Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

I don’t what it is about the combination of lemon and poppy seeds that makes it so appealing and delicious, but what I do know is that they go together perfectly. I have always loved poppy seeds and anything lemon will always get my vote. For those of us who live in the United States, as well as many other parts of the world, the combination of lemon and poppy seeds is a gift that we are able to enjoy and savor. However, in many other parts of the world, the use of poppy seeds is illegal.

Poppy seeds come from the poppy flowers. These beautiful flowers come in many different colors and are found in most places around the world. In many countries, mostly England and her English speaking cousins, the poppy holds a special place of remembrance for the fallen.

Poppy seeds have also been used to enhance the flavors and nutrients in foods since the first century A.D. Poppy seeds are ancient oilseeds thought to have originated in the Mediterranean area. They were first cultivated in the first century AD and used in bread making. Then, the seeds spread by the Roman Empire and its use in food production further developed in Europe.

But the poppy is also known for other things that are not so great. The poppy plant, Papaver somniferum, produces opium, a powerful narcotic whose derivatives include morphine, codeine, heroin, and oxycodone. (I am very allergic to codeine and all it’s derivatives, yet surprisingly NOT to poppy seeds). The term “narcotic” refers to opium, opium derivatives, and their semi-synthetic substitutes.  Narcotics are used therapeutically to treat pain, suppress cough, alleviate diarrhea, and induce anesthesia. However, they are some of the most addictive substances known to man. As misused drugs, they are often smoked, sniffed, or injected.

The earliest reference to opium growth and use is in 3,400 B.C. when the opium poppy was cultivated in lower Mesopotamia (Southwest Asia). The Sumerians referred to it as Hul Gil, the “joy plant.” The Sumerians soon passed it on to the Assyrians, who in turn passed it on to the Egyptians. As people learned of the power of opium, demand for it increased. Many countries began to grow and process opium to expand its availability and to decrease its cost. Its cultivation spread along the Silk Road, from the Mediterranean through Asia and finally to China where it was the catalyst for the Opium Wars of the mid-1800s. So because poppy seeds are used to make drugs, both legal and illegal, many countries around the world have banned them and have made them illegal.

As I mentioned above, fortunately, I live in a country that still allows the use of poppy seeds. I put them to good use and made a lemon poppy seed cake.

Lemon Poppy Seeds Cake

3 cups flour

3 TBSP lemon zest

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

3/4 cup buttermilk

1 tsp lemon extract

1 tsp vanilla

2 TBSP poppy seeds

3 eggs

2 1/4 sticks softened butter

2 cups sugar

Preheat the oven 350* F or 190*C.

Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray.

Combine all the dry ingredients together and mix well. Set aside.

Mix the butter and sugar together until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix in between each addition. Add the vanilla and the lemon extract and mix again. Add 1/2 of the flour mixture and mix, then add 1/2 of the buttermilk and mix, then repeat.

Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until it is lightly golden and a toothpick that is inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool completely before removing it from the pan and adding the glaze.

The Glaze

2 TBSP lemon juice

1 TBSP lemon extract

1 TBSP milk or buttermilk

2 cups powdered sugar

Mix everything together and drizzle over the cooled cake.

Slice the cake and enjoy with friends and family. This cake was completely gone. There was not a single morsel left at the end of the day. This is always a very good thing. When nothing is left and the plate is clean, that is a very telling sign that it was thoroughly enjoyed by all. I’ll take this form of compliment anytime and every time. 🙂

Have a great day and make everyday great. Stay safe and stay well. ‘Til next time.


Author: ajeanneinthekitchen

I have worked in the restaurant and catering industry for over 35 years. I attended 2 culinary schools in Southern California, and have a degree in culinary arts from the Southern California School of Culinary Arts, as well as a few other degrees in other areas. I love to cook and I love to feed people.

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