Dessert, Gluten Free, Dairy Free

Lemon Poppyseed Cake`

I don’t know what keeps compelling me to turn on the oven and bake in this heat, but it’s bordering on addiction. Help. Please?

After I made the Pouty Rhubarb Cake a few weeks ago I started playing around with the batter. The flour mixture worked so well and I wanted to see how far I could stretch it. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? I love cake. If I think about it while I’m laying in bed I probably won’t fall asleep for hours and when I permit those thoughts to tickle my brain-space during the day I’m well aware that they will bulldoze any dreams of productivity I might have been harboring. Cake is powerful, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

OK, so rhubarb/almond was great-what next? Summer slapped me with sticky hands and had me thinking about cakes that would taste great right out of the fridge. Cold cake. Lemon poppyseed seemed obvious, duh. Classic, cool, refreshing-but it needs some new clothes. I want this cake to be pretty, not just another loaf set out with iced tea and mint sprigs on anonymous porches across the country. Having just run into Rick from Seth Ellis Chocolatier at theFancy Food Show a few weeks ago, I knew I wanted to top the cake with candied lemon slices (his are outrageous). Warning: I have never made candid citrus before. I planned to simmer the lemon slices in a sugar syrup but decided to check online in case there was a better way to make the sticky pinwheels.

And you know what happened? Google sent me a link to my favorite food blog. The Goog is a mind reader., know it? If you don’t I’m gonna need you to stop reading this post right now and take a stroll through Jen’s FANTASTIC food/photography/stories/smile.

You back?

So, it turns out that Jen decided to make candied lemons after eating some of Rick’s chocolates as well. A good sign. I was in the right place. An internet mash-up of my favorite Boulder foodniks. And what did I learn from Jen’s post? I needed to blanch the lemon slices before simmering them in sugar. Thank you Jen. Without you I would have been gnawing through tough lemon rind. 

The lemon slices would etch spirograph footprints on the cake top, perfect for looking. Better for eating. And yet, lemon on lemon seems too pale to serve. Paint, pigment, this cake needs some makeup before it struts the sideboard. A blueberry purple stained face. Under the lemon hieroglyphics, a bruise of berries. Loaf cake on the porch you better watch it. This princess is coming for you.

Free from Gluten, Dairy, Corn, Soy, Nuts and Tree Nuts.

  • Candied Lemon Slices (recipe follows)
  • 2 tablespoons Lemon Syrup (from making the candied slices)
  • 1 cup Frozen Blueberries
  • 12 tablespoons White Rice Flour
  • 6 1/2 tablespoons Tapioca Starch
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons Brown Rice Flour
  • 3 tablespoons Poppy seeds
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon Xanthan Gum
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 3/4 cup Coconut Oil (any veg. oil but canola!)
  • 3/4 cup Coconut Milk
  • Juice+Zest one Lemon

Get Busy

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a 9 inch round cake pan with parchment paper. Spirograph the candied lemon slices on the bottom of the pan, go ahead-make a pretty pattern. Pour the lemon syrup over the slices.
  3. Add the frozen blueberries on top of the candied lemon slices. Right now you’re thinking, “Isn’t this supposed to be on the top of the cake?” Don’t worry. After the cake bakes you’re gonna flip it over right out of the pan. Upside down cake rules.
  4. Whisk together the white rice flour, tapioca flour, brown rice flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt.
  5. In a separate bowl whisk together the sugar and eggs until they are pale yellow and slightly thickened.
  6. Add the oil and coconut milk to the egg mixture and whisk to combine.
  7. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet mixture until the batter comes together. Scrap the bottom of the bowl for pockets of rebel flour. Resistance is futile.
  8. Pour the cake batter into the cake pan, right on top of the fruit.
  9. Bake the cake for 40-50 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
  10. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool for 10-15 minutes.
  11. Ready for the fun part? Run a knife around the edge of the cake. Put a place (upside down) on top of the cake pan and flip everything over. Give it a shake, a tap, say a little prayer and lift off the cake pan. As a thanks for liberation, the cake will give you a lovely lemon steam facial. Don’t get your face too close, I don’t want to hear about burns.
  12. Eat it.

Prep. Time: 15-20 minutes
Baking Time: 40-50 minutes
Yield: 1 9-inch cake

Candied Lemon Slices
Adapted from

  • 1-3 Lemons, washed and scrubbed
  • Water for boiling
  • Ice water for chilling
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 1 cup Water

Get Busy

  1. Slice the lemons into rounds, about 1/8-1/4 inch thick. Make sure you remove the seeds from each slice. Yes, it is tricky. Make the kids do it.
  2. In a saute pan, dissolve the sugar into the water over low heat. Watch that pan, we don’t want it to boil.
  3. Prepare thy blanching station! Fill a large bowl with ice cubes and cold water. Keep it nearby. Bring a large pot of water to boil. When it is spewing steam drop the lemon rounds in for a quick blanching bath. Let them boil for 1-3 minutes (depending on the thickness), and then remove them to the ice water
  4. Take the cold lemon slices and put them into the sugar syrup. Keep the heat low, barely simmering for at least 1 hour, preferably 2-3 hours. If you find the sugar syrup boiling too low, add another cup of water midway through. The goal here is to replace the water content in the lemons with a sugar syrup. The lemon rind will retain some of its bitter birthright, but that will be mitigated by a new sweet blood pumping through its little body.
  5. When the lemon slices are soft enough to cut with a fork you can remove them to a cooling rack set over parchment paper.
  6. DO NOT THROW OUT THE SYRUP THAT LINGERS IN YOUR SAUTE PAN. Ok, whew, I had to get that out there before you tossed it in the sink. This syrup is lovely. You’ll use a few tablespoons for the cake, but then please-pour the rest into a jar and serve it with seltzer water, gin and an ice cube on hot days. Promise?