The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

poppy seeds

FoodFascist's picture

Poppy seed cake



This cake is my own creation, made with layers of lightly moist sponge (this is effectively the same sponge as in Black Prince, with minor alterations), a sweet poppy seed filling, and a basic Tiramisu cream filling. I recommend using cream cheese rather than mascarpone because cream cheese has that bit of sour flavour to it, creating a fresh contrast against the sweetness of the sponge and poppy.

Ingredients (makes a 1.1 kg cake or thereabouts)

For the sponge

  • 2 medium eggs
  • 140 g sugar
  • 120 g sour cream
  • 80 g plain flour
  • 1 heaped teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 50 g poppy seed, rinsed

 For the poppy seed filling

  • 150 g poppy seed, rinsed (or 200 g if you aim for a thicker layer)
  • Approx. 120-150 ml milk
  • 3-4 tablespoons double cream
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons honey

 For the cream filling

  • 200 g cream cheese (I used Philadelphia light)
  • 250 ml double cream
  • 1 heaped tablespoon caster or icing sugar
  • (Optional) 2-3 teaspoons brandy, cream liqueur or strong sweet wine
  • (Optional) seeds of 1/3 vanilla bean, or equivalent amount of vanilla paste, or extract (I used 1/3 teaspoon vanilla paste)




Beat eggs and sugar together to a pale and smooth mass. Switch your mixer to a low speed and add the sour cream in 3-4 increments (or more). Stir the bicarbonate of soda into the flour, fold into the egg and sour cream mix. Lastly, fold in the poppy seeds. (NB I put poppy seeds in the sponge for structure rather than flavour, it’s a bit like adding more flour but without making the sponge too dense.)

Transfer the batter into a greased cake tin. Ideally, use a small diameter springform tin (because you’ll be layering the cake in the same tin afterwards). It’s important that the diameter is no more than 15 cm because we want a tall cake. Don’t worry, the batter is too runny to bake to a volcano shape. Mine usually comes out with a perfectly flat top.

I’ve only got one springform tin and it was in use, so this time I baked my cake in a 1 lb bread tin.

Bake at 180 C/350 F for approx. 30-40 min, or until a wooden stick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Poppy seed filling

Poppy seeds sometimes come with bonus sand in it. So it’s best to give them a rinse, in case. Put the rinsed seeds in a dish and pour over some boiling water. Cover and allow to infuse for 30 min.

Drain in a sieve and transfer to a small pan. Level with the back of a spoon. Pour over enough milk to cover the poppy seeds, plus another couple of tablespoons (should make about 10-12 tablespoons altogether). Add the sugar and 2 tablespoons cream. Cover and heat to a simmering point, then lower the heat and continue to simmer until soft. This takes approx. 30 min. Stir every few minutes and add milk by the tablespoon as required. When it’s ready, stir in another tablespoon or two of cream. Allow to cool and stir in some honey, to taste. You can of course stir in the honey while the poppy filling is still hot, but honey will lose any health properties if heated.

Cream Filling

Beat the cream until soft peaks form.

It’s important not to over-beat at this stage as you want to leave some room for mixing the other ingredients into it. Add everything else, beat together until well combined (only a few seconds!).


Slice the sponge horizontally to make 3-4 equal size layers.

If not using a springform tin, lay a sheet of parchment paper into the tin so you can later lift the cake out by pulling at the ends. Use one sheet for a rectangular tin, or two sheets, placed crosswise, for a square or round tin.

Lay the first piece of sponge into the tin. Spread some poppy seed filing over it. Press down slightly.

Next, spoon some of the filling over the poppy seeds, covering the whole thing. Use a teaspoon and take care not to leave large gaps, because spreading the filling over seeds is quite tricky. Level out the filling. Some seeds will inevitably end up in the cream filling at this stage, that’s fine.

Repeat layers, finishing with cream filling on the top. Reserve a couple tablespoons for later.

Refrigerate overnight.

Take out, carefully lift out of the tin onto a serving plate. Spread the remaining cream filling over the sides.

Decorate as you wish, I used some butter icing (creamed butter, icing sugar, red colouring for the red icing, cocoa powder for the brown).

If you like the idea, one other version you could try is a berry cake. Just replace the poppy seed filling with some seasonal fresh berries; or if using frozen berries, defrost thoroughly and drain excess juice – you can then use it to soak the sponge if you wish. Sprinkle some icing sugar over the berries, or make the cream filling a little sweeter. You could also replace the poppy seed in the sponge with 50g ground nuts, or leave out altogether.


hanseata's picture

Today I revisited my childhood. For the first time I baked Danish Tebirkes.
For many years my grandmother, aunt, two cousins and I would spend our summer holidays in Denmark. Every morning
one of us kids would bike to the grocery store to pick up freshly baked rolls for breakfast. My favorite were Tebirkes, buttery, croissant-like rolls, sprinkled with poppy seeds.

thebreadfairy's picture

Onion-Poppy Seed Recipe request

March 12, 2009 - 10:58am -- thebreadfairy


Yesterday, on the "Crispier Crust" thread, Eric posted a picture of Susan from SD's latest Onion-Poppy seed bread which looked absolutely gorgeous. I have searched for the recipe but cannot find it. Does anyone have that recipe? Susan? Eric?

Thanks for any help. I would love to be able to give it a try.



Jamila's picture

  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 ts baking powder
  • 1 ts baking soda
  • 3/4 ts salt
  • 2/3 cup butter @ room temp
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar packed
  • 2 large eggs @ room temp
  • 2 ts vanilla extract
  • 2 ts lemon extract or lemon oil
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream @ room temp
  • 2/3 cups poppy seeds

This recipe can be muffins or a loaf as I choose to do it today. Butter and flour or spray the loaf pan or muffin tins. Preheat the oven to 350.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds.

Cream the butter and brown sugar about two minutes.

Mix in the eggs one at a time making sure each one is well incorporated. Then add both extracts. Your mixture will be fluffy and light, as if you making a cake.

Add one third of the flour mixture and beat just until well incorporated, don't over mix. Then add the sour cream, just until incorporated and not over mixing, repeating until until all the ingredients are added.

Add the batter to your desired cooking dish and set in the oven. Watch this loaf well, making sure it is browning evenly. Rotate the pan if necessary. Within an hour, around 45 minutes in a loaf pan you will have a lovely cake/bread. If you find that it's very brown and not done cover loosely with a piece of foil. This loaf should spring back to touch. This loaf won't last long!


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