Monday, July 28, 2008

What would you bake for your own birthday?

Ok, so my birthday was at the beginning of the month. But in my family, July birthdays are a plenty. So instead of having a separate party for each person, they get grouped together all on the same day, somewhere in the middle of the month. This year, we decided that everyone would bring something to the party. Since I was arriving later than everyone else, I decided to bring dessert. Dessert being, of course, the cake. So, I thought, what kind of cake would I want for my birthday?

My Mega Cupcake, of course!
(approximately 10"diameter x 12" high)
I went back and forth trying to decide what flavor to make the giant cupcake. After much inner debate, I settled on Lemon Poppy Seed. A happy cake flavor for a happy giant cupcake. What better way to say happy birthday?!
Lemon Almond Poppy Seed Mega Cupcake w/ Lemon Almond Cream Cheese Icing
Truth be known, this is actually my second attempt at baking this cake. The first is a whole separate story. The original Mimosa Mega Cupcake (an adult version of the easy soda pop cake) that I had baked the night before had turned out ok but not (at least I thought so) the way I would have liked. (The Mimosa Mega Cupcake was actually devoured at work the next day and got rave reviews!) So, at 5am the next morning, knowing this was my last chance, I scrambled to find a recipe that I knew couldn't fail. Elinor Klivans to the rescue! I frantically paged through her book, "Cupcakes!" to find a recipe that I knew everyone would like and that called for ingredients that I already had (well, mostly) in my cupboards and fridge. I re-baked the giant cupcake with the Lemon Poppy Seed recipe. I had to make some last minute changes for ingredients that I had run out of but the Lemon Poppy Seed was definitely a hit. A little last minute decorating with fresh raspberries and green mini marshmallows on the cream cheese icing, and my birthday Mega Cupcake was complete. Light and fluffy on the inside with tons of lemony goodness.
As I said, I did have to make some substitutions during baking because I had run out of a few things and I was doing this second cake at 5am the day of the party (not a chance I was running out to the store again). Either way, the cake came out tasting and looking beautiful!
Lemon Almond Poppy Seed Cake
(Adapted from Elinor Klivans' Lemon Poppy Seed cupcake recipe in "Cupcakes!" The original recipe makes 1 regular cake or 12 regular cupcakes. I had to double this recipe to fill the giant cupcake pan. Below is the recipe for 1 regular sized cake, with the substitutions I made.)
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (original recipe calls for 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/2 cup plain non-fat yogurt{or 1 tablespoon lemon juice+enough milk to make 1 cup}(original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of buttermilk. I substituted a combo of yogurt, lemon juice, and milk in my double-sized recipe. Don't laugh, it worked just fine!)
Position the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350F. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until smoothly blended, about 1 minute. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is blended and the batter is creamy, about 1 minute. Mix in the almond, lemon zest, and poppy seeds. On low speed, add half of the flour mixture, mixing to incorporate. Mix in the yogurt to blend it. Mix in the remaining flour mixture until it is incorporated and the batter is smooth.
Fill the prepared cake pan about 3/4 full with the batter. (If using the giant cupcake pan, set the pan on a cookie sheet to make it more stable on the oven rack.) Bake until the top feels firm and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. (You will need to use a long wooden skewer to do this with the giant cupcake.) Cool the cake for about 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack. To release the cake from the pan, place the wire rack on top of the pan and, while holding both the rack and pan securely, invert the rack and pan, let the cake rest on the wire rack. Let cool completely before icing.
Lemon Almond Cream Cheese Icing
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces fat free cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3 cups powdered (confectioner's) sugar
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter, cream cheese, almond, and lemon juice until blended smooth. Add sugar, 1 cup at a time, beat until blended and smooth after each cup.

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