Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Sticky Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake

I wanted to make a lemon cake of some sort, to use the last of the lemons bought before Christmas. Unwaxed lemons don't keep well, and these were well over two weeks old by now. I like really sharp lemon cakes and desserts, but know that others in the household prefer things a little sweeter. I also know that I need to use more than one lemon in the average cake to get an intense enough flavour for me.

That is something I can rely on Dan Lepard for - whatever the flavour, he's going to do his best to make it intense and dominant, so that it really stands out. The zest of 3 lemons in one cake sounded ideal to me, and with the addition of oatmeal and poppyseeds, his Sticky Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake promised to be more than a moist lemon flavoured sponge cake, which is what most lemon drizzle cakes turn out to be.

One thing worrying me about the recipe was the baking temperature - 175C in a fan oven sounded high to me, so I checked the recipe as it was published in the Guardian. This gave a more reasonable oven setting, so I decided to go with that, and assume a typo in the recipe on Dan's site. I was also worried that several members on Dan's forum complained about the cake sinking in the middle, so irrationally decided to bake this cake with the fan in use, set at 160C. I don't really know why I expected this to make a difference, particularly as I think fan ovens hamper normal rising in cakes, so usually bake with the oven set conventionally, rather than with the fan on. Hey Ho! We can't be logical all the time!

Once all the ingredients were prepared and weighed, this was a very quick cake to make; I like it when every stage can be done with the electric mixer! It baked in the time stated, with only the slightest hint of a dip in the middle - definitely not sunken.

I was a bit concerned about the volume of lemon syrup used - I don't like lemon drizzle cakes which are so wet that you need a fork to eat them. The fact that I could see some unabsorbed syrup leaking from the corners of the loose-based tin wasn't very encouraging either, but when the cake was cut it was perfect - moist but not dripping with excess syrup. The flavour of the cake was well-balanced between giving a strong lemon flavour, but not being excessively sharp. The oatmeal gave the cake a firmer texture, and the poppy seeds an extra nutty dimension to the flavour as well as a chewiness to the texture. This was a robust, rather than delicate, cake - just the way we like them!


Hilary said...

I love lemon and poppy seeds together. I'm always reminding myself to buy poppy seeds so I can bake with them but then I never do!

Unknown said...

what colour poppy seeds do you use

Suelle said...

Black poppy seeds - I'm not sure there are any other sort for cooking!