When I was in culinary school, James McNair, the cookbook author, came to promote his then-newly released cookbook, Afternoon Delights. He did a baking demonstration and made one of the brownie recipes from his book and afterwards signed copies of his new book for us. I think that's what introduced me to getting my cookbooks signed by the author. It's not something I actively pursue since I have way too many baking books to make that practical but when the opportunity presents itself, I like getting a copy signed by the author and being able to tell him or her if I liked a particular recipe from their book or thank them for doing what they do. Either way, it's a nice memory to have, especially as I use their cookbooks over and over again. Someday, if I can ever get to a cookbook signing by Lisa Yockelson, I'm going to be the biggest groupie around.
This is a nice afternoon tea bread, i.e. if you need something to serve at an afternoon tea or picnic, this makes a good choice. It's tart and lemony, especially with the glaze and has a firm texture so it's not too delicate. I've always liked the lemon and poppyseed combination. The glaze does make it a bit sticky but it adds a great lemon flavor so don't skimp on it. Note that you do have to plan a little ahead and soak the poppyseeds in the buttermilk for at least an hour before you mix up the rest of the ingredients and bake the bread. I broke this up into mini loaf pans so I could give away smaller loaves as part of my Christmas gift giveaways.
1 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt (not fat free)
¼ cup poppy seeds
Solid vegetable shortening, at room temperature, for greasing (I just use nonstick cooking spray)
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons finely grated or minced fresh lemon zest
1 tablespoon pure lemon extract
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- In a bowl, combine the buttermilk and poppy seeds and let stand for about 1 hour to soften the seeds.
- Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with shortening (or spray with nonstick cooking spray).
- In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk to mix well and set aside.
- In another bowl, combine the butter, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, lemon extract, and buttermilk-poppyseed mixture and mix until well blended. Add the flour mixture, about 1 cup at a time, and mix gently just untol incorporated. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour.
- To make the glaze: in a small saucepan, combine the sugar and lemon juice. Place over medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- When the bread is done, remove the pan to a wire rack. Pierce the top of the bread all over with a toothpick or wooden skewer. Using a pastry brush, brush the glaze all over the top of the bread until absorbed. Set aside to cool completely.
- Wrap the bread tightly in plastic wrap and store at room temperature overnight for better flavor and easier slicing or up to 1 week.