That single line often makes me break out in hives. Seriously. The measuring, the testing, the uncanny ability for all of your hard work to go up in smoke! Hey...I'm a cheater. (No comments from the peanut gallery!) If I can use a cake mix, I will. I openly and freely admit it!
However, sometimes you have to take the plunge...like when all there is for "Poppy Seed" mixes is muffin mix - and surely that would've sucked. Scratch was my only option. Sigh. Lucky for me, the recipe turned out to be pretty fool-proof. Without further adu...
3-BLEND CITRUS POPPY-SEED CAKE
(I apologize if you see the word "poopy" instead of "poppy." I've caught myself twice already.)
Cake (all ingredients should be room temp):
3 sticks of unsalted butter
3 3/4 cups of flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
4/3 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups sugar
7 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp grated lime, lemon and orange zest
1/3 cup poppy seeds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 2 or 3 8x2 inch round cake pans. Set aside. (2 pans will give you (4) 1/2 inch layers, 3 pans will give you (3) 1-inch layers.)
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-low speed until lightened, about 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add sugar, and once again beat until lightened, about 3 to 4 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed to combine thoroughly. Drizzle in eggs, a little at a time, beating on medium-low speed after each addition until batter is smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in vanilla.
7 eggs is a lotta eggs!
Reduce mixer speed to low and alternately add flour mixture and milk, a little at a time, beginning and ending with the flour mixture until well combined, scraping often. Beat in the zest of the lime, lemon and orange, as well as the poppy seeds.
Divide batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 minutes, then rotate pans for even browning, baking an additional 5 to 10 minutes more - or until a skewer comes out clean when poked into the center of the cake. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool for about 15 minutes, then carefully turn cakes out (top up) to completely cool.
The icing will need to chill at least 3 hours before spreading. Don't taste it though, or you might eat it all!
Icing (reminder - ingredients should be kept at room temp!):
12 oz. cream cheese
6 tbsp butter
3 cups confectioner's sugar
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the butter, scraping the sides often, until combined. Carefully add the confectioner's sugar on low-speed until the mix is completely combined. Beat frosting on medium-speed until smooth and fluffy, about 1 full minute, then transfer to an airtight container and chill until firm.
Assemble the cake...
Place a little of the icing on the serving platter to keep the cake from sliding around. Place one layer of cake on top, then spread 1/3 of the icing onto the cake and repeat until all you have left is one layer of cake.
When ready to serve, glaze!
Lemon Glaze (can be made 3 to 4 hours ahead):
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
3 to 4 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp poppy seeds
Place sugar in a bowl. Gradually add lemon juice, stirring with a fork to combine until smooth. The mixture should be slightly thick. Stir in poppy seeds. Glaze cake immediately by pouring mixture over the center of the top and allowing it to run down the sides.
Then, DIG IN!
The recipe is definitely not as complicated as it seems, and the finished product was excellent, much to the delight of my dinner guests (and co-workers who got the leftovers the next day). My only other alternate addition for next time...I might play a little with the moistness of the cake by brushing some Limoncello over the cut layers. It would also give the cake a little more robust lemon flavor, which I was missing. Wish I thought of it earlier.
Am I still afraid of "cake from scratch?" Hell yes! But this recipe did give me a little more confidence in that realm.