Dinner with Kirsten

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Poppy Seed Cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting

January 11th, 2009 · 36 Comments

poppy seed torte

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 ganache frosting

Poppy Seed Torte with Chocolate Ganache Frosting
Grandma Lois’ Recipe

For cake:
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.

For filling:
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).

To assemble:
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.

Tags: baking · dessert · recipes · weekend project

36 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Rosa // Jan 13, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Good lord, that looks beyond delicious. And moist to boot!

    It looks like I’ve just found the recipe for my birthday cake this year. Thankyou!

  • 2 brilynn // Jan 13, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    I love poppy seed cakes but almost never make them. This looks great!

  • 3 Margie // Jan 13, 2009 at 11:47 pm

    I love your blog! AND, I absolutely love poppy seeds and chocolate. This recipe sounds wonderful.

  • 4 Nadia's Sweet Creations // Jan 14, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    Hi, I love poppy seed anything!
    Would love to try this cake but I have a question on the recipe. At what point to I add poppy seeds to the batter? and do i add them with milk it’s been soaking in?

    thank you for your reply

  • 5 Kirsten // Jan 14, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    Hi Nadia! Yes, that’s correct. I say to add the “milk mixture” but I really mean the milk with the soaking poppy seeds. Thanks for asking! I should clarify in the recipe.

  • 6 Kate // Jan 14, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    I was so excited when I saw this post! My grandmother made this exact recipe and it is now the go-to birthday cake for everybody in my family. Yes, it takes a while to make, but it is SO worth the effort. I love the custard-walnut filling!

  • 7 Eco*Pretty // Jan 15, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    This sounds divine — paired with a hot mug of coffee or cocoa, a perfect winter dessert…

  • 8 My little tea party « My Little Stitches // Feb 2, 2009 at 10:29 am

    […] I considered a deliciously light angel cake… But nothing felt right. Until I saw this, a Poppy Seed Cake with Chocolate Ganache and I fell in love. It just looked beautiful and interesting, yet unimposing. Demelza and I made […]

  • 9 Alla // Dec 23, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    HI! I just made this cake… but havent tried it yet. I made it for tommorow, so should I store it in the fridge or at room temp? Thanks :)

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