Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cupcakes and Cookbooks

It's Cake Slice time again, and May's cake choice was Lemon Poppyseed Cake with Almond Frosting from Sky High Cakes by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne. I was so glad to get the chance to bake from this book again since it is one of my favorites. Only instead of making a triple layer cake I decided to make these into cupcakes.

I did make a few adaptations but they were minor and didn't really change the recipe. Firstly I halved this recipe and ended up with 15 cupcakes. I did this because I thought it would be better for portion control. Secondly, I only used half the amount of poppyseeds the recipe called for because I used them all in/on my Everything No-Knead Bread. And lastly, instead of adding almond extract to the cream cheese frosting, I added lemon zest because there are nut allergies in my family.

These cupcakes were different than any other lemon poppyseed cake I've had. Mostly because it was a white cake used for the base. There are no egg yolks in this recipe so the texture is very light and fluffy, but still firm. They're tender but not terribly moist. Luckily they're brushed with a lemon syrup that sweetens and moistens them up.

I think an almond flavoring in the frosting would have been delicious but the lemon was refreshing and bright and complimented the cupcakes perfectly. It also piped really well, thanks to the boatload of powdered sugar :-) I baked them in these Spring-y liners and picks from the Martha collection that I found last year. I had been waiting for the perfect occasion to use them and this Mother's Day was it. I then garnished them with more sugared lemon zest. I hope you like 'em!

Lemon Poppyseed Cake from Sky High

  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter
  • Zest of 1 large lemon
  • 1¼ cups buttermilk
  • 5 egg whites

Lemon Syrup:

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Juice of 1 large lemon


  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 5 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 tbsp almond extract or finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Cake: Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease three 8 inch cake pans and line the bases with parchment paper. Combine the flour, 1¾ cups sugar, baking powder, poppy seeds and salt in a mixing bowl. Mix gently to combine.

Add the butter, lemon zest and 1 cup of buttermilk to the flour. Beat on low until completely mixed. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1-2 minutes until lighter in color.

In a medium bowl, combine the egg whites with the remaining ¼ cup buttermilk, whisk to blend thoroughly. Add the egg white mixture to the batter in 2-3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beating only enough to incorporate the mix. Divide the batter between the three pans.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the cakes are golden brown, spring back when touched lightly in the centre, and a cake tester comes out clean. Leave to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before turning out.

While the cake layers are cooling, make a lemon syrup.

Syrup: In a small pan combine the remaining ¼ cup sugar, water and lemon juice. Bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Generously brush the cakes with the lemon syrup while they are still warm. Then allow the cakes to cool completely.

Frosting: In a large mixing bowl beat the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well between each addition. Add the almond extract or lemon zest and then continue to beat well for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy.

To complete the cake, place one layer, top side down, on a cake plate and spread about a fifth of the frosting over the cake to cover evenly. Repeat with the second layer and place the third layer on top. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.

Makes 1 x 8inch triple layer cake or 30 cupcakes.

NOTE: I added lemon zest to the cream cheese frosting instead of the almond extract.

I halved the recipe and made 15 cupcakes.

Be sure to stop by the other Cake Slice Bakers to see their cakes!

WAIT! I have a giveaway for you!

You have a chance to win ANY cookbook your little heart desires. Yes, it's true! This giveaway is sponsored by Snubbr and all you have to do is leave me a comment on this post telling me what cookbook you'd like to win and why. Be sure to answer both questions! That's it, just make sure it's a cookbook still in print so they can send it to you :-)

A winner will be chosen in one week by the folks at Snubbr. Be sure I have a way of contacting you if you win.

At the request of Snubbr, this giveaway is only open to US residents.

Best of luck to you all!


Lynn Gardner said...

Oh, very Springy :) Perfect for chasing away all the rain outside my window.

Katie said...

Your cupcakes are gorgeous Monica! I love the yellow cases, the flowers and the extra lemon - so fresh and summery. Beautiful.

Your cookbook giveaway sounds great, shame I can't enter, but I probably have far too many cookbooks anyway!

Memória said...

I'm so jealous of how cute your cupcakes are even they look a bit too stereotypically feminine for my tastes hahaha. I love the shot of the poppy seed here and on your other site.

