Saturday, 8 December 2012

Lemon and Poppy Seed Loaf

I've done it again and disappeared for a while, but don't worry, I'm back with some baked goods!

You see, I've had a busy week and I'm still figuring out how to sort out my life days, and I haven't mastered it yet, but its a work in progress. For example, I came home a couple of days ago from work, felt guilty for not having posted anything for a few days, and set of baking this at 9 pm, when my bed time is actually at 10 pm because waking up time is at 6 am. I know, dedication or what? (let us ignore the fact that I made this 2 days ago and I'm only just posting it now)

But enough about me, lets talk about this cake. I've never had lemon poppy seed anything before, but I've heard a lot about it. And that night, I was craving  something with lemon, but a different lemon.  An easy lemon something. A cake-y lemon. That's not too fancy but has a little character. And then I flipped through one of my baking books that I knew would have this lemon something that was different, easy, cake-y and has character, and here it is!

It was moist and lemon-y, but not too lemon-y, with texture and a slight crunch with every bite, and sweet but not too sweet. And it was pretty too.

I made a few adjustments to the original recipe. Firstly, I adapted it to fit my loaf tin size, as the size suggested was quite small. Secondly, I swapped butter for oil to make sure the cake is super moist, and it was. Thirdly, I swapped the milk for lemon juice, coz, you know, it's a lemon cake. Fourthly, I added waaaay more poppy seeds, which was enjoyed by all. Lastly, I didn't have any ricotta cheese, so I substituted Philadelphia cheese instead, which was cold when I mixed it in and didn't mix evenly into the batter, so there were little chunks of cheese in some slices. Next time, I might stick to ricotta, or just make sure the philidelphia is at room temperature to ensure easy mixing.

And just a side note - the syrup adds a nice sweetness to the top of the cake, however, those ends of the cake, where the whole slice is a side (am I making sense? basically where the smaller ends of the pan) those slices were way too sweet. So I'd suggest to thinly slice that away and then serve the slices. 

Lemon and Poppy Seed Loaf

(Makes a 9 x 5 inch loaf)

250 ml vegetable oil
285g caster sugar
4 eggs
285g plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
100 grams poppy seeds
2 tablespoons lemon zest (from 2-3 lemons)
40 ml lemon juice (approximately the juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
120 grams ricotta cheese

Juice of one lemon 
50 grams caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F), then grease a loaf tin and dust with flour.

Using a handheld electrical whisk, or a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment, beat together the oil and sugar (it wont do much. Also, scrape the bottom of the bowl to make sure no sugar is stuck there). Add the eggs, one at a time adding well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, then mix in the poppy seeds and lemon zest. Add these dry ingredients to the sugar mixture in 3 stages on low speed, mixing well after each addition and adding the lemon juice and vanilla extract after the second batch of dry ingredients. Increase the speed to medium and keep mixing until the batter is smooth and even, then mix in the cheese. 

Pour the batter in the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 60-70 minutes or until the sponge bounces back when lightly pressed, and a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, put the lemon juice and the sugar in a small saucepan with 100 ml of water and bring to the boil, allowing the syrup to be reduced to about half. When the cake is cooked, pour the syrup over it while it is still hot, allowing it to soak into the sponge. Leave the loaf to cool a little before turning it out of the tin on to a wire rack to cool down fully before serving.

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