Spiced Poppy Seed Cake with Almond Buttercream Frosting


for the cake:

  • 1 & 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 & 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamom
  • 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 cups milk, at room temperature
  • 2 TBSP vinegar
  • 1 TBSP almond extract
  • 1/2 cup poppy seeds

for the frosting:

  • 3 sticks (1 & 1/2 cups) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 7 & 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 6 TBSP half-and-half, plus more if needed
  • poppy seeds for sprinkling


Make the cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Using shortening, grease three 9″ round cake pans and cover the bottoms with parchment paper.
  2. Using a sifter, combine the flours, baking powder, cornstarch, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom. Remove from the equation.
  3. Whip the egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed with the whisk attachment of a stand mixer until soft peaks form. Remove from the equation.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, and honey using the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating after each addition on low speed. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then beat the mixture until it is smooth and creamy.
  5. Combine the milk, vinegar, and almond extract in a mixing dish. (If it curdles, don’t worry.)
  6. In three additions, alternate adding the dry ingredients with the milk/vinegar combination. Between additions, mix softly until everything is incorporated. As required, scrape down the sides and bottom of the basin.
  7. Fold in the poppy seeds in three additions, then fold in the beaten egg whites. (If the egg whites have separated, re-whip them first.)
  8. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until done, after pouring the batter into the prepared pans. Cool for 10 minutes in the pans before transferring to wire cooling racks. Wrap the cakes in plastic wrap, then foil, and freeze overnight (or until ready to frost) once they’ve cooled enough to handle but are still warm.
  9. Remove the layers from the freezer the day before you want to ice the cake and defrost them in the refrigerator for several hours.

Make the frosting:

  1. Using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, cream the butter and powdered sugar together until a thick “paste” forms. After that, add the half-and-half, vanilla, and almond extracts. Mix everything together until it’s completely smooth. To get a fluffy consistency, add more half-and-half as needed. Using an electric mixer, beat until frothy and no lumps remain.
  2. Spread a generous 1/2 cup of frosting over each cake layer using an offset spatula, then cover the top and sides.
  3. If desired, add a little piping decoration with a big star tip and sprinkle on the poppy seeds.
  4. Refrigerate for about 1 week or store covered at room temperature for 2 days.

Source: Bake at 350°

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