Sunday, April 8, 2012

Lemon Poppyseed Pound Cake

Well, it happened. Someone decided to challenge me to another bake-off at work. Let me remind you the last time someone decided to challenge me to a bake-off...well, all you really need to know is I kicked Little Debbie's ass. Ok, fine. I guess if you want the whole story, you can read it here.

So this edition of Office Bake-off was with lemon pound cake. Another co-worker of mine told me his mom had an excellent lemon pound cake recipe that she passed on to him. He then proceeded to tell me that his mom's recipe could beat any lemon pound cake that I made. Oh, no he didn't.

I used this lemon poppyseed pound cake recipe that I'd been saving. My other co-worker LOVES lemon poppyseed pound cake so I was going to make it for her eventually. Now, I finally had a reason! Before I give you the results, see how it came out:

Gorgeous, right?! I'm pretty happy with how evenly distributed the poppyseeds are throughout the loaf. See, the problem with adding any fruit or nut or chips to a cake or muffin mixture is that they tend to sink to the bottom. To ensure that this doesn't happen, you have to mix the add-in with about a 1-1 1/2 tablespoons of flour. It really works!

Ok, so now for the results. The two pound cakes couldn't be more different. To be honest, I think the only think they had in common was the lemon flavor. His cake was supper fluffy, while mine was more dense. His had no icing, while mine (obviously) did. His was a Bundt cake, while mine was a loaf. Both, however, were very delicious. And that's saying a lot because I absolutely hate lemon desserts of any kind. But both had a very mild lemon flavor that did not over-power the dessert at all.

But there can only be one winner...And it was me! It was a very close vote: 6-4. I can't tell you why others liked mine more. All I can say is that my co-workers better watch out next time they wanna challenge me. I'm 2 for 2, baby!

Receipe (adapted from Sweet Pea's Kitchen)

For the Pound Cake:
  • 16 (2 sticks) tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ cups cake flour (6 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup poppy seeds
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar (8 3/4 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest plus 2 teaspoons juice from 2 medium lemons
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Lemon Syrup:
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup sugar
For the Lemon Glaze:
  • 1 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease bottom and sides of one 9 x 5-inch loaf pans; dust with flour, tapping out excess.

In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a small bowl, toss 1 1/2 tablespoons of the flour mixture and poppy seeds together, set aside.

In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave butter, covered with plastic wrap, at full power until melted, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk melted butter thoroughly to reincorporate any separated milk solids.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process sugar and zest until combined, about five 1-second pulses. Add lemon juice, eggs, and vanilla; process until combined, about 5 seconds. With machine running, add melted butter through feed tube in steady stream (this should take about 20 seconds). Transfer mixture to large bowl. Sift flour mixture over eggs in three steps, whisking gently after each addition until just combined. Fold poppy seed mixture into batter after flour is incorporated.

My new micro-plane! If you don't have one of these, invest in one. It makes zesting a breeeeeze. It took less than a minute to zest this whole lemon. Amazing.

Folding in the poppyseeds. You want to make sure you fold them in softly; do not over mix! If you over mix, then you risk having all the seeds sink to the bottom. And we don't want that.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees and continue to bake until deep golden brown and skewer inserted in center comes out clean, about 35 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking time. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn onto wire rack.

While the loaf is cooling, make the lemon syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir together the lemon juice and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. Once dissolved, continue to cook for 3 more minutes. Remove from the heat; set aside.

Use a toothpick to poke holes in the tops and sides of the warm loaf. Brush the top and sides of the loaf with the lemon syrup. Let the syrup soak into the cake and brush again. Let the cake cool completely.

To make the lemon glaze, in a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and 2-3 tablespoons of the lemon juice. The mixture should be thick but pourable. Add up to another tablespoon of lemon juice if the mixture is too stiff. Pour the lemon glaze over the top of each loaf and let it drip down the sides. Let the lemon glaze harden, about 15 minutes, before serving.


  1. I've never made a cake with poppy seeds in before - they are not very common in the UK. But I used to love poppy seed cakes when I lived abroad in Germany and Poland. This one sounds really tasty.

  2. My husband loves poppy seed loaf - he's already told me I must make this!! LOL Congrats on Top 9 and winning the bake off!

    1. Thank you so much! It was my first. And man, did it feel amazing!

  3. I feel like everyone has that lemon pound cake recipe that is "the best". I am guilty of making the same claim as your co-worker, I just can't help it. This poppy seed cake looks gorgeous and I bet it tastes amazing! Thanks for the tip on how to ensure that nuts/seeds don't all fall to the bottom of your loaf-- that has happened to me a time too many!

  4. Thank for the comments, everyone! I love hearing the feedback :)

  5. I made this cake today. The texture and flavor were excellent. However I would say that as written it was a little too sweet for our taste. I did not use all the syrup, and totally skipped the glaze. Also the cooking time was much longer than 35 minutes (at 325 degrees). I had to keep it in the oven for at least 50 minutes and I think it could have stayed another 5-10 minutes.