Thursday, March 5, 2015

Pucker Up: Part 1 of 2 - Lemon Poppyseed Cake

I have always been a fan of cooking classes. In fact, I usually seek them out when I'm traveling abroad because I think they add a nice element to the cultural and culinary immersion experience wherever I go. Thus far, I've taken cooking classes in Peru, Spain, and Thailand.

But you don't need to travel far to find great cooking classes! From "Cooking with Bacon" (I've taken two of those) to "Cajun Cooking," there are a bunch of great places to take cooking classes either by yourself, or with a partner in crime. My typical go-to places in the DC-area have included Sur La Table (which isn't just local, I believe they offer classes throughout the country) and the former Living Social event space (RIP). This time around, I went to Culinaerie, which I'd been to only once before in my 11 years in DC and that was for a sushi rolling class. February's venture to the class focused on a very specific ingredient: lemons.

During the course of the three-hour class, we learned to make three dishes that highlighted lemons. On this snowy Thursday, I'll focus on one that might make for a nice snowy day breakfast. I'll follow up with a second recipe from this class in my next post.

Lemon Poppyseed Cake (2-4 servings)

  • 4 TB butter, soft
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon extract
  • 1/2  tsp. lemon zest
  • Lemon juice plus enough buttermilk to equal 1/4 cup
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • pinch baking soda
  • 1 TB poppy seeds
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3/4 powdered sugar
  • Combination of water/milk/cream/lemon juice/limoncello to make a glaze

First, let's make a cake!  Cream the butter and sugar until light. Add egg and blend. Then add the lemon zest and lemon extract.

Combine flour with baking powder and baking soda. Add flour mixture to butter, alternating with buttermilk/lemon juice. Start with the flour mixture and end with the flour mixture.

Fold in poppy seeds.

Pour batter into greased pan and bake at 350 degrees until the blade of a knife pulls out cleanly. Time will vary depending on what size of pan you use.

Here's how to make the syrup. Combine 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture is syrupy.

Here's how to make the glaze. Combine 3/4 powdered sugar with the liquid combo I mentioned above. It will need to be a balanced amount to make a heavy yet pourable glaze. Add liquid gradually to the powdered sugar, stirring well, until proper consistency is reached and no lumps remain.

Soak with syrup while still warm (this is optional, but we found the syrup kept the cake very soft for a few days in the refrigerator). Glaze if desired or simply dust with powdered sugar.

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