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Double Pumpkin Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

“People who love to eat are always the best people.”

—Julia Child

Double Pumpkin Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Happy Thanksgiving!

Double Pumpkin Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Today, I’m crazy busy cooking and baking a feast for my family… I’ve been cooking since I got home on Tuesday night and I won’t stop until dinner tonight!

But nevertheless, I wanted to share this cake with you, since it is so easy and quick and could be a perfect last-minute addition to any holiday table.

Double Pumpkin Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

For any of you who might be curious, the menu I’ve created for today is as follows (and yes, I execute all of these dishes, with great help from my sous chefs Mom, Dad, and Grandma!):

Gougères
Kale and raisin salad
Butternut squash macaroni and cheese
Roasted za’atar root vegetables with dijon aioli
Cauliflower mascarpone mashed potatoes
Mushroom, rosemary, lemon, and chicken sausage dressing
Cranberry-maple sauce
Tarragon and thyme butter roasted turkey
White wine giblet gravy
Seared maple brussels sprouts
Butternut squash snack cake with brown sugar fudge frosting
Maple cream shortbread tart
Butterscotch, poached pear, and apple pie in a cheddar crust

My “manifesto” AKA all of the written out recipes and schedules was a whopping 12 pages long this year.
We don’t play around with Thanksgiving in this household.

Double Pumpkin Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

I’m going to attempt to perhaps photograph some of the desserts, but no promises.  Things can get hectic!

The cake I’m sharing today is seriously, seriously, the best pumpkin cake I have ever tasted.

Even better, it only requires one bowl, comes together in a flash, and keeps like a dream.
It was inspired by a jar of pumpkin butter that Hana brought me from the apple orchard/pumpkin patch where she spent a brisk autumn morning.
She really is the best big ever!

Double Pumpkin Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

This pumpkin cake is dairy-free (and I used lactose-free cream cheese for the frosting), but you’d never know it.

Super moist and spicy, thanks to a double hit of pumpkin: both pumpkin butter and pumpkin purée go into the batter, along with a hit of brown sugar and a mélange of spices.
The frosting is creamy, drippy, and thick—slathered on generously.
I used Green Valley lactose free cream cheese to keep it Nati-friendly—it’s seriously amazing!
You cannot tell the difference in taste or texture whatsoever.

This cake batter comes together in 10 minutes, and then you can sneak it in the oven next to the turkey—a loaf pan is quite svelt, even in a crammed oven.

It would make a fantastic last addition to any menu!
And once again: happy Thanksgiving, all!

Double Pumpkin Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Double Pumpkin Cake 
makes 1 9×5 inch loaf cake
cake portion adapted from Sweet Phi

ingredients:
for the cake:
180 grams ( 1 1/2 cups) flour
55 grams (1/2 cup packed) brown sugar
55 grams (1/2 cup) sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
pinch cloves
pinch nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 eggs
270 grams (1 cup) pumpkin purée
430 grams (1 1/2 cups) pumpkin butter
28 grams (2 tablespoons) vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

for the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese (I used lactose free)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
480 grams (4 cups) powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk, as needed (I used cashew)

directions:
Make the cake: preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease and flour a loaf pan.
Whisk together flour, sugars, spices, and salt.
Make a well in the center and crack in the eggs; add the pumpkin purée, pumpkin butter, oil, and vanilla to the well also.
Carefully stir the batter together until a rough and mostly homogeneous batter results.
Scrape into prepared pan.
Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a tester comes out with only a few moist crumbs and the top is springy and golden.
Allow to cool completely before frosting.
To make the cream cheese frosting, whip cream cheese on high speed util creamy and no lumps remain, about 3 minutes.
Add in the salt and powdered sugar and stir until completely incorporated; if mixture is too thick to spread, add the milk until it is of spreadable consistency.
Frost as desired.
Serve at room temperature.

All of It

Whole-Wheat Strawberry Pound Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

“That was the year, my twenty-eighth, when I was discovering that not all of the promises would be kept, that some things are in fact irrevocable and that it had counted after all, every evasion and every procrastination,
every mistake, every word, all of it.”

—Goodbye to All ThatJoan Didion

Whole-Wheat Strawberry Pound Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Oh, friends.
(Spoken with a heavy sigh threaded through each looping letter.)

There’s nothing harder and more painful than saying goodbye—or even “see you later”—is there?
Say no, please.  Indulge me.

Whole-Wheat Strawberry Pound Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Exams ended a mere week ago, and I uprooted myself only four days ago and have gone and moved a thousand miles away from what I have now begun to consider my home.
1000 miles away from my other half—my partner in crime and most closely held confidante—my best friend.
Why in the world did I willingly do that?

