It’s been a while. Never fear, I have an excuse: I’ve been stockpiling posts. Stockpiling posts so that when I jet off to Central America I won’t leave you all hanging. So if you’re wondering in a weeks time, “how did Jess post while she was eating ceviche in Panama or hiking through cloud forests in Costa Rica?”, I just gave you the answer. They’ll have been written long before my flight even left Chicago soil. Or more like, two hours before.
My family is, of course, just a little very very worried. My mom is already planning on sleepless nights. My dad likely has a flight booked to Honduras to rescue me from danger. And my aunt made me swear to memory a code word in case I get kidnapped. That way, when someone calls them demanding money, they’ll know if the request is legit. Can’t go wasting money if you’re only 99% sure your niece is being held hostage in the jungles of Central America you know.
At Easter, with all of us in the same room, worries were more plentiful than ever. Thank goodness we had this cake to break the tension. Oh, this cake. This cake is light and airy without the dry, blandness of your typical chiffon cake. The poppy seeds take center stage here. Let them. Let them crackle. Let them speak. Let them shine. After all, when else do poppy seeds get to be the star of the show? (If you’re in Chicago, buy them at the Spice House for a whopping two dollars and some change for half a cup.) And then there’s the delicate flavoring of the lemon. I’d describe the cake as having an essence of lemon. Now doesn’t that sound fancy?!
Poppy Seed Lemon Cake
Makes 1 8 or 10-inch bundt cake (see instructions)
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
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup poppy seeds
Preheat the oven to 325°. Butter and flour an 8-inch fluted Bundt or tube pan*. Butter the dull side of a 10-inch piece of foil.
* I used a 10-inch, good, old regular bundt pan as it was all I had. The size was not a problem. Simply reduce the cooking time by 10 minutes. I do think the cake stuck a bit more because of the ridges so if a fluted bundt pan is available, use it! If not, make sure to butter and flour extra well.
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 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. The cake can be wrapped in plastic and foil and left at room temperature for up to 3 days.