poppy gets schooled.

It's always a sweet idea to take a day off work with ambitious plans to surprise your boyfriend on what should've been his day off work only to discover (while en route) that he has traffic court that afternoon and your plan is now bust. Quite alright though, because we made the most of the situation and decided that I would tag along to said court date (not exactly romantic, but a date, nonetheless) so he could school me on the ins and outs of police work.

I felt incredibly tiny, like a small bird perched next bulky police officers on a hard wooden pew that left my bottom numb by the time the judge finished dishing out fines and probations. I must say though, walking out of the courthouse with my arm looped through my policeman's, his badge glinting in the sunlight and faint smell of his shaving lotion wafting my way...well, let's just say it was a good thing we were that close to the courthouse because there was nearly an indecent public act right there, right then.


But as this is a family-friendly blog, we'll stop the shenanigans right there and move on to something a little less wild, say - poppy seed lemon cake. I have to tell you, I had a whole list of recipes on the docket I wanted to try, but with only so many days in the weekend and the majority of it going toward rubbing my cheek against a certain police officer's stubble, I had to prioritize. There was a cinnamon walnut mud pie I made a few weeks back for Justin's birthday that turned out to be quite lackluster and disappointing, it was too dry and tasted more like burnt cinnamon than anything else; a dense chocolate loaf cake that brought me to tears a few months back but actually turned out this time but I'm afraid I'll jinx my luck by telling you about it; a batch of world peace cookies that we'll be chatting about shortly; and then this lemon poppyseed cake. Or poppy seed lemon cake. Or whatever.


I love lemon poppy seed-anything really, even though they usually come in their native form of muffins, but I spent no less than twenty-seven minutes concerning myself over lemon poppy seed ice cream and if could be done. Hmm, put that one on the docket. So when Deb posted this recipe on her site a few weeks ago, I could barely contain my anticipation to slip into my pink apron and get started. The recipe was odd enough, eight egg yolks whipped together with sugar and then cornstarch folded in with the flour, which really made for an awkward, foamy mixture that I wasn't convinced would ever really come together. I kept at it, tossing in a full half-cup of poppyseeds, enough to make one test positive for opium, according to my knowledgeable sources, and poured the speckled batter into my one-time-use tube pan.


It looked pretty enough, and the excessive little seedies gave a nice crunch under the teeth, but I was sadly disappointed. It was just...lacking. It was a double-whammy after a late night snack at Panera the night before where Justin and I split a lemon poppyseed cake that had been sitting out in the open air all day long by the time we got to it. Seriously, Panera? Panera - meet Tupperware, your new best friend. The lemon flavor wasn't strong enough, it's only flavored with zest and not juice, and oh, I don't know. I just wasn't smitten with it. But you might be, do let me know how you feel.

Poppyseed Lemon Cake
From Kurt Gutenbrunner via Food & Wine via Smitten Kitchen

2/3 cup 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
1/2 cup cornstarch
Pinch of salt
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, melted and cooled a bit
1/2 cup poppy seeds

Preheat the oven to 325°F 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, beat the sugar with the egg yolks and whole egg at medium-high speed until the mixture is pale yellow and very fluffy, about 8 minutes. Beat in the lemon zest. Sift the flour and cornstarch over the egg mixture and fold in along with the pinch of salt with a rubber spatula. At medium speed, beat in the butter, then beat in the poppy seeds.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and cover tightly with the buttered foil. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the cake pulls away from the side of the pan and a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Remove the foil and let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto the rack and let cool completely before serving, at least 30 minutes.

Do ahead: The cake can be wrapped in plastic and foil and left at room temperature for up to 3 days.

* I used a ten inch tube pan, it will work just as well, but shorten the baking time by about 10 minutes.

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