Lemon Poppy Seed Tea Cake

There’s nothing as wonderful as citrus in the winter, is there? My recipe for this light and fragrant cake is after the jump, plus a variation to make an orange cake.

Lemon Poppy Seed Tea Cake

Preheat oven to 350, and grease a 9.25″ x 5.25″ loaf pan and line the center with a slip of parchment.

Whisk together in a large bowl:
2 cups AP flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp poppy seeds
zest from two lemons
2 tbsp diced candied lemon (buy these at Trader Joe’s or make your own)

In a 2-cup measuring cup, stir together:
Juice from one lemon PLUS enough buttermilk to make 1 cup (or use 1/4 cup lemon juice and 3/4 cup buttermilk)
1/2 cup neutral oil (canola, corn, etc.; you could use a stick of melted butter instead, but oil yields a more tender cake)
2 eggs
1 tsp good vanilla

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, stirring until just combined (don’t overmix). Scrape the batter into the greased loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry. If the cake begins to get too brown too early, loosely drape a piece of foil over the top — it’s a good idea to take a peek about halfway through baking to make sure all’s going well in there. When the cake is finished, turn it out onto a cooling rack set over a baking pan, and let it cool for about twenty minutes for icing.

For the icing, stir together:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice

After the cake has cooled, drizzle the icing over the top. If you prefer the icing thicker, add more powdered sugar, or if you like it more drizzly (good for soaking into the cake), add more lemon juice. You could also make this a boozy cake by using citron vodka instead of lemon juice and really soaking it. If you like, you can decorate the top with slices of candied lemon.

Note: if you buy Sodastream flavors you can boost the flavor of your cake by adding about 1/8 tsp of lemon flavor or Watkins lemon extract. You can also just add a few drops of the flavor to your icing. Whatever floats your boat.

To make this an orange cake, simply omit the poppyseeds and replace all the lemon with orange; this is even nicer with extra virgin olive oil.