Saturday, October 22, 2011

Ukrainian Poppy Seed Cake and Lemon Mousse

I love kids. I love kids with my whole heart. I can paint with kids, ruining my favorite zip-up with dabs of yellow, green, and hand-stirred purple. I can play at the beach with kids, the hyper-vigilant lifeguard who hates sand in her shoes but loves the sun on her face. I can even handle the high stress, sensory overload experience of the Science Center. But baking with kids, that's a whole new realm. It requires the patience of a Zen monk and the inhibition of a college freshman.

We eased ourselves into this activity early in the summer, practicing on pots of macaroni and peanut butter banana coins. Slowly we worked our way up to Red Plum and Browned Butter Skillet Cobbler, which we made together so many times over the summer that I could now do it in my sleep.

My charges and I made Ukrainian Poppy Seed Cake and Lemon Mousse today.  And I overcame my fear of baking with children.

I also was granted access to the nice camera, which meant pretty photos for my blog. Job perk! Even this pen looks pretty with fancy camera.

And we're off!

We zested a lot of lemons. We squeezed the living daylights out of them for their precious juice.

The lemon zest and juice cooked down with cornstarch and sugar until it was thick like jelly.

The lemon jelly chilled, then was mixed with cream. CREAM!  Of course we had to taste test this. It was basically lemon pillows. Lemon pillows, scooped up with spoons, on a rainy Friday afternoon.

Our cake journey began with scalded milk, choked with poppy seeds.

The batter was a simple cake batter, infused with lemon zest, lemon juice, and loads of vanilla. My charge has a heavy pouring hand.

Into the pans. I love these simple, square pans. And don't mind that single strand of lemon zest perched between the two pans ... just ... don't. It's part of the haphazardness of baking with children. Embrace that wonky lemon zest!

Have you ever watched a child get giddy with the excitement of something sweet baking in the oven? It's worth seeing at least once in your life.  There's nothing like it. Feet wiggle.  Fingers point in glee. I love that unfiltered, unapologetic, totally pure excitement for life. I wanna bottle it!

Out came the cake. Out came the mousse. Flipped onto a cutting board, dolloped with cream, and gobbled up by four eager mouths.

I didn't do much wrangling, no science center excursions or sandy beach trips today, but I conquered my fear of baking with children.

It was a good day.


  1. fun fun fun! and delicious, i bet.

  2. Super delicious! The family used the rest of the Lemon Mousse to fill crepes ... yummmm

  3. This looks like it would be my favorite dessert in the world.

  4. I gotta make it for you sometime!! Or I can send you the recipe, whichever you prefer :)

  5. Aww this looks awesome! And so fun that you all made it together.

  6. This looks delicious, Alli! I will have to try it sometime! :)