Glazed Meyer Lemon Poppy Seed Snacking Cake is the perfect spring treat, celebrating Meyer Lemon season and a return to lighter desserts.
Back in the stone ages, before we had been taught to fear white flour and carbs (I jest–a little– I know there are lots of good reasons to reduce our simple carb, sugar, and white flour intake) I loved lemon poppyseed muffins. There was a cafe/deli across the street from my dorm at the University of Michigan that was closed from 3 AM to 5 AM and on Christmas Day and otherwise was open the rest of the year called Amir’s. This meant it was breakfast, afternoon pick-me-up and late night study fuel or after drinking eating all rolled into one. When I was feeling indulgent my treat of choice was a lemon poppyseed muffin. To such an extent that often when my parents visited my dad went and got me a muffin first. I miss the days when indulging in that muffin was a minor guilt instead of a major guilt, but that does not mean I cannot still make some space for some Glazed Meyer Lemon Poppy Seed Snacking Cake. The biggest difference is now I firmly believe it is dessert and not breakfast —but I will still defiantly eat it for breakfast or an afternoon snack so maybe nothing really has changed other than how often I indulge.
I actually made this Glazed Meyer Lemon Poppy Seed Snacking Cake over a year ago, so it is the old camera. I was leading up to sharing it when I got stressed out about my thyroid and then the pandemic hit. So it is pretty overdue, but perfectly timed for Meyer Lemon season. If you don’t have Meyer Lemons, do not skip this cake, just make it with regular lemons. Meyer Lemons are amazing and worth seeking out, but regular lemons are also delicious so you cannot go wrong. May I also recommend showcasing Burlap and Barrel’s Blue Poppy Seeds in this cake, speaking of things you cannot go wrong with. I have no relationship with them, unless you count me sending them my money for all of their awesome fair trade and single origin spices! I just like to send them business when I can and I definitely used their poppy seeds in this cake.
I am not very good at evenly sprinkling poppy seeds. Alas.
Similarly, the original recipe is made with crème fraîche, but I used a mixture of heavy cream and sour cream. First of all, mixed with a strong flavor like lemon, I think the subtlety of crème fraîche would be lost on me. Second, because I do not like overly sweet glazes and frosting, I always mix to taste, adding this and that (in this case, heavy cream, full fat sour cream, a little fine grey sea salt and powdered sugar) until I have what I want. You might like it sweeter or less sweet. Having said all of that, I did not use crème fraîche because I did not have any–if you do by all means use it and let us know how it comes out!
The recipe I adapted from came from the January/February 2020 issue of Bake From Scratch–and the fact that I made it in mid January 2020 tells you something about how delicious it looked. I pretty much want to devour everything lemon they bake at that magazine. And in case it is not clear, the recipe absolutely did not disappoint. The crust caramelized beautifully and the cake stayed moist without being heavy. It disappeared fast and staring at the pictures I really would like some more, right now.
Adapted from Bake from Scratch
- 2 1/4 cups (281 g) unbleached cake flour
- 1 t baking powder
- 1/2 t baking soda
- 3/4 t fine sea salt
- 1 T poppy seeds
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks, 170 g) unsalted butter, room temp
- 1 1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar
- 11-18 g Meyer lemon zest (from 3 Meyer Lemons) (My Meyer Lemons were big so I got 18 g but closer to 11 is fine)
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 t vanilla extract
- 1 cup whole milk (I used a splash of cream with 2% milk)
- 3 T fresh Meyer lemon juice
- 2 cups (240 g) sifted confectioners' sugar
- 1/4 cup crème fraîche, to taste (I used a splash of heavy cream mixed with full fat sour cream)
- 1 1/2 T fresh Meyer lemon juice, to taste
- 1/4 t fine grey sea salt, to taste (use whatever good sea or kosher salt you have)
- poppy seeds for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with baking spray. Line with parchment paper, letting excess extend over sides of pan; lightly spray the parchment.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, sugar, and lemon zest at medium speed until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, stopping to scrape sides and bottom of bowl as needed.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl. Beat in the vanilla. (Mixture may look slightly broken at this point, but batter will come together.)
In a small bowl, whisk together milk and lemon juice. (Don't worry about curdling.) With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to the butter mixture alternately with milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture, mixing just until combined after each addition.
Scrape batter into prepared pan, smoothing into an even layer. Tap pan once or twice to settle batter and release any air bubbles.
Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Use the parchment sling to remove the cake from the pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack.
Whisk together the glaze ingredients except the poppy seeds. Taste--I like my glazes quite tart, so I added a little extra sour cream and lemon juice.
When the cake is cool, place wax paper or foil under the cooling rack. Pour the glaze over the cake, reaching all of the surface and letting it drip over the sides. If you have a lot extra pooling underneath the cake, use the wax paper or foil to gather and pour again.
Sprinkle with poppy seeds. Enjoy.