Lemon-Poppy Seed Pound Cake

Poppy seeds give this tangy pound cake (shown fourth from the top) subtle crunch and, when sliced and plated, a delightful flecked appearance. The batter bakes up very dark and with a firm crust, so for best results trim the top, bottom, and sides of the cakes just before frosting.For approximate batter amounts and baking times, see below; you will need to make enough batter to fill each cake pan three-quarters full. The batter can be made in separate batches for the larger cake layers.

  • Yield: Makes about 9 1/2 cups batter

Source: Martha Stewart's Wedding Cakes

Ingredients

  • 15 tablespoons (1 stick plus 7 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for pans
  • 5 lemons
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons creme fraiche
  • 9 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons poppy seeds

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees with racks in the lower half. Coat the cake pans with butter; line the bottoms with parchment paper, and coat parchment. Dust with flour, and tap out any excess. Set aside.

  2. Grate the zest of the lemons (you should have about 5 tablespoons). Blend the zest with the sugar in a food processor until fine. Remove the pith from each lemon with a sharp knife. Working with one at a time, hold the lemon over a bowl, and carve out the flesh between the membranes, allowing the segments to drop into the bowl (you should have about 3/4 cup segments). Squeeze the juice from the membranes into the bowl; strain the juice (you should have about 1/3 cup). Chop the segments into 1/2-inch pieces; strain off any juice and toss with 2 tablespoons of the flour.

  3. Sift the remaining 4 cups flour and the baking powder into a mixer bowl; add the lemon sugar. Attach the bowl to the mixer. With the mixer on low speed, add the creme fraiche. Raise the speed to medium. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Reduce the speed to low. Gradually add the melted butter and lemon juice; mix until combined. Mix in the poppy seeds; fold in the lemon segments. Divide the batter among the prepared pans.

  4. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the centers comes out clean. (If the cakes become too dark while baking, cover with foil.) Transfer to wire racks; let cool in the pans slightly. Invert the cakes onto racks. Remove the parchment; reinvert and cool completely on racks.

Cook's Notes

Approximate batter amounts and baking times for 3-inch-deep round pans: 6-inch: 6 cups, 1 hour; 8-inch: 9 cups, 1 hour 30 minutes; 10-inch: 12 cups, 1 hour 30 minutes; 12-inch: 15 cups, 2 hours.

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