Last May, I got an email from a reader requesting a Wuthering Heights menu, and I was thrilled. It was the first time anyone had ever contacted me with a menu request, though I’ll admit I was also a little nervous since I’d never read Wuthering Heights before. I was afraid I might not like it, and I have a personal rule of not making menus for books I don’t like. Still, I promised to read it with hopes that all would go well.
And I thoroughly enjoyed it! Gothic romance holds a special place in my heart, and I loved Emily Bronte’s descriptions of the bleak moor and Cathy’s desolate ghost. I finished it quickly and immediately started planning a menu. February seemed like the perfect time to premiere it, what with all the stark, gray weather outside. So here it finally is!
I love the food’s Victorian flair throughout the book: goose, porridge, oatcakes, etc. There are also several references to tea and cake, so I decided to take that as the inspiration for my appetizer. One common form of tea cake is seed cake, a quick bread with caraway or poppy seed mixed through the batter. Although caraway is more traditional, I’m not a big fan of the flavor, so I decided to go with poppy seed. I also wanted to incorporate the oranges that are mentioned in the book, so orange poppy seed cake it is! The recipe I use here is mostly based on this blood orange poppy seed cake from The Whole Bite.
I was definitely eager to get to work on this! One downside of planning my menus so far ahead is that I don’t always get to make what I’m in the mood to cook, but I was SO in the mood for this. The weather lately has been gray and depressing, and a citrusy, not-too-sweet quick bread was just what I wanted. And this bread didn’t disappoint! It was tender without being too delicate, dense without being heavy, and absolutely beautiful. The glossy effect from the glaze is fantastic. And the flavor was perfect—just enough orange and just enough sweetness. Everyone in the house (including the baby) loved it. It was gone is just a few days!
Orange Poppy Seed Cake
“After playing lady’s-maid to the new-comer, and putting my cakes in the oven, and making the house and kitchen cheerful with great fires, befitting Christmas-eve, I prepared to sit down and amuse myself by singing carols…”
— Wuthering Heights
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tsp orange zest
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp poppy seeds
- 1/3 cup fresh orange juice plus 1 tbsp sugar
- NOTE: Depending on the size of your oranges, you may need 2-3 oranges to get enough zest, juice, and garnish slices.
Makes 1 loaf
- Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a standard size loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl and set aside. Whisk the yogurt, zest, sugar, eggs, and vanilla together in a separate bowl. Whisk the yogurt mix into the flour mix until just combined.
- Fold the oil into the mix with a spatula until combined. Stir in the poppy seeds. Pour the batter into the pan.
- Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. For the garnish, cut 3 disks from an orange. You want them to be between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. Cut the slices in half width-wise (eat one, since you’ll only need five halves). About 20-30 minutes into the bake time, place the slices on top of the loaf in a staggered pattern. Be aware that they may spread to the sides as the loaf continues to cook (depending on how it cracks), so place them about an inch closer together than you would like them to be.
- Allow the loaf to rest in the pan for 10 minutes. While you wait, whisk the orange juice and sugar together until the sugar is dissolved. Heat the mix in a saucepan until just boiling. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Remove the loaf from the pan and place on a wire rack. Place the rack on top of a baking sheet. While it’s still warm, liberally brush the orange glaze over the loaf, letting each layer soak in before you continue. Make sure to coat the sides as well. Allow the loaf to cool completely on the rack.
- Serve to placate a restless ghost haunting your manor on the moor.
Check out my other bread recipes!