I would like the new cookbook by Mario Batali Molto italiano. I sifted through this book yesterday after leaving the Strawberry Farm you recommended and was hooked.

Take care!

Jessie @ simplysifted said...

Every recipe I've made from Sky High Triple Layer Cakes has been delicious. I love that book!

If I could have any cookbook I'd want David Lebovitz's new book Ready for Dessert.

Jo said...

Monica, the cupcakes are absolutely gorgeous. Love the piping and decoration as well.

cookies and cups said...

those are the sweetest cupcakes ever ~ so pretty!

oneordinaryday said...

So pretty! The daisy toppers are perfect too.

What an awesome giveaway, Monica!! I'm torn between Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day and The Perfect Scoop. : )

Avril said...

Gorgeously delish Monica! Perfect way for me to start my day.....reading this beautiful post of yours. :-)

At the moment my "cook-book wish list" includes, Sky High Cakes and Ready for Dessert.

Smiles and hugs to you! :-)

Unknown said...

oooh, I would love to win The Pioneer Woman Cooks! And your cupcakes look absolutely delicious.

Anonymous said...

I've only recently discovered cooking blogs and yours is one of my favs. I've already made the Banana Pecan Butter Buns which were delicious and I can't wait to try more. Maybe you should have a cookbook, I know I would buy it.

I would love to have either one of Trisha Yearwoods cookbooks Home Cooking with Trish Yearwood or Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen. Thanks. Kim R.

Unknown said...

What gorgeous cupcakes...they are almost too pretty to eat-almost!
Nice giveaway too! So many cookbooks, but The Bread
Bakers Apprentice woud be great, or Tricia Yearwoods new cookbook.

Nina @ crazy for cookies and more said...

wow...the cupcakes make me think of a sunny day...we have not had too many sunny days in Ohio lately...I am ready for it to warm up.

The cookbook I am wishing for is Paula Deen Celebrates, best dishes and best wishes for the best times of your life. I love to celebrate anything so we can have a gathering of friends where I can fix lots of food!!!

Thanks for the great cupcake recipe! Nina

Vicky Z said...

Hey Monica... another recent reader of your blog. Hmm.. I heard good things about The Cake Bible, so I would like to win that if possible. I want to win it because I have a husband who's a workaholic, and the only way I can make him come home early and ignore work is by making him lots of tasty, and beautiful cakes haha.

Shortcake said...

I would love to have the "Baked" cookbook! I have been seeing more and more bloggers making things from their cookbook and I want to join in! :-)

steph- whisk/spoon said...

a perfect springtime cupcake--they are darling!

Brittany said...

Those cupcakes are beautiful! I would love to get Chef Paul Prudhomme's Lousiana Kitchen cookbook! I love Cajun cooking! Thank you!

Michele said...

Those cupcakes look delicious! I can never get my frosting to look that great.

I would love to have The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook!

Rachel said...

Amazing cupcakes..prettily presented.

vanillasugarblog said...

i must be the only person who does not have that cookbook.
those decorations really make the cupcake pop. you are getting so talented my dear.

Kelgirl105 at yahoo dot com said...

these look lovely! I have always strayed away from poppy seeds since I once heard that they will make for a positive drug test, but I have never had to take a drug test and don't forsee having to do one in the future, so I don't know why I have not been taking advantage of something like this!!!

I would love to have the Pioneer Woman cookbook!

Lalycairn said...

Hmmm. So many cookbooks, so little time. . . . (grin) I have on my wish list the King Arthur Bakers Companion - which I want, because it would be nice to have all those recipes in one place, as opposed to hunting down the various sheets I've printed off the internet.
Or The Best of Better Baking by Marcy Goldman - also a wonderful baker's cook book.

Cupcakes looked fabulous. :)

Keeley said...

Looks great!

What do you use to create those smooth, fluffy tufts of icing on your cupcakes? Is it some type of piping (I don't know this stuff... I'm not good with frosting)?

Heidi said...

I discovered your blog a few months ago and I'm hooked! Love it!

After seeing all the recipes you've made from the Sky High cookbook, I'd like to try them myself. I think that book would make a lovely addition to my modest collection!

