Friday, 31 August 2012

Lemon and Poppyseed Syrup Cake

This time last week I was in the Czech countryside sipping cold Gambrinus (the local beer or 'pivo' of choice) and hanging out with my husband’s family. Every year we get together in their country house for a relaxing week or two of visiting lakes, eating home cooked goulash with bread dumplings and not doing too much at all. On hot days I love taking a break from the sun for a mid afternoon baking session and this lemon and poppyseed syrup cake is always a favourite.

One of the best things about baking in the Czech house is getting to use my mother-in-law’s antique scales and whatever ingredients happen to be in the kitchen. Since Czech tea is usually made with honey and lemon, there is always a good supply of lemon juice in the house. The poppyseeds were picked up from a field on the way back from one of our lake trips. The recipe uses the weight of the eggs in their shells to dictate how much sugar, butter and flour to use (handy as these antique scales have lost a couple of their little free standing weights!).
For the cake:
4 eggs
Caster sugar (weighing the same amount as the 4 eggs in their shells - approx 250g)
Unsalted butter (as above)
Self raising flour (as above)
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup (120ml) poppy seeds
1/4 cup (60ml) milk
Zest of one lemon

For the syrup:
Juice of one lemon
1/2 cup (120ml) caster sugar

Fresh petals to decorate (I’ve used sunflower petals as they are a nice lemony yellow)

1. Preheat your oven to 170C and line an 8” round baking tin
2. Weigh the eggs in their shells
3. Weigh out the sugar, butter and flour to match the total weight of the eggs
4. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy (this will take a few minutes)
5. Gradually add the eggs, flour and salt until just combined  
6. Stir in the poppyseeds, milk and lemon zest
7. Spoon the mixture into the lined tin and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
8. To make the syrup, heat the lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar has dissolved
9. Once the cake is out of the oven, prick the surface all over with a sharp knife and pour over the warm syrup. Leave to cool in the tin and decorate with the petals before serving.

Fox & Deer Cukrárna, Prague

If you're ever in Prague or any town in the Czech Republic you'll see plenty of Cukrárnas - little cafes selling cakes, sweets, ice cream and all things sugary and sweet ('cukr' is Czech for sugar). My favourite things to look out for are 'karamel' sundaes made with vanilla ice-cream, drizzled with caramel sauce and topped with hazelnuts and whipped cream and medovník, a sweet layered honey cake which is surprisingly light. Lots of Cukrárnas are wonderfully retro with faded signs and old fashioned lino but during my trip to Prague this year I spotted Fox & Deer - a cute and modern version near Dejvicka

The famous astronomical clock in old town square
I spy a cherry red kitchenaid

Cute staff snaps
Caramel tart with pecan


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