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Lemon Poppy Seed Coffee Cake
Unwrap this perfect snacking cake to eat morning, noon, and night.
I declared this the year of the snack cake, and here is proof that I am committed to the cause. We are headed up the mountain for my daughter’s ski lesson today, and how stoked do you think she (and me too) will be to dig into a slice of crumb-topped cake instead of a granola bar?
This cake is sturdy yet moist, sliceable, and travels well - pretty much everything you want out of a napkin-held treat as you jet out the door for soccer practice, skiing, and the like. Oh, and it tastes amazing!
I took the classic combo of lemon and poppy seeds and crossed it with a heavily crumb-topped coffee cake. Adding poppy seeds to the streusel gives each bite a little crunch.
While there is lemon zest in the cake itself, it’s the glaze that brings the tartness level up to amazing. At just 2-ingredients and a quick drizzle over the top, you don’t want to miss this last step!
This cake uses the reverse creaming technique to give it its tight, springy crumb. This not only means less crumbs when unwrapping your snack cake on the go but that it is plush and tender without being dry or dense.
Read more about The Reverse Creaming Method.
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Poppy Seed Crumb Topping
1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
⅔ cup (132g) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
½ cup (133g) unsalted butter, diced and softened
Put the flour, sugar, and poppy seeds in a medium bowl and toss around to combine. Scrape the diced butter into the bowl and begin mixing it together between your finger tips.
Keep cutting in the butter, like you would pie dough, by smearing the bits of butter between your fingers until the whole mess of it is shaggy but holds together when given a squeeze.
Place the bowl in the refrigerator and go make the cake batter.
Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1 cup (240ml) buttermilk
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease the inside of an 8-inch square baking pan with butter then line the bottom with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, pour in the sugar and lemon zest. Dunk your hands into the bowl and start massaging the zest into the sugar. It will smell very lemony and fresh when done.
To the lemon sugar, add the flour, baking powder, poppy seeds, and salt and stir to combine. Add the butter and mix on medium-low speed until the butter is covered in the dry ingredients and appears sandy.
With the mixer on medium-low speed, pour in half of the buttermilk. Mix to hydrate the dry ingredients. Stop when they are evenly moistened. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the eggs and vanilla extract to the remaining buttermilk and whisk until smooth. Working in three batches with the mixer on medium speed, slowly stream in ⅓ of the mixture. Allow each addition to fully emulsify into the batter before adding the next. Stop the mixer between each addition and scrape down the bowl.
Do not overmix the batter. It is okay if a few small lumps remain.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Take the crumb topping out of the refrigerator and sprinkle it all over the cake.
Bake the cake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out or with a few moist crumbs.
Allow the cake to cool on a wire rack before adding the glaze.
1 cup (125g) confectioners’ sugar
2 to 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a bowl. Add the lemon juice and mix until smooth. The glaze should flow off the spoon in thick ribbons. Add more lemon juice as needed.
Drizzle the glaze all over the cake. Slice and enjoy!
Serving and Storage:
Slice the cake into 12 to 16 squares. Serve at room temperature.
The cake may be stored at room temperature wrapped in plastic, foil, or beeswax for about 4 days.
The glaze will set as it dries - making the cake snackable and perfect for transporting.
Make sure the butter is softened. It should be pliable enough to spread over a piece of toast, but not melted or greasy.
Slowly stream in the egg-milk mixture in batches. Allow each addition to fully absorb into the batter before adding the next. Stop the mixer between each addition and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.