Lemon Icing – American Style

I used to work online for an organisation in America and I still correspond by e-mail with one of my old colleagues.

He sent me a recipe for a Lemon Cake which his maternal grandmother, Maude Hodge, used to make, saying that this was his favourite cake and she often made it for his birthday.

My nephew, who is now working in America, loves lemon cake – I made him two types when he was here on a visit over a year ago – see previous posts – Lemon Drizzle and Lemon Cream Roulade.

I am sure he will love this one and if he makes it – the recipe will have crossed the Atlantic and back!

The recipe is for an icing or topping, which is a “cousin” to Lemon Curd and Lemon Meringue Pie filling.

I made two cakes using 4 eggs using a butter sponge as in  – How Did My Sponge Become Sandy? You could also use a fat free sponge. (Use 21 or 22 cm diameter tins)

The original instructions said to cut each cake into two so that you had four layers – my cutting ability is not that good! (Also I liked the thick layer in the middle)

You spread the icing on the layers to sandwich them together and then cover the top and sides.

Ingredients

  • 440g of granulated sugar
  • 250ml of water
  • 3 lemons – juice and finely grated rind
  • 1 egg
  • 5 tablespoons of cornflour
  • 1 teaspoon of butter

Method

  • In a saucepan mix the sugar, egg, cornflour and water together.
  • Add the lemon juice and rind.
  • Cook over a low heat, stirring gently until the mixture thickens.
  • Remove from the heat, add the butter and stir.
  • Leave to cool.
  • Place one of the cakes on a serving plate – one with a lip is best.
  • Spread the icing on the cake.
  • Put the other cake on top.
  • Cover the top and sides.

 

  • The cake is on a Walther  Glas crystal cake plate.
  • Served on Aynsley – Las Palmas tea plates,  from the 1960s.
  • Coffee cups & saucers by Colclough,  Ridgway Concord,  from the 1970s.

 

 

Yeast Babka – Polish Yeast Cake

Babka is the name of a Polish cake. The name means grandmother and it is thought to refer to the the shape of the cake which is round and dumpy or tall and tapered and looks like the full and pleated skirts found in Polish costumes.

A yeast babka  is a classic Polish cake. It is usually made  with the addition of some dried fruits or peel.

A yeast babka is traditional for Easter Sunday.

My mother never had much success with making yeast cakes and so abandoned the process.

In the past I have tried to make a yeast babka also without much success.

Once I started writing this blog I went back to my old Polish cookery book – “my bible”

Kuchnia Polska – Polish Kitchen or Polish Cookery – 15th edition published in 1971.

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Book title

I used one of the recipes from this book and the result was wonderful!

I have now realised where I was going wrong:

I had been treating this cake as if I was making bread and in fact the technique is quite different.

  1. You have to use ordinary plain flour not strong flour.
  2. The mixture is a batter – you do not knead it.
  3. You have to have lots of patience – the yeast can take hours and hours to rise.
  4. The yeast will rise even in a coldish kitchen – it just takes a long time – even overnight or in the fridge.

Note

I used dried yeast for this recipe as that is easier for me and nearer to using fresh yeast.

I am sure you can adapt this to use the quick action yeast although I have not tried this myself.

Ingredients

Starter

100g plain flour

250 ml of milk

50g of fresh yeast or 25g of dried yeast

25g of granulated sugar

Rest of cake

5 egg yolks

150g of granulated sugar

400g of plain flour

pinch of salt

2 drops of vanilla essence

100g of melted butter or margarine

50g of raisins or sultanas

Method

First make the starter

Mix toIMG_20151210_072305828gether the yeast and sugar.

Add this to the milk and flour.

Leave in to bubble and rise to around double its size.

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Grease and flour a babka tin

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Pre-heat the oven to GM5

Place the egg yolks and the sugar in a bowl and whisk until they are pale and creamy.

Add the rest of the flour, the risen starter, the pinch of salt and the drops of vanilla essence and mix it all together.

Add the melted butter a little at a time, mixing it in after each addition.

Add the raisins or sultanas and mix them well in so you have a unified mixture.

Place the mixture in the prepared tin – it should fill around a 1/3rd of the tin.

Cover the tin with a clean tea towel and leave the mixture to rise  and nearly fill the tin.

This can take several hours.

Bake in the oven for around 40 to 45 minutes.

Leave to cool and then carefully remove out of the tin.

Dust with icing sugar.

The  tea plates are Greenway Hostess designed by John Russell 1960 – 1979.

Easter babka

The babka for Easter is normally glazed with a thin icing made with lemon juice & icing sugar or instead of lemon juice you can use vanilla essence and a little water or you can use rum.

