[Photograph: Carrie Vasios]

I feel for the guys who always have to play the supporting role. The sidekicks, the straight men, the Ethels, Dr. Watsons and Ed McMahons of the world. I think it's pretty obvious—Donald Duck saw his own comedic shortcomings and lured the chipmunks into his house with those pancakes, and Geoffrey was really the key to the whole Fresh Prince operation.

These feelings translate to the culinary world, where I'm sad to see certain foods always get top billing. But recently Preserved columnist Lucy Baker turned the tables on strawberry-rhubarb, creating a rhubarb-strawberry jam. So I thought, why don't I do the same for one of my own favorite duos: lemons and poppy seeds?

The truth is that poppy seeds are a stellar ingredient and anyone who's ripped into a fresh poppy seed bagel before schmearing on the cream cheese can attest to their distinct taste. I also like their crunch, especially when contrasted with something soft, like said bagel or this coffee cake.

As you can see from the photo, this little loaf is resplendent with seeds. I can't promise any Ozian experiences from eating this many poppies, but I can attest to a delightful breakfast treat. Because the poppy seeds impart an earthiness, I countered with a lemon glaze. Applied while hot, the glaze seeps into the cake and gives it an ombre-effect: it becomes progressively less lemony the father down the slice you go. I like alternating bites from the top and bites from the bottom, making sure every flavor gets equal attention.

Get the Recipe

Lemon Glazed Poppy Seed Coffee Cake »

About the author: Carrie Vasios is the editor of Serious Eats: Sweets. She likes to peruse her large collection of cookbooks while eating jam from the jar. You can follow her on Twitter @carrievasios


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