This is the first recipe that Muppet and I have baked from the cookbook I bought her for her birthday this year. The book is the first from one of our favorite local pastry chefs, the delightful Joanne Chang. Joanne's book is named after her bakery, "Flour", and is a beautifully produced collection of many of the confections that have made her famous, and her bakeries Boston institutions.
I've had the good fortune to have met Joanne at a couple of Share Our Strength events (she is a huge supporter of the organization) and found her to be very warm and charming. She was kind enough to inscribe the book for Muppet, so cooking from it was an extra special treat for our young baker.
While the cake came out beautifully, our little project was not without its challenges. Namely, deciding which recipe to cook first, as ALL of them look so appealing. I asked Muppet to sit with the book for a while and tag each recipe that she wanted to cook with a post-it note. She came back to me after about an hour with so many flags dangling from the side of the book that I had to laugh. After a little negotiation we settled on this simple yet delicious lemon cake as a departure point for our tour through this terrific book. Always best to walk before you run, I say.
While technically not a pound cake (pound cakes are so named because they contain a pound each of butter, flour, sugar, and eggs) this cake mimics one in its density and crumb. The technique is very French (apparently she learned the bones of this recipe while working for Francois Payard in NYC), and reminds me of many of the cakes I made while a student at LCB. In fact, the fine crumb and bold lemon flavor of this cake reminds me of a "week-end" lemon cake that I made there, but I must say I like this one even better for its use of poppy seeds which add a subtle crackling bite to the texture.
Enjoy! – Steve
Lemon-Poppy Pound Cake
for the cake:
- 2 cups (240 grams) cake flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons (1 3/8 sticks/156 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to slightly warm
- 1/4 cup (60 grams) heavy cream, at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
- 3 tablespoons poppy seeds/28 grams
- 4 eggs/200 grams
- 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
for the lemon glaze:
- 1/2 cup (70 grams) confectioner's sugar
- 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (1/2 to 1 lemon)
- Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 ℉.
- Butter and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan, or line the bottom and sides of the pan with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the butter, cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, and poppy seeds. The mixture should have the consistency of a thick liquid. If the butter hardens into little lumps, heat the mixture gently until the butter melts again. Set aside.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or a handheld mixer), beat together the eggs and granulated sugar on medium speed for 4 to 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy and lemon colored. (If you use a handheld mixer, this same step will take 8 to 10 minutes.)
- Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the flour mixture into the egg-sugar mixture just until combined. Fold about one-fourth of the egg-flour mixture into the butter-cream mixture to lighten it. Then fold in the remaining egg-flour mixture just until thoroughly combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and springs back when you press it in the middle.
- Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes.
- To make the lemon glaze: While the cake is cooling, in a small bowl, whisk together the confectioner's sugar and enough lemon juice to make an easily spreadable, smooth glaze.
- When the cake has cooled for at least 30 minutes, pop it out of the pan and place it on the rack. Spread or spoon the glaze over the top of the still-warm cake, letting the glaze dribble down the sides.