Up until an age I am truly embarrassed to admit, I believed that poppy seeds were dried spider eggs.  I also believed cheetos were super old rusty nails–and thus, a good source of irn.  That aliens often landed in our local mountains (serendipitously close to times when we’d be camping there) and that it was impossible to eat and be cold at the same time.

Thanks mom.

It should be no surprise then that my relationship with poppy seeds is a little shaky.  Objectively I know where they come from.  Subjectively, they make the hair on my arms stand on end.  And so, it was with a little trepidation that I tried this fantastic citrus loaf recipe from the Huckleberry cookbook.

In the original the recipe calls for kumquats, lemon and tangerine zests.  However I can only ever find kumquats in Southern California in mid-spring.  So, I pursued the citrus section at the local market and went with lemons, tangerines and a humble navel orange.  But you know what they say, when life gives you lemons…

I was attracted to this recipe because it uses butter instead of oil as the fat source.  Often loaf cakes call for oil instead of butter as a way of helping to keep things moist and tender.  In general butter ranges from 80-90% milk fat (the remaining is water) whereas oil is generally 100% fat.  That water can help gluten strings to form–good for a chewy pizza crust, bad for a crumby, tender loaf or muffin.

But, butter tastes better.  So, I dove right in.  If I was actually doing my due diligence I would have baked a comparator alongside this loaf.  Maybe Ina’s yogurt lemon loaf.  But I didn’t.  And, as a stand alone, I thought this bread was pretty fantastic.  Zesty and moist with a little richness I think I might have to continue my experimentation with butter.

 Lemon Kumquat Poppy Teacake

from Huckleberry stories, secrets and recipes from our kitchen


  • 1 C+ 2 TBS/ 255 g unsalted butter at room temp
  • 1 C/ 200 g sugar plus 3 TBS
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • Zest of 8 kumquats, fruit reserved
  • Zest and juice of 3 lemons
  • Zest of 1 tangerine
  • 2 eggs + 2 egg yolks
  • 1 1/4 C/ 160 g all purpose flour
  • 1/4 C/ 35 g pastry flour
  •  1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 TBS + 1 tsp poppy seeds
  • 2 TBS buttermilk
  • 1 TBS vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and line with parchment a 9X5 loaf pan.
  2. Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, cream the butter, 1 C/200 g of star, salt and citrus zests on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Incorporate the eggs and egg yolks one-at-a-time, because well after each addition.  Scrape down sides of bowl a couple of times.
  4. Add-in the flours, baking powder, poppy seeds and vanilla.  Mix-on low until ingredients are just combined.
  5. Scoop batter into prepared pan.  Bake for 60 minutes or until the cake springs back when touched and cake tester comes out clean.
  6. While loaf is cooking, combined the lemon juice, 3 TBS of sugar and reserved kumquats in a blender.  Blend to a course puree.
  7. In a small pan, simmer the puree until the sugar dissolves completely, about 2 minutes.  Set aside.
  8. Once out of the oven, let rest for 5 minutes then remove loaf from pan.  Strain the glaze and brush it on all sides of the car while the cake is still warm.


Giant Lemon Pie

This post begins and ends with bad cell phone pics.  Sorry.

Melbourne, like most cosmopolitan cities, has a top notch public transportation system which TD and I used liberally.  One of our most often-used landing points from our hotel in South Yarra was the Central Station in the city center.  We must have passed through that station at least twice daily during our visit.

Situated right alongside one of the many escalators was a little coffee shop selling the most outrageous looking pastries.  The giant lemon meringue pie immediately caught my eye on our first trip past.  While timing never worked so that we were in a situation to stop and actually order a piece, I did work up the courage to snap a picture (we ordered a couple of flat whites as to not raise any eyebrows when snapping the photo).

Shortly after, the idea that I could replicate this citrusy matterhorn took seed and I found myself, during our time in Australia, often thinking about how I might execute such a feat.

