A parcel of steely powder and a blue flower-printed card. The International Gourmet Penpal Project has begun.
Poppy seeds with lemon is obviously a classic combination, but I had never heard of Mohn (poppy seed flour) until Mary sent it to me. The sandy texture of ground almonds, it is a beautiful dark grey colour with a bitter taste like walnuts. My German friend scoffed when I told him about it – just a normal boring cake for him, nothing special.
And yet it bakes up to be almost blue! Looks like granite, but soft as anything. You could ice it in layers with thick buttercream, but I preferred the lemon juice and sugar option – just a thin white crust over the nutty base. (No flour, for you gluten-free people!)
In the end I had to give the last two slices away to the picky German friend, else the whole cake would have been gone by the end of the day. (He liked it too!) A grown-up sponge cake, I suppose – a sophisticated colour, a bitter twist and simple sweet icing – Mohnkuche may be my new favourite afternoon snack.
So, who’s next? What crazy ingredients can you send me?
Mohn cakewith lemon glaze
makes a large sized cake – I halved the recipe and still made 6 generous slices
150g soft butter, at room temperature
50g icing sugar
6 eggs, separated
a pinch of salt
zest of 1 lemon
200g Mohn flour
100g ground almonds or walnuts
110g caster sugar
for glaze: juice of lemon + 100g icing sugar
Preheat oven to 180C. Grease a 20-22cm round tin or line it with baking paper.
Cream the butter and icing sugar. Add the egg yolks one by one and beat well. Fold in the salt, lemon zest, Mohn and ground nuts.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites. As they become stiff, add the sugar a spoonful at a time and keep whisking to thick glossy peaks. Mix the whites into the Mohn mix a dollop at a time, folding gently so as not to lose the airy volume.
Tip cake mix into tin and bake for 30-40 minutes, until it comes away from the sides of the tin and the top springs back when pressed.
Mix a few drops of lemon juice into the remaining icing sugar, adding more until it makes a thick pouring consistency. Smooth over hot cake as it comes out of the oven.