Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Humble Poppy Seed Pound Cake

I've had this recipe in my file for well over 20 years.  I even got a division champion ribbon for it at county fair as many years ago.  (Of course it probably helped that it was still slightly warm at judging. )  So why would I bother messing with it?  Well, the last couple times I've made it, I was slightly disappointed that it didn't live up to my memories.  Maybe my adult palate doesn't appreciate the huge amount of sugar in it that my younger self thrived on.  And maybe that's a good thing!  So I did some reworking, some baking experimentation, some changing of the sacred recipe...  Okay, maybe that's being over dramatic.  I changed it up for size and taste and I liked the results.  This is more like what my memories tell me it should be.  A cross between a tea cake and a pound cake.  Not so dense and heavy, and not cloyingly sweet.  This has a nice velvety texture and enough poppyseeds to taste, though feel free to bump it up if you truly love poppyseeds and have no drug tests coming up!  It can be frosted, glazed, powdered, buttered, grilled and toasted.  My six year old has a pretty good sweet tooth and she loves it plain.  The new version makes a modest little loaf but feel free to double, as the original was meant to fill a 10" tube or bundt pan.  We don't need that much dessert laying around, being tempting.  Loaves also store easier and take up less space.  I recommend an 8x4" pan, even though I baked mine in a 9x5".  You get the more typical pound cake loaf size and shape in the smaller pan.  Whatever you have on hand.

Poppy Seed Pound Cake
Serves 6-8 (One 8x4" loaf)

¼ cup butter
¼ unhydrogenated shortening (Spectrum or Jungle shortenings are the best options, though you could use all butter or try coconut oil.)
½ cup evaporated cane sugar
½ cup light brown muscovado sugar, firmly packed
3 eggs (Farm fresh if you can get them.)
1½ cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/8 tsp baking soda
3/8 tsp sea salt
½ cup buttermilk (Bulgarian style is fabulously rich - the original calls for plain yogurt which works great too.  I had the bulgarian to use up.)
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp almond extract
2 tbsp + 2 tsp poppyseeds
powdered sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 325º.  Grease and flour a loaf pan.  Measure out buttermilk, mix in poppyseeds to soak and set aside.  Cream butter, shortening and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time,  beating well after each.  Mix in vanilla and almond extracts.  Combine flour, soda and salt.  Add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk/poppyseeds, beginning and ending with flour.  (Three additions of flour and two of buttermilk are sufficient; don't want to overmix.)  Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes.  Test with a skewer or toothpick toward the end of the time.  Do Not Overbake.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.  Dust with powdered sugar if desired.  Or frost or glaze with a powdered sugar/almond glaze for a slightly more elegant dessert option.


1 comment:

  1. Your cake looks and sounds delicious. I heard some old-timers talking about problems with cakes that they used to love. They were of the opinion that changes in the way flour is milled and margarine processed were responsible for the cakes being less than remembered. Whatever problems you might have had, they have obviously been overcome. I'd love a slice of this. Have a great evening. Blessings...Mary


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