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Dorothy Dean presents: Lemon-Blueberry Poppy Seed Cake serves up a slice of sunshine

UPDATED: Thu., June 28, 2018, 10:32 a.m.

Lemon and blueberry add flavor to poppy seed pound cake. (Audrey Alfaro)
Lemon and blueberry add flavor to poppy seed pound cake. (Audrey Alfaro)

The inspiration for this Bundt cake came from a recent 19-hour trek from Spokane to Brandon, Manitoba, to celebrate my husband’s grandma turning 100 years old.

She’s the first, and only, centenarian I know. And she’s still got her wits about her and sips whiskey like a champ. My kinda gal.

As the hubby packed the car, I prepared a cooler full of food because we all know a road trip isn’t complete without snacks. Apple-pecan chicken salad, sliced veggies with dill dip, homemade Aussie bites (recipe coming soon), lemon poppy seed muffins, and a ton of fruit, including 3 pounds of fresh blueberries.

On road trips I find myself, along with my husband and child, eating way more often than we normally do. (I’ll blame it on boredom.) And while our cooler of healthy options steered us clear of any drive-thrus, it did not stop us from loading up on chips at every Canadian gas station stop we made. (The quintessential Canadian snack is ketchup chips.)

After having my fill of chips, I moved on to the lemon poppy seed muffins only to find that my daughter, Sophie, who was so quiet in the back seat, had carefully eaten just the tops off of them all. But that wasn’t going to stop me from eating them. We were 13 hours in and I needed food stat. Or maybe I was bored. Either way, upon grabbing a “topless” muffin, I noticed how naked it looked (no pun intended), and thought blueberries would taste and sit perfectly on the flat crumby surface that she so meticulously left behind. So I loaded them on and took a bite.

It was divine.

With hours left in our drive, my foodie wheels started turning and hatched was this Lemon-Blueberry Poppy Seed Cake. Based off my rum cake, this recipe uses boxed cake and pudding mix, making it a breeze to whip up. It’s bursting with bright, zesty lemon flavor, pops of blueberries and a bit of poppy seed crunch. The almond glaze adds the perfect combo of sweet and nuttiness.

Before adding the blueberries, you give them a toss in flour to help them stay suspended in the batter, so they don’t all sink to the bottom. And with the glaze, I like to split the recipe and make it two ways. The first way is a thinner, more milked down glaze that basically seeps into the cake. It makes for some sweet and extra moist bites. And the second way is a thicker glaze that runs just slightly, but sets like a glaze on a doughnut. How you make yours is entirely up to you.

With your morning coffee or as a delightful end to a summer meal, you can’t go wrong with this beautiful and moist cake. And I swear, if sunshine had a flavor, this would be it.

Lemon-Blueberry Poppy Seed Cake

For the cake:

1 package lemon cake mix

1 box instant lemon pudding mix

4 eggs

1/2 cup oil

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup milk

1 lemon, zest of

2 cups fresh blueberries

1 tablespoon flour

2 tablespoons poppy seeds

For the glaze:

2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon almond extract

3-4 tablespoons milk

For the garnish:

Blueberries

Poppy seeds

Lemon slices

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan.

Combine cake mix and pudding mix in a large bowl. Mix in the eggs, oil, water, milk and zest. Beat well. Toss blueberries in flour then gently fold them and the poppy seeds into cake batter. Pour in Bundt pan.

Bake for one hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Leaving cake in pan, set on a rack to cool for 20 minutes. Then carefully run a butter knife between cake and pan to loosen edges. Turn out onto serving platter and let cool completely. Meanwhile make the glaze.

For the glaze, combine powdered sugar, almond extract and 3 tablespoons of milk in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Glaze should be thick but move when bowl is tilted. If the glaze is too thick, add more milk. If it’s too thin, add more powdered sugar. Pour into a zip-top bag and snip off the corner and drizzle over cooled cake. Garnish with blueberries, poppy seeds and lemon slices, if desired.