Friday, 2 July 2010

Citrus and Poppyseed Cake

No one can deny that Summer has definitely arrived. The last couple of weeks have been HOT HOT HOT and there are plenty of lobster legs walking the streets of London to prove it. In the heat, I crave fresh, zesty flavours. The invigorating smell of citrus makes you feel you're cooling down, even when the temperature is rising. I have a soft spot for lemon and poppyseed cake, but I only had one lemon left in the fruit bowl this morning and one is never quite enough. I added the zest of a lime and an orange to make up for the lack of lemon and made some deliciously light and fluffy citrus and poppyseed fairycakes. I've made them into fairycakes this time, as they'll be feeding some miniature visitors in the form of my nephews. A whole cupcake is a bit too much for them, in the eyes of their mother, if not their own. For adult tummies, cupcakes are a more satisfying size or you can bake this in a loaf tin for soothing, citrus slices. If you want to make it as a lemon and poppyseed cake, substitute the orange and lime for another lemon.

The reason many recipes only advise a single lemon is because the acid in the lemon will start to "cook" the raw egg on contact. My advice is use as much zest as your palate demands, but finely grate the zest first and cover with clingfilm. Mix up the cake batter and at the last moment, scrape in the citrus strands and fold them in quickly before pouring the batter into your tin. This mixture doesn't like to sit about for long, so get your skates on and get these babies in the oven as soon as you can. It's no great feat as they are as fairly effortless to whip up.

Citrus and Poppyseed Cake
Makes 24 fairy cakes, 12 cupcakes or 1 loaf
Preheat the oven to 180 C (160 C Fan) and line your muffin tray with paper cases or grease and line a loaf tin with baking parchment.

Ingredients

4 oz/ 100 g soft, unsalted butter
6 oz/ 150 g caster sugar
6 oz/ 150 g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
4 tbsp milk
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, 1 lime and 1 orange.
1 - 2 tbsp poppyseeds

Citrus Syrup:

Juice of 1 lemon, 1 lime and 1 orange.
4 oz/ 100 g caster sugar.

Method

  • Place all the ingredients, except the zest and poppyseeds, into a large bowl and whisk with an electric whisk (if you have one) for a couple of minutes.
  • Fold in the zest and poppyseeds and spoon the mixture into paper cases or pour into a loaf tin.
  • Bake on the centre shelf for 10 minutes for fairy cakes, 12-15 minutes for cupcakes and 25-30 minutes for a loaf, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  • While the cakes are in the oven, mix the citrus juices and sugar in a bowl or jug, ready to use later.
  • Place the cakes on wire racks and stab their tops with a cake tester and spoon over the citrus syrup while the cakes are still hot and in their tins.
  • Once cooled, turn the cakes and they're ready to serve. Enjoy.

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