Lemon Poppy Seed Layer Cake

Today I turned 41. And while it feels like I was 17 years old about five minutes ago, I’ve never been intimidated by getting older. Not everyone gets to get older, right? And so to celebrate entering my “early forties,” I baked myself this lemon poppy seed layer cake.

This past week I weighed my birthday cake options, considering a caramel cake, a lemon raspberry cake, and a spice cake with maple buttercream. Then yesterday, Mike mentioned something about a lemon poppy cake, and here we are. It’s one of my favorite cakes I’ve ever made. And being a proud Pittsburgher, I do love that it’s black and gold.

Ingredients

For the lemon poppy seed cake

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • dash of salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • zest of 1 small lemon
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • About 1 cup poppy seed filling*
  • About 1/2 cup lemon curd*

For the lemon curd buttercream frosting

  • 6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon lemon curd
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

*Truth: I used bottled filling this time, because I’ve never made my own poppy filling and my homemade lemon curd went awry. Even experienced bakers have mishaps in the kitchen, my friends. 

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two 6-inch round cake pans, line each with a parchment circle, and lightly grease the parchment.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until very well-blended. Add eggs, vanilla extract, lemon extract, and lemon zest and beat well to combine, scraping the sides of your bowl a few times.

Add flour and milk alternatively in two batches, beginning and ending with the flour and beating until completely combined. Stir in poppy seeds.

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 18-22 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow cakes to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then carefully turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting: in a mixing bowl, beat butter on medium speed for 1-2 minutes. Add 2 cups powdered sugar and beat on low, then medium speed, until the sugar is fully incorporated into the butter. Add lemon curd and beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes, then slowly add remaining cup powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed for another 2-3 minutes; you want a spreadable consistency that is not too soft or firm.

To assemble the cake:

Slice each cake in half lengthwise to create four layers. Place the first layer on your cake stand – I anchored my cake with a blob of buttercream to help it stay in place. Spread about 1/2 cup poppy seed filling on the first layer, leaving about a 1/4 inch border at the edge of the cake; some of your filling will spread further once the other layers are added.

Top with the second layer, then spread that layer with lemon curd, again leaving a bit of a border around the edge. Repeat with the third layer, topping it with poppy seed filling, then place the final layer on the top of the cake.

Frost the entire cake with a thin crumb coat and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Remove from the fridge and frost to completely cover the crumb layer; you don’t need to put the frosting on too thick, as it will take away from the flavors in the cake itself. I chose to add some flower decorations to the top of my cake because I had a bit of frosting left over.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Advertisements

Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes

raspberrylemonadeccA few days ago Mike brought home a raspberry lemonade for me and I thought, hmm…this would make a great cupcake. Raspberry and lemon are a great flavor pair, and as always I wonder who first decided to put them together, and why some flavors goes so well together, but would be disastrous with others. For example, raspberry goes well with both lemon and chocolate…but you’d never put lemon and chocolate together, would you? Blegh.

In any case, this cupcake is a delicious, sweet creation with just the right amount of tartness. You can use basic ingredients that you’re likely to have in your pantry and fridge, except maybe for the lemon extract. Trust me, lemon extract is absolutely worth it; you cannot achieve the same level of lemon-ness with juice and zest alone. As followers of this blog know very well, I’m a huge fan of lemons; and yes, that’s a vintage lemonade sign on the wall of my kitchen that you see in this photo. Enjoy!

Ingredients

Lemonade Cupcakes

  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon lemon extract
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons milk (about 7 ounces)

Raspberry Lemon Buttercream

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375. Line cupcake tins with paper liners; this recipe makes 15 cupcakes.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon extract until light and fluffy.

Add egg and lemon zest and beat until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl a few times.

Add flour mixture and milk alternatively, beginning and ending with the flour, beating until combined. Scrap the sides and bottom of your mixing bowl well to make sure everything is fully incorporated.

Using a cookie scoop, fill cupcake tins about half-full.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and immediately remove from cupcake tins; cool completely on the wire rack before frosting.

To make the frosting, place butter and 2 tablespoons raspberry jam in a mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed for about two minutes, then on high speed for another two minutes, until mixture is fluffy.

Add 1 cup powdered sugar, mixing on low, then medium speed, until combined. Add remaining powdered sugar, about 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add additional tablespoon raspberry jam and lemon juice, beating on medium speed until well combined.

