Walnut Poppy Seed Cake

Yield: one 9-inch cake
Recipe: 140/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 302

    Having received a few cookbooks for Christmas, notably Baking Day with Anna Olson: Recipes to Bake Together which is another great collection of recipes from Anna Olson, lately I have been making recipes from others cookbooks unrelated to this blog. Still delicious of course, but that means that this is only the second recipe this year that I complete from “Back to Baking”. I decided to do a poppy seed cake as I had both the required poppy seeds and walnuts, which is not a common occurrence.


  • 1 ¼ cups walnut pieces
  • ¾ cup poppy seeds
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ⅔ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 5 eggs, at room temperature and separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup whipping cream

    The cake was fun to make as it involves using a food processor to grind up the poppy seeds and walnuts, and I also do like folding in egg whites in recipes. I had some predicted technical problems because I did not have a 9-inch springform pan. Instead, I only had an 8-inch regular cake pan, but I really wanted to make this dessert for my boyfriend who was visiting since he loves poppy seeds and nuts. I went ahead with the recipe anyways, but my 8-inch pan was full to the brim with batter so I expected that the cake would not bake correctly and might even overflow. Fortunately, this cake does not rise much so that did not happen, but it did take a very long time to bake, much longer than the recommended 45 minutes. Because my version is also much taller, the outside of the cake was more than baked and the inside not so much.

    At some point I decided to stop baking it as I did not think it would bake better without burning the outside. A toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake did come out clean, but when I sliced it much later it looked a bit underbaked. I do not often cook with nuts and certainly not with walnuts, so I wasn’t sure if the very moist look could be some oil coming from the walnuts. In any case, I tried the cake anyways and it was really delicious. I very much enjoyed the texture of the poppy seeds in every bite, it made it very pleasant to eat. This is a nice flavourful and filling cake, but definitely use a 9-inch cake pan if you have one!


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan and sprinkle the bottom and sides with sugar, tapping out any excess.
  2. Using a food processor, pulse together the walnuts, poppy seeds and ⅓ cup of the sugar until finely ground.
  3. Beat together the butter and ⅓ cup of the sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the egg yolks and vanilla extract to the butter mixture and beat until mixed well.
  5. In a separate bowl, whip together the egg whites until foamy, then slowly pour in the remaining ⅓ cup of sugar and whip until the whites hold a soft peak.
  6. Gently fold the egg whites into the butter mixture.
  7. Fold in the ground nuts and poppy seeds until well incorporated.
  8. Spoon about ⅓ cup of the batter into the cream, then fold this into the rest of the batter.
  9. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes, until a tester or toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake come out clean. Cool the cake to room temperature, then chill completely before removing from the pan and serving.
    • The cake will sink a bit as it cools, this is normal.

Notes from Anna:

  • This simple European-style cake is a one-layer torte that is best served with a dollop of cream or fresh berries.