sides, brushing with remaining syrup.
Cool completely, then wrap in foil. Store overnight before serving so that the lemon syrup has time to absorb; top with lemon drizzle icing if desired.