poppy seeds are often overlooked when it comes to sweets. they add a mild, nutty flavor and a wonderful crunch to cakes and scones. and of course, a little chuckle when you realize that you have just spent the last 15 minutes talking to people with the tiny little black seeds wedged between your teeth.
honestly, i love to add poppy seeds to a cake flavored with almond paste and lemon zest. it adds a nice crunchy surprise to the texture of the cake. lemon zest also serves to brighten the flavor a bit too. this is the perfect solution to the “what can i make” dilemma when fresh fruit is still out of season or you just want to try something different.
almond paste is another great staple to stock in the “larder”. it adds nice flavor, a little richness and moisture. to purchase some, look for the little cans in the baking aisle of the supermarket. they will be mixed in with the cans of pie fillings. open the can at both ends and push the cylinder of paste out. cut it in half and then cut each half into 4 equal pieces and wrap each one separately. store the pieces in the freezer and anytime you need some, you will have pre-measured 1 ounce pieces that will thaw quickly.
almond poppy seed bundt cake
makes 1 large bundt cake serving about 16
6 ounces unsalted butter, softened
3 ounces almond paste
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest.
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 1/3 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 1/2 cups sour cream
glaze, recipe follows
preheat the oven to 350. grease and flour a bundt pan and set it aside. place the butter into the bowl of a food processor. crumble the almond paste up and add the pieces to the food processor with sugar, lemon zest and salt. pulse to combine the mixture. process until smooth and then add the eggs, one at a time scraping the bowl as you go. dump this mixture into a large bowl. sift the flour and baking powder over the top of the batter. sprinkle the poppy seeds over the flour mixture. fold it in a few times. add the sour cream and fold until no streaks remain. scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about an hour. cool the cake in the pan for at least 15-20 minutes. invert the cake onto a rack and allow it to cool completely before decorating. glaze and serve!
2-3 tablespoons sliced almonds
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
while the cake is baking, place the almonds in a bake proof dish and toast them in the oven. such a small amount will toast quickly so keep an eye on them-takes 5 minutes or less. place the sugar in a sifter or a mesh strainer and sift to remove the lumps. add the lemon juice and whisk until smooth. place the cake on a serving plate and drizzle the glaze over the cake. sprinkle the almonds and poppy seeds over the top of the cake. allow the glaze to set before serving, at least 30 minutes.