Holly said...

These cupcakes look delish!! And so pretty!
I would love to have the Hello Cupcake Cookbook:) I love all thing cupcake and would love to learn how to decorate them cute:)

natalia said...

Ciao Monica ! Your cupcakes are so cute ! I love how you put the frosting and the daisys too !!
I'd love Marc Bittmann' How to cook everything vegetarian so I could partecipate better to I heart cooking clubs. I want it so much I'll move to the U.S. !! No I'm jocking :I have a friend in california coming in july maybe she could help !

Unknown said...

These cupcakes look lovely. The sugared lemon zest on the top was a very nice touch.

As far as cookbooks go, I would love to own How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. :-)

Anonymous said...

I look forward to your recipes each week!

I would love either The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book or Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood.

Wish me luck!! ~Brenda N.

Ally's Sweet and Savory Eats said...

Oh, I would love to win Trisha Yearwood's new cookbook that just came out, I have her first one and it is great!

Ally @ Sweet & Savory

Unknown said...

these look and sound amazing! I have been wanting the Baked cookbook for a bit...

Hennifer said...

Monica... those are stunning! You are always so great with your presentation. I never cease to be amazed by your eye for things.

Hmmm... a cookbook? Well I really have no idea as I don't usually buy cookbooks. I guess I would like a cookbook for cooking for small portions, maybe vegetarian, I hear Jamie Oliver has a good book with tips and such.

I'll be lame if I win I guess.

katie shrum said...

I love your posts, Monica!!

I would love to get A Gringo's Guide to Authentic Mexican Cooking...I would really like to make wonderful Mexican food and think this could help this Gringo! :)

Angela said...

How pretty!! I would LOVE Martha Stewart's Cupcake Cookbook -- I keep picking it up in stores, and then putting it down at the very last minute!

Susan B said...

Hi Monica, Love your blog!

I would love to have Home Cooking With Trisha Yearwood, because I love good old fashioned home cookin'!

Cardboard Hour said...

I've been pining after Michael Suas's 'Advanced Bread and Pastry' - I really want a book that helps me make my baking skills up just one notch better, please!!
you can contact me on

Misc Momma said...

At first I was thinking "how do I decide which one?" but then it became obvious! I want the Sky High book, duh!!! Just looked through your archives to jog my memory and it was Sam's 3rd Birthday cake that I've been swooning over. You did an amazing job on that cake.

OvenDelights said...

those cupcake turned out so pretty! they would look great for a wedding! If chosen I would like the martha stewart cupcake book!

Erin C-H said...


Hello! I am such a lurker but I almost never comment. Here goes:

I would like "Rustic Fruit Desserts: Crumbles, Buckles, Cobblers, Pandowdies, and More" by Julie Richardson and Cory Schreiber. Have you seen it? Awesome pictures and recipes.

I want it because it reminds me of baking with my mama and grandma after a day of picking cherries, apples, or strawberries. Peaches, too.

Check it out if you have time.

BTW, cupcakes look wonderful.

*If I win, I'll email you my information. =)

Sadie said...

I've really really wanted The Brownie Bible cookbook for a long time now... I'd take any cookbook actually. ;)

koprime said...

Lemon poppyseed anything doesn't top my list, ever, but you make it look great!

Ready for Dessert!

Unknown said...

Ohhhhh love the cupcakes...too cute!

I would LOVE to win The Pioneer Woman Cooks and the reason is ummmm...because she is the best!!

Jena said...

OMG those cupcakes are gorgeous!!! They look like they just came from a bakery- perfect and professional-looking. :)

A cookbook (or baking book) that's been on my list for awhile is The Craft of Baking by Karen DeMasco and Mindy Fox. I love baking more than cooking, so this book would be incredibly useful in my culinary endeavors!

cookies and cups said...

oh ~ i forgot to post the cookbook that I want...probably Martha Stewart's Cookie book. Have been wanting it for a while and just haven't gotten it!

Julie said...

Those cupcakes look so sweet and wonderful...I love the picks.
I would love to win Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking...because I've been wanting it since I saw the movie!

Lori said...

