Sunday, October 24, 2010

Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake

This Friday is a special day. Yes, it's the day between National Chocolate Day and National Candy Corn Day (do I feel a chocolate-candy-corn-culinary-creation coming on?!), but that's not what I mean. You see, this Friday, October 29, 2010, is our grandpa's 85th birthday. Now THAT'S something to celebrate.

With cake, of course. Oh, and family members from all over the globe, and presents, and food, and wine, and more food, and more wine, and lots of love.

But this is a baking blog, so back to the cake. :-)

After 85 years of knowing our grandpa (ok, I suppose it's only 20-something years, since that's as long as we've been alive), you'd think that his granddaughters would know what kind of cake their grandfather would want for his birthday. But that's just the thing I love about my grandpa - at fourscore and five years old, he can still throw a curve ball with the best of them. He didn't choose vanilla, or chocolate, or even that no-fail birthday classic, yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Nope. Our grandpa requested a lemon poppy seed bundt cake.

He gave us the flavor AND the shape the cake should take. Specifics. I admire a man who knows what he wants.

"Alright, then, Grandpa!" we said, "A lemon poppy seed bundt cake it is!"

With lemon oil, lemon juice, and lemon zest, this cake delivers its lemon flavor as enthusiastically as Grandpa delivers his famous punchlines. Then, after the lemon tartness hits you, the rich, thick icing smothers you in sweetness. That's my Grandpa, too - the only man I'll ever let call me "sweetheart". 

And just like my Grandpa, this cake gets better with age. I wouldn't suggest making it 85 years in advance, but one or two days ahead of time, and you're set. And if you somehow have leftovers like we did (due only to the abundance of other party food), don't worry. As Mama B would say, it will keep the "whole fam-damly" satisfied for almost a week.

So grab your favorite bundt pan and mix up a cake for your own fam-damly. This one's for you, Grandpa. Happy birthday!

- Becky

Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake
Adapted from The Farm Chicks

For cake:
3 cups flour
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter (2 sticks), room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
zest from two small lemons
juice from two small lemons (approximately 2 oz)
2 teaspoons lemon oil
1 cup buttermilk*

*If you don't have buttermilk, measure slightly under 1 cup of regular milk, top it off with vinegar or lemon juice, and let it sit for 10 minutes. Instant buttermilk!

For icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice (or more as desired)

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Oil and flour bundt pan.

2. Whisk together flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar together until fluffy.

4. Add in eggs, vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice, and lemon oil. Beat well.

5. With mixer on low speed, add one third of flour mixture, then half the buttermilk. Repeat, ending with final third of flour mixture. Beat until just incorporated.

6. Pour batter into the prepared bundt pan and bake for 45-55 minutes, until skewer or thin knife inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack for 5 minutes, then invert onto wire rack to cool completely.

7. For icing, whisk together powdered sugar and two tablespoons lemon juice. Continue adding lemon juice one teaspoon at a time until icing reaches desired drizzling consistency. Milk may be used in place of lemon juice for a less-tart icing.

8. Once cake is cool, drizzle with icing.

Cover cake and store at room temperature for up to five days.

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