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Poppy Seed Tante Cake

1 vanilla bean
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup poppy seeds
1 2/3 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) butter, softened
1 1/4 cups superfine sugar
4 egg whites at room temperature
Cream Cheese Icing

Slit the vanilla bean lengthwise and cut off the tips. In a small
saucepan, scald the milk with the vanilla bean.

In a small bowl, combine the scalded milk, vanilla bean and poppy
seeds. Let cool to room temperature. Scrape the inside of the
vanilla bean into the milk mixture and discard the pod.

Preheat the oven to 325F. Butter a 9 by 2 inch round cake pan.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl.

In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter on high speed until light
and fluffy, two minutes. Gradually add 1 cup of the sugar and
continue to beat until very light and creamy, about 5 minutes.

Sift in one-third of the flour mixture; stir to combine. Beat in
half of the milk-poppy seed mixture. Repeat 2 more times with the
remaining dry ingredients and milk.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites on medium speed until frothy.
Add a pinch of salt and continue beating until soft peaks form,
about 2 minutes. Beat in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon
at a time, increasing the speed to high before adding the last 2
teaspoons. Beat until the meringue is stiff and shiny, about 1
minute. Fold one-fourth of the meringue into the cake batter.
Fold in the remaining meringue.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50 to 55
minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
Let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove the cake from
the pan and let cool, right-side up, on the rack.

Using a long serrated knife, trim off the crusty top of the cake.
Slice the cake horizontally into 3 even layers; set aside the middle
layer to use as the top. Place the bottom layer on the inverted
cake pan. Spread 3/4 cup of the Cream Cheese Icing over the bottom
cake layer. Repeat with the second layer. Top the cake with the
middle layer. Frost the sides of the cake with a thin layer of
icing. Refrigerate for 10 minutes, then refrost the sides with
enough Cream Cheese Icing to cover completely.

If desired, use a pastry bag fitted with a #2 star tip to pipe a
decorative border of icing around the top edge of the cake.

Cream Cheese Icing

11 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 sticks (8 ounces) butter, softened
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted

In a medium mixer bowl, beat the cream cheese until light and
fluffy. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the butter
until well blended, about 4 minutes.

Scrape the seeds from the inside of the vanilla bean into the
mixture; discard the pod. Sift in the confectioners' sugar and
continue to beat on low speed, scraping the bowl frequetnly, until
well blended, about 2 minutes. Refrigerate until ready to use,
but do not let harden.


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