Entries Tagged as 'cake'

Hazelnut Lemon Cake with Roasted Blueberries

0

09.6.14

Hazelnut lemon bread & roasted blueberries // sweetsonian

Summer has arrived, swiftly warning me of its brutality.

Today is my day off — I didn’t have much planned except for yoga this evening, but Kristen invited me to speak to her 6th and 7th graders about having a career in art. While one class seemed more interested in knowing if I knew “how to hack” or not (I told them that Google knew every single thing they did on the internet, so it was in their best interest to not hack), some students were genuinely interested in learning more about art and design.

Hazelnut lemon bread & roasted blueberries // sweetsonian

Hazelnut lemon bread & roasted blueberries // sweetsonian

I sure wish I had someone to talk to about careers in creative when I was younger! My newspaper advisor in high school (now a client!) was always supportive of my want to pursue design as a career, but being part of a family who only cared about finance made art school impossible.

It’s weird, isn’t it? I have friends working in almost every industry that exists. Some whose parents are creatives and encouraged creative careers — some of that backfires and sometimes it works. There seems to be a delicate balance. My parents strongly (forcefully) encouraged me to pursue finance and accounting. Sophomore year of college, I took an accounting class, and was doing pretty well. I hated every minute of every econ class I ever took, and I went into that accounting class with an A. But halfway through the final, I thought to myself, why the hell am I here? I hate accounting. I refuse to ever take another accounting class again.

So I walked out of the final exam. I got a C.

My dad wanted to kill me, but I knew I had made the right decision. It was the decision to choose my own courses, and to finally stop letting my parents dictate what I wanted. Back then, I wanted to be a CIA operative. I started taking Arabic classes, and I excelled. My parents rolled their eyes.

And don’t get me wrong, I loved my college experience, and my Arabic wasn’t bad — I had a couple of job offers for career paths close to being a CIA operative (but not quite the real thing). And I liked it, but there’s just no comparison to how much I love what I do now. I don’t think time was wasted, per se, but man, twenty-seven year old Sarah would loooove to travel back to 2004 and whisper some advice to high school Sarah. It wouldn’t be to specifically go to art school, but it would have been to stop letting my parents scare me into a career that I didn’t want.

Instead of the year and a half of economics classes for the business major, I could have been taking illustration and design. I can take those classes now, but sometimes, I wish I had a better base.

Hazelnut lemon bread & roasted blueberries // sweetsonian

Of course, the grass is always greener. Who knows, if I went to art school when I was an undergrad, the recession could have killed any marketing budgets that could have funded a budding career — especially in Los Angeles.

It’s one of the many reasons why I love talking to kids about my job. I tell them about how I always loved art and creativity, and that I was somehow able to make it my full-time job, and that these days, it’s much easier to find work in creative than it was ten years ago. And half of the interesting stuff lies in the fact that I didn’t go to art school. I technically didn’t have to go to school at all. But it shows that you don’t need a degree in whatever the rest of your life will be spent doing.

And when the kids ask me how many hours I spend working, it’s always shocking to add it up and tell them sometimes up to 70 hours a week. I can see their eyes bug out, but I always supplement it with telling them: You know, if you’re lucky enough to really love your work, it won’t always feel like work. Which is true. Now, if I could just turn writing this blog and making yummy treats my full-time job. That would be a treat, wouldn’t it?

Hazelnut lemon bread & roasted blueberries // sweetsonian

Hazelnut Lemon Cake with Roasted Blueberries, adapted from Diana Rossen Worthington

Ingredients:

3/4 cup hazelnuts, finely ground
3/4 cup and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons Greek yogurt
Zest of half a lemon

1 pint fresh blueberries, cleaned and picked over
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Mint sprigs, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.

Combine the flour, walnut meal, salt, and baking soda in a mixing bowl. Stir with a fork, and set aside.

In an electric mixer, cream the butter and the granulated sugar until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and then the sour cream and lemon zest. Slowly add the dry ingredients (I have this thing to keep my KitchenAid mixer from spraying flour all over the counter) and mix until just blended.

Pour the batter into your loaf pan, and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan comes out clean. Let cool completely.

Raise the oven temperature to 375 degrees F.

