I had eight egg yolks leftover from a previous recipe and I was originally going to make Momofuku’s crack pie (because the Pie had requested the same). But then I realized that the recipe makes TWO pies, and I don’t really like the dish itself — it’s just too sweet for me. No way can I work through one of those pies, let alone two. So I decided to make Smitten Kitchen’s Poppy Seed Lemon Cake instead. Not to be mistaken for lemon poppy seed cake, this crumbly confection has a mere hint of citrus and a heckuva lot of crunchy seeds.
So if you want to go this route, get to it! Preheat your oven to 325°F and then generously butter and flour a 8″ fluted Bundt or tube pan.
Go ahead and butter the dull side of a 10″ piece of tin foil while you’re at it (helpful hint for North American readers, at least: foil comes in 12″ wide rolls, so if you tear off a near-perfect square you should be all right).
Melt 2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup, or 1/2lb) and set that aside to cool a bit.
Scrub 2 large lemons and grate the zest from them.
Now, in the bowl of your electric mixer, plop 1 whole egg, 8 egg yolks, and 2/3 cup granulated sugar.
Beat that up on medium-high speed for about 8 minutes (I’m not even joking). Watch how the mixture transforms to this pale and fluffy amazingness. Beat in the lemon zest.
Sift on top of that 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup corn starch, and a pinch of salt.
Use a rubber spatula to fold that in. The corn starch will make the spatula catch against the edges of the bowl but you must persist.
Put the mixer on medium speed and trickle in the butter.
And then add in 1/2 cup poppy seeds. I know, it’s a lot of poppy seeds. Don’t worry, it’s not going to get you high.
Pour that into your prepared pan.
Use the buttered tin foil to tightly seal the top of the pan (this keeps the cake from drying out and allows its own steam to make it a little fluffier).
Bake that sucker for 45 minutes, until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Take the foil off and let the pan cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes.
Then invert the pan and let the cake fall out. If you buttered the pan enough this won’t be a problem, but if it sticks, use a butter knife to gently pry it away from the sides of the pan.
Let the cake cool for at least 30 minutes before serving (or it will fall apart on you). Dust the top with icing sugar as decoration.
Now, I didn’t feel right wasting the juice of those 2 lemons, so I heated up the juice, together with about 3 tablespoons of sugar, to make a wee glaze to go on top, to boost the lemony-ness of the cake, for those who were interested.