The ricotta cheese in this recipe helps make the loaf moist and rich. We love how the little black poppy seeds stand out from the sponge when it’s sliced.
FOR THE SPONGE
190g (7oz) unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
190g (7oz) plain Hour, plus extra for dusting
190g (7oz) caster sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 tbsp poppy seeds
2 tbsp lemon zest
25ml (1 floz) whole milk
80g (3oz) ricotta cheese
FOR THE SOAKING SYRUP
Juice of 1 lemon
50g (1 3/4z) caster sugar
One 8.5 x 17.5cm (3 1/2 x 7in) loaf tin with 7.5cm (3in) sides
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C, then grease the loaf tin with butter and dust with flour.
2. Using a hand-held electric whisk or a freestanding electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and caster sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, then mix in the poppy seeds and lemon zest. Add these dry ingredients to the creamed butter and sugar in three stages and on a low speed, mixing well between each addition and adding the milk after the second batch of dry ingredients. Increase the speed to medium and keep mixing until the batter is smooth and even, then mix in the ricotta cheese.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin and bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes or until the sponge bounces back when lightly pressed and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean, with no uncooked batter sticking to it.
5. While the cake is baking, put the lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan with 100ml (3 1/2 fl oz) of water and bring to the boil, allowing the syrup to reduce by about half.
6. When the cake is cooked, pour the syrup over it while it is still hot, allowing it to soak into the sponge. Leave the loaf to cool a little before turning it out of the tin on to a wire rack to cool down fully before serving.
From Hummingbird Bakery