Saturday, 12 April 2008

lemon poppyseed cake

Over the past few weeks I've learned a lot about life and about myself. Who knew I could give a great buzz hair cut? My first experience using a shaver with a #3 guard and I proved to be quite the queen of shaving heads (not my own, mind you). Any takers? I also learned that in order to find the perfect bra, take one of your best gay boyfriends to the Target lingerie section and let him loose; he will come out with just the right thing every time. Guanteed. And when searching for something delicious to bake, ask your good friend who lives with a vegan chef who works at a high end gourmet vegan restaurant in Manhattan. And what did this wonderful friend say when I complained of lack of creativity and inspiration in the kitchen? Simple. "Why don't you make lemon poppy seed cake" Julie said without hesitation. Thanks Julie! Lemon poppy seed is one of those flavor combinations I love but always forget about because chocolate flavored things usually get in the way. When a lemon poppy seed muffin is placed next to a chocolate mocha muffin, the later always wins. When lemon poppy seed pancakes are next to chocolate chip pancakes on a menu, again, the later will always win. However, this is completely absurd seeing as lemon poppy seed baked and fried good are so unbelievably delicious. Maybe you don't have such a hard time with these dilemmas; maybe your taste buds are not so close minded.

Last post I mentioned that I am fasting from sugar for a month. Well, it's over and I'm feeling good. No, I'm not lying to you. There were times when I accidentally (no! not lying again!) consumed sugar and it tasted awful. It made my teeth hurt and tasted like chemicals instead of sweet sugary goodness. Instead, things that don't normally seem sweet to me actually are sweet now. Like certain coffee roasts, tea and vegetable and fruit juices are becoming to be just the right amount of sweet without added sugars. I have consulted my fasting partner (note: DO NOT fast from sugar by yourself; you've been warned) Carrie, and we both decided we like the sugar-free life much better. That's not to say I won't throw in a 1/2C turbinado sugar in a muffin recipe here and there, or indulge in a piece of birthday cake now and then, but I have been set straight of my sugar eating ways and hope to not stray down the path of refined sugar again. Amen.

I could not find a recipe to follow for this cake that I liked, so I took my chances with adding flour and liquids and zest and hoped for the best. My luck with this whimsical baking has been getting better and better and when the golden, sweet-lemony cake came out of the oven I knew immediately it was a winner. It's very dense like a rich brownie, however the taste is light and palate cleansing. I had very good intentions of frosting it, but after eating 2 pieces straight from the warm pan I decided this was rich enough on its own and needed no help. This would be perfect to make for a brunch, to celebrate a new haircut, new underwear, a sugar-fast...or just an ordinary day that needed a bit of sunshine.

you will need these:
2 mixing bowls
8-9 inch cake pan
wooden mixing spoon

dry mixture:
1 3/4 C unbleached self-rising flour
pinch of salt

liquid mixture:
juice of lemons and zest of 1
1/2 C rice milk (or any other vegan milk) +1 T apple cider vinegar (whisked together with a fork)
1/4 C neutral vegetable oil
1 C agave nectar
seeds of 1 vanilla bean or 2 tsp non-alcohol vanilla extract

3 T poppy seeds

pre-heat oven to 375 degrees

grease and flour the cake pan then line with a piece of parchment paper

whisk the flour and salt together in one bowl

mix the rest of the liquid ingredients in the other bowl and beat until completely combined

pour the liquid mixture into the flour and add the poppy seeds. mix until just combined and bake right away for 30-40 minutes or until the top is a light golden brown

let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes then let it cool out of its pan on a cooling rack for about 30 before eating....

it is wonderful when eaten straight from the pan, but the flavor is much better when it's room temperature.

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