I have been promising to get this cake up on the blog for ages. For those of you who have waited patiently, thank you! I made it for my mother-in-law's birthday and it was a hit! I couldn't share how good it looked when cut into, as I still needed to give it to her. But I guess that will be part of the surprise and the trust that you have with The Truffle Journal. The moment that you cut into the cake will be such a treat. The lemon flavour is perfect and compliments the thyme wonderfully. I made a vanilla buttercream which was delectable and trust me, will leave you wanting more. Just don't make the same mistake I did, which was to have dinner before.
Life is short, have dessert first and in this case, lemon and thyme poppy seed cake!
For the cake:
420 grams cake flour
400 grams caster sugar
4 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons poppy seeds (soaked in a little warm milk for 15 minutes)
230 grams unsalted butter, room temperature, coarsely chopped
grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon
1 ¼ cups buttermilk
5 egg whites
For the thyme syrup:
50 grams granulated sugar (from the cake sugar)
1/2 cup water
small fist-full of thyme leaves - about 10 sprigs
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
For the frosting:
2 vanilla beans, scored and seeds removed
4 cups icing sugar, sifted
250g cream cheese
200 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla paste
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius.
Grease three 20cm round cake pans.
Line the bottom of each with a round of wax paper and butter the paper. (The batter is sticky so don't miss this step!)
Combine the flour, 1 ¾ cups (350g) of the sugar, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds (milk strained) in the large bowl of an electric mixer.
Beat on low speed to blend the ingredients and break up any lumps, about 30 seconds.
Add the butter, lemon zest and 1 cup of the buttermilk to the flour mixture. Beat on low until completely mixed.
Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1-2 minutes to lighten and aerate the batter.
In a medium bowl, combine the egg whites with the remaining ¼ cup buttermilk; whisk well. Add this mixture to the batter in 2-3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beating only enough to incorporate. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes.
While the cakes are cooling, make the lemon syrup: in a small saucepan, combine the remaining ¼ cup (50g) of sugar, the lemon juice, thyme and the water. Bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes.
Turn out the cake layers onto wire racks and generously brush them hot lemon syrup over the warm cakes to moisten evenly. Let cool completely.
For the frosting:
Using an electric mixer beat the butter and cream cheese together until it is light and fluffy. Add the sugar one cup at a time beating well after each addition. Make sure to scrap the sides down. Add the vanilla and mix well.
To assemble the cake:
I add a dollop of frosting onto the base before I add my first layer. This ensures it doesn't go slipping and sliding.
Add a fifth of the icing on the first layer and spread evenly. Add the next layer and repeat. Use the remaining icing to ice the cake. You can do a nude look or fully cover the cake. Garnish with some thyme or flowers!