This is a recipe I have made quite a bit. I often make it to give to friends as a thank you gift. It is beautiful and it has a wonderful soft, spongy texture with a fantastic lemon kick. I think I could eat this cake day in and day out and never get sick of it.
Making this cake is a little more involved than for most pound cakes, but it is very worth it... and it's not hard, it just entails a few extra steps.
The first step is to sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Then beat the eggs and sugar together in a mixer until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is thick and light yellow, about 3-5 minutes.
Meanwhile, gently melt the butter and then add the cream, lemon juice, lemon zest, and poppy seeds. Make sure it is not too hot before moving on to the next step.
So, this recipe involves three separate mixtures that are then brought together: the egg/sugar mixture, the butter/lemon mixture, and then the flour/leavening mixture.
Fold the flour mixture into the eggs and sugar. Then spoon one quarter of this batter into the butter mixture to lighten it, and then fold in the remaining batter until just mixed.
Pour the mixture into a prepared pan. To ensure I have a clean release, I grease the pan and then line with a small piece of parchment. There is nothing more frustrating than to go to all the trouble to make a nice cake and then have a big chunk of it remain in the pan. This recipe will make one 9x5 cake or one 8x4 and one mini loaf. I often like to go the later route because then I can partake of the bounty without having to eat some of the main cake.
Bake the cake in a preheated 325° F oven for 60-70 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden and a tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool on a rack in the pan for 20-30 minutes before removing to finish cooling. Once the cake is completely cooled, mix the icing and pour over the top of the cake. I keep the cake on the cooling rack, but place the rack over a pan to catch the excess icing. Let the cake sit out to let the icing dry completely before serving or storing in an air tight container. While the cake will keep for a week, it is best within the first two days.
Yield: one 9x5 cake or one 8x4 and one mini loaf
Adapted from Joanne Chang's Flour Cookbook
2 cups cake flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp table salt
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup + 3 TBS butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 TBS lemon zest
1 TBS fresh lemon juice
1 TBS poppy seeds
For the icing:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 TBS lemon juice
1-2 TBS low-fat milk
Preheat the oven to 325° F and prepare the pan by greasing it and lining with a piece of parchment. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
In a mixer, beat together the eggs and sugar together until thick and pale yellow, about 3-5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small pan, gently melt the butter and then, off the heat, add the cream, zest, lemon juice, and poppy seeds. Let the mixture cool, if necessary, until lukewarm before proceeding.
Fold the flour mixture into the egg/sugar mixture. Spoon about a quarter of the batter into the butter mixture to lighten it, then fold in the remaining batter, just until mixed. Pour into the prepared pan and bake at 325° F for 60-70 minutes, until the top is golden and a tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for 20-30 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and set back on the rack to finish cooling. When the cake is completely cool, mix the icing and pour over the top of the cake. Let the cake sit out until the icing has completely dried. Store in an air tight container. Cake is best if served within two days.