Frost cupcakes using a small offset spatula; store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Lemon Pound Cake with Poppy Seed Filling

lemonpcwithpoppyYesterday, I wondered: what should I do with a ton of leftover poppy seed filling? I should slather it into a lemon pound cake, that’s what.

This cake calls for lemon extract, and believe me when I tell you that you won’t be able to achieve the necessary level of lemony goodness in it with zest and juice alone. The fine folks at McCormick’s (which Mike always reminds me is a Maryland-based company) make lemon extract that you’ll likely find in the baking aisle at your local grocery store. It is absolutely worth the $5.

If you’d rather not use the poppy seed filling, you can omit it and just serve your cake as-is. I’m a huge fan of poppy seed though, so for me this is pretty close to pound cake heaven. You can serve it warm without glaze, or wait for it to cool and glaze it. Either way, it is delicious.

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 1 1/2 cups poppy seed filling
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • zest of 1 medium lemon

For the glaze

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • About 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bundt pan very well, then dust with flour.

In a small bowl, combine poppy seed filling and 4 teaspoons lemon juice, mixing well; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Add vanilla and lemon extracts and mix well.

Add the flour and milk alternatively in three batches, beginning and ending with the flour and mixing until just combined after each addition.

Add lemon zest and beat until just combined.

Pour about half of the batter into your bundt pan, then spoon in poppy seed filling and gently spread to create a ribbon. Top with remaining batter.

Bake for 60 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan for about 20 minutes, then carefully invert the cake onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

When the cake is cool, combine powdered sugar and lemon juice, about a teaspoon at a time, in a large glass measuring cup. You want a very drizzly consistency for your glaze so that it can easily drip down the sides of your cake. Pour over cake and allow to set before serving.

Remember: if you want to serve this cake warm – and it is dee-lish-ous warm – you can leave it unglazed.

Lemon Loaf

lemon loafHave you thought of putting a crumb topping on lemon bread? I hadn’t until I found this recipe over at Stephie Cooks, and I have to say it is quite a brilliant idea.

I’m crazy about lemons, particularly in quick breads. This recipe yields a drier treat than I was expecting – it’s almost like a pound cake – and has great texture from both the crumb topping and lemon drizzle. I added more lemon zest and drizzle than the original recipe called for, because I believe you can never have too much lemon flavor in a bread like this.

Many quick breads call for vegetable oil and milk, but this recipe employs evaporated milk instead of the regular kind, and that was something new for me. The remaining 7 ounces of evaporated milk are currently waiting in my fridge and are destined to be made into fudge later this week, since I bought a 12-ounce can instead of the 5-ounce variety in the original recipe. And that’s okay – stay tuned for (hopefully) peanut butter fudge later this week.

Ingredients

Crumb Topping

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

Lemon Bread

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5-oz evaporated milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • zest of 1 large lemon
  • 2 eggs

Lemon Drizzle

  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf pan.

Prepare the crumb topping: in a small bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, and melted butter. Stir with a fork until crumbs form; set aside.

Prepare the bread batter: In a medium bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl combine evaporated milk, vegetable oil, lemon zest, and eggs. Stir well to combine, then add all at once to the flour mixture. Stir to combine.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and top with crumbs. Bake for 50-75 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean (mine baked for about 55 minutes). Cool completely in pan; carefully remove and place on a wire rack above parchment or waxed paper for drizzling.

Prepare the drizzle: in a large measuring cup, combine powdered sugar and lemon juice. Stir well, until consistency is drizzly and easily pourable but not too thin (add a small amount of additional powdered sugar if necessary). Pour over top of loaf; allow to set before serving.

 

 

Lemonies

lemoniesI refuse to call a lemon treat baked like a brownie a “lemon brownie.” It’s just not right! Brownies are, first of all, brown. And chocolate-based, be they studded with nuts or swirled with cream cheese or frosted with fudge. These treats aren’t exactly blondies, either, which tend to contain brown sugar and are more like cookies than anything else.

So, what to call these delightfully sunny yellow treats? Not lemon bars, although that would be close…but really a lemon bar has a buttery crust with a gooey, lemon meringue pie-like center and a dusting of powdered sugar on top. I have to credit another food blogger, Christina of Sweet Pea’s Kitchen, for calling them “lemonies,” as I feel that this is the most appropriate title.

My coworkers enjoyed these treats, and I look forward to making another batch when my sugar fast is over. This recipe used Meyer lemons, but regular ones would surely work just as well.

