Yummy Poppy Seed Cake for Imbolc                                                

This is a brilliant cake for Imbolc celebrations but is also perfect as a gift for new beginnings of all kinds – for a naming ceremony for instance. It's a recipe you will be asked for again and again and it's a joy to make.

Briefly, seeds represent potential and new beginnings, poppy represents vision and inspiration, and honey is for love. Perfect.

Ingredients

• 1 cup poppy seeds
• 1/3 cup runny honey
• 1 cup butter
• 1 1/2 cups sugar– I use brown caster sugar
• 4 large eggs, separated
• 1 cup sour cream
• 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
• 2 1/2 cups plain flour
• 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda - scant
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

In a small sauce pan mix and gently cook the poppy seed with the honey and 1/4 cup water for 3 – 4 minutes. Allow this to cool.

Cream butter/margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. It won’t go as light and fluffy as a sponge because there is more sugar than butter.

Add the cooled poppy seed mixture to the creamed mixture, then add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Blend in the sour cream and vanilla.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl – and it needs to be large.

Gradually add the poppy seed mixture to the dry mixture, beating well.

Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold into the batter.

Pour the batter into a lightly greased and floured tin.

Bake in the middle of the oven 160 -170C for about 40/50 minutes – check.

Cool in the tin for 5 minutes.

Remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.

Bits and Bobs.

I often make this cake in two bread tins – one for now, one for later. It freezes beautifully. If making one cake you could use either an 8” or 9” tin. I always line the tin with baking paper. How long it takes to cook depends of course, on your oven, but this cake doesn’t seem to mind being taken out and prodded. It has never failed me yet. It is cooked when it is fairly brown on top and just firm on top. If it looks as if it is browning to quickly just reduce the temperature a little. It’s not a cake that you have to be concerned about the amount of air you are getting into it, even at the egg white stage. It’s what I call a ‘kind’ cake. The sour cream guarantees its moistness. I prepare everything in separate bowls before I begin and beat the add whites just before I need them.

If I am giving it as a gift I wrap it simply in greaseproof paper tied with string – and attach a piece of rosemary herb, or ivy (not to be eaten!), or whatever I can find in the garden.

Have fun and enjoy! XXX