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Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

I love lemon poppy seed – muffins, bundt cakes, pound cake…any form works for me. I know it may be old-fashioned or uncool, but it is just so zesty and sweet! And I love hit of crunchy nuttiness from the poppy seeds. I thought it would be the perfect treat on a snowy weekend, and looked so cute in mini cakelet form (thanks to this oh-so-fun Christmas gift).

I combined a couple of recipes based on what I had around the house, but I think the sour cream is the key to keeping these little cakes moist. They do stick, so make sure you grease the pan well, and let the cakes cool for about 5 minutes before tipping them out. No more, no longer – to little and they’ll crumble on impact, too much and they’ll cling for dear life.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

2 cups flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 cup butter, softened

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

2 tbs. lemon zest (from two large lemons)

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 cup sour cream

3 tbs poppy seeds

Combine sugar and butter in mixer, cream until pale and fluffy. Add in eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Wisk together dry ingredients, add to sugar mixture in thirds, alternating with the sour cream. Add in poppy seeds and beat until just combined.

Spoon mixture into well-greased pan (I think a muffin pan would work equally well here). Beware – this dough rises to almost double in size – resulting in the little skirt at the bottom of the cake above. Nothing wrong with it (some say it’s the tastiest part) but I thought I’d issue a warning. Bake at 325 degrees for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and springy to the touch.


Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

I have a weakness for soft snickerdoodle cookies in all their cinnamon-sugar glory. So what could be better than a cupcake variation? Cute and delicious!

These cupcakes have a cinnamon scented cake base and a traditional marshmallow or 7-minute frosting. They were really fun to frost and decorate with a piping bag and some extra cinnamon-sugar, which had the added benefit of providing a little crunch. I think the light frosting goes well with the cake, though it is a bit sweet for my liking. Overall, I think I am more enamored with how these look than with how they actually tasted, but they are just so darn cute!!

A few key takeaways from my experience – make sure you use a high quality cinnamon in both the cake and the topping, as well as a good vanilla in the frosting. Those two flavors weigh heavily in the success of the cupcake, so it is worth the extra money! Also, don’t make these if it is humid out – humidity and 7-minute frosting are not friends.

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

recipe from (who else but…) Martha. And she knows all, so I’m not going to bother rewriting the recipe. I didn’t change anything – so just go to the website to view it!

Lemon Cake

Ruffles! I saw this frosting technique on sweetapolita and had to try it. I think the end of my piping tip was a bit too even – I could have gotten sharper ruffles with a tip that had a more angled opening. Regardless, I couldn’t contain my glee at the sight of such a pretty cake! I ran out of frosting though, so my two little cakes ended up being ruffled and sprinkled which I thought was quite fun.

The cake is a traditional white cake that I added a little lemon zest to, then filled with lemon curd and topped with Swiss meringue buttercream icing. Which is now my new favorite – so rich and creamy and just mildly sweet. I thought it went perfectly with the intensely lemony filling.

The lemon curd and cake are both Martha recipes, and I followed the buttercream recipe found on the blog that inspired my cake making festivities. I was very pleased with the mini pans that I had just bought – I think the cakes came out so cute and were small enough that none went to waste!

I added some extra zest to the lemon curd, and I’m glad I did. It was just the right balance of sweet and tart (I am guilty of consuming more than my fair share directly from the bowl). I think this would make a wonderful cake for a shower, Easter, or any spring event. Or if you’re like me and need something to get you through the dismal gloom of March rain/snow mix, this cake is just perfect.

Lightly Lemon Cake

adapted from Martha Stewart

3 cups cake flour (not self-rising)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

2 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup milk

8 large egg whites

Zest of one lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-by-2-inch round cake pans.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. Beat butter and 2 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in three parts, alternating with milk and beginning and ending with flour; beat until just combined. Transfer mixture to a large bowl; set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites on low speed until foamy. With mixer running, gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar; beat on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 4 minutes. Do not overbeat. Gently fold a third of the egg-white mixture into the butter-flour mixture until combined. Fold in remaining whites and lemon zest.

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans, bake 30-35 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool.

Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cake layers to make level.

Lemon Curd

also adapted from Martha

6 large egg yolks

Zest of 3 lemons

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 4 lemons)

12 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces

Whisk together yolks, zest, juice, and sugar in a small saucepan. Set over medium heat, and stir constantly with a wooden spoon. Cook until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the wooden spoon, 5 to 7 minutes.

Remove pan from heat. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, stirring until incorporated. Pass through a fine mesh sieve into medium bowl. Stirring frequently, let stand until cool.

Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on surface of curd to prevent skin from forming; wrap tightly. Refrigerate until firm and chilled, at least 1 hour. Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

adapted slightly from sweetapolita (I added less vanilla for fear of overpowering the lemon. I shouldn’t have worried as the filling was not subtly lemon at all, but the frosting was nice and mellow this way)

5 large egg whites

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar

1 pound unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes

3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Whisk egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a double boiler (or the bowl of your stand mixer over a pot of simmering water) until temperature reaches 140 degrees.

Whip mixture until it is thick and glossy, and has cooled. With the paddle attachment of your mixer, continue to beat the mixture constantly while adding in the cubed, softened butter. Beat until smooth. If yours separates (as mine did, which was mildly alarming) don’t worry – just continue to beat it and have some faith. It will come back together.

Once all the butter has been added and the frosting has reached creamy perfection, mix in your vanilla and salt. Now you’re all set – pipe away!

To Assemble

Cake. Lemon Curd. Cake. Lemon Curd. Cake. Pipe/slather with frosting. Consume happily.

Apple Cinnamon Bundt Cake

This cake was moist, with a deliciously crisp crust. I adapted one of Martha’s recipes and left off the glaze – I felt like just keeping it simple. Towards the end of the cake’s time in the oven, I got a little nervous – it seemed to be growing darker by the minute! If this happens to you, never fear – it isn’t burnt, just forming a rich, chewy crust.

Apple Cinnamon Bundt Cake
adapted from Martha Stewart

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup unsalted butter,  softened
1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
4 large eggs
6 Macintosh or Cortland apples, peeled, cored and cubed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make the cake: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.

In a mixer, combine butter, brown sugar, and eggs. Beat until smooth. Beat in dry ingredients just until combined (do not overmix). Fold in apples. Spoon batter into a greased nonstick bundt pan. Bake until a tester inserted in cake comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool in pan on rack 15 minutes; invert onto rack to cool completely. Sprinkle with powered sugar and enjoy!

Cake Truffles

A day that celebrates the sappy, and features the color pink? Count me in.

After a recent spontaneous purchase of more Valentine’s day cupcake wrappers than I knew what to do with, and an opposition to using hearts on any other day of the year, I decided something fabulous had to be done. I proceeded to whip together a delicious chocolate cake batter, recipe courtesy of smittenkitchen, and attempt to make cupcakes early on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, what would have normally made a wonderfully fluffy cake created a crumbly cupcake mess. After a failed attempt to remove a 9-inch round cake from the pan resulted in a heartbreaking scene of broken cake all over the counter, these truffles were my solution. Overtly trendy and super sweet, yes, but they caused a great celebration at work – actually referred to as “rocket fuel” by one. 3pm sugar rush anyone?