One cookbook I have wanted is Sky High as I keep seeing beautiful desserts on your blog from that book.

Another is Sweet Melissa's as everything looks so good from that club.

And finally Baked because I saw them on Martha Stewart and I liked what they had to say.

I know I was suppost to pick one but I just live in excess. My top choice would be Sky High.

I made lemon poppy seed muffins the other day. After seeing yours I dont think I will be posting them because yours look so utterly gorgeous and mine kinda look hideous.

Velva said...

Those are beautiful lemon poppy seed muffins. Perfect for Summer and perfect with a cup of coffee too.

Faith said...

Those cookies look DELISH! Very summery and appealing..especially since it is far from summery here in the PNW! If I were to win the give away I would love to have Julia Childs MTAOFC! I would like to try some complex recipes and I feel like there would be some good ones in there!

Heather at Kitchen Concoctions said...

What beautiful cupcakes! They look and sound so good!

Cookbooks are my weakness. I too have had my eye on the Trisha Yearwood cookbook, the Martha Stewart cupcake cookbook, and the cookbook Tea with a Twist.

Juliana said...

Wow, such a nice and perfect cupcakes, love the flavor...poppy seed and the way you decorated them...gorgeous :-) By the way, nice pictures as well.

Leslie Harris (de Limon) said...

Gorgeous! Absolutely gorgeous!

Mary Bergfeld said...

Monica, I sense these weren't quite all you wanted them to be. I think they are beautiful and they sound delicious. This is my first visit to your blog. I had intended only to say hello, but started reading your earlier posts and stayed far longer than I planned. I really like what you are doing here. I'll be back as often as I can. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

♥peachkins♥ said...

awww..these cupcakes are so cute!

blowing peachkisses
The Peach Kitchen
peach and things

Crazy Momma said...

I am new to your blog and lovin it. I actually am fixing the roast this evening and the entire family is excited.
I would love The Pioneer Woman Cooks Cookbook.

Jill said...

Love, love, love your blog! Your photos are beautiful and I've tried several of your recipes with great success!

If I could have any cookbook right now, it would be The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. My husband and I enjoy watching the show and having a compilation of recipes in one book would be so much neater than loose printouts from their website. Thanks!

mbc said...

It's been a while since I've commented, but these cupcakes forced me to get back in the swing! They're stunning...and perfectly light and sweet for these hot summer days we've been having around here. I'd love one right now!

As for cookbooks, the one that comes to mine is Julia's Mastering the Art of French Cooking--a year ago today I was in France and I've been wanting that cookbook since I saw Julie and Julia! Loved that movie. You've seen it, right?

Natalie said...

ahhh do I have to choose one right now? Too many! I'll cross my fingers that I win and then choose one if I do :)

Thanks for the giveaway!

Those cupcakes are lovely. I love poppyseeds, the bread I posted today is one of my favorites!

Smitten Sugar said...

Your cupcakes turned out beautiful! I love the daisy toppers :)

I had to skip this months baking cause I have been out of town for what seems like a month. Anyways my favorite cookbook is still Sky High, I have yet to be dissappointed with anything I have made from it!

vanillasugarblog said...

don't know what happened to rest of pineapple crumb cake's missing and cannot find the recipe. so sorry.
if memory serves, it was a basic crumb cake w/ double crumbs and a layer of drained, chopped pineapples on top of batter then the crumbs.

Unknown said...

Very pretty cupcakes and tasty too I imagine.

As far as the cookbook goes, I would love to have the 25th Anniversary Edition of the Silver Palate Cookbook - the cookbook that changes my (culinary) life!
My original is dog eared (and guess what i just took it to bed..again with me last night lol)
That book opened my food world up and has always had me dreaming of my own little day :)

Colleen @ SouffleBombay

Amber said...

I would love to have
Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey: Desserts for the Serious Sweet Tooth! I have heard people mentioning recipes from this book and it sounds delicious and fun to try! I "suffer" from a serious sweet tooth problem and the only way to battle it is to face it head on! :-)

Ingrid_3Bs said...

Your cupcakes look like ones I'd find in a pretty.

