(a.k.a Esther’s Favorite Lemon Cake)
- 1 giant lemon (or 2 medium lemons)
- About ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon 1% milk, room temperature
- ¼ cup soft salted butter
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 extra large egg, room temperature
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon poppy seeds
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon soft lemon curd
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a 9″ heavy aluminum cake pan with cooking spray or grease lightly. Lightly flour bottom of pan. With a fine grater or microplaner, scrape as much zest as you can from the lemon; you should end up with 1-2 tablespoons—set aside. Then squeeze the lemon and measure out about ¼ cup of juice into a 2-cup glass measure (remove any pits, of course). Add ¾ cup milk to this, or enough to measure 1 cup total. Add the zest and vanilla; whisk and set aside (it will most likely appear curdled—don’t worry).
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and egg until thoroughly combined. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 1 tablespoon poppy seeds. Add to butter mixture alternately with the lemon/milk mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients; mix well on medium speed;scrape down sides. Spread in prepared pan and bake at 350° for 33-37 minutes, until cake tests done in the center. Cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around edge and turn out onto the rack, bottom down—cool one hour.
Transfer to a serving plate and split in half horizontally; carefully set aside the top layer. Mix up the 1/2 cup lemon curd and gently spread on the cake. Replace top carefully. In the same bowl you mixed the flour in (don’t bother washing it out), whisk together the 1 tablespoon lemon curd and 1 tablespoon milk, then add the powdered sugar and whisk until fully combined. Spread this evenly over the top—it’s okay for some to drizzle over the sides. Sprinkle with the ½ teaspoon poppy seeds. Cover and store at room temperature or refrigerate. Serves 6-8.