When I think about how many cookbooks I have, it really makes me giggle. Coupled with all the recipe cards I pick from supermarkets, and the sheets I tear out of magazines and newspapers, our home is literally awash with “things I really must make”. Annnddd never do. Ever.
I’ve written before about our tiny kitchen, which only works as a space to make two people beans on toast. As soon as you start trying to cook properly, or cater for more than 2, it’s just too small. That puts me off getting creative, as well as thinking that during the week I don’t necessarily want to start cooking at 7.30pm, although I do want to eat more homemade food and I’m determined to get more points for effort at least.
So armed with a bit of spare time over the weekend I decided to have a flick through The Hummingbird Bakery book that was a Christmas gift from my sister-in-law last year but I hadn’t yet used.
This is a really lovely book and I’ve heard people saying lots of good things about the recipes, however there is definitely a heavy emphasis on cupcakes and very saccharine recipes with lots of icing. I appreciate that’s the origins of the company but whilst I love very, very sweet things I’m on my own in that regard. Pete doesn’t have a massively sweet tooth and my colleagues all find cupcakes, buttercream icing and so on too sweet for them so I didn’t want to make something just for my benefit otherwise I will get very fat indeed.
The Lemon and Poppyseed Loaf looked like the perfect compromise so I popped to the shop to pick up the ingredients:
For the loaf:
190g unsalted softened butter
190g plain flour
190g caster sugar
3 large eggs
1tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 tbsp poppy seeds
2 tbsp lemon zest
25ml whole milk
80g ricotta cheese
For the syrup:
Juice of 1 lemon
50g caster sugar
You’ll also need a small-ish loaf tin, greased, which is approx. 7cm deep. I didn’t have one with the correct dimensions so carried on regardless and it turned out ok.
- Pre-heat the oven to 170C. Since we have a fan only oven, I went for 160C instead. Cream together the caster sugar and butter in a large bowl using either the paddle attachment or an electric whisk. If you’re feeling a lot like Popeye brute force will do it but having tried that in the past with other recipes, my arms flippin’ ached.
- Taking one egg at a time, crack them into your mixture, mixing well between each one making sure to capture any residue from the sides of the bowl.
- In a separate bowl, sift your flour, baking powder, salt, lemon zest and poppy seeds. I found that one large lemon created enough zest to equal 2 tablespoons but I would possibly have added more, or maybe some lemon juice since as tasty as it is it’s not lemony enough for me. Add this mixture to the sugar/butter, a third at a time. After the second batch goes in, add the milk and mix well together until you have a smooth, even batter. I did use whole milk but I’m sure semi-skimmed would work just as well.
- Add the ricotta cheese which works to ensure the sponge doesn’t get too dry.
- Pop into the oven for around 50-60 minutes until a skewer comes out clean and the cake is browned on top. I found this to be fairly accurate timing even though I was baking at 10 degrees lower on the fan. My silicone loaf “tin” probably allowed the loaf to expand too much at the sides so a proper tin has gone on my Christmas list
- Just before the cake finishes baking, make your syrup glaze. Add the juice of 1 lemon, 50g caster sugar and 100ml of water to a small pan and bring to the boil. Simmer until it’s reduced by half.
- Remove the cake from the oven and prick on top before pouring your syrup over. Leave to cool for a while in the tin before turning onto a wire rack. The end result should be a lovely flavoursome moist loaf. It was pretty straightforward and I’d definitely make it again with just that little alteration of extra lemon.
Do you like cooking and baking? I’d love to be inspired with some great new recipes.
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