On Mondays, it’s my turn to pick up my older daughter from school, and then stop for tea and treats before her guitar lesson. We’ve been doing this for six years, and I think I love the tradition as much as she does. Our downtown coffee shop has great coffee and tea, but the baked goods leave a lot to be desired, especially by the time we roll in at 4:00pm. There’s one exception– they have a lemon-poppyseed pound cake that is just terrific (or it would be, if it were fresh!). I wondered if we could adapt the brioche from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day to the bright fresh flavor of lemon and the crunchy texture of poppyseed, topped with a simple glaze. They baked up perfectly in cupcake tins so if you’re inclined to call these cupcakes, go right ahead. And I snuck in two healthy tweaks to the recipe: canola oil instead of butter, and even a little whole grain. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. The dough you’ll use is based on our brioche recipe, with some simple changes. With the liquid ingredients, add the following…
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
I substituted canola oil for butter today, and I got away with it because I knew I’d be doing these in cupcake tins. This kind of simple swap would not have worked well for free-form loaves, because of sideways spreading that you get with this much liquid shortenings (eg., canola oil).
… and then make some changes in the dry ingredients…
1. Add the zest from 1 lemon, scraped off with a microzester (try not to include much of the bitter white pith, just the yellow part).
2. Substitute 3/4 cup of white whole wheat flour for 3/4 cup of the white unbleached all-purpose flour called for in the recipe. Given this amount of whole grain, and the fact that liquid shortenings yield looser doughs, means that you don’t need to make any changes in the proportion of liquid to dry ingredients.
3. Add 1 tablespoon poppy seeds.
Because of all this liquid shortening, the result will be a very wet and loose dough, that will not work as a free-form loaf, so don’t try it!
Allow to rest/rise for 2 hours, then into the fridge for up to five days (freeze after that); chilling this dough makes it much easier to handle. Briefly shape golf-ball sized balls and place in a non-stick muffin tin. I didn’t grease the non-stick surface but you probably should if you’re using a traditional muffin tin. I covered loosely with plastic and rested for about an hour (these were small and the dough had been made that day, so an hour was plenty).
Bake for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees F., being careful not to overbake. Eggy doughs like this one can get tough and dry if you overdo it.
Pop out of the pan, cool completely, and brush with a simple glaze. The Glaze: Mix 1 1/2 teaspoons confectioners sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons milk, and 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract.
Now sprinkle with poppyseeds: