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Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake

3 tablespoons milk
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon (loosely packed) grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
13 tablespoons unsalted, at room temperature

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 4-cup (8x4-inch) or
six-cup loaf pan, line the bottom with parchment or waxed paper,
and grease and flour the paper. Or grease and flour a fluted tube
pan. Lightly combine the milk, eggs, and vanilla in a medium-size
bowl. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake flour, sugar, baking
powder, and salt. Add the lemon zest and poppy seeds. Mix on low
speed for 30 seconds to blend. Then add the butter and half the
egg mixture. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are
moistened. Increase the speed to medium (high if you are using a
hand mixer), and beat for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the
bowl. Gradually add the remaining egg mixture in two batches,
beating for 20 seconds after each addition, and scraping down the
sides of the bowl as necessary. Spoon the batter into the prepared
pan, and smooth the surface with a spatula. (The batter will be
almost 1/2 inch from the top of a 4-cup loaf pan. Bake, covering
the pan loosely with buttered aluminum foil after 30 minutes to
prevent over browning, until a toothpick inserted into the center
comes out clean, 55 to 65 minutes (35 to 45 minutes in a fluted
pan).

To get an attractive split down the middle of the crust, wait until
the natural split is about to develop (when cake has cooked for
about 20 minutes), and then use a lightly greased sharp knife to
make a shallow mark about 6 inches long down the middle of the
cake. (This must be done very quickly so that the oven door does
not remain open very long, or the cake will fall). When the cake
splits, it will open along the mark.

In a small pan over medium heat, stir the sugar and lemon juice
together until the sugar has dissolved. As soon as the cake comes
out of the oven, place the pan on a wire rack, poke the cake all
over with a wire tester or wooden skewer, and brush it with half
the syrup. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes. Loosen the
sides of the cake with a spatula, and invert it onto a greased wire
rack. Poke the bottom of the cake with the wire tester, brush it
with some syrup, and re-invert it onto a greased wire rack. Brush
the sides with the remaining syrup and allow the cake to cool
completely. Store the cake for 24 hours, tightly wrapped in plastic
wrap (to give the syrup a chance to distribute evenly). Serve at
room temperature.

8 portions

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