I’ll be honest. I’ve never enjoyed lemon poppy seed anything. I immediately think of the small, dry muffins with gummy tops that are served at free hotel breakfasts, and I have no interest in making or eating anything that resembles them. I'm not even sure if lemons are involved in those bland minis. So when I came across Ottolenghi’s recipe for a lemon poppyseed loaf cake, I was pretty skeptical about the end result. I’ve always wanted to like lemon poppyseed, so I read some reviews of the recipe and finally decided to give it a go. Boy am I glad I did! It has a light, moist crumb and an incredible, lively glaze (another part of the recipe I thought I’d avoid— because the sugary hotel muffins are always so cloying). But I followed the recipe to a T and it came out fantastic. The glaze, which surprisingly was my favorite part, is so bright, fresh, and invigorating-- it livens everything up, and it hardens to a crisp, never gummy, top. Serve this cake as an afternoon snack with coffee or tea, or like I did— for breakfast.
lemon poppy seed loaf cake
makes 1 standard loaf | recipe from sweet: desserts from london's ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh
3 large eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (225 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (120 milliliters) heavy cream
5 tbsp (70 grams) unsalted butter, cubed, plus extra for greasing
1 tbsp poppy seeds
finely grated zest of 3 lemons (1 tablespoon)
1 1/3 cups (170 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup (90 grams) confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 tbsp lemon juice
Heat the oven to 350°F (180° C). Grease the loaf pan(s) and line with parchment paper, then set aside.
Place the eggs and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes, until pale and frothy. Add the cream and continue to beat for about 2 minutes, until the mixture has combined, thickened a little, and turned pale.
In the meantime, melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat, stir in the poppy seeds and lemon zest, and set aside.
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together into a bowl, then use a rubber spatula to fold this into the egg mixture before folding in the butter, poppy seeds, and zest.
Spoon the mixture into the loaf pan(s) so that it rises three-quarters of the way up the sides. Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
To make the glaze, whisk the confectioners' sugar with the lemon juice in a bowl.
Pour the glaze over the top of the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven, spreading it over the top so that it sinks in and creates a nice coating. Set aside to cool for 30 minutes before removing from the pan. Leave to come to room temperature before serving.