This one goes out to all the mountain bakers.
After three attempts over the course of one very long Saturday, I finaly won. I won the battle to create a dense, moist and domed lemon poppyseed cake- in bread form.
The first one burned unlike anything I have ever witnessed. The center crumb was perfection though. I double checked my oven thermometer and meditated over the possible culprits for this result.
For batch two I adjusted a couple of ingredients and the resulting cake was less burned, and delicious, but caved slightly near the end of the baking process. Could you guess that one of the changed ingredients was the leavener? Tsk, tsk. Altitude don’t play those games. The domed top caved in submission under the final moments of oven pressure.
In the final round, I returned to my original recipe and adjusted the bake time and temperature- BOOM!
Totally moist, totally delicious lemon poppyseed cake, peaked top and all.
Oh and for those of you at sea level or at the summit of Mt. Everest- my lemon butter syrup to baste the top of your lemon cake is dynamite. Wrap that baby up with the sugar syrup overnight and total, utter butter moist top will be yours.
High Altitude Lemon Poppyseed Bread
Tested for an altitude of 5,280ft. Best when made a day ahead.
- 3/4 C bread flour plus 1 T
- 3/4 C cake flour
- 2 1/2 tsp poppy seeds
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/4 C sugar minus 1 T
- 1/2 C neutral oil (ex: vegetable) plus 1 T
- 1 1/2 eggs (whipped a whole egg and used half of it for the half)
- 3/4 C whole milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp lemon zest, packed
- 2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp plus 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
Grease a 9×5 loaf pan lightly with butter. Cut parchment paper to line the pan, insert it and then grease the parchment paper with butter. Preheat oven to 375F and position a rack in the center of the oven. I strongly recommend an oven thermometer for all baking, but especially for high altitude baking.
Whisk together the flours, baking powder, poppy seeds, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir lightly. Add the oil and whisk briefly just until everything is combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 10min. Drop oven temperature to 300F for remaining bake time, about 30 – 40 more until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs. Remove the bread from the oven and baste with Lemon Butter Syrup. Cool 10 minutes in the pan and then use the parchment paper to remove it and transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely. I think this bread is the best when you wrap the cooled loaf in tin foil completely overnight. Enjoy!
Moist Lemon Butter Syrup
How do you achieve the coveted moist muffin top on this style cake? Use this syrup:
- 2 T sugar
- 2 T butter
- 1 T fresh lemon juice
- zest, to taste
- pinch of fine sea salt
Place all ingredients over medium low heat in a small saucepan. Heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Allow to cool slightly and then baste the top of the hot loaf with this syrup several times in the first 10 minutes of cooling.