Is it already April?!
Well, I'm wrapping up the final weeks of my pregnancy and I feel like a Weeble Wobble. Only I do fall down.
I've been devoting my energy towards getting things ready for the baby. Nesting, as many call it. One cannot deny the powerful hormonal urge to put things in absolute order. So I've been tearing up my house, reorganizing everything in sight and writing 'Honey-Do' lists that span pages. I've even been waddling around, cleaning the garage. Though, I suspect the newborn will spend little time in there.
The house looks great but I admit the kitchen has been neglected, logging only two baking sessions this month. I've had to fulfill my cravings with store bought treats. (Mr. Humble wants me to admit publicly that I threatened to kill Mr. Stinky, our sourdough starter, if he didn't bring me home chocolates one day after work. As they say, desperate times call for…) Though, I admit that I should probably knock that off, since store bought treats can be sub-par.
I had the most terrible eclair last week. How does one mess up choux, anyway? Hard, crunchy eclairs? Why, why!?
Anyway, I've been keeping up on the blog-work, but not doing a lot of posting. I may have some help here soon though, blogging and otherwise. We've had some big news in the Humble family: Mother Humble is hanging up her English Wellies and moving across the pond to sunny, tropical Seattle. We expect her here in two weeks and she has promised to lend a hand, as I will be recovering from a caesarean next month. She has also expressed some interest in doing a little guest food blogging on NSHP.
Mother Humble is a terrific cook and someone who I credit for much of my comfort in the kitchen. I'm pretty excited about her posting. She may prove more entertaining than myself, since she has a rather quirky streak in her nature. Whatever she posts, it will likely be delicious and help relieve some of the lulls we've been experiencing while I'm down and out from babies.
So enough updating as to my status, let's get down to the food!
After attempting a Cinnamon Brulee cheesecake that was surprisingly not good---cinnamon makes cream cheese taste doughy--I settled on another craving: poppy seeds. Today we're baking a French lemon poppy seed pound cake from Flour. What caught my eye was the recipe's method, much like a genoise, and the promise of a light delicate crumb and texture.
The cake is indeed wonderfully textured. Delicate and not very sweet, nicely contrasted with a sweet, tangy lemon glaze.
Flour's French Lemon Poppyseed Pound Cake
from Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe
Yields one standard 9x5" loaf
240g cake flour (low protein 6-8%, soft wheat flour)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
156g unsalted butter, melted and cooled to slightly warm
60g heavy cream
3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (roughly two large lemons)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
250g granulated sugar
70g powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Despite their common place in spice cabinets and on store shelves, poppy seeds have a relatively high oil content and go rancid quickly at room temperature.
This means you should buy your poppy seeds from stores with high turnover to ensure freshness. Then pop them into the freezer and keep them there for up to a year. Do this and your seeds will provide not only pleasant color and texture to your baked goods, but will actually taste good too.
Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9" x 5" loaf pan or line with parchment.
Sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt, then set aside.
In a separate bowl, combine the melted butter, cream, lemon juice, zest and poppy seeds. If the mixture cools the butter and thickens, gently rewarm the mixture until it has the consistency of a thick liquid, then side aside.
In the bowl of your mixer, beat the eggs and sugar on medium high speed until light colored and very fluffy (4-6 minutes, if you use hand held beaters this will take longer).
Fold the sifted flour mixture into the beaten eggs until just barely combined. Then lighten the lemon poppy seed mixture by gently folding in one quarter of the flour-egg batter with a rubber spatula.
Fold in the remaining flour-egg mixture to finish the batter.
Pour the finished batter into your prepared pan, level and place into your pre-heated oven.
The recipe calls for a baking time of up to an 1 hour 10 minutes, which I found to be long for this cake in my oven with dark colored pans. I advise you check your cake frequently after 35-40 minutes for doneness. Once the cake is springy to the touch and a toothpick comes out clean, feel free to pull it out.
Allow the cake to cool on a wire rack and prepare the lemon glaze.
Whisk together the powdered sugar and enough lemon juice (more or less to your preference) to make a smooth glaze.
When the cake has cooled to a warm temperature, pop it out of the pan and spread the lemon glaze over the still warm cake.
Serve and enjoy!
The cake can be stored, tightly wrapped, for up to three days.
(Edit: She got the memo folks. Let's play nice. She is just starting out and from what she emailed me, it was an innocent mistake.)