Those were the only requests made by my friend Rachel for her birthday cake. Actually, she suggested a loaf-type-dessert, but I thought that since it was her birthday after all, she should have something that more closely resembled a cake! I’ve always loved this recipe, which originated from The Candle Cafe Cookbook, and is for their Lemon-Poppyseed Muffins. However, as I made it this time with my baking buddy Julie, I took out the cane sugar (substituting date sugar instead), added extra lemon zest, and doubled the whole recipe to fit into a large bundt cake pan. I’ve never baked with date sugar before, and I wasn’t sure exactly how it would react in a cake – the results were fabulous. I barely noticed a difference from how the original recipe tastes, except for a slightly “darker” flavor, a little bit like I had added a touch of molasses. It’s nice to know that you can substitute a totally natural sweetener for the highly processed white cane sugar that is in so many baked goods, making them a little more nutritious as well as ethically healthy (i.e.: animal-friendly).
Personally, I loved this cake as it was (and I love it so dearly in muffin form too!), with tons of crunchy poppy seeds in every single bite, but I was told that it would be extra delicious with a lemon glaze drizzled over. I would do this right after taking the cake out of the oven, and as the cake cools it will create a crispy crunchy sweet top. …And after writing this post and looking at my pictures again, I’m wishing I had an extra slice leftover to nosh on right now!
Lemon-Poppy Seed Muffins Ingredients:
Makes 12 muffins (double this recipe if you’d like to make a bundt cake)
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (or a combination of 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour and 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour)
1/4 cup date sugar (you can easily substitute 1/4 cup of cane sugar, if you want, and you will be back at the original recipe!)
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt (fine grained)
1/2 cup Earth Balance margarine, slightly melted
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup almond milk (or your favorite non-dairy milk)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup poppy seeds
3 tsp. grated lemon zest
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a muffin tin, line tins with cupcake papers, or grease and flour a bundt pan.
Sift the flours, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk to mix. In a separate bowl, whisk together the margarine, maple syrup, almond milk, and lemon juice until foamy. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and mix until the batter is smooth. Fold in the poppy seeds and lemon zest.
Pour the batter into the muffin tins or bundt pan, dividing evenly and spreading flat across the top. Bake on a center rack of the oven for 20-25 minutes for muffins, or 55 minutes for a cake – make sure to do a toothpick test by sticking a toothpick into the center, and if it comes out clean you can take the pan out of the oven. The muffins are best served while warm, but if you choose to make the cake then leave it to cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes before extracting it. Take your cake out of the pan and let cool completely before eating.