Pour the blueberries into a baking dish or cast iron skillet. Sprinkle with brown sugar and butter, and stir to combine. Roast them in the oven until the blueberries are about to burst — about 10 minutes.

Serve each slice of cake with a spoonful of roasted blueberries, and garnish with mint (optional) if you like.

Honey Glazed Honey Cakes

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25.4.14

honey cakes // sweetsonian

The person who really got me into cooking is a friend of my father. I really had no idea what I was doing in the kitchen until the summer I spent working in his kitchen for extra cash for my trip to Tanzania — he was more generous than the data entry job at the bank was back in 2005, and he promised that I would leave Los Angeles that summer with the kitchen basics. And he was right.

By trade, he ran a construction business. When I asked him why he cooked so much if he ran a contracting business, he told me that his entire life, he loved two things: “building shit, and cooking.”

So his decisions were rather simple: he started his business and found clients by word of mouth (much in the same way I do now, with design), and in his spare time, he cooked. Cooking was his hobby, and where he invested almost all of his time and energy.

Over the years, he let me in on a little secret that he had kept for years — something he called the Twelve Man meal.

Back then, it was a pretty well-kept secret. Basically, he and a few chef friends would host monthly dinners, all at different homes or locations. They coordinated and planned and cooked and paired, and each month, they invited a select few of their friends to share the meal. It was their boys club. And when word started to get around, the invitations became a coveted affair.

What I didn’t realize was that this was a supper club. I wanted this for myself. Still do.

honey cakes // sweetsonian

It’s always been a dream of mine to move into a pretty Brooklyn apartment with a nice roof deck — a summer supper club with a few close friends and acquaintances twice removed is somewhere on my to-do list. Lately, friends have been getting me to visualize a pretty one-bedroom on the Upper East Side (primarily so we force each other to go to soul cycle on the reg), so it’s all up in the air.

Earlier this year, I said my goals for 2014 were to get hella fit, fall in love, and move to New York. And I’d be happy if two of those three things happened. Well, two of the three are well on their way.

Real talk.

I’ve been interviewing as aggressively as last year’s dating calendar (honestly, who goes on three dates a week for a year straight?! NEVER. AGAIN.) and hopefully, something will pan out. I wasn’t expecting such a good response from job apps, because, you know, I’m still in shock that I’m actually a designer and an art director and that people want to pay me to do these things even though I studied Arabic for years and not design. But I’ve been coming to terms with reality, and I’m starting to get a hold of what I want and what I can offer.

In fact, in an interview yesterday morning, I was asked: why New York, why now?

I’ve gotten that question before, but never phrased with the “why now” part. So I paused, and just spoke from the heart. And the words that I exhaled from my mouth said something to the effect of — you know, I’ve always loved — loved — New York, and I finally feel like I’m at a place in my career where I’ve learned all that I can at my current job, and that I feel like I really have something more to offer to my next one.

And it’s true: I will always love where I work now. It’s the first job I ever enjoyed, let alone been excited to go to every. single. day. Okay, maybe not every single day, but still a vast majority of the days. Even though I complain about wanting to do my job from bed (like every five minutes).

honey cakes // sweetsonian

honey cakes // sweetsonian

Anyway, the real talk is that I feel like my life is on the cusp of something big. I wrote something similar two years ago, when I was also aggressively interviewing for jobs and/or crying after I got my financial aid package from grad school — oh man, remember when I thought I was going to grad school?!

The past couple of years have been such an adventure. Too often, we find ourselves taking this adventure for granted. We get so caught up in the travel and every day stress of our jobs and the details that are, more often than not, absolutely meaningless. People advise us to do what you love or do what pays the bills or ask him out or make them earn it. The truth is that at some point, advice can only take you so far. You gotta do what’s right for you. I, somehow, by the grace of God or luck or science or whatever makes the world go ’round, found myself working for people that want the best for you — to find your dream job and create something amazing that will blow everyone’s minds, which we get to do pretty often as-is.

I guess the point of all of this is that I’m grateful. For the people who taught me how to cook, how to take photos, how to design, how to solve problems, and how to speak from the heart. And, as Emily says on the reg — “You do you, girlfriend. You do you.” Because we all gotta get somewhere, and the people that matter are the ones that will love you no matter where you go or what you do for a living.

