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Poppyseed cake a la Hugh F-W

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This was Huge F-W's Poppyseed lemon cake recipe from Saturday's Grauniad. Let's get one thing completely clear; this cake is, comparatively speaking, a faff and a half to make. It requires no less than three bowls and a jug, where my usual cake recipe requires one bowl and a sieve. But... it's really worth it. So! Creaming butter and sugar, so far so normal. Mixing the flour & poppyseeds seperately, ok... then mixing the egg yolks with yoghurt. Uh, what? Then making meringue base with the whites... ah. Yes, this is a pretty complicated cake.

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What made it worse was that the instructions said "add flour to the butter, then egg/yoghurt, then flour, then egg, then flour" and after putting the egg mix on the countertop I promptly knocked the second half of it over, covering the kitchen, me and my camera in glop. I had to guesstimate how much I'd already put in - it certainly wasn't an accurate half - and as any parent will tell you, a small bit of yoghurt can go a long way when it comes to making a mess.

The results, though. Oh, so worth it.

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The acidity of the yoghurt with the bicarb and the egg whites both make this an incredibly light cake, with lots of air and a great texture. It could perhaps have done with ten minutes more in the oven at a slightly lower temperature (180C for 40-45mins said the recipe, I had it at 170 for about 50 and it would have worked with 160 for an hour), but it was very good nonetheless. The lemon syrup was fun, too; if you've ever tried to zest a lemon using a vegetable peeler you know it doesn't work (which is why I have a microplane grater) but the recipe wanted strips of peel, so I had to depith the zest. That worked but only because I have insanely sharp knives. The whole thing is really very tasty; the poppyseeds give great texture, the lemon is sharp and sweet, the texture is sublime. As the kids say, this cake is full of win.

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So, give it a go! The cake really is worth it but I can't yet vouch for the keeping qualities claimed in the recipe because there's only half of it left.

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