Sometimes I like to try a recipe simply because it seems different. Putting olive oil in a cake, for instance. Or whipping cookie batter for 15 minutes on high in the mixer to completely dissolve the sugar. Or making marshmallows…at all.
It was that sentiment that led me to try this fantastic poppy seed lemon cake. I’ve made a zillion cakes…a lot of them with citrus and some even with poppy seeds. But Deb at Smitten Kitchen, one of my favorite bloggers, made this one seem crazy by citing its low sugar and flour content, one million egg yolks and a positive drug test’s worth of poppy seeds. I was super intrigued and upon trying it came away with a definite, if unlikely keeper.
One funny thing about this cake is that after I baked it, it shrank a little. I’m not sure if that was supposed to happen, but be prepared in case it happens to you. I followed the directions to the letter, and the cake was still perfectly textured and absolutely lovely when we devoured it...just smaller than we expected.
Poppy Seed Lemon Cake
from Food & Wine, adapted by Deb from Smitten Kitchen (with my notes)
2/3 cup of sugar
8 large egg yolks
1 large whole egg
1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (what!?)
1/2 cup cornstarch
pinch of salt
2 sticks (1/2 lb) unsalted butter, melted and cooled a bit
1/2 cup poppy seeds (from a 3-ounce spice bottle)
Preheat oven to 325˚. Butter and flour an 8 inch fluted bundt or tube pan *generously*. Butter the dull side of a 10-inch piece of foil.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the sugar and egg yolks and whole egg at med-high sped until the mixture is pale yellow and very fluffy, about 8 minutes. Beat in lemon zest. Sift flour and cornstarch over the egg mixture and fold in along with the salt, with a rubber spatula. At medium speed, beat in the butter, then the poppy seeds.
Pour the batter into the butter pan and cover tightly with buttered foil. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the cake pulls away from the side of the pan and a cake tester inserted comes out clean. Remove the foil and let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes. (This is when the cake may shrink! It's almost comical.) Invert the cake onto the rack (gently especially if it shrinks!) and let cool completely before serving, at least 30 minutes. Keeps wrapped in plastic and foil at room temperature for 3 days...but it won't last that long!