Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

I made this cake for my friend Anie’s birthday last week. It’s a lemon poppy seed cake, with blueberry compote filling and a simple vanilla buttercream frosting. What I like about this one is that it didn’t come out overly sweet. By using compote instead of jam the added sugar goes way down. You can taste the fresh fruit, and a gentle tartness from the lemon.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake:

3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1¼ cup milk
2 sticks of unsalted, softened butter
3 eggs
2 lemons
3 Tbsp poppy seeds
1 tsp vanilla
1 ¾ cup sugar

1.     Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
2.     Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer.
3.     To the butter/sugar add vanilla. Then add the eggs one at a time.
4.     Grate the zest of both lemons and add to the butter/sugar/egg mixture.
5.     Juice both lemons. You should end up with about 1/3-1/2 cup of juice. Add the lemon juice to the butter/sugar/egg mixture.
6.     Next toss in the poppy seeds.  Make sure all the wet ingredients are incorporated thoroughly.
7.     Alternate adding the milk and the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Always start additions with dry ingredients and end with dry ingredients.
8.     Preheat the oven to 350.
9.     Prepare 3, 8” round cake pans. Fill each pan exactly half full.
10. Bake for about 22-25 minutes until the center of the cake springs back when poked with your finger, or when you insert a toothpick and the toothpick comes out clean.

Blueberry Compote:

16 oz of either frozen or fresh blueberries
1 lemon
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup water
1 Tbsp cornstarch

1.     Place the blueberries, sugar and water in a medium sized saucepan.
2.     Grate the lemon and add the zest to the pan.
3.     Juice the lemon and add that to the pan (roughly ¼ cup)
4.     Heat the mixture on medium high heat, stirring gently until the fruit starts to break down and begins to boil.
5.     Lower the heat to a simmer. Let the compote cook for 10 minutes.
6.     If the mixture is super runny after 10 minutes, stir in the cornstarch a little at time. Make sure to really mix that in! You don’t want to eat starchy lumps later! Continue to cook 5- 10 more minutes.
7.     Remove the compote from the heat. Be sure to let the compote completely cool in the refrigerator before you use this on a cake or it’ll melt the frosting.

Vanilla Buttercream:

2 sticks unsalted, softened butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp blueberry juice from the cooled compote*
1 tsp vanilla

* For traditional white frosting just use 2 Tbsp more milk instead of the compote juice. Also if you plan on piping this frosting beware to carefully strain the blueberry juice because any leftover teeny-tiny blueberry seed can clog up “star” piping tips! I learned that lesson the hard way! I used the juice in this recipe simply for the purple color, an alternative to adding artificial food coloring.

Assembly:

1.     First place a small dollop of frosting in the center of the cake plate, then, place your first layer of cooled cake on top of that.
2.     On top of the first layer of cake pipe a small ring of frosting around the outer edge of the cake; this creates a dam so the compote won’t escape.
3.     Next generously cover the top of the cake with compote within the boundaries of the frosting dam. Place you next layer of cake on top of that.
4.     Repeat steps 2-3.
5.     With the top layer now on top of the cake frost the entire thing with a crumb layer of frosting. A crumb layer is super thin; it’s just enough to make sure the cake isn’t exposed. Don’t worry about making it pretty yet.
6.     Refrigerate the cake for 20 minutes.
7.     Now make the cake pretty with a second layer of frosting. Use everything you have left and smooth it on starting with the top and working your way down. By doing the crumb layer first it’s much easier to make a smooth cover and you’ll never find any escapee crumbs caught in the beautiful frosting.
8.     Lastly add the remainder of the compote to the top of the cake. You can put as much or as little as you like. You can also center the compote on top or push it out to the edges and let it run down the sides.



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