Our contributor, Olivia Bogacki, is sharing a new cake recipe today…
Growing up in an Eastern European household, poppy seed cakes were a staple at family gatherings and especially holidays. Traditionally, you’d see them in the form of a yeast based cake roll and, sure enough, my mom brought one out just a few weeks ago as we wrapped up our Easter dinner.
That poppy seed flavour is nostalgic and comforting to me, so I wanted to translate that into the form of a layer cake. Often times you’ll see lemon and poppy seed paired together, which is a delicious combination, but I wanted the poppy seed flavour to stand on its own, so I paired it with a classic vanilla buttercream.
This poppy seed cake is fluffy and moist, speckled throughout and covered with a silky vanilla bean Swiss meringue buttercream. Meringue based buttercreams are a (tiny) bit more work than the traditional American buttercream, but they are so worth it! I love them. They are less sweet, and super smooth. If you haven’t tried one yet, the Swiss meringue method is the easiest one to start with. It involves warming up the egg whites with the sugar, then whipping them to stiff peaks before adding the butter.
To intensify the poppy seed flavour, I spread a couple tablespoons of poppy seed filling on each layer before topping it with the buttercream. This is totally optional, but I liked the additional hit of poppy seed as an homage to the traditional poppy seed cakes I grew up with. In hindsight, I probably could have added more so that the thin, dark layer of poppy seed filling would really stand out against the pale cake layers and frosting. Nevertheless, it was a delicious addition!
This poppy seed cake was a huge hit. Not too sweet, perfect texture, delicious poppy seed flavour. If you’re a poppy seed lover, this cake is for you!
POPPY SEED CAKE
a recipe by Olivia Bogacki
(makes one 6” 3-layer cake – 10 servings)
For the Cake:
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon poppy seeds
½ cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs (room temperature)
1 teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup buttermilk (room temperature)
- Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour three 6″ cake rounds, line with parchment.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and poppy seeds.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth.
- Add sugar and beat on med-high until pale and fluffy (2-3 minutes).
- Reduce speed and add eggs one at a time, fully incorporating after each addition. Add vanilla.
- Alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour (3 additions of flour and 2 of milk). Fully incorporating after each addition. Do not overmix.
- Spread batter evenly into prepared pans. Smooth the top with a spatula.
- Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean.
- Place cakes on wire rack to cool for 10 minutes then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely.
For the Frosting:
5 large egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1 ½ cups unsalted butter, cubed (room temperature)
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
- Place egg whites and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk until combined.*
- Place bowl over a pan of simmering water to create a double-boiler. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water. Whisking constantly, heat the egg mixture until it registers 160 degrees on a candy thermometer. Carefully transfer the bowl onto the stand mixer.
- With the whisk attachment, beat the egg white mixture on high speed for 8 to 10 minutes. When done, the outside of the mixer bowl should return to room temperature and the meringue should look fluffy and glossy and hold a stiff peak.
- Swap out the whisk attachment for the paddle attachment. Slowly add cubed butter, a couple tablespoons at a time and mix until smooth.
- Add vanilla bean paste and whip until silky and smooth.**
For the Assembly:
6 tablespoons poppy seed filling (optional)
- Place one layer of the cake onto a cake stand or serving plate. Top with 2 tablespoons poppy seed filling, spread evenly. Top with approximately 1 cup of the buttercream. Repeat with remaining layers and crumb coat the cake. Chill if desired.
- Frost the cake sides and top with a rustic swirl pattern.
* Ensure there is NO trace of egg yolks in your whites and that your mixer bowl and whisk is completely grease free or your meringue may not stiffen.
** The buttercream may look like it’s curdled at some point. Keep mixing until it is completely smooth.