I must warn you, fair readers, that this is not a particularly healthy recipe. It’s got buckets of sugar and butter, and the flour is all-purpose, not whole-grain. What can I say? Sometimes, it’s someone’s birthday and you just have to pull out all the stops. A crunchy-granola-health-food dessert is not always in the cards. Usually, but not always!
The name of this cake is quite a mouthful. Honestly, there’s no way to shorten it and fully communicate to you the deliciousness that lies beneath its frosted exterior. The lemon cake is generously studded with crunchy poppy seeds, which lend a textural contrast and nutty undertone. The blackberry jam adds further seedy pop and flavor, and the buttercream frosting unifies everything with a blanket of vanilla-y fluff. Whoever you make this for will be a friend for life.
The cake recipe is based on Ina Garten’s Lemon Yogurt Cake, with a couple changes. I added poppy seeds and used nonfat Greek yogurt instead of whole milk regular yogurt. I also took the liberty of adding the oil to the wet ingredients, rather than folding it in later — that step seemed unnecessarily fussy. I also baked the cake in two 9-inch cake pans instead of a loaf, for a more festive presentation. This lowered the cooking time drastically — the cakes only took 30 minutes to bake. Oh, and I subbed in organic lemon extract instead of vanilla, to amp up the lemon flavor even further. I liked the idea of keeping the vanilla frosting and lemon cake flavors separate — they’re complementary, but stand alone as separate elements of the dessert.
I used a jar of blackberry jam that I canned last summer, but you can use a cup of any jam you like. I think raspberry would work wonderfully here.
As for the vanilla frosting, that’s the genius work of Tasty Kitchen member MissyDew. I’d never made a cooked frosting before, so I figured I’d go with a tried and true recipe, and this one has gotten raves all over the internet. For good reason. I’m pretty pleased with myself for having the self control to decorate the cake instead of just frosting my face. I followed the recipe to the letter — you can find it here.
Lemon Poppy seed Cake
1 1/2 C. all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C. nonfat Greek yogurt
1 1/3 C. granulated sugar, divided
3 large eggs
zest of two lemons, microplaned
1/2 tsp. lemon extract
1/2 C. canola oil
1/4 C. poppy seeds
juice of two lemons (about 1/3 C.)
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour the sides of two 9″ cake pans with parchment, then line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt, one cup of the sugar, eggs, lemon zest, lemon extract, canola oil, and poppy seeds.
4. Form a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, and pour in the bowl of wet ingredients. Whisk until just combined.
5. Divide batter evenly between the two cake pans and bake for 30 minutes, or until lightly browned on top and a toothpick inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean.
6. While the cakes are baking, combine the remaining 1/3 C. sugar and the lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk until sugar is dissolved and mixture is clear, then set aside.
7. Remove cakes from oven. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pans, then flip out onto cooling rack. You’ll want plates or a baking sheet under the cooling rack to catch any liquid.
8. Remove the parchment paper from your cakes, then pour the lemon juice mixture evenly over them. Let cool to room temperature before frosting.