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Poppy Seed Cakes

Nonstick cooking spray
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
1 1/4 cups cake flour (not self-rising), plus more for the pan
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup almond paste
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
4 large eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam, warmed to a smooth spreading consistency
8 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/4 teaspoon pure lemon extract
1 1/4 cups solid vegetable shortening
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon whole milk
Red and green paste food coloring


Heat the oven to 350F. Spray a 12 x 17-inch jelly-roll pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the pan with parchment paper. Butter the parchment and dust it with flour, tapping out any excess. Sift the 1 1/4 cups of flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt onto a piece of parchment paper. Put 3/4 cup of the sugar, the almond paste, and the poppy seeds into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until the mixture looks like wet sand. Increase the speed to medium-high. Add the butter and mix for 2 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and mix well. Add the flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the milk. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, whip the egg whites until foamy. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, beating until soft peaks form. Fold one third of the egg whites into the batter with a rubber spatula. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool completely. Turn the cake out onto a work surface and carefully remove the parchment paper. Cut the cake in half crosswise and spread one half of the cake with the jam; top with the remaining cake half. Refrigerate the cake for 1 hour. Trim the sides of the cake and cut the cake into 1 1/2-inch squares. Transfer the cake squares to a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. In a bowl set over simmering water, combine 1/2 cup water with the confectioners sugar, corn syrup, and vanilla, almond, and lemon extracts. Whisk until the glaze is very warm and smooth. Let cool for about 8 minutes before using to coat the cake squares. Ladle the glaze over each piece of cake, spreading it over the top and sides to coat completely and letting the excess drip onto the baking sheet. If the glaze becomes too thick, add hot water, 1 teaspoon at a time, to loosen it. (The excess icing that drips onto the baking sheet can be scraped off, reheated, strained, and reused.) Let the cakes dry completely. In a medium bowl, beat together the shortening and butter with an electric mixer. Gradually add the confectioners sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well on medium speed after each addition and scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl often. When all the sugar is mixed in, the icing will appear dry. Add the milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep the bowl covered with a damp cloth. Divide the icing between 2 bowls, one with one third of the icing and the other with two thirds of the icing. With the food coloring, tint the larger amount red and the other green. Put the icings into parchment paper cones or resealable food-storage bags with a tiny corner cut off. When the cakes are completely dry, pipe poppies onto each cake piece. If desired, place a few poppy seeds in the center of each blossom.

Source: www.epicurious.com