Are you all finished with your Christmas Shopping? I think I am. I still have teacher presents to complete and I am making a small child’s quilt for my daughter’s American Girl Doll. A friend of mine just finished making 90 lemon poppy seed mini loaves for Christmas presents. Her trick is to use the cheap disposable aluminum pans for a even bake:
6 Tablespoons milk
6 large eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons loosely packed lemon zest
6 Tablespoons poppyseeds
26 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 plus 4 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a large, fluted tube pan or 6 mini loaf pans or grease 2 standard loaf pans and line the bottom with parchment paper.
2. Lightly combine the milk, eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest in a medium-sized bowl.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the poppy seeds. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend. Then add the butter and half the egg mixture. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase the speed to medium (high if you are using a hand mixer), and beat for 1 minute.
4. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Gradually add the remaining egg mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition, and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the surface with a spatula. (The batter will be almost 1/2 inch from the top of a 4-cup loaf pan. If your pan is slightly smaller, use any excess batter for cupcakes.)
6. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 55 to 65 minutes.
7. Shortly before the cake is done, prepare the Lemon Syrup: In a small pan over medium heat, stir the sugar and lemon juice together until the sugar has dissolved.
8. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, place the pan on a wire rack, and brush it with half the syrup. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes.
9. Loosen the sides of the cake with a spatula, and invert it onto a greased wire rack. Brush it with some syrup, and reinvert onto a greased wire rack. Brush the sides with the remaining syrup and allow the cake to cool completely.
10. Store the cake for 24 hours, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap (to give the syrup a chance to distribute evenly). Serve at room temperature.
Note: Tightly wrapped, the cake will keep for 3 days at room temperature, 1 week in the refrigerator, and 2 months in the freezer.