When I first started writing this post, I envisioned connecting this recipe to that guy up there that taught me how to cook — because he keeps his own bees and sends me home-grown honey and lip balms and body butters every now and then. I digress. But anyway, this would be great if you had some home-grown honey. The store-bought works just as well, but you’ll have less to humblebrag about :)

Happy Friday. Lurve you guys. Recipe after the jump.

honey cakes // sweetsonian

honey cakes // sweetsonian

honey cakes // sweetsonian

(more…)

Humblebrag Cranberry Upside Down Cake

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24.1.14

humblebrag cranberry upside down cake // sweetsonian

Since I started working for the Energy Department, I’ve been pretty lucky in the sense that I’ve gotten to take several trips to the White House grounds, either for work or for tours. And, as much fun as photographing events in the EEOB next door is, the tours are particularly exciting — and honestly, visiting the White House grounds never gets old.

humblebrag cranberry upside down cake // sweetsonian

humblebrag cranberry upside down cake // sweetsonian

Between fall and winter, I was able to score tickets to two White House East Wing tours, thanks to awesome coworkers (who are the well-connected ones that actually get invited to these things). The most recent adventure was right before I left for California for Christmas — most of my office took a trip together for the Holiday tour, which is extra special because you’re allowed to take photos. They had the GWU a capella group singing Christmas carols and Michael Jackson tunes, and Christmas trees galore. It. Was. Gorgeous.

humblebrag cranberry upside down cake // sweetsonian

humblebrag cranberry upside down cake // sweetsonian

I’m heading back in a few weeks for bowling in the basement — something my Norwegian friends could not believe was a “thing.”

Next time, I’m bringing my camera.

Anyway, this recipe comes from the adorable little book that the White House gave out to everyone that attended the Holiday Tour — it’s filled with illustrated pictures of Bo and Sunny running around the White House. And, at the end, this recipe for cranberry upside down cake is featured, straight from the White House Pastry Kitchen. Honestly, make this cake while you can still find cranberries in at the grocery store. If you’ve missed the season, then sub in any sort of fruit — peaches, apples, cherries, you name it. It’ll all taste pretty amazing.

Someone tweet these photos to Michelle. I’d die of happiness if she saw it.

humblebrag cranberry upside down cake // sweetsonian

humblebrag cranberry upside down cake // sweetsonian

Cranberry Upside Down Cake, from the White House Pastry Kitchen

Ingredients:

Caramelized cranberry topping:

  • 1/4 cup butter (half of a stick)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1-2 cups fresh cranberries

Cake:

  • 1.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup milk

Instructions

  1. Cooking tools: Cast iron skillet or cake pan (use parchment paper if using a cake pan), three mixing bowls, silicone spatula.
  2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  3. In a cast iron skillet (mine is 9.5 inches wide), melt the 1/4 cup of butter over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar and cranberries, making sure the cranberries are coated in the butter and sugar. After a minute or two, turn the heat off, and let them sit while you prepare the cake batter.
  4. In one mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Using a stand mixer (or any electric mixer), combine the 1/2 cup butter with about half of the sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, mix in the orange juice, and then add the egg yolks, one by one.
  6. Gradually, mix in the dry ingredients, alternating with the milk.
  7. In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites with the remaining sugar, until they hold a firm peak. Then, gently fold the egg whites into the cake batter.
  8. Once completely incorporated, pour the cake batter into your cast iron skillet, covering the cranberries.
  9. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, when a toothpick comes out clean. After baking, let the cake cool on a wire rack (or the grate of your stove) for an hour or two. When you’re ready to serve, run a knife along the edge of the cake, and flip onto a plate.

Pumpkin Tea Cake

2

29.10.13

pumpkin tea cake // sweetsonian

There’s a somberness that comes with the end of summer and beginning of fall. The air is drier, there sun is lower, and the sky feels a little bluer. Maybe it’s because the wind is a little colder.

But with every changing season, I reflect on the past few months — for me, summer was exhilarating. I was jet setting between California and New York and spotted through Europe (can I go back please?). The day job and the freelance clients have all been pretty amazing lately, so it’s safe to say I’m in a good spot.

