When life gives you lemons you don’t make lemonade, you make a lemon and poppy seed loaf with added lemon for oomph. Duh.
Before I go on I can’t take full credit for the recipe. This is from the fantastic Hummingbird bakery book – one of my favourites, with an added Easter twist of my own. (Check out my top tips below)
For the Sponge:
190g unslated butter
190g plain flour
190g caster sugar
3 large eggs
1tsp baking powder
4tbsp poppy seeds
2 tbsp lemon zest
25ml whole milk
80g ricotta cheese
For the soaking syrup:
Juice of 1 lemon
50g caster sugar
What to do:
- First preheat the oven to 170˚C/325˚F/Gas mark 3.
- Then grease the loaf tin with butter. Then in a mixing bowl cream together the butter and caster sugar. I’d suggest using a hand-held electric mix for the best result, plus it saves so much time and arm ache.
Continue to mix, adding the eggs one at a time and mixing well between each addition.
- Seperatly, sift together the flour and baking powder before mixing in the poppy seeds and lemon zest (see top tips below).
- Proceed to mixing the dry ingredients into the wet in three batches, adding the milk after the second batch. Then mix in the ricotta cheese until the batter is smooth.
- Pour the batter into the loaf tin and pop it into the oven for 50-60mins (quite a long time I thought, but works a treat!). Check with a skewer to be sure it’s properly cooked through, just incase.
- Whilst the loaf is baking, add the lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan with about 100ml of water and bring to the boil, allowing the mixture to reduce around a half.
- When the cake is cooked and hot, pour the syrup mixture over it allowing it to soak into the sponge. Leave the loaf to cool for a while before turning it our of the tin and letting it cool on a wire rack.
At this point I was tired so decided to take a break and resume decorations the next day. This was a bit of a regret because I actually didnt have much time and ended up rushing around like a chicken. When will I learn?!
For the topping:
I won’t be putting down ingredients and a method for this because it would only be a disappointment. I was hoping for a cream cheese frosting, I’m not sure what I ended up with but there were obvious signs of issues.
I didn’t have time to change it so on the loaf it went, followed by a bag of Mini-eggs to distract from the icing and hide what I could. That seemed to work quite well thank-goodness!
I’m pleased to say the loaf was a hit, and it was up against some pretty good looking cakes and cheesecakes too.
For the lemon zest do not, I repeat, DO NOT use a soft squishy lemon. It just doesn’t work. I think I could have grown a lemon in the time it took me to get about a spoonful of zest. A firm lemon is the way to go.
Luckily I had both so it took me an hour on the squishy lemon and 10 seconds on the other.
It doesn’t take a genius, but having not followed my own advice already it feels worth saying, follow the recipe. I took a more ‘wing it’ approach to my icing because I know the gist of making it. Annoyingly the butter didn’t smooth out and I was left with a lumpy coating – not a good look. Note to self – find a recipe and use it.
Final top tip – toppings. I love how toppings can make a cake go from a tasty 7 to a full on amazing 9.5 if not a 10 depending what toppings you go for.
As it was Easter I chose Mini eggs. I love how their pastel colours work so nicely with the loaf.