This was a difficut know I love my cookbooks but the cookbook I'd like is Ready for Dessert. I chose this one for several reasons. First, it isn't one I'd buy as it's a bit pricey. Second, I have his ice cream cookbook and the recipes are delish, so I'm going to believe that the recipes in this new one are equally good. The third, and final reason is that his recipes are just a wee bit challenging thus pushing me gently past my comfort zone with. :)

Thanks for hosting the giveaway!

Meghan @ Domestic Sugar said...

If I won, I would love to have Julia Usher’s book, Cookie Swap! that book looks like a lot of fun. Thanks for the giveaway!

Lorraine said...

Your cupcakes look amazing. I love anything lemon. Your pictures are so beautiful.

The cookbook I would like would definitely be the Sky High Cakes book because I have seen the amazing recipes that you have made from there and they look so wonderful.

sharonjo said...

I'm finally taking the plunge and getting a pressure cooker, so I'd love to have a good cookbook, like Cooking Under Pressure by Lorna Sass. Thanks!

Foodiewife said...

Fortunately, we don't have any nut allergies so I would use the almond extract (you know how much I love it). The poppyseed ratio looks perfect to me. I'd definitely love to make these as a bundt cake-- in fact, I'm bookmarking it for the right day. As for a cookbook, The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book has been on my wish list for the longest time. I have the best luck with their recipes and it looked great when I saw it at a bookstore. I just didn't have the budget for it at the time.


Anonymous said...

love the pretty cupcakes AND the fantastic post about strawberries!!! you are a woman after my own heart!!

as for cookbooks:
#1 choice: America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

b/c i bake A LOT with my family, especially when it's me & the kiddos...the book is huge (ie # of recipes), perfectly bound and a must-have in my kitchen!

#2 choice (if needed)... The Bread-Baker's Apprentice. b/c I love to bake bread & would love how to be better!!



White Toast with Butter said...

Love those cupcakes!

I would love to win Ready for Dessert -- why? because I don't have it and I love DL's cookbooks. Gotta go read about that Everything bread how...looks yummy.

Jacob Blankenship said...

I would love The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook. I have watched the show every week since it first began ten years ago. Not only are there some great recipes in it, but the show itself has been a part of my life for a long time. It only seems fitting to have the whole collection of every one of their recipes to add to my well loved collection of cookbooks.

jjnhubbs said...

I keep reading posts on blogs about about Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day and I'd love to read it and try my hand at bread!

Sara and Steve said...

Fantastic recipes and I love your pictures!It takes a talent to take great pictures.

I would love to try the Sky High cookbook. Yum!

Randi M said...

I would love to own Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way by Lorna Sass. I want this cookbook because my fiancee & I are trying to develop healthier eating habits, and this cookbook would provide some delicious options to do that! :)

By the way, the cupcakes look UH-MAY-ZING!

randi. wedekind at gmail. com

Lisa said...

I had to quit reading all the other comments because
the list of cookbooks that I want kept getting longer!

The book that I would really love to have right now is Pastry Queen Parties by Rebecca Rather. I have her other books and just love the down home feel of her recipes and presentations.

Anonymous said...

I have been lurking on your site ever since I discovered your Christmas recipes. We were so pleased to host our families for the Christmas weekend and I was trying to find some good recipes and lo and behold, found your site. If I were to choose a cookbook, it would be Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything. I gave it to my son and daughter-in-law for Christmas and wished I had gotten a copy for myself!


Roz | La Bella Vita Cucina said...

Oh my goodness, Monica! These little darlin's look so good. I didn't take part in this month's selection due to high demands elsewhere, but I am so glad to read your post and what you did! YUMMMM! Roz (PS....want me to send you some rhubarb?)

Teresa said...

I love your blog and have been following you for the last eight months. I would love to bake from the book "Sky High Cakes". The cakes that you have baked look so beautiful and I would love to try my hand too.

Thank you for sharing with your blog(s). I will keep on reading and trying new recipes. Also thank you in adavance for the opportunity to possibly win a new cook book. YEAH!!

karen.karenscorner said...

Hi there I randomly found your website and its fabulous. I love all your recipes and the best thing is you have made them and photographed them yourself. Well done.

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