Lemon Poppyseed Cake
For someone who doesn't really crave sweets (me), anything lemon does it for me. Lemon bars, lemon meringue, lemon pie (like my all-time favorite here)... and lemon poppyseed cake. Lemon sweets are never too sweet, just sweet enough; and all of it is cut perfectly by that lemon tang... it's a real treat. Just as a PSA: Lemon poppyseed muffins and lemon poppyseed cake are the same exact thing, and we don't need to get into it.
Anywho, to say this cake is a fantastic cake somehow still wouldn't do it justice. I baked it this past weekend for our Easter celebrations, and my dad had 3 slices in one sitting. It's just that satisfying. And typically, I'm not one to fall head-over-heels for an American buttercream, but I did fall pretty hard for this one: It's a lemon cream cheese frosting, and it is everything I dreamed it could be. Oh, what a joy it is to have baked a delicious cake!
Here it is in all its tangy, lemon-y, Easter-y glory. And I am going to sit here and confidently tell you that yes, you can make those buttercream flowers. It's as simple as using a few gel drops of food coloring and piping with a Russian flower tip set, like this one from Bluprint. Lucky for me, my brother gifted me with a set of my own, and each time I use it, I sort of feel like it should be illegal for cake decorating. It is so easy. I've tried piping a few buttercream roses of my own, but let's just say they aren't exactly blog-worthy quite yet... I'll get there. Until then, I'll keep using the Russian tips! For the cake, I also piped with a Wilton 1M for the smaller, star-shaped design.
Okay. Hearing myself talk about piping tips and cake decorating is hilarious. Three years ago I never would've dared to buy a piping tip set. But here we are. And here is the recipe for the most out-of-this-world lemon poppyseed cake and lemon cream cheese frosting. *Hop* to it!
Lemon Poppyseed Cake
Adapted from The Cake Blog
Prep Time: 20 minutes | Bake Time: 25 minutes | Decorating: 45 minutes - 1 hour
Yields: 1 8-inch cake (3 layers)
For the cake:
3 cups cake flour, spooned and leveled (336g)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest, from about 3-4 lemons
8 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
For the frosting:
24 oz cream cheese, block style
16 oz unsalted butter, softened but still cold
8-10 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Make the cake:
Preheat oven to 350. Butter and lightly flour three 8″ round pans. Line with parchment paper circles. Whisk together 3 cups cake flour, baking powder and salt. Add lemon zest and whisk again. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine milk and lemon juice. Stir to combine and set aside for milk to curdle. This is similar to making homemade buttermilk.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high using the paddle attachment. Beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down bowl.
With the mixer on low, add eggs one at a time. Mix well after each egg.Add vanilla extract. Mix to combine. Add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Do not over-mix!
Add poppy seeds and mix to combine. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl and the mixer blade. Batter will be thick and fluffy. Divide batter evenly between the three 8″ round pans. Smooth tops with rubber spatula or knife to evenly distribute batter in the pan.
Bake for 25-27 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.Let cool in pans for 10 to 15 minutes, then remove to wire rack to finish cooling.
Make the Cream Cheese Frosting:
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and cream cheese until smooth.
Add vanilla, lemon zest and juice and mix until combined. Gradually add powdered sugar, adjusting amount, until desired sweetness is reached. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Whip on medium until smooth and slightly fluffy. Over-mixing will result in a thinner frosting because the butter and cream cheese will be too warm and soft.
Assemble the Cake:
Place one layer of cake onto serving plate or cake stand and top with about one cup of lemon cream cheese frosting. Repeat with second cake layer, more frosting and then last layer of cake. Crumb coat and frost cake with remaining frosting.
Decorate with flowers and lemon slices, if desired.
Serve at room temperature, being sure to cover sliced sides in plastic wrap.