I spent a couple of hours on Kristen’s floor with Winston last night, drinking wine and catching up after a busy day of work and biking all over DC. I’ve actually had a couple of anxiety filled days, mostly coping with the realization that no one is happy all of the time. It’s painful, to see people you care about struggling. Whether you’ve been in their shoes or not, it hurts. We meowed with Winston, told stories about how we’re too old to be drinking as much as we do, and chatted about the ups and downs, the balancing act of good times and bad times in our circles of friends.

A few of our close friends are going through some rough transitions in life, and I’ve been trying to figure out how the best ways to help them. Most of the time, I just want to rescue the people I love, take a few days off work and sit them down in my living room while I blast music and bake up a storm. Or fly to wherever they are and do the same in their own kitchen. It’s the company that matters; the location is usually meaningless.

Long story short, if you’re reading this, you know who you are. I love you, and this pumpkin tea cake is for you.

pumpkin tea cake // sweetsonian

pumpkin tea cake // sweetsonian

pumpkin tea cake // sweetsonian

pumpkin tea cake // sweetsonian

pumpkin tea cake // sweetsonian

pumpkin tea cake // sweetsonian

pumpkin tea cake // sweetsonian

Pumpkin Tea Cake, derived from the Tartine Cookbook

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup + 2 tbsp pumpkin puree
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/3 cup sugar
3/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Line one 9-by-5-inch loaf pan (or three mini loaf pans) with parchment paper, and brush with oil or rub with butter.

In a mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves together. Set aside.

In your stand mixer, beat together the pumpkin puree, oil, sugar, and salt on medium speed, until well-mixed. Add each egg, one at a time, fully incorporating before adding the next. Slowly add the dry ingredients with the mixer on low speed, beating until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula, and then beat on medium speed for 10 seconds to make a smooth batter.

Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan (or pans) and smooth the surface with your spatula. Bake until the centers are set and a toothpick comes out clean — the time will depend on your oven, but it should take about 1 hour.

Serve the cake at room temperature. It keeps well if wrapped in saran wrap, but it won’t last long.

Cardamom Pound Cake

14

28.8.13

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Cardamom is a spice that you don’t come across too much in American cooking. I never really knew what it was until I was 19, wide-eyed and living in Tanzania for the summer — it was the main ingredient in a selection of teas and desserts, occasionally, in one of the rice dishes we had. Thinking back, there are a lot of things I wish I could change about that trip, but mostly myself: how I viewed life, how I acted back then. I’m sure we all have those moments (days, weeks, months).

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Just the taste of cardamom reminds me of how much we can change in just seven years. Back then, I was on a mission to prove my dedication to international development, and to prove to my parents that I didn’t need to listen to every piece of advice they scolded my way.

I deserved the scolding. I was an asshole back then (oh man, I hope-hope-hope I’m not nearly as much of an asshole now).

But no matter how broke I was because of that trip, I wouldn’t take it back for the world.

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I lived with a handful of other volunteer teachers in a house near Bahari Beach, just outside of Dar es Salaam. There were a few women who lived in the house that also cooked for us and taught us bits and pieces of Swahili — which I used to be alright at — but honestly, the memory that sticks with me more than anything is the scent and the taste of the cardamom-infused chai tea that greeted me every morning.

They mixed the tea from scratch, and boiled water in huge vats — water that was used throughout the day for cooking, laundering, and other methods of cleaning. The tea was strained directly into a giant, baby pink thermos, and had enough tea for everyone in the house to have at least a few cups of.

Breakfast usually included a few cups of tea, lesson planning, and toast with a glass of fresh passionfruit juice. Then, I’d hop onto tht dala dala, a bus that was so packed with people that no morning was complete without a stranger sitting on your lap or crouched between the other 20 riders on a 10-person bus. After teaching elementary school in the morning and high school in the afternoon, I usually took the bus back to Bahari beach, and walked to the beach itself — not far from Rold Dahl’s house, and a separate dial-up internet cafe.

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I had a typical Tanzanian school notebook that I used as a journal back then. It shouldn’t surprise you that I was a journal-writer, because, well, I write to you here as often as I can. I will say, it’s nice to have an actual reader for this type of stuff.

But after a drink or dinner at the beach cafe, I’d come back to the volunteer house and hang out with the girls and the other volunteers. I’d cross my fingers the entire walk back, hoping that there would be some tea left.