Also prior to this glaze you can make a poncz (this word originates from the English word punch) and drizzle this over the babka.

A rum poncz can be made from around 150ml of weak black tea, 45 ml of rum, 1 to 2 tablespoons of granulated  sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice.  These are mixed together until the sugar has dissolved. (You can use tepid tea to dissolve the sugar but not too hot to evaporate the rum.)

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Weak Black Tea

A lemon poncz can be make from the juice of a lemon and around 2 tablespoons of icing sugar.

A yeast cake which is fresh will not absorb as much of the liquid poncz, so if you have time you can made this the day before you want add the poncz or wait for several hours at least.

I am hoping to make a yeast babka for Easter with a glaze and will include photos of this in my post for Easter.

Makowiec – Poppy Seed Cake 4

A Very Easy Method

Weighing the poppy seeds

This cake is a more modern version as soft tub margarine is used and it is an all-in-one method which is so easy to do with an electric hand whisk.

I use either Flora original or Stork for baking – both of these have given good results.

Cake Ingredients

175g soft tub margarine for baking

225g self-raising flower

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

175g caster sugar

Grated rind of 2 lemons

3 eggs

3 tablespoon milk (full fat or semi-skimmed)

100g poppy seeds

Lemon Glaze Ingredients

Juice of 2 lemons

175g caster sugar

Pre heat the oven to Gas mark 4 – 1800C.

Make this as a tray bake in a tin about 31×22 cm.

I have a selection of Mermaid Hard Anodised rectangular baking tins and they are superb.

Grease the tin and use one piece of greaseproof paper to line the base and the two long sides of the tin.

Place all the ingredients except the poppy seeds into a large bowl and beat well for about 2 minutes until they are well blended.

Add the poppy seeds and beat till they are well mixed in.

Put the mixture into the tin and bake for about 30-35 minutes.

Leave to cool for about 5 minutes and release the cake from the tin and put on a cooling rack.

Mix the lemon juice and caster sugar to dissolve the sugar.

Prick the top in several places with a thin cake testing skewer.

Dribble the lemon glaze over the cake so the top in covered.

You can dust with icing sugar before serving.

 

Poppy Seed Cake 3 — Lighter on the Seeds

Poppies in my garden

This photo is taken from a very old slide but the plant is still growing in my garden and most years looks as good as this.

However this year it has not done so well.  I think it must be a combination of the alternating  very dry days and the cold wet days this summer.

It is a good job I am not relying on this as my source of seeds.  My best source of seeds is an indoor stall in  Leeds Market.  The stall sells dried fruits and nuts which are weighed out on request from large jars as well as other aids for baking.

On my first visit to Poland  I went to stay with my mother’s sister  and her family who had a small farm in the Masurian Lakes in the North East of Poland.  This was still in Communist times.

I saw there was a huge field of large headed purple flowered poppies.  My auntie had a Government contract that year  to grow these poppies for the production of morphine for  hospital use.

Poppy seeds of superior quality for culinary purposes are harvested when they are ripe, after the seed pod has dried.

Seeds for the production of morphine are harvested while the seed pods are green and their latex is abundant and  when the seeds have only just begun to grow.

Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake

This Poppy Seed cake is inspired by one I had when I was in America.  It is  like a lemon drizzle cake with fewer poppy seeds than in my other recipes.

This can be made with butter or block baking margarine.  I find that with many flavoured cakes margarine is as good if not better than butter.

To get the most zest from the lemons I use a fine Microplane Zester – It is the best!

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2 Graters & 1 Fine Zester
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Fine Microplane Zester

 

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Lemon Zest

 

Cake Ingredients

60g poppy seeds

125g self-raising flour

100g butter/block margarine

100g caster sugar

2 eggs

Grated zest of 2 lemons

2 tablespoons of warm water

Glaze Ingredients

80g caster sugar

Juice of 2 lemons

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 1800 C

Grease and line a 20cm/8inch square tin.

Beat the butter and sugar together till they are light and creamy.

Stir in the lemon zest.

Sift the flour.

Lightly beat the eggs together and then beat them into the mixture, a little at a time, adding a little of the flour with the last of the eggs.

Using a metal spoon, fold in the remaining flour and the water and then fold in the poppy seeds.

Turn the mixture into the prepared tin and bake the cake for about 35 minutes, or until it starts to shrink from the sides of the tin.

In a small pan dissolve the sugar in the lemon juice over a gentle heat.

When the cake is baked remove it from the oven and leave for a few minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack.

Put a plate underneath, prick the cake all over with a fine skewer whilst it is still warm and spoon the lemon glaze over it. If any runs through spoon it back on.

When the cake is cold dust it with icing sugar before serving.