Four days and I have started at an exciting, challenging new job in an exciting, challenging new city.

One thousand lonely miles and four lonesome days and my heart feels as if it has been rent in two.
Who knew you could drown in tears cried in your deepest, quietest dreams?

Is this too much for a blog where I only refer to my beloved by the first letter of his name, out of some unspoken fear that typing it in full will cause him to disappear, a smoke-and-screens magician chased away at the mention of himself?

I fear this is the type of weepy writing that we as Modern Humans like to hold at full arms’ lengths, prefer to keep, safely, in quickly-closed tabs, away from eyes and clicks and minds.
It is too much, simply.

Whole-Wheat Strawberry Pound Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

And yet, I have to tell you: I have puddled to the floor like a scoop of cool, smooth ice cream in the wavering New York heat.
It took mere minutes removed from the comfort of the envelope of his arms and impossibly soft skin for my constitution to soften, and weeping and melting followed suit.

I scratch messy notes on scrabbled pages of a journal, and live for the dreams where he lays next to me.
I count the days feverishly, feeling like a madwoman.
I cry to my daddy, because I’m hundreds of miles from my steadiest rock, and he, poor thing, can do nothing to console his daughter who has lost her mind in loneliness and love.

Too young, half of my readers will scold and shake their heads, and here is where I can only try to explain how my heart feels so tight when I lay my head on the pillow at night that I can’t breathe in fully without risking a few tears being squeezed out, and all because I cannot see and hear and feel him next to me.

Do I sound like a teenage melodrama?
Pish on that.  I’m terribly lonely, and deservedly so—I feel like I am only a half in what has been a constant whole.

Whole-Wheat Strawberry Pound Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Okay, okay. I get it. Enough.
Since it’s summer, and not a single one of us can be bothered to spend extended periods in the kitchen tending to complicated things without running the risk of puddling to the floor (pining heart or no), I have a simple, elegant, summery cake today.

The batter comes together quickly, and a handful of strawberry slices take no more time to be thrown haphazardly on top.

Strawberries are ludicrously in season, little juicy ruby red jewels that burst on the tongue and coyly reveal sweet-tartness.
When baked on top of a soft, gently vanilla-scented whole-wheat butter cake, they soften and melt and meld with the cake, edges crisping ever so slightly while getting syrupy in their centers.

Baking it is easy—just stick it in the oven and wander out of the kitchen to a room with a fan, or better yet, aircon, for a little less than an hour.
The scent of strawberry-vanilla will draw you back in at just the right moment.

A few lashings of good quality dark melted chocolate, and you have a weeknight-approved cake that is glamorous with its bejeweled, striped top, and yet is deceptively unfussy and simple in the best way possible on the inside.

Definitely serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
That is not optional, people.
(P.S. Is it true that ice cream helps to soothe desolate long-distance relationship participants who miss their partner?
P.P.S. Scratch that. N is dairy free. Sorbet it is.)

Whole-Wheat Strawberry Pound Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Whole-Wheat Strawberry Loaf Cake

makes 1 9×5 inch loaf cake
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

ingredients:
130 grams (9 tablespoons) butter, soft
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
300 grams (1 1/2 cups) sugar
2 eggs
180 mL (3/4 cup) milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
280 (2 1/4 cups) white whole wheat flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
6 large strawberries, hulled and sliced
pinch of sugar, for topping
1 ounce melted dark chocolate, for topping

directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and butter a loaf pan well.
Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on high for 3 minutes.
Add in the sugar and salt and beat on high for another 3 minutes.
Scrape the bowl and add in the eggs; beat on high for another 3 minutes.
Scrape the bowl and add in the milk and vanilla; stir gently just to begin to combine.
Add the flour and baking powder on top, and slowly stir until the batter starts to come together; increase speed and beat on high for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until fully homogenized.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, layer strawberry slices until the top is covered, and top with a sprinkle of sugar.
Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out with only a few crumbs.
Allow to cool completely, then drizzle melted chocolate all over.
Serve with a giant scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Serendipitous

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Hey there, Autumn.

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I thought I’d share some things that I’m loving and coveting right now.  Some hover on the edge of the seasons, some I share with autumnal intent, and some for plain old adoration.

First off, I cannot stop listening to “I’m Not the Only One.”
It’s been on repeat for 2 full days.
Sam Smith gets me and my current life mood, and this song is soothing but oh-so-sad.
It’s incredibly refreshing to hear his beautiful Adele-man-voice singing something other than “Stay With Me” or “Latch.”

