The poppy seed birthday cake turned out well thanks to our friend Shella who actually baked the cake while I prepared Mark’s birthday pancit & BBQ. I made the icing & iced the cake.
This is definitely a keeper – it was very moist (despite the fact that we neglected to soak that poppies for 2 hrs as directed…oh, well). I think the only thing I would change is less sugar overall and Mark has requested skipping the walnuts.
Glad to have found Mark’s go-to-birthday cake from hereon out!
Sunday, October 25th is Mark’s 50th birthday. He doesn’t want a celebration so it will be very low-key but I am going to try to make a special birthday cake. He told me once that his very favorite birthday cake as a child was poppy seed cake. I remember thinking, “Uh…okay…what kid wants poppy seed cake”? I seriously had to wonder if kids brought their own cake to his birthday parties!
Mine was Betty Crocker yellow cake with chocolate icing. However, Mom always, always baked a chiffon cake with butter icing. While I never really liked the concept of an “adult” cake I must say it was tasty. I remember on the morning of my 6th birthday, Arthur & I had sneaked out of the bedroom before Mom & Dad had woken up to sample the cake Mom had left on the dining room table at our apartment on Park Hill Avenue. Let’s just say that we sampled enough of it that Mom had to bake another cake before the guests arrived later that night. Hahah.
I’ve been searching for a recipe to add to our family list and I think I may have hit upon one that even makes me go “yum” over poppy seed cake. This recipe comes from Dinner with Kirsten. I’ll report back if I decide to make it.
This recipe is a classic in my family, part of long-standing tradition. I don’t know where it came from exactly, but Grandma Lois used to make this Czech dessert a couple times every year. It’s one of my Dad’s and Grandpa Ernie’s favorites.
We call this a “torte” but it’s actually just a cake with lots of layers. This cake uses egg whites only, giving it a light texture, while the egg yolks are reserved for the custard filling. But my favorite part of this cake is the thick fudge-like ganache frosting.
I have to admit that, as much as I love this cake, I’m always a little reluctant to commit to making it. There are just so many steps! But, in the end, there’s really nothing too complicated involved and it’s definitely worth the effort.
Poppy Seed Torte with Chocolate Ganache Frosting
Grandma Lois’ Recipe
3/4 cup poppy seeds
1 cup milk
2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cup butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 egg whites, beaten until stiff (reserved egg yolks to use in filling)
Soak poppy seeds in milk for two hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sift together flour, salt and baking powder. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. To this, add milk mixture and dry ingredients alternately. Add vanilla extract. Fold in egg whites. Pour into 2 greased and floured 9 inch round cake pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
4 egg yolks
In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, and milk. Cook over moderate heat for 10 minutes. Temper egg yolks (add a little of the hot mixture to the yolks to gradually bring up their temperature, then add all the yolks to the saucepan) and cook 2 minutes longer. Cool and add nuts.
For ganache frosting:
1 1/2 cup sugar
6 tablespoons milk
6 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons Kahlua
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
In a medium saucepan, heat sugar, milk and butter and bring to a boil for 30 seconds. Remove from heat, and add Kahlua and chocolate. Beat with an electric mixer until thick (the mixture will thicken even more as it cools).
With a long serrated knife, cut cooled cakes in half horizontally, so there are 4 layers. Spread walnut filling between layers. Spread chocolate ganache frosting on the top and sides of the cake.