My car died on a freeway on-ramp today, isn’t that special? So thankful nothing worse happened – no one rear ended me, and it didn’t happen on the bridge. Could have been so much worse! Whew.
But before that happened, at least I had cake with brunch! Poppy seed cake with Meyer lemon curd, to be exact. So so delicious & so awesome for brunch and dessert.
I believe this cake is actually old world Austrian in origin (actually – I had to look it up! It’s an Austrian-Northern Italian Alps hybrid beauty), but it happens to be naturally grain and gluten free. Interestingly, it also contains no added fats like butter or oil, but is leavened with whipped egg whites. I adapted it to be much less sweet and refined sugar free, making it pretty much paleo. It’s also dairy free, as is the lemon curd – which is appropriately tart, as per our joint penchant for tart things!
We loved this cake both with ice cream for dessert and alongside eggs and kale for breakfast – it really shines both ways. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s a super rich layer cake – it’s actually airy, light and refreshing. I made extra lemon curd for drizzle because our general motto is that you can never have too much curd! Ha.
In other news, I’ve been doing a lot of ridgeline hiking to take my mind off some persistent and uncomfortable health issues. The views are awesome and it’s great to get outside (and outside my head). More on that later, maybe or maybe not – I try to keep this space light. It’s just not been my best month, and I and I’d rather not pretend everything is rosy when it isn’t.
I can make cake though, and eat it with my favorite human. That makes life so much brighter, and I always find solace in baking and in the company of loved ones.
Bake, eat, love; surround yourself with those who make you feel loved and safe, and feed them. To me, this is one life’s best gifts.
Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Meyer Lemon Curd
Grain and gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free, pretty much paleo. Lightly sweet and plenty tart, in the best way! Prepare to floss excessively – this is for those who love poppy seeds! Yield: 2 8” cake layers or one 10” cake. Serves 6-8 (or two, for two meals with leftovers ;) cake adapted from Food52, here; the lemon curd is one I’ve made a zillion times; you’ll find it elsewhere on the blog and it is my current reigning favorite.
For the cake
- 1 Meyer lemon
- heaping 1/4 c maple sugar
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- large pinch of salt
- 5 eggs, separated
- 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled & grated
- 7 oz almond flour (~2c but weighing is better!)
- 7 oz poppy seeds
- 1.5 tsp baking powder
Heat oven to 350. Grease 2 8” cake pans (or one 10” pan) and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
Zest the lemon and place the zest along with the maple sugar in a large bowl. Rub the sugar and the zest together until the sugar is damp and fragrant. Separate the eggs and add the yolks to the bowl with the sugar and zest, and the whites to another large bowl. Beat the yolks with the zest and sugar until light in color and creamy. Juice the lemon and stir juice through the grated apple, then add to the bowl of yolks/sugar/zest along with maple syrup, vanilla, salt, almond flour, poppy seeds, and baking powder. Stir to combine – the batter will be thick. Wash the beaters thoroughly, and beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the rest of the batter, then pour it into the prepared pans.
Bake for 30 minutes (for 8” cakes; 40 minutes for a 10”), until the top is springy and golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes, then turn out onto cooling racks to cool completely.
Once cool, layer with lemon curd and store in the fridge until serving or serve immediately. Keeps well covered in the fridge for about 2-3 days.
For the Meyer lemon curd
- 2 whole eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/3 c Meyer lemon juice
- zest of 4 Meyer lemons
- pinch of sea salt
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 3.5 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tsp vanilla
I use a double boiler for this lemon curd, which definitely is a game changer. Highly recommended! Heat water in the bottom of the double boiler until it’s at a high simmer. In the top of the double boiler, whisk together eggs, egg yolks, lemon zest and juice, sea salt, and maple syrup. Add in the coconut oil one tbsp at a time, whisking continuously, not adding the next tbsp until the first is completely melted. Whisk in vanilla. Cook, stirring constantly, until the lemon curd thickens and will coat the back of a spoon (or your whisk leaves tracks) – usually around 5 to 8 minutes. It’s a noticeable change when it happens, so just watch the cooking magic! Remove from heat, strain to remove any solids (ie lemon zest) – I use a metal mesh strainer over my storage jar of choice – and store in a glass container in the fridge until ready for use. Keeps for a week in an airtight jar, and freezes well for later use.