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Suggestions for Kicking it Up a Notch:Lemon poppy seed bread

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
I've had this recipe for many years - in fact, it was the very first recipe I ever collected and saved. Got it early one morning from the chef at a little diner in Durango, Colorado in 1967.

(Makes one 4x7-inch loaf)

3/4 Cup Sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup milk (2% seems to work OK)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted & cooled
1 TBS lemon extract (or more to taste)
1 1/2 Cups all purpose flour (Or 1 cup AP & 1/2 cup whole wheat)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 TBS poppy seeds (more optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease & flour 4x7-inch loaf pan. Combine sugar
and eggs in a large bowl and beat until very light and fluffy. Slowly beat in
milk. Add butter and lemon extract and blend well.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to sugar mixture
with poppy seed and stir to blend. Turn batter into prepared pan. Bake until
bread is golden and tester comes out clean, about 50 - 60 minutes.

So, here are my questions:

How might this work with buttermilk instead of regular milk?

Would adding some lemon zest be a good addition, and, if so, would you cut back on the lemon extract. I like a nice, strong lemon flavor and usually double the amount called for in the recipe.

I've always made this with AP WW flour, and have been satisfied with the result. If I went to straight AP flour hoe might the result change (fluffier, sweeter, higher rise, browner crust)?

Can I get by with less sugar and still retain some sweetness, and will less sugar affect the outcome of the recipe?

I've had an unopened bottle of lemon extract around for a few years. Is it still good to use?


Shel (Not much of a baker)
post #2 of 26
Much as I'd love to discuss this here, I think you'll get more and better suggestions on the Baking and Pastry board. :lips:
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
post #3 of 26
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Suzanne ....
post #4 of 26

lemon zestier


sure, you can use butter milk, it may give you a little sour and amp up your leavening. (reacting with the baking soda)

you can use lemon zest for sure.

the lemon extract should be good for a few years, (1967 however....:bounce: )

less sugar won't kill you but it will take away some of the browning.

ww flour is a nice healthy thing, white ap will make it lighter in texture.

sounds good, enjoy.
bake first, ask questions later.
Oooh food, my favorite!

Professor Pastry
bake first, ask questions later.
Oooh food, my favorite!

Professor Pastry
post #5 of 26
Yes, you should be able to use buttermilk but I have never been very happy with cultured dairy with lemon poppy seed (cake/bread).

I would make it richer with cream.

Lemon zest is a great idea. Personally I don't like lemon extract as I think it tastes chemically (and some is made with turpentine). Instead when the cake is done poke a few skewer holes in the top-to-bottom and brush liberally with lemon syrup (2parts sugar:1 part lemon juice (from the zested lemons). Also candied lemon might be good.

I use a lot of whole wheat in my pastries but this is one time I wouldn't. Lemon Poppy has expectations of a "tea bread" also the nuttiness of the ww would seem out of place. I would stick with A-P (not pastry).

The biggest 'zinger" to the original recipe would be sure to have FRESH poppy seeds, you can usually only get these at middle-eastern markets. Most people don't know the difference because they have never had fresh seeds. When they are fresh you can taste the tang and spice, they become much more than the crunchy bits.

Finally still looking for ideas, how about adding some raspberries or blueberries. Fresh or frozen.

Best of luck,
"Just can't wait to get on the road again."
Willie Nelson
"Just can't wait to get on the road again."
Willie Nelson
post #6 of 26
Thread Starter 
Thanks - I think I'll stay away from buttermilk when I next make the loaf, just because i don't want to experiment too much with it as it's going to be a gift.

No, the lemon extract isn't from 1967 - that's when I got the recipe. The extract's "only" about five or six years old. I found it in the back of a cabinet when I moved recently.

Thanks for jumping in,

post #7 of 26
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your comments and suggestions, especially about the poppy seeds. I'll have to check around and see where I can get the best quality.

I never heard of turpentine being used with lemon extract. I'd better read the labels carefully. Is there a particular brand or brands that you might suggest as being high quality?

I don't really want to make the loaf "richer," at least not this time, but I may certainly try the cream (maybe whole milk or half & half) at another time. I'm not sure if I ever made this with whole milk ...

If I were to use lemon zest instead of extract, about how much zest do you think would be needed to get a strong lemon flavor? I'd like a strong flavor, but not anything that touches on bitterness. I've never used zest before, so I'm ignorant wrt what to expect.

KInd regards,

post #8 of 26
Not turpintine, sorry terpene, From what I understand sometimes lemon is extract is taken from other lemmony leaves to produce the essential oil. I am going to guess this is in more commercial uses as its main purpose is to be mixed with things that would curdle with lemon. .....

Anyway....don't have any suggestions as to a good one, as I said I don't like it it tastes a little fake but that is only personal taste.

Zests. I would use 2-3 lemons (bigger kind). Deffinately use a zester for rinds. While it is possible to use a cheese grater if you are not expereinced you can end up with more pith (what makes it bitter) and with stringy things in your cake.

I zest by running the lemon from pole-to-pole along the zester, in a rocking motion. I only cover each area once. Welcome to the worl of zesting once you start you won't be able to stop, pastries, marinades, cookies etc....
"Just can't wait to get on the road again."
Willie Nelson
"Just can't wait to get on the road again."
Willie Nelson
post #9 of 26
This recipe has sour cream in it..or you can use buttermilk.

