Sorry for the sudden absence. I didn’t mean for it to happen and I missed you all. I kept trying to get a post up early in the week, but I couldn’t seem to write it. Then I realized I really needed a job and went from jobless to employed in 2 days. Trying to find a black long sleeve button up shirt in April has been taking up a good amount of time too. But I’m back! And you have this cake to thank. Or complain to.
My family has desserts that are made every year only on Christmas Eve. Yule log cake, walnut roll bread, and poppy seed bread. Unfortunately, I don’t particularly care for any of them. I eat a tiny piece of each, and wistfully think of all the changes I would make to the recipes. Its not that I dislike any of the ingredients (ok, I did spend a few years not liking walnuts, but that’s changed), but I feel like everything could just be so much better than it actually is.
I’m going to assume that makes sense.
The dessert I want to like the most is the poppy seed bread. But its dry, and worse yet bland. I know the recipe uses tons of poppy seeds so there should be lots of poppy seed flavor but there isn’t. And I think its because for poppy seeds to really shine, they need back up players.
Lemon is the player we’re probably the most familiar with, and for good reason. Something about the tang of lemon lets the nuttiness of the poppy seeds come through. But I think an even better pairing is almond and poppy seed.
I went for broke and did lemon almond poppy seed. Oh em gee ya’ll. This cake did a vanishing act. One second it was there, the next poof! Gone. The poppy seeds give the tiniest amount of crunch to the cake, and the edges. I don’t think I can do the edges of the cake justice.
Just put on the Wizard of Oz, and whip up this cake. If you could say “Poppies” like the Wicked Witch I would really appreciate it. It'll make me feel less alone.
Almond Poppy Seed Cake
Adapted from Lottie and Doof
I know poppy seeds at the grocery store can be super expensive, and the bottles are tiny. So get thyself to a restaurant supply store or Costco and buy in bulk. I buy mine at Smart and Final, and even after usign 3/4 of a cup, I still have at least another 1.5 cups in the container. I think the container set me back maybe $10.
And a quick warning: this cake could cause you to have a questionable result on a drug test. I don't know this from personal experience, but Myth Busters told me it is true. If you are an athlete (a school that drug tests) or out on parole, wait until you're out of season or off parole to make this. I don't want you getting in trouble.
3/4 cup poppy seeds
1/2 cup boiling water
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 sticks (14 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
In a small, heat safe bowl, combine the boiling water and the poppy seeds and cover. Let stand for 1 hour. Scrape the seeds into a blend and pulse until lightly crushed.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Line and 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk the 1 1/3 cups of flour with the baking soda and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter with the sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy (about 3 minutes). Reduce speed to medium and add the poppy seed mixture, mixing until its just combined. Add the eggs on at a time, beating until combined between additions. Add the vanilla and almond extracts as well as the lemon zest. By hand (with a wooden spoon or spatula....not your actual hands), stir in the flour mixture until just incorporated. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the slivered almonds evenly over the top of the cake.
Bake for 45 minutes, or until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove the cake using the parchment paper and let cool completely on a wire rack for 2 hours. Dust with confectioners sugar, cut into squares and serve.