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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Lemon Poppyseed Cake

I own 2 Best of Gourmet cookbooks (1989 and 1996 I believe, thrifted), but until this week I had never actually made something from either of them. I guess I was a tiny bit intimidated. But I offered to bring dessert for Christmas Eve dinner (as well as a soup for Christmas night) and I wanted something lighter and a bit less sweet and rich to balance out all of the chocolates and cookies and goodies that we all seem to stuff ourselves with this time of year. Don't worry, I also made my favorite uber-rich chocolate fudge tart and even added a 1/2 tsp of orange extract to give it the chocolate/orange flavor combination I loved without the orange infused whipped cream.

I decided to make the Lemon Poppyseed Cake with Fruit Compote recipe from Gourmet. First I should say this: I was mildly disappointed by the cake, not the flavors, but the texture. It came out a bit too dry and crumbly. I was unsure whether I had perhaps overcooked it, or if the recipe was at fault. That being said, people seemed to enjoy it, especially served with the fruit compote, which lends it some extra moisture. I choose to make some lemon glaze to the top off the cake, which I think was also a good addition, lemon juice and zest gave it added interest and brightness, and made the top shiny and nice. I am open to suggestions if anyone has made a lemon poppy seed cake that turned out a bit moister, perhaps I will revisit this later with a similar recipe if I find something better. I quite enjoyed the delicate flavor though, and the compote was a nice addition to both the cake and the chocolate tart.

Lemon Poppyseed Cake
from Gourmet Magazine

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon poppyseeds
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  • fruit compote
For now I am not going to write out the steps, as I am planning to find a new similar recipe I am more happy with than this one before blogging it. If you wish to see the full preparation directions you can view them here. 

I chose to improvise a fruit compote with what I had on hand, so I did not follow this part of the recipe. here is what I used:

  • 2 bags frozen mixed berries
  • juice of 1 small lemon
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 tsp corn starch
This is easy, but takes a rather long time. Simply combine the ingredients besides the corn starch in a sauce pan. simmer for up to an hour until berries are mostly broken down and liquid has cooked down a bit. Add the cornstarch if needed to thicken. Serve warm with cake.

And lastly, for the lemon glaze:

  • Zest and juice of one small lemon
  • 3  TBS Confectioners sugar
  • 1 TBS half and half (I had no milk on hand, but that would work fine too.)
Combine the ingredients in a bowl and whisk together, making sure to get rid of clumps of sugar. Pour over the top of the finished and cooled cake. Make a big mess, and end up deciding to serve the cake on a different plate, because you poured so much glaze over the cake it has now pooled up on the sides of your dish and is threatening to spill if you lift the plate.

Well, lesson learned, I won't be so intimidated by Gourmet, even they take missteps. This cake was good, but not as good as I had hoped, and after seeing what reviewers have said about it online, I feel certain that the dry texture was not from my own error entirely. I enjoyed this, and would happily nibble on it with compote and glaze, but I find I am not as enthusiastic with the finished product as I had hoped to be. Sigh.

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