Lemon Poppyseed cake

1 lb butter- soft
3 C sugar
Zest of 2 oranges & lemons
8 eggs-seperated
1 1/2 C poppy seeds
2 cups sour cream
4 C A.P. flour
1 T baking powder
1 T baking Soda
1 T salt
Mix poppy seeds & sour cream for 1/2 hour. Cream Butter & sugar with zest, add yolks and sour cream mix..Sift dry & add . Beat whites to stiff peak and fold into poppy mix.
post #10 of 26
Thread Starter 
OK, this opens the door to further comment and questions. One of the things that's concerned me about zesting (is "zest" a verb?) is that some fruits have a wax coating on them to preserve freshness, and I've always been concerned about eating that stuff or how it will effect the cooking process. Any comments on that?

I've also not made any zest because I never had a zester, and always used some kind of grater. I just took a look and found this:

Which seems like a much better alternative than using graters - looks like there would, indeed, be better control.

So, thanks!

post #11 of 26
Thread Starter 
Hi, I'm going to download and save the recipe, although, in truth, I can't see ever making such a large amount of the cake. How many "standard" loaves does this make - four?

Thanks for jumping in :lips:

post #12 of 26
I would say it would make 2 loaves ? I broke it down from 8 lbs of butter so that would be my best guess...

post #13 of 26
Thread Starter 
OK, thanks! I love all the poppy seeds, BTW - I always make mine with extra seeds ... perhaps I should call it Poppy Seed Lemon Loaf :smiles:

post #14 of 26

Response about zesting.....

About wax on fruit - I usually buy unwaxed or organic but remember the wax is food grade. I guess you could wash it. If you are concerned about chemicals on the food I am assuming that you already used organic produce/products. Lemons aren't usually that much more expensive, though they are sometimes smaller so use more.

I reccomended the zester because you said that you aren't a professional baker and had never zested before and where afraid of it tasting bitter.

The link that you posted is the kind of zester that I used when I went to culinary school. It produces long strands of zest, which you then have to chop up. Frankly I can zest on anything, but I have been doing it for years. The above tool is grate if you want to do decoration work or candied zest etc...A lot of bartenders use it.

The zest is "deeper" so could be a bit bitter. Also it takes practice and control to really get good zest and to utilize the whole lemon. Then of course you have chop it up, and (I find) that the little bits never quite disolve and that you will find little nibbles in the bread (which you may want).

I guess I should have used the term "microplane"

If you don't like zesters/microplanes than use a cheese grater, on the smallest hole and with a VERY light hand.

Happy Baking
"Just can't wait to get on the road again."
Willie Nelson
"Just can't wait to get on the road again."
Willie Nelson
post #15 of 26
Thread Starter 
Grate <LOL> That's the kind of info that's verry useful. I found a small, hand-held cheese grater in the back of a kitchen drawer. I'll start with that and see what kind of results I can get. It's a nice size as it fits over some of the small bowls I have.

You're right about my usually using organic produce. I generally buy from local farms, but around here there are a lot of people with Meyer lemon trees in their yards, so there are numerous options for lemons.

I didn't rrealize that if the zest was small enough it would dissolve. That's very good to know - so I can practice controlling size to get the flavor and texture desired.

A Microplane has been on my mind for a while ...

BTW, I was looking through the most recent Penzys catalog this evening to see if they had poppy seeds, which they do. There was also a recipe for lemon poppy seed muffins which will be added to my recipe collection. It looks pretty much like the lemon poppy seed loaf recipe that I posted and the one that was posted in this thread. Can a muffin recipe be used successfully in a loaf? I suppose it can, but what the heck, asking a professional baker may erase all doubts.

KInd regards,

post #16 of 26
You can also add a drop or two of Boyajian lemon oil. I add a bit of any of their citrus oils to any of my citrus recipes and it really kicks the flavor up a lot. Be careful though! Because these are pressed right from the peels, they are very strong and too much will make your lips sting, just like if you were to chew on fresh peel!
post #17 of 26
Wow, that would be incredible to use the lemon oil. I think you should get rid of the lemon extract. The only extract I like is pure vanilla but even then, real vanilla bean is soooooo much better!

I would use the zest and also some fresh squeezed juice. I also see no problem in using the buttermilk. It would be very moist.
post #18 of 26

Best Lemon Poppyseed Poundcake, Evah!

The author of The Cake Bible has THE best lemon poppyseed loaf recipe, evah. I think her name is Rose Levy Birnbaum. It's online somewhere. I'll see if I can find it. No need to reinvent the wheel.

Basically it's a poundcake. No lemon flavoring in the cake, just grated zest. But then after you pull it out of the oven you poke it with a skewer all over and pour the simple sugar syrup you've made by disolving sugar into lemon juice and water all over it so it soaks into the holes. Let it cool, then wrap in plastic wrap overnight. The syrup soaks into the whole thing making it moist.

It's excellent to slice and toast and then I like to slather more butter on it.

It's one of my staples that I've made dozens of times. Her recipe is very precise and pretty fussy, but it really comes out better if you follow her directions to a tee.
post #19 of 26
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post #20 of 26
I think a touch of ginger would be divine. Maybe grind some candied ginger and put it on top.

post #21 of 26
Thread Starter 
Hmmm ... that sounds very good. Thanks, I'll give it a try the next time I make the cake.

post #22 of 26
Thread Starter 
I found it ... thanks!
post #23 of 26
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the tip. Never heard of the product, but a search brought up some information. It sounds like a wonderful product. How long does it keep once a bottle is opened? Can it be frozen to extend life ... I rarely bake, so a little would go a long way and last a long time.

post #24 of 26
I have actually had it in the pantry for a long time and it hasn't suffered to any degree. I have lemon, lime and orange and probably use them all equally...........
post #25 of 26
Yeast bread or quick bread?
post #26 of 26
Oops got it now
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