A Year in Cake

One of the traditions at the Hamilton Kerr Institute is to bring in a cake for every occasion, like birthdays or unbirthdays, departures etc, to the extent that even first time visitors know how to win our favour. This academic year (2015-2016) there has been an explosion of cake, ranging from full-blown novelty to classy affairs. This blog post aims to give the reader a flavour of the Institute, through looking at the highs and lows of the year in cake. And as the icing on the cake we will end with our favourite recipe, Lemon and Poppy Seed.

Farewell to our friends Carlos, Sven and Kari, you are missed! And the gauntlet is thrown down for our new students and interns, Anna, Elisabeth, Emma, Jae and Lieve!

Camille & Sarah


Lemon-Poppy seed loaf

You will need:
– 190g unsalted softened butter (7oz)
– 190g plain flour (7oz)
– 190g caster sugar (7oz)
– 3 large eggs
– 1 tsp baking powder
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 4 tbsp of poppy seeds or as much as you want
– 2 tbsp lemon zest = about 3-5 lemons. The more the better !
– 25ml whole milk (1oz)
– 80g of greek yogurt (original recipe calls for ricotta cheese but yogurt makes it moist and tender)
FOR THE SYRUP: I usually don’t put it on, as I feel this is moist enough.
– Juice of 1 lemon
– 50g caster sugar

1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees and grease and flour your loaf tin. Cream the butter (it needs to be soft obviously. 10 sec in the microwave can help) and sugar together.
2. Add the eggs one by one and mix in between, push the sides down with a spatula. In a separate bowl measure the flour, baking powder, salt, poppy seeds and lemon zest.
3. You have to add these dry ingredients in thirds, mixing well each time on a low speed. After the second batch, add in the milk. After the last batch, add the yoghurt. The less you mix, the better. You don’t want lumps, but you don’t want to overmix as it will make it dense.
4. Pop it all into your loaf tin and level it out. Put it into the oven for 40-50 mins, until your skewer comes out clean through the middle and its nicely browned on top. If the cake starts to turn a bit brown, do not hesitate to cover it with foil and put it back it until it is fully baked.
5. About 10 minutes before it’s all cooked make your syrup by putting the sugar, lemon juice and 100ml water into a saucepan and bring to the boil and let it reduce by half.
6. Once the loaf is cooked, prick a few holes with your skewer and pour your syrup over while the cakes still hot. Leave the loaf to cool a bit and then turn out onto the wire rack to cool it.

NB: You can also make it into muffins: this recipe makes 12-16 muffins.

(recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook)