Lemon Poppyseed Cake

Lemon poppyseed cake. With a lemon cream cheese frosting. Hellooooo!!!

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Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: “Well done for not letting seasonal baking stereotypes get you down!” Well thank you. I do what I can. Because the thing is is that I am very much aware of the change of season (I can feel mittens and thick socks around the corner) but I am also aware that when it’s cold I still have cravings for summery cakes, especially on days when it’s sunny enough to seem perfectly justifiable. Which it is. Of course. You know how I can tell? Because it was delicious, and enjoyed by all. Obviously meant to be.

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I went to the Gourmet Warehouse (a fab kitchen store downtown) for the first time on the day before I made this cake. I bought so many exciting things! Vanilla bean paste being one of them, which I’ve been wanting for so long! I used it in this frosting and it was beeaaauutiful.

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Anyways, this cake is lovely. The frosting contrasts wonderfully with the cake, making for a not-too-light but not-too-dense texture. And it’s so easy! I always assume when reading ingredients lists that if a cake calls for egg whites, you’re going to have to make the base of the batter and then whip the egg whites in a separate bowl and then fold them in lightly by hand. Siiigh. But to my surprise, when I got to the egg whites step, all you do is quickly whisk them together with some buttermilk and then beat it into the batter! And you’re done! Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

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Lemon Poppyseed Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

(slightly adapted from Technicolor Kitchen)

Ingredients:

For cake:
3 cups cake flour
2 cups sugar
4 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
3 tbsp poppy seeds
1 cup butter, room temperature, coarsely chopped
grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon
1 ¼ cups buttermilk
5 egg whites
1/3 cup water

For frosting:*
1 tbsp + 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
3 3/4 cup icing sugar
6oz cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
zest from 1 large lemon

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter three 20cm (8in) round cake pans. Line the bottom of each with a round of parchment paper and butter the paper.
Combine the flour, 1 ¾ cups of the sugar, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds in the large bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on low speed to blend the ingredients and break up any lumps, about 30 seconds. Add the butter, lemon zest and 1 cup of the buttermilk to the flour mixture. Beat on low – be careful, the flour may fly everywhere – until completely mixed. Raise the speed to medium-high and beat for 1-2 minutes to lighten and aerate the batter (this step is important. The batter was totally freaking me out at first because it seemed way way too dry but it turned out the butter just hadn’t properly been mixed in yet).
In a medium bowl, combine the egg whites with the remaining ¼ cup buttermilk; whisk to blend thoroughly. Add this mixture to the batter in 2-3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beating only enough to incorporate. Divide the batter among the prepared pans.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes.
While the cakes are cooling, make the lemon syrup: in a small saucepan, combine the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, the lemon juice and the water. Bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
Turn out the cake layers onto wire racks and generously brush the hot lemon syrup over the warm cakes to moisten evenly. Let cool completely.

Make the frosting: In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add lemon zest. Beat until very fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Add the vanilla bean paste and beat well.

Assembling the cake: place one cake layer on a cake plate and spread about a fifth of the frosting over the cake to cover evenly. Repeat with the second cake layer + another fifth of the frosting, then place the third layer on top. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.

* I downsized the original frosting recipe because I always end up having multiple ziploc containers full of icing that never get used and are ultimately thrown away after a couple months. I found these amounts made the perfect quantity of icing for me. However, feel free to use the original if you like more on your cake, and/or don’t mind leftovers.

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