About halfway through my research, I began to lean toward a baked-center approach. Think lemon bars.  I was considering the pie more in terms of a tart than a true lemon meringue pie.  But, I couldn’t quite figure out how to evenly bake the filling at about four-to-six inches of depth.

Then I happened on a post for a lemon meringue pie in the blog, Dutch Oven Diaries.  They used a stovetop filling approach that looked successful.  Unfortunately, the largess of the pastry also meant a two day-cooking time.  Hence, the awful shots taken at night.  Maybe some day I’ll learn how to take real pictures.

And so, I shifted gears and experimented.

I probably had a little more fun that a girl with a pastry-bag full of meringue ought to.


But, the attempt was successful, at least in looks.  I knew I didn’t have the right apparatus to form the same wide peaks as the pie in the metro station.  So I went with quantity and height.

Not one to waste an opportunity to experiment on others, I lugged the finished product to a dinner party.  While the pie was voted a success in general, I found the filling’s texture to be a little too gelatinous.  In the photo below, it also looks like I broke the meringue. I promise, it wasn’t broken when I piped it.  I suspect the fact that it sat out for about 2 hours before being served might have something to do with it.

As such, I consider this a work in progress and am on the hunt for an excuse to try it again.

If you like this you might like these

Raspberry Lemon Bars 

Longfellow Lemon Tart (the photos in this post are even worse than the ones in this post…small consolation).

Giant Lemon Meringue Pie


Pie Pastry

  • 16 oz flour
  • 8 oz butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Pinch of salt
  • Cold water to mix
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, place rack in middle slot.
  2. Sift flour and salt into a bowl cut in the butter until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.
  3. Mix the egg yolk with 3 tablespoons of water and add to the flour and combine until mixture comes together, add more water if necessary.
  4. Wrap and chill in fridge for 30 minutes then roll out the pastry and line your 9 inch flan, pie or spring form pan with the dough and prick all over using a fork to prevent the crust from puffing.
  5. Line with baking paper and fill with pie weights (or dried rice or beans) and chill for another 30 minutes to prevent shrinkage.  Bake for 20 minutes at then remove weights and bake for an additional 15 minutes until golden brown.
  6. Allow to cool completely before filling

Lemon Filling 

  • 2 ½ cups sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 ¾ cups water
  • 1 ¼ cups lemon juice (juice from about 12 lemons)
  • Rind of 5 lemons
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 10 egg yolks
  • 1  cup cornstarch
  1. Put the water, sugar, salt, lemon rind, juice and butter into a large saucepan and bring slowly to a
  2. boil.
  3. Beat egg yolks with the cornstarch and slowly add some of the hot mixture to temper the yolks whisking constantly.
  4. Once tempered return egg mixture to the remaining liquid and heat whisking until the mixture thickens.
  5. Pour into the baked pie crust.
  6. Chill overnight until set.


  • 10 egg whites
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  1. Whisk the egg whites until white and fluffy (until stiff peaks are formed) then whisk sugar gradually into the whites.
  2. Pile the meringue on to the now set pie, forming decorative swirls onto the filling making sure you cover right to the edges so no filling is visible.  You can also pipe the very top of the meringue using desired-size tips.
  3. Put the pie into the oven for about 5-10 minutes until the meringue is a light brown.
  4. Store in the fridge, best if served the same day.

Some fillings for French macarons

Vanilla Bean Ganache

Will fill about 40 1.5″ macarons

  • 12 oz white chocolate (chips or chopped)
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/2 C heavy cream

Split vanilla bean. Add vanilla seeds and cream to a small, heavy saucepan. Heat mixture until the edges barely simmer.  Add white chocolate swirling pan until everything is covered with cream.  Let sit for one minute.  Whisk melted mixture until smooth.  Store in fridge until ready to use.  Ganache will be very thick and be beaten to add air before piping into macaron shells.

Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Filling

Will fill about 40 1.5″ macarons

  • 1 oz canned pumpkin
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 C confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • orange food coloring if desired

Cream cream cheese in a standing mixer fitted with a paddle or hand-held beater.  Add-in pumpkin and combined.  Mix in confectioner’s sugar .5 C at a time until frosting reaches desired consistency.  Start with .5 tsp of spice and add-in until reaches desired taste.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before filling macarons.

Lemon Cream Cheese Filling

Will fill about 40 1.5″ macarons

  • 4 oz cream cheese softened
  • zest of a large lemon (1 TBish)
  • juice from a large lemon
  • 2 C confectioner’s sugar

Cream cream cheese in a standing mixer fitted with a paddle or hand-held beater. Add in zest and about half of the lemon juice.  Mix in confectioner’s sugar .5 C at a time alternating with lemon juice until frosting reaches desired consistency. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before filling macarons.

La La La Lemon Cake

Anyone who has ever dabbled in the kitchen has an arsenal of recipes that always work.  Call them what you want: sure things, shoo-ins, ace-in-the-hole.  It doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that they turn out every single time.  Ina Garten’s Lemon Yogurt Cake is one of those recipes.  As versatile as Ryan Seacrest (wait…did I lose you there…sorry).  Let’s try this again.  As versatile as a pair of black Manolo Blahnik pumps, this little gem does everything.  Call it a loaf and you can serve it for breakfast or at brunch.  Call it a cake and magically, it’s dessert.  Smother it in blueberry sauce and you can call it whatever you want.  People will still devour it.

Let’s talk a moment about that “Y” word in the title.  Yes. Yogurt.  Or Yoghurt.  Back when I was a little girl, my mom used to make frozen yogurt pie as a dessert.  Yes, she also used to feed us carob by the pound.  Explains a lot doesn’t it?  Anyhow, her yogurt pie was literally yogurt from the carton (usually berry), poured into a pie tin and then frozen in the freezer.  And while it tasted about as good as you think it would, it was healthy.  True, Lemon Yogurt Cake does have yogurt in it.  However, I make no pretense that it is healthy.  The yogurt makes it extra moist.  And extra good.  And that should be enough without pretending to add “healthy” to the whole thing.

I should note here that while the recipe below makes a single loaf, I always double it because really, what else are you going to do with plain, full-fat yogurt?  Doubling the recipe works great.

Lemons abound in this recipe.  They are in the batter, in the syrup and in them glaze.  Mmmmm….lemony….

This is also a no-machinery, two bowl recipe.  Dry ingredients get mixed into one bowl.  In another goes all wet ingredients but the oil.  And please, take the time to whisk in each egg individually.

After the dry ingredient are mixed in to the wet ingredients, adding the oil is the final step. It’s a little laborious, but be gentle.  And patient.

While your loaf is loafing in the oven, it’s time to make the syrup.  This is just a simple syrup: lemon juice and sugar.  Pour them into the pan, bring to a simmer, turn off the heat and let it cool (you could strain-out the lemon pulp but I don’t).

When the cakes come out, let them cool for about 10 minutes.

Then, while they are still warm you want to remove them from their cozy little pans, ambush them, and stab them all over with a bamboo skewer.  This is where the “adapted” part of the recipe comes in.  I’ve always done this.  However, when recently reviewing the recipe I realized that Ina’s recipe in no way suggests this form of violence.  There is a reason we always hurt the ones we love.  In this case it is to better distribute the syrupy goodness.

Once the cakes are liberated from their pans and resting on a cooling rack over a cookie pan (or a similar contraption that will allow the wayward syrup to drain), slowly pour syrup over loaf.


Things can easily end here.  Just let the loaf cool and you are in business.  I usually end here if serving this for brunch.  But if you want to add one more layer of lemon, a simple icing of confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice makes this recipe even better.

Lemon Yogurt Cake

Slightly adapted from Ina Garten


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
  • 3 extra-large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease, flour and line pan with parchment.

Sift  together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl.  In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pierce cake all over with a bamboo skewer than pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cake.