Happy Endings

I grew up with a father who didn't have much of a sweet tooth. However, you could always win his heart over with a lemon dessert. Lemon bars, cakes, and cookies were a welcome sight after a long, hot day. If you added a glass of iced tea, you could nearly reach heaven by sitting on the back porch at the picnic table with a slice of some lemony treat.

Seeing those sweet tangy desserts grace our table so often made me into a lemon lover too. It's not unusual to see lemon cheesecakes with blueberry sauce or hot muffins filled with lemon custard at my table. Now that I've had my own table to fill, I sometimes play around with new dessert ideas. However, it's tough to beat the tried and true. This month's recipe is one of my husband's favorites. Yup, that's right, I married a lemon lover! Just like my daddy.

When frosting this cake, I usually avoid frosting the sides and I keep the amount that I add to the top to a minimum. Don't get me wrong, the lemon-cream cheese frosting is fantastic. It's just that adding any more than a light layer on the top tends to drown out the flavor of the cake -- and the cake is the real star of the show!

Because frosting is only suggested for the top of the cake, it's important to make sure that your cake releases from your spring form pan perfectly. The best way to insure that this happens is to include a layer of waxed paper on the bottom of your pan and add a light coating of cooking spray on the waxed paper and sides of your pan. This method has been highly successful for me and I use it often.

If you're not a poppyseed fan, you can skip them in the recipe. However, they add a sprinkle of texture and fun to the cake and it just doesn't seem the same without them!

Lemon Poppyseed Cake

  • 1 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 c. margarine, softened
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. lemon extract
  • 2 tsp. shredded lemon peel
  • 2 T. poppy seeds
  • 1/8 c. margarine, chilled
  • 1/2 tsp. shredded lemon peel
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 oz. 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, chilled
  • 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Coat the bottom of a 10" spring form pan with cooking spray. Carefully place a layer of waxed paper that has been cut to fit snugly into the bottom of the pan into the spring form pan. Lightly coat the waxed paper and the sides of the pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

Mix the flour and baking soda into a bowl. Add the margarine, sugar, eggs, extract and lemon peel. Beat until pale in color and slightly glossy. Fold poppy seeds into the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bump the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles from the mixture.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Release the spring form pan and remove the lining paper and allow the cake to cool completely.

For the frosting, beat the margarine, lemon peel, vanilla and cream cheese until just smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat at a low speed until just blended. Overbeating the frosting will make it runny, so DO NOT OVERBEAT. Frost the top of the cooled cake and store loosely covered in the refrigerator.

  • Yields: 1 - 10" cake
  • Preparation Time: 60 minutes