“Bread” isn’t quite the right word for this. Yes, the batter is baked in loaf pans, but it has a finer texture than a quick bread, it’s really more of a cake, a cake that doesn’t need frosting. I like the strong lemon flavor of this bread and the slight crunch and the appealing look of the poppy seeds. I served cubes of this bread to dip in the chocolate fondue, but was also very pleased to have it on hand to serve to a friend who stopped by for a cup of tea and some girl-talk. The rest of the bread was devoured for breakfast. The loaves stayed moist for as long as it took us to eat (about 4 days). If you have a lemon tree, or a neighbor with a lemon tree, you’ll be pleased to know this bread is made with three large lemons. I usually bake 4 mini loaves (because I have a wonderful 4 loaf pan), but the original recipe specified baking in 2 9 x 5 loaf pans (one for you and one for the neighbor with the lemon tree). If desired extra loaves can be wrapped in foil and frozen for up to a month.
Lemon Poppy Seed Bread
3 large lemons (you’ll need the zest and the juice)
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups sugar (divided use)
4 eggs at room temperature
3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup milk (or buttermilk or sour milk)
1/4 cup sour cream (can substitute yogurt)
3 T. poppy seeds
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare two 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pans, or 4 mini loaf pans by buttering and flouring or by spraying with Pam for Baking. Finely grate the zest from the lemons. You’ll need 3 T. Squeeze the lemons for their juice. You’ll need 1/2 cup plus 1T. Set the lemon juice aside. With an electric mixer cream the butter with 2 cups of the sugar and all the lemon zest until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix flour, salt and baking powder together in another bowl, and the milk and the sour cream or yogurt in a third bowl. Add the eggs into the butter-sugar mixture, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce mixer speed to low. Beat in one-third of flour mixture, then one-half of milk mixture, then one-third of flour, then one-half of milk mixture, then one-third of flour mixture, beating until just combined after each addition. Gently stir in poppy seeds and one tablespoon of the freshly squeezed lemon juice. Evenly divide batter between prepared loaf pans. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for about 60 minutes (45 minutes for mini-loaves). While loaves are baking, combine reserved 1/2 cup lemon juice with remaining 1/2 cup sugar, stirring until combined. Remove pan from oven and immediately brush top with lemon mixture. Let loaves cool in rack in pans for 15 minutes, then removed from pans. Pierce loaves all over one side with long skewer, brush with lemon mixture. Repeat on all sides, and top and bottom, until all lemon mixture has been used. Cool loaves completely. Wrap in waxed paper and store in airtight container at room temperature.
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