Monday, March 1, 2010

HCB: Lemon Poppy Seed Sour Cream Cake

This week's recipe for the Heavenly Cake Bakers group was the Lemon Poppy Seed Sour Cream Cake from "Rose's Heavenly Cakes."

Lovely! This one is a keeper. Light for a bundt-style cake, fluffy, with lots of lemon and the crunch of poppy seeds. I thought it was a bit crumbly and could have used more syrup, but I might have overbaked mine just a little bit. Notes for next time -- watch it like a hawk towards the end of baking. Oh, and maybe use a bit less sugar in the syrup. But those are just minor tweaks. This is a great cake!

The recipe (sorry, we don't post the recipes for this group) makes enough for a 10-cup Bundt pan. I made half the recipe, which was just right for a 4.5 cup Kugelhopf pan plus two cupcakes.

I used a mixture of half bleached cake flour and half bleached all-purpose flour, and frozen lemon peel from my stash. The batter came out very thick, smooth, and fluffy, almost like frosting -- which I've found to be typical for Rose's recipes. It rose beautifully and for a few moments I thought it might overflow the pan. Fortunately it didn't, and settled a bit after cooling.

I'm always nervous about unmolding cakes, but this one came out of the Kugelhopf pan looking great. The cupcakes, though, stuck to the wrappers something fierce. Next time I'll have to grease the wrappers.

The cake is finished with a lemon syrup while it's still hot. Once again I went to my stash, this time the one of frozen lemon juice cubes. But when I tasted the syrup, I began to wonder if perhaps I'd put some lime juice cubes in with the lemon juice. OK -- I stirred in a bit of my frozen lemon zest and let it steep. Ah, now it had a nice lemon-lime flavor, sort of like 7-Up or Sprite, only a zillion times better.

Part of my freezer stash - lemon zest and lemon juice cubes

Now, Rose says this cake is best made a day ahead. I'm sure she's right, but I have to tell you that the cupcakes were absolutely fabulous still hot, only 10 minutes out of the oven and oozing with warm syrup. Very crumbly, but fabulous. They made me think about making this in small ramekins and serving them syruped and hot, still in the ramekins. I'm sure it would be great.

messy but delicious, still hot

This recipe appears to be based on the "Sour Cream Butter Cake" recipe from Rose's earlier book "The Cake Bible," which was also published on her blog as "Rose's Favorite Yellow Layer Cake." The new HCB recipe is based on the original recipe times 1.25. Lemon zest and poppy seeds are added for flavor, but there are some other changes as well. The new recipe uses a mixture of eggs and egg yolk instead of all yolks, and the total amount of egg is a bit more. It has a bit less butter and more baking powder.

total eggs
93 grams
118 grams
   whole eggs0100 grams
   egg yolks93 grams18 grams
sour cream200 grams200 grams
pure vanilla extract1.875 teaspoon1.75 teaspoon
sifted cake flour250 grams250 grams
sugar250 grams250 grams
baking powder0.625 teaspoon1.5 teaspoon
baking soda0.625 teaspoon0.5 teaspoon
salt0.3125 teaspoon0.5 teaspoon
unsalted butter
   (must be softened)
213 grams200 grams

I miss the Understanding sections from The Cake Bible where Rose explains these recipe tweaks. My best guess about them is this: butter increases tenderness and makes the cake heavier. Egg yolks are more tenderizing than whites. So the "less butter" and "more egg white" changes both tend to decrease tenderness and strengthen the cake structure. To offset this, the baking powder has to be increased so the cake stays level.