I finally (!) read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Oh!!!!
It was utterly fantastic. I picked it up and didn’t put it down until I finished, 24 hours later.
The attention she pays to details, her nuanced plot implications, and realistic emotional touch add up to quite an addictive read.
And OMG I can’t wait for the movie.

I reallyreallyreallyreallyreally want to read The Hedge Knight (AKA the tales of Dunk and Egg) by GRRM to bide my time until the next GoT book (2015?!?! REALLY?!) but have discovered that it costs $100+ dollars to buy a new copy.
I may have to settle for the kindle version, which is inferior in my humble opinion. Give me a crackling spine and sweet, faintly musty paper pages any day.

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I love the Hunter “Iconic Red” collection, but I really have my eye on some tall black wellingtons.  I have the olive green ones and absolutely adore them, and I think black can only be more versatile!
(Although since I intend to buy these gorgeous black boots in the next few weeks, red wellingtons could be just the ticket to keep my boot collection from looking too monotonous…)

I bought a pair of Lululemon 4-way stretch running shorts about a month ago, and I am about ready to throw out all my “norts” and invest in 4 more pairs of these babies.
They’re fitted without being clingy, so they don’t ride up or stick to you in weird places; they’re stretchy and comfortable, lightweight, and don’t cut in at all at the hips.
I hate having to adjust my clothing in the middle of a workout, which is the main reason why I fell for lulu leggings.  Now, I fear also been converted to their sport shorts…

This bag shall be mine, as soon as it goes back on sale (as Jessica pointed out, Rebecca Minkoff is always on sale).
I have a similar bag (white python, gold hardware) but it’s irritatingly large and due to its poor quality, stained from my blue jeans.  Can’t wait to get rid of it and replace it with a mini Mac!

In the realm of bags, I am coveting this Céline.
Sigh. One day.

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I have more links to share, but I don’t want my varied obsessions to be too long-winded, so I’ll save them for another link love post.
(Although by then I’ll inevitably have racked up another impressive list of randoms…)

Let’s chat about this here cake, y’all.

It started out as a spiced applesauce cake with a heaping ton of streusel on top, but in the heat of the oven, the top of the cake buckled in and ate much of the streusel—when I pulled out the loaf, the top sported an eighth of the original amount of streusel.
I figured it would mostly just melt into the batter, no big deal.

However, something far, far better happened:
a pocket of molten streusel, basically a little river of caramelized sugar and butter with a heavy hit of salt, aka the stuff of dreams aka pinch-me-am-I-dreaming-deliciousness, formed right in the center of the cake.

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The parts of the cake that retained their streuseled top (mostly the edges) were, just as expected, pleasantly moist with a lovely crunch on top.
So, if your streusel doesn’t sink through the cake, don’t worry.  Either way produces a gently spiced, super moist cake that offers a faint suggestion of apples and fall.
Either way, however, you neeeeed to add this glaze.
It’s my go-to: maple syrup, brown butter, salt, a touch of cream. UGH. Could eat with a spoon.

I snuck one two pieces of this cake before I wrapped it up and gave it to my bestfriendinthewholeworld, Gwen.
It’s perfectly comforting, well-suited for stressed out students!
Like a hug in cake form.
It’s a bomb way to start off fall baking—warm and spicy, but decidedly not pumpkin.

(I’m so not ready for that yet.)

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Brown Butter Applesauce Cake
cake portion adapted from Averie
streusel portion adapted from Smitten Kitchen
makes 1 9×5 loaf

ingredients:
for the streusel:
5 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

for the cake:
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander (optional)
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup sour cream
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

for the brown butter maple glaze:
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 – 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons heavy cream

directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease and flour a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
Make the streusel: combine all of the ingredients and pinch with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, set aside.
Make the cake: place the sugars, salt, and spices in a large bowl. Brown the butter in a skillet, then pour it over the sugar mixture.
While whisking, add in the eggs and vanilla extract; whisk until combined, then stir in the applesauce and sour cream.
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder, then stir into the batter until homogeneous.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, then sprinkle the streusel on top.
Bake for 55-65 minutes, until a toothpick comes out completely clean (you can tent it with foil if the top browns too quickly).
Remove from the oven; while the cake is cooling, make the glaze.
Place butter in a small skillet and brown; remove from the heat and add stir in the salt and maple syrup.
While whisking, add in the powdered sugar, then add heavy cream to thin it to a pouring consistency (if you add too much cream, you can add in a little more sugar to balance it out).
Pour/drizzle the warm glaze over the slightly warm cake, then leave to cool completely.
Serve in thick slices with strong coffee.

