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Ask a Chef reveals the secrets of those superb dishes you ate in cafes and restaurants and wanted to try yourself.
Maniototo Cafe's lemon and poppyseed cake
Makes 1 three-layered cake
300g plain flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
300g caster sugar
6 free-range eggs
zest of 6 lemons
125g sour cream
2 Tbsp poppy seeds
⅔ cup lemon juice
⅔ cup sugar
260g cream cheese
5¼ cups icing sugar, sifted
zest of two lemons
Preheat oven to 180degC (or 160degC fan bake). Grease and line three 20cm cake tins with baking paper.
Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the lemon zest and mix. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Add the sour cream and mix until combined. Then sift in flour, baking powder and salt and add the poppyseeds. Fold until well combined.
Divide the mixture evenly between the three tins. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Once the cakes are cooked, remove from the oven and pierce a number of holes in the top with a skewer. While still in the tins brush half the syrup over the top of the cakes. Leave to cool in the tins for 15 minutes before turning out on to a wire cooling rack. Use the remaining syrup to brush the bottoms of the cakes and leave to cool completely.
To make the syrup
Place the lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan and cook over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.
To make the icing
Beat the butter with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the cream cheese and continue to beat. Reduce the speed of the beater and add the icing sugar one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Add the lemon zest and beat on high speed for five minutes or until the icing is light and fluffy.
Fill a piping bag with about two-thirds of the icing, use a medium-sized tip. Place one layer of the cake on a board, spread about ½cm of icing on top, keeping it about 2cm from the edges.
Then squeeze out small ''blobs'' of icing with the piping bag around the diameter of the cake, about 1cm from the edge. Gently place the second cake on top and repeat the process.
Then place the final cake on top and spread a final layer of icing on top, using any remaining icing in the piping bag to decorate as you like.
Requested by Hilary Henderson, of Dunedin. Supplied by Maniototo Cafe, Ranfurly.
If you have enjoyed a dish in an Otago cafe or restaurant and would like the recipe, write to Ask a Chef, Features, Otago Daily Times, PO Box 517, Dunedin, fax 474-7422, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, including your name, address and a daytime telephone number, and we will request it.