But then again, there was always beer, too.

Baking this cake filled my apartment with the scent of cardamom, which only made me drift back even further into these memories. I bought a massive box of Chai Bora before I left Tanzania — but I went through the tea ever so quickly, back in my UCSB days of daily, chilly morning Arabic classes.

They say scents spark the strongest memories, and when they do, years might have passed between the last time you even remembered the details your mind pairs with those scents.

It felt like years had passed since I smelled cardamom. The scent is comforting.

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Recipe after the jump.  (more…)

Marscapone Pound Cake with Whipped Cream and Balsamic Strawberries

7

26.3.13

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There are a few good reasons why I let myself fall into freelance black holes.

The most obvious is, on several levels, financial. Freelancing = more money. More money = less debt, nicer things, and sometimes, slightly less anxiety. When I dedicate a weekend to freelance, I cloister myself. I seal my bedroom door and plug in my head phones, and I get. shit. done.

When I spend a Friday night freelancing, I chug water and green tea. I go to sleep only when I’m satisfied with the progress I’ve made, so my sleep is sound. I reward myself by silencing my phone and not setting an alarm. And when I wake up refreshed that Saturday morning, I sip my French press coffee while putting on make up and getting dressed.

Getting dressed and made up for a working weekend is key… because whether I spend my day designing from bed or designing from Ebenezer’s, that Saturday is a day of work. I am a creature of habit. There are certain things I need to do to prepare myself for a day of work, be it at home or at the Energy Department. And this ritual is one part physical, one part psychological.

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Freelancing, I’ve learned, is not for everyone. It’s not easy, and there are days and nights and weeks at a time where I feel myself slipping into a state of anxiety — an antsiness that transcends stir crazy.

There are times when I absolutely love it. Like when I was in Los Angeles for Christmas vacation, on the phone with Google from my parents’ dining table, sipping a cup of coffee from one hand, and scratching the floppy ears of my family’s grumpy yellow lab with the other. On days when I have only one job, when my makeshift office is cozy, and I have a dog under my arm — yes, those are the days. I envision my future exactly like that. One job, working from home, with a dog. Am I a grown-up yet?

Then, there are times when I’m an absolute crazy person. I’m overbooked, I say “yes” to too many projects, I have a full load of creative work at the Department, and friends celebrate birthdays over the course of entire weekends. Those days. Those days make me want to curl into a variation of the fetal position, preferably in my bathtub while periodically sitting up to swig Bulleit straight from the bottle.

The depressing part is that when I find myself so stressed out that the only mode of comfort is a bubble bath and a Manhattan, there usually isn’t time to calm down. Too much stress, too little time.

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But since 2013 began, I’ve been trying to take care of myself. To treat myself better. I work hard. I love my job(s). And I’ve taken a good hard look at several areas of my life. I’ve made goals and priorities. Three months ago, I wrote on this blog that 2013 would be my year. I wanted 2013 to be your year, too.

It’s quarter-end. In the same way that I review my tax information and prepare forms and files for record-keeping and for completing my civic transaction as a tax payer, looking back on the past three months has only magnified how much my life has changed. How incredibly different my life is. What a different place I’m in, and what a different person I’ve become. Hopefully, for the better.

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Mindy and I were discussing 2013. How 2013 would be is my year, and how 2013 would be is hers.

For both of us, 2012 started off in the dumps. And then, little by little, things started to change. It started with a new job, and just trickled into every aspect of our lives.

So this spring, I’m taking a look at 2013 and checking in on my goals. Take better care of yourself. Floss your teeth. Invest in skincare. Sleep in. Drink less.

Spend time with the people you care about most, and make time for those who stood by you through thick and thin. And remember where you came from, because when you needed help, someone came to the rescue. And someday, you’re going to be the rescuer.

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In the end, we are all creatures of habit. We have rituals before we go to bed, and rituals after we wake up. Those habits are not instinctive; you train yourself with repetition, and the action becomes part of your every day life, and part of your whole self. The things you say and the things you do over and over again are the things that will define who you think you are, and how the world interprets your own well-being.