Waiting, Wishing

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“into a star splintered
silence
I reach
with hopeful fingers
into the light
of distant
mornings
captive in the
unbloomed
flower.”

Paul Matsumoto

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Here is my feeble attempt to feed my soul warmth, sunshine, and goodness while the cold continues to bring Chicago Chiberia to its sorely frozen knees, joints creaking and complaining on the way down.
While the cold continues to send me racing in search of a hot tea, a hot coffee, a hot salted soy mocha steamer, prepared slowly, lingered over, enjoyed, a hot drink in a cold cold room.
While the cold continues to keep me bundled up, wool socks, shearling lined boots, down vests, coats, giant woolen scarves, thick mittens, layers layers layers for survival.
While the cold continues to leach any pleasure I derive from the weak winter sun that has been shining more often, that has been teasing, teasing always, fickle and teasing.

It’s so fracking cold here, y’all.

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Yes.  It’s cold.  And I’ve been busier than ever, nonstop work nonstop studying nonstop demands to be alert awake alive enthusiastic, wishing no more than sleep and rest and relaxation.

School has been overwhelming, with one big assignment following on the heels of the last: midterms, papers, psets, reading.  Labs, responses, eating (?), sleeping (?).
Last weekend was crazy.  My dad was visiting (lovely), there were big social events (that’s a nice change), and I had a million and one academic demands on my plate (which has become a miserably constant equilibrium).

I survived, though.  I survived.  And then came the cold.
And then came the weekend of 8th/9th week, when course requests are due, final midterms are spoken about in hushed tones, the whisper of finals and final papers forms on the tongue.

School, man.  It never ends here at UChic.  It’s like we like it or something.  I dunno.  Don’t ask me.

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Planning my schedule=major stress.
Finishing up big assessments=major stress.
Trying to make sense of my major= major stress. (lol)

All of these are acting as the boot behind me, as the sweet, crunchy carrot of SPRING BREAK entices me forward, forward, forward.

I am going somewhere warm, damn it.
Forget Chiberia and this ridiculous winter.  It’s time for me to revel in Vitamin D and wear less than 4 layers of clothing at any one time.
Forget UChicago and this ridiculous winter quarter.  It’s time for me to sleep and nap and read a book on a beach.

Where, I don’t yet know.  Somewhere southron.

This cake allows me to focus on something other than tropical dreams, one bite at a time.
This cake is my tropical dreams, lush and rich and satisfying.

(Here, listen to this while you read this post.)

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This cake embodies all the sunny flavors for which I am so desperate.

The cake base is not a pound cake.  Rather, it’s a supremely light and fluffy cake, made sans butter, but oil for moisture and whipped eggs for lightness.  (I wish I had had coconut oil!  I was all out when I made the cake, but the coconut flavor still came through.)

A spot of creamy coconut milk, threads of lime zest, and chewy, finely shredded coconut are stirred into the batter.  Tangy lime syrup is poured over the hot cake, then it’s topped with swirls of cream cheese frosting.

I’ve never met a loaf cake with better texture than this one.  It’s got a firm bite, soft crumbs, and manages to hold together well while still maintaining plenty of moisture, thanks to the lime syrup.
Where the syrup pools, the cake turns into luscious soaked bites, full of flavor and fall-apart-tender in your mouth.

This cake is easy, pretty, and delicious.  It’s exciting and enticing, and conjures up feelings of sandy toes, warm sun, and tanned skin.  You should try it.

Lime in the coconut, baby.

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Lime and Coconut Soaked Cake
adapted from Ad Hoc at Home
makes 1 9×5 or 10×4 inch loaf cake

ingredients:
for the cake:
240 grams (2 cups) flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon kosher salt
zest from 3 limes
370 grams (1 2/3 cups) granulated sugar
240 mL (1 cup) coconut milk
180 grams (3/4 cup) canola oil, or coconut oil, melted but cool
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4-1 cup finely shredded coconut

for the lime soaking syrup:
120 mL (1/2 cup) lime juice
70 grams (2/3 cup) granulated sugar

for the cream cheese frosting:
60 grams (4 tablespoons) butter
170 grams (12 tablespoons) cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
30 mL (2 tablespoons) coconut milk
150 grams  (1 1/2 cups) powdered sugar
70 grams (2/3 cup) nonfat powdered milk

