Lemon and poppy seed cake, and absolute truths.


There are some things we learn as small kids, often times through observation, and they end up becoming absolute truths for us.
One of such things I have learned from my grandmother Nelci: everytime we receive a visit at home, or every time someone from home is coming back from a trip, we make something special to wait for that person. Every time.
It happened that 98% of the time the special thing was to bake a cake.
So in my head, receiving a visit is associated to baking cakes.
A few days ago, I received two very dear people (hi Ire, hi mom), so there it is, lemon and poppy seeds cake.
Of course I got this recipe at technicolor kitchen, the kingdom of sweets made with citrus fruit, and for me, the perfect place to find something good to do with my recently-acquired seeds.
To tell the truth, I was not very excited about the syrup, because I thought we could die from sweetness. But as a matter of fact, it gave the cake an unexpected interesting texture, specially on the next day. And none of us thought it was overly sweet, so everything is ok.
The other point is I was a little anxious to take the cakes out of their molds, so they crumbled a little and did not come out too pretty. Honestly, that did not take us down, because the smell allover my place was great.

For the batter:
1 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ cup (100g) unsalted butter, softened
100ml vegetable oil (I used corn)
Zest from 3 lemon's peels
3 large eggs 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
¼ cup hot water
1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
1 pinch salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cup rolled oats
3 tablespoons poppy seeds

For the syrup:
¾ cup granulated sugar
Juice from 3 lemons

(Cup measure: 240ml)

I started processing the oats in the blender until they were fine as a flour, and set aside.
In a bowl, I whipped together the butter and sugar until I got a cream light in texture and color. I will tell you guys: I actually used salted butter, because it was what I had at hand, and I don't think it has interfered.
So, I added the oil, the vanilla and the lemon zest and whipped some more, then adding the eggs one by one.
I forgot to sift the flour, baking powder and salt. If you remember, this is the time to do that.
I poured the hot water into the buttercream and stirred well, then adding the flour, baking powder, salt, and processed oats, gently stirring with a wooden spoon.
I poured the batter into a grased and floured pan. It was heart shaped, approximately 20cm long. Since I had some batter leftover, I also baked 3 muffins.
The heart shaped pan was a gift from my friend Rebeca, a long time ago. Grazzie, bella! :)

So I baked the cakes in preheated oven at 180oC for 50 minutes. I don't know why, but they have grown tall and then they lowered a bit.
If you think the cake should bake for a little longer or shorter time, go ahead.
When the cake came out of the oven, I put the lemon juice and the sugar in a small pan over low heat until the sugar melted. I left the cake inside the pan, and pricked it with a knife before pouring the hot syrup over. I waited for the cake to cool down over a wire rack before serving.

Yields 16 servings.
Obs: the original recipe recommends the use of a 20cm square pan.
Obs 2: If you can't find poppy seeds to buy, maybe it's possible to substitute with toasted black sesame seeds for crunchiness and looks? I think it's worth trying.

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