I don’t make a loaf very often, but this Blueberry, Lemon & Poppy Seed Loaf really took my fancy.
I found the recipe, which I’d torn out of an old Taste magazine (November, 2013), shoved in the back of a plastic envelope along with a bunch of other recipes I hoped to make ‘one day’. I took one look at that magenta coloured icing and resolved to make it the very next day.
Truth be told, I ended up having to make it twice. The first time, in an effort to make it gluten-free, I substituted a gluten-free flour blend. A bad decision, as it turned out. The loaf sank in the middle and the texture was dense city. We ate it anyway and, while it was really tasty, it was just a bit too sweet for my liking. There was no way in heck I was going to post about it.
A week later, after coming across a stash of blueberries at the market, I decided to try again. This time I added some lemon juice into the icing and ditched the gluten-free flour for white spelt flour (which my family and I tolerate really well). Second time was a charm – the loaf rose beautifully and, when sliced, revealed a light and fluffy crumb.
Taste-wise it didn’t disappoint either. Studded with juicy blueberries and crunchy poppy seeds, the cake itself was a delight. But, doused generously in lemon syrup and topped with a tangy blanket of blueberry icing, the loaf got elevated to a whole new level of deliciousness. Paired with a nice hot cup of brewed tea, it made for a particularly enjoyable afternoon tea.
BLUEBERRY, LEMON & POPPY SEED SPELT LOAF
For the loaf:
- 5.9 oz unsalted butter
- 1 cup caster (superfine) sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Zest 4 lemons
- 1-1/2 tbsp poppy seeds
- Pinch of salt
- 3 eggs
- 1-1/2 cups white spelt flour (can use standard flour if you prefer)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 cup milk (if using spelt flour, use slightly less milk)
- 1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
For the syrup:
- 4 tbsp lemon juice
- 4 tbsp caster sugar
For the blueberry icing:
- 2 cups icing sugar (confectioner's sugar)
- 1/4 cup blueberries
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 160C (320F). Grease and line base and sides of a 23cm x 13cm (9 x 5 inch) loaf tin with baking paper (or grease and flour).
To make the loaf:
- Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go. Add vanilla, lemon zest, poppy seeds and a pinch of salt and mix to combine.
- Add eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is well combined before adding the next (don’t worry if the mixture looks curdled, it will smooth out again).
- In a separate bowl, sift flour and baking powder together and stir to combine. Using a metal spoon, fold half the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture. Then fold through half the milk. Repeat with remaining flour mixture and milk.
- Spoon half the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and sprinkle a layer of blueberries over top. Add the remaining mixture over top (I found it easiest to dollop spoonfuls over top and gently level it off – this avoids disturbing the layer of blueberries), then top with remaining blueberries – these will sink into the batter while baking.
- Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
To make the syrup:
- Place lemon juice and sugar in a saucepan and heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Pour or brush syrup (it seems like a lot, but use it all) over loaf while loaf is still hot. Cool in tin before turning out onto a wire rack.
To make the blueberry icing:
- In a food processor blitz together icing sugar, blueberries and lemon juice. Spread icing over cooled loaf. If you’ve got blueberries left over, you can decorate the top with them if you like, then serve.
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