When I first read the recipe in Nourishing Traditions for the Poppy Seed Cake I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of it. Like most Americans I’ve been raised with cake mixes and their preparation makes the entire cake baking and making process seem so quick and easy. That’s even how they’re actually sold to the consumer.
This Poppy Seed Cake is easy to make but its steps are complicated by the fact that it takes at least 2-3 days to make. At first this frustrated my husband and I a lot. We wanted dessert and we wanted it now! To us, it seemed strange to be making a dessert we’d be eating days later, but I gave it a try since it’s really the only cake in the book. We both wanted some cake so I set about soaking the grain as soon as I could do so.
Days later we tasted the cake. The soaking, the cooking, the second soaking, the waiting—it paid off and it paid off big!
I think this is by far one of the best recipes I’ve tried from the book. My husband really liked it too.
Tips for making Soaked Cakes
- Be sure to follow the recipe. Leave the cake out for as long as the recipe says. Let the flour soak with the yogurt. Definitely let the honey mixture soak into the cake too. You won’t regret it.
- I substituted a sweet Spanish sherry for the dry sherry and it was amazing. I think that many different dessert liqueurs would work very well with this cake and I plan to try others when I make this cake again in the future.
- A ceramic cake pan is probably best for this recipe. I used an angel food form because I had one on hand, but in addition to leaking when I added the honey mixture, it also didn’t look quite as nice as I’d wanted it to when it was ready to serve.
- Lastly, I used spelt flour. If you try this with one of the others, let us all know how it goes!
Poppy Seed Cake
Page in NT: 568
- 1/4-1/3 cup poppy seeds
- 2 1/2 cups freshly ground spelt, kamut or whole wheat flour
- 1 cup piima cream or crème fraîche
- 1 cup whole yogurt
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups Rapadura (or for a lighter colored cake use coconut palm sugar)
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- grated rind of 1 lemon
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/4-1/2 cup water (optional)
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup whey
- 1/2 cup raw honey
- 1/4 cup dry sherry or other liqueur (optional)
- Mix flour and poppy seeds with yogurt and cultured cream, cover and leave in a warm place for 12 to 24 hours.
- Cream butter with Rapadura and eggs. Beat in the baking soda, salt, vanilla and grated rind. Gradually incorporate the soaked flour. Beat in 1/4 to 1/2 cup water to thin batter if necessary.
- Pour batter into a well-buttered and floured fluted bundt pan or angel food cake pan.
- Bake at 300 degrees for 1 1/2 hours or more, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool slightly.
- Place lemon juice, honey, whey and optional sherry in a container and set in simmering water until honey is dissolved. Slowly pour this mixture over the cake until all liquid is absorbed.
- Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 1 or 2 days.
- To serve, loosen sides with a knife. Turn over onto a serving plate and tap pan until cake falls out.