Lemons, Poppy Seeds and a Blowtorch

Yeah, I know what you're thinking. I'm a terrible person who doesn't look after their blog. Who can go four months without a peep and expect to just pick it up as if nothing happened. Someone who can miss Christmas, New Year, Australia Day, Valentines Day, I think St Patricks Day was in there, Easter even, and post nothing. Not a thing. The blog equivalent of radio silence.

Well, yeah. I did. But I also spent the past four months in a QLD summer which seems to be never ending even though we're getting to the halfway point of April. I didn't think you wanted to hear me complain about that endlessly for another year. Sure, I could have filled this up with endless ice creams, sorbets, 'no bake' cheesecakes but I didn't make them.

Instead I've spent the past few months watching my Saturdays disappear into house hunting, which in the heat we've had has not been fun. And trying (and failing) to squeeze in visits with my pregnant sister and my niece. Oh and navigating through a massive restructure at work, which given its where I spend 8 hours a day was fairly stressful.

But now we're kinda out the other end. While its still hot, the days are getting shorter so we have to start seeing temps below 30 soon. We bought a house, and while this negotiating/bank approval/packing bit is overwhelming there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel. A light which includes a new kitchen. A new kitchen with a gas cooktop. Be still my beating heart. Work restructure is finalised so I can stop thinking about it (still have a job? Check!). Just waiting on my sister to stop being pregnant and actually have the baby and all the tricky stuff is done. (HAHAHAHAHAHA done. Right.)

And maybe, because I can see the end, there was some baking. For Ali, who I adore. She snuck in a birthday without telling anyone (ha Facebook told us!) and we all selfishly worked from home the day of her birthday. So the very next work day I presented her with this. Three elements, two of which are Lemon which is her favourite, one of which I'd never ever done before. Its a Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake, with Lemon Curd filling and a Toasted Meringue Icing. I've now made it twice, the second time dotted with some Easter Eggs for Easter Sunday lunch with the inlaws.

I stood in my kitchen eating the offcuts of the cake with left over lemon curd wanting to cry I was so very proud of it. Its very sharp, so if you're on the fence with lemon its not for you. But if like Ali and I you think lemon is the greatest thing ever created, this cake will disappear with satisfying speed. The most timeconsuming part of the process was converting everything to metric, but, because when I can be bothered I'm pretty awesome, I've done it for you.

Lemon Meringue Cake, adapted from The Cake Blog

For the Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

Ingredients

  • 393.76 grams caster sugar
  • 272 grams plain flour
  • 45 grams custard powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds
  • 2 eggs
  • 245 grams or 236.5 mls buttermilk
  • 109 grams or 118.3 mls canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 177ml boiling water

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and flour 2 x 22cm cake pans (unlike the original recipe I didn't have 8″ ones). Set pans aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the sugar, custard powder, plain flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds.
  3. In a separate bowl, (I used my kitchenaid on a very low speed) mix together the eggs, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and lemon zest.
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients a spoonful at a time (KEEP THE SPEED LOW!) stopping now and then to scrape the sides down.
  5. Once combined turn your mixer off. Add the boiling water and stir by hand to incorporate. Otherwise the mixer will spray it all over you, and your kitchen.
  6. Evenly distribute the batter between the prepared pans. Bake for about 25-28 mins. I checked mine at 25 mins. One was done, the other needed another 8 mins or so. Check check check, using a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake. Its ready when it comes out clean.
  7. Cool on a wire rack ro 10-15 mins and then remove from the pans.

For the Lemon Curd

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. I didn't worry about converting this one. In my mind the more lemon the better.
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 112.5 grams + 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 56.7 grams butter, diced

Method

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine lemon juice, zest, yolks and sugar.
  2. Stir over a medium heat until the mixture begins to thicken (this is around the 6-8 mins mark). You'll know you're ready when the curd coats the back of a spoon.
  3. Once this happens remove from heat and add the butter and stir to combine.
  4. Once its all mixed in and melted, strain the curd into a heat-safe container (I used a jar because I had one). Place a piece of plastic wrap over the curd, making sure its actually touching the top of the curd.
  5. Refrigerate until cool and thick.

For the Meringue Icing

Ingredients

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 150 grams granulated sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

  1. Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl on your electric mixer. Whisk to combine.
  2. Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water and place over a medium heat. One the egg whites and sugar are combined, place the mixing bowl over the saucepan to create a double boiler.
  3. Whisk the egg mixture constantly until the sugar disolves and it is warm to the touch. Once warm, transfer the bowl back to the mixer.
  4. With the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high until medium-stiff glossy peaks form.
  5. Add in the salt and vanilla and mix until combined.
  6. Use immediately.

Assembly

I trimmed my cakes to make sure I had a level top. Then I topped one layer with lemon curd, and put the second cake on top. Go to town with the meringue, the messier it is, the more awesome it looks after you've taken a blow torch to it. Move quickly and lightly. My husband did the blow torching for me, but I'm looking forward to having a go myself next time.