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons lemon juice
  • zest of 3 small/medium lemons
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray an 8 x 8 baking dish with baking spray.

In a mixing bowl, combine butter, sugar, flour, and salt; beat on low to medium speed with the paddle attachment until well-combined.

In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and zest from 2 of the 3 lemons. Add to flour mixture and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, until very fluffy and light in color. Scrap the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Pour batter into prepared dish and bake for 20-25 minutes, until edges are just golden and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Do not overbake, as these can turn out dry! Mine baked for about 21 minutes.

Allow to cool completely before glazing.

To make lemon glaze, place 1 cup powdered sugar and zest of the third lemon in a small bowl. Add remaining lemon juice, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, until you reach a drizzly consistency. I added another half-cup of powdered sugar to reach a slightly thicker drizzle.

Spread glaze over top and allow to harden, then cut into squares. Store at room temperature for 2-3 days.

 

Lemon Curd II

meyer lemon tartletsAs I’ve mentioned before, making lemon curd makes me feel like a superwoman. A few months ago, I learned how to temper eggs, and ever since I’ve felt a profound sense of accomplishment. First, I conquered vanilla cream pie, my first successful egg-tempering endeavor. Then came my first try at lemon curd, which used only egg yolks and yielded a lovely, tangy, brilliant yellow concoction that I then served with lemon poppy seed scones. This most recent attempt went into tartlets, as pictured at left.

This lemon curd is different than my first attempt, in that it uses whole eggs and not just yolks. The end result of this curd is a lighter, creamier curd in both color and flavor. You can certainly use regular lemons if you choose, but I had some Meyers around, so that’s what I used here. I look forward to experimenting with lime and orange curds someday as well.

What can you do with lemon curd? So, so much. You can put it in tartlets or use it as a filling for cakes and cupcakes, serve it with scones, sandwich it between cookies, layer it in trifles, plop it into graham cracker crust and top it with whipped cream for a pie, eat it with a spoon…the list goes on. Whatever you do, just be sure you follow the recipe, particularly with regard to the straining of the eggs before and the second straining of the curd once it’s been cooked; this ensures that you get a smooth, clump-free result.

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (I used 4 small/medium-sized Meyer lemons)
  • zest of 4 lemons
  • 8 tablespoons butter

Preparation

Lightly beat eggs and pass them through a fine sieve to remove the albumin. Set aside in a medium bowl (or a large, 4-cup glass measuring cup for easy pouring) close to the stove for easy access; thoroughly wash your sieve and place it nearby for a second straining once the curd has cooked.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together cornstarch, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest until completely combined. Add butter and cook on medium heat until thickened and bubbly.

Working quickly, pour about half of the hot lemon mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly to temper. Pour egg mixture back into the pan and cook and stir for 2 minutes more.

Pour mixture through your sieve to remove the zest; press waxed paper (or plastic wrap) onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Once curd is completely cooled, place in an airtight container. According to various food safety websites and other food blogs, lemon curd should last in the refrigerator for a few weeks.

Sweet Lemon Frosting

white cake with lemonThe Sweet Lemon was, at one time, one of my preferred names for a bakery. Alas, there is already a Sweet Lemon Bakery in London, so I’ll just have to figure out another name for the bakery that I’ll open someday.

This frosting is a creation very similar to lemon cream cheese frosting, but with far more sweetness because of the ratio of lemon curd and powdered sugar to the cream cheese. You can certainly adjust based on your own taste preferences, adding more or less lemon curd to round out your flavors. I originally paired this with a white cake that was filled with lemon curd, but you could use it on lemon, strawberry, or raspberry cupcakes for delicious results. I hope to try out a raspberry cupcake with this frosting over the summer, when raspberries are in season.

The recipe below frosted the top of one 8-inch round cake; you could easily increase it to frost an entire two-layer cake, 24 cupcakes, or a sheet cake if necessary.

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons lemon curd
  • About 2 1/4 cups powdered sugar

Preparation

In a mixing bowl, beat butter and cream cheese until very well blended, about 3 minutes.

Add 1 cup powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon lemon curd; beat on low to begin, then increase speed and beat on medium until well-blended. Add additional cup powdered sugar and additional tablespoon lemon curd; beat on low to begin, then increase speed to medium and beat until very well-blended. Taste; add another 1/4 cup powdered sugar if desired.