directions:
Make the cake: line your loaf tin with parchment paper, then grease and flour the parchment.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Whisk flour and baking powder together.
Place eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment with salt, lime zest, and sugar.
Whip on high speed for 5 minutes, until the mixture has tripled in size and is pale yellow.
Stir in the coconut milk, oil, and vanilla; when partially incorporated, place flour mixture on top and coconut on top of that and use gentle folding motions to fully homogenize the batter.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour on a baking sheet, checking for doneness at around 50 minutes.
A tester should come out with just a few crumbs.
While the cake is baking, make the syrup: place the lime juice and sugar in a small pot and bring to a boil; allow to simmer for 3 minutes.
Make the frosting: whip butter on high speed until it is completely soft, about 5 minutes.
Add in the cream cheese and beat for at least 4 more minutes.
Add in the rest of the ingredients and slowly mix to combine; beat on high for a few minutes to ensure that everything is incorporated and prevent lumps.
Refrigerate until ready to use to allow it to set up.
As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, poke it with a skewer or thin chopstick all over, about halfway through the cake.
Pour the syrup all over the hot cake, and allow it to cool completely.
Frost the cooled cake with the chilled cream cheese frosting.
Serve in generous slices.

Seedy

Calvin and Hobbes is the best comic strip ever written.  I say that with utter conviction.  
I have read every single strip multiple times and I still get a kick out of them.
As kids, my brothers and I would fight over our Calvin and Hobbes collection to read during breakfast.  The pages of all the books are accordingly sticky and stained with milk and Lucky Charms crumbs.
The losers of the fights would have to read Foxtrot.
What a life.
 


This past summer, I endeavored to reread all the Calvin and Hobbes books we have.

Hoo boy!  That was the greatest week.  They are endlessly enjoyable and hilarious… I mean, seriously.  Love!

So, I have this weird thing where whenever I think of the word “seedy,” I think of Calvin and Hobbes. I think it’s because when I was younger, I saw it in the comics and didn’t fully understand it.
My brain works in strange ways, people. 
 
 
Anyways, I decided to make a seedy pound cake, combining a few flavors that at first glance might not go together.
 
I love lemon-poppy seed baked goods.  The poppy seeds add that extra crunch and visual appeal; not much in the way of flavor, but whatevs.  They’re pretty.
 
I also love matcha.  It’s earthiness and subtle bitter and sweet notes always dance around my mouth, leaving me wanting more.  
 
Why not lemon and matcha?  The tart citrus plays off beautifully against the intense green tea.
 
I decided to really get the party started and added some sesame seeds to the matcha batter. Matcha-sesame seed mixed with lemon-poppy seed!  Sign me up.
(P.S. I also snuck some brown butter in.  Why?  Because I can, so hush.)
 
In hindsight, I wish I had swirled the loaves to create more of a marbled effect.  I got a layered effect because I didn’t do much mixing- I was a bit nervous to mix too much, but I ended up mixing barely at all.  Oh well.  C’est la vie.
 
I was sending these loaves off to my brothers, but I snuck a piece before I did.  
Buttery, sweet, and chock full of flavor, this is a pound cake to remember.  
Share it with your favorite tiger.
 

 

Lemon Poppy Seed and Matcha Sesame Seed Pound Cake
makes 2 loaf cakes, easily halved
adapted from Gale Gand
ingredients:
6 tablespoons corn starch
2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 sticks butter, browned
2 cups sugar
8 eggs
big splash vanilla extract
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons lemon zest
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 tablespoons buttermilk
3 to 5 tablespoons matcha powder (depending on strength of your matcha)
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease and flour 2 six cup loaf pans.
Beat the eggs and sugar together until they form thick, light yellow ribbons.  
Stir in the butter and vanilla.  
Stir in the flour, corn starch, baking powder, and salt, but don’t fully mix.
Divide the mixture into two, and into one, add the lemon juice, zest, and poppy seeds.  Into the other, add the buttermilk, matcha powder, and sesame seeds.  
Beat each one (by hand, so you don’t overbeat) until homogeneous.
Pour half of the matcha batter into each prepared pan.
Top with half of the lemon batter.  Swirl with a skewer or fork as desired (if you don’t, your loaf will have a pattern similar to mine).
Bake until the center is raised and a toothpick comes out with only a few crumbs; 65 to 70 minutes.
To make an optional glaze, stir 1 cup of powdered sugar with 2 to 3 tablespoons of lemon juice to make a pourable glaze.  Once the cakes are out of the oven and mostly cool, poke a few small holes in the top and brush/pour the glaze all over the cakes.