Breaking bad habits is an art form in itself: unbelievably both simple and complex in nature, but not lacking in any psychological depth. If you bite your nails, sleep in your make up, or simply have issues being honest with yourself and with the people you love, break it. Do whatever it takes to break those habits — even if it means taking the babiest of baby steps. Love yourself, and make every decision a good one, if anything, out of self respect.

I’m going to say this one more time. Repeat after me: this — 2013 — is my year.

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Recipe after the jump.  (more…)

Orange, Almond, and Olive Oil Cake

4

03.2.12

There comes a time when you come to understand the red flags that your body uses to get your brain back on track.  In college, pulling all nighters was no big deal.  Coffee sweetened with Coke for extra caffeine?  No problem.  High sugar content late night drinks?  Bring it on.  Hung over?  A Sunday morning run and a Jamba Juice will cure that. (more…)

Mini Pound Cakes with Raspberry Whipped Cream

9

07.2.10

I know I’m from California, but I secretly love snow days — and I’ve had a thrilling blizzard-filled winter to kick of my life on the East Coast.  Washington is currently being pelted with about three feet of snow… so beautiful!  Sometimes it’s nice to have an excuse to not leave the house. 
Today, we trekked out to the Dupont Circle Snowball Fight, of course.  Imagine a massive mob of people pelting snowballs at each other — yep, that was basically it.  I left after getting hit in the back of my head with an ice ball that literally popped the pressure from my ears.  We frolicked to Kramerbooks afterwards, and then home, stopping to make snow angels and experiment with what it felt like to crawl through three feet of snow (it made sense at the time, I swear).
After arriving home, I depleted our butter supply with this pound cake recipe.  The problem was, that half way through the mixing, I realized that I didn’t have any sour cream… so I substituted with evaporated milk.  It seemed to work — my friends and roommates had some wonderful reactions, ranging from eyes rolling back into heads and recommendations on pursuing a career as a pastry chef. 
I could never do that.   You know, start charging my friends for what I love to do for free.

WHAT YOU NEED

For the pound cake:
3 cups of flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups butter softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 large eggs
1 cup evaporated milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice 
For the whipped cream:
1 cup cream
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup raspberry preserves

WHAT TO DO
First, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Mix thoroughly.  Then, cream the butter and the sugar in a mixing bowl, and beat in the vanilla extract and eggs, one by one, until evenly mixed.  Add the evaporated milk, and then the dry ingredients until the mixture is light and smooth.
Pour the batter into your mini bundt molds and bake for 12-15 minutes.  If you are using a regular 9×5 loaf pan, bake for 50 to 60 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the loaf.
For the whipped cream, beat the cream on high until soft peaks form, then add the extract and preserves and continue to beat on high until you have stiff peaks.

Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

12

14.1.10

Yesterday, the temperature broke 35 degrees.  I’ve never been so excited about weather below 70 degrees in my life.  Laugh all you want, but the past two weeks have been unbearably cold — I didn’t leave my house without two pairs of stockings, pants, layers of shirts and sweaters, and my unbelievably heavy coat.  It’s a shame my ghetto-fabulous boots broke last weekend, because they really helped keep my legs warm.
Anyway, the non-freezing weather called for a celebration: something citrusy, because the above-freezing landmark rekindled my excitement for warm weather (which I know I will complain about once the Atlantic humidity invades our nation’s capitol.  Fresh, easy, lemony, poppy seed cake!

WHAT YOU NEED:
1-1/8 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Zest of two small lemons
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs (or 3 small ones)
Powdered sugar for garnish
WHAT TO DO:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease the cake pan of choice (I used a 4 x 9″ pan to make a shallow cake).  I like to cut out a piece of parchment paper to fit the shape of the bottom of the cake pan — that way, the cake pops right out.
Sift the flour, sugar, and salt together until evenly mixed in a medium-sized mixing bowl.  Stir in the poppy seeds and lemon zest, then beat the eggs in a separate bowl.  Add the eggs and butter to the dry ingredients, and beat with an electric mixer until evenly mixed.  Transfer the batter into the cake pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes, or until you can poke the center of the cake with a toothpick and have it come out clean.
While the cake is baking, juice the lemons you used for zesting into a small saucepan.  Heat on low, and add about once cup of granualted sugar to the juice, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved.  After the cake has cooled, pour the syrup over the top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides.  